Thursday, April 29, 2010

"I give you a new commandment: love one another"

Fifth Sunday in Easter (5EasterC), May 2, 2010

BURNING QUESTION: Who is your neighbor?
FEATURED BLOG: Clarifying the Confusion on Confirmation
PRIEST STORIES: A Vocations-Aware Parish
PASTORAL HISPANA: Nuestro Amor se Asemeja al de Dios

Dear Friends,

In this Sunday's Readings, Jesus tells his disciples in this passage from the Last Supper Discourse that he will be with them only a little while longer. Then Jesus gives them a new commandment: "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another." Our Discussion Questions this week will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

“Now is the Son of Man glorified"

The Gospel text this Sunday comes from the end of Chapter Thirteen of John’s Gospel. It occurs not long after the washing of the feet and most significantly just after Judas has left the oom on his way to betray Christ.

Glory. We will hear about it in Sunday’s Gospel. God will be glorified and will glorify Jesus. However, as Fr. John Foley,SJ notes, most of us admit that we do not understand what it means to give glory to God or to Jesus. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. explains further that the Last Supper context of this passage reminds us that now in every time and place, the Risen Lord extends the eighth sign of divine love through the Eucharist. The bread and wine do not hide, but express the glory of Christ -- the sacrament of his giving himself to us out of love just as he gave himself to us on the cross.

“Just as I have loved you”

The commandment to love one’s neighbour as oneself is not new. It is very old indeed going back in the Bible as far as the Book of Leviticus. And neither is it unique to Christianity, it being an important feature of many world religions. So if loving one another is actually very old and widespread, what is it about this commandment that is so new? Fr. Alex McAllister SDS explains that the newness is to be found in the words “just as I have loved you.” The New Commandment is for us to love each other not in the way we love ourselves but in the way Jesus loves us. And this moves things to a completely new level.

We find ourselves to be Christ’s disciple when we love others and when we allow ourselves to be loved. Fr. Roger J. Landry explains our need to heed the words of St. John Vianney whose famous heroic charity moved him to treat others with the same limitless love with which Christ loves. God’s nature is love, explains Fr. Orly Sapuay, M.S., so the ways of God are love.

Many struggle with the issue of immigration in our country and what that means as Christ calls us to love one another. University senior Erin Killebrew is one of them. Then she had the opportunity to experience a small part of life on the border of Arizona and Mexico. There she found out first hand, just as Fr. Phil Bloom preached, how Jesus' new way of love fulfills the heart's deepest need. (If you're wondering where the US Catholic Church stands on the controversial new Arizona Immigration Law, here's the statement from the US Bishops.)

The New Jerusalem

The New Jerusalem is discussed in the Second Reading. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says it is not on the moon waiting to come down upon earth. But the New Jerusalem does exist. The place where God makes his home among mankind is real. It is the place where his name is Emmanuel--God with us. God’s City, the New Jerusalem, is right here. His City is the Church.

Father Cusick points out some very important questions about the Church, then offers his answers. How do we know the Church? What is she like? What are the characteristics that set the Church apart from all other bodies, groups or organizations in the world?

Father Thomas Rosica, CSB adds his own set of questions for us to reflect further. How does my image of the Church reflect my experience as being part of the Church? If we are to be a living temple of God, what qualities should characterize us as church? What symbol do you think most unites us as a Christian people?

Finally, Fr. Ron Rolheiser tells us that to walk tall means to walk within our God-given dignity. Nothing else, ultimately, gives us as large an identity. The Gospel-challenge, according to him, doesn’t shame us with our pettiness. It invites us instead to what’s already best inside us. And the next time you pray the Our Father, take time to reflect upon the verse "And forgive us our trespasses." Allow this article about an imaginary conversation with God to alter your perception.

Divine Providence, Spiritual Wellness & Confirmation

If God provides, then why is Murphy's Law a law that seems to apply even to devout Christians? Why do bad things happen to good people? Marcellino D'Ambrosio seeks to answer these questions and show how trials and tribulations fits into Divine Providence.

How healthy are you spiritually as a Catholic man? During Lent many of us implemented what could be called a spiritual wellness program based on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. However, now that Lent is over we may now have gone back to our old ways. Maurice Blumberg talks about "Developing and Following a Spiritual Wellness Program."

It is the season for Confirmations and we want to explore the what the Catechism teaches about the sacrament. Msgr. Charles Pope talks about "Clarifying the Confusion on Confirmation." He starts by excluding certain common but incorrect notions about the Sacrament.

Celebrating the Liturgy

While visiting earthquake earthquake in Haiti last January, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan asked the victims if there were anything else he could do for them. A young woman raised her hand. He expected her to ask for more medicine, tents, drinking water, food and workers. Instead, all she asked was, “Can a priest say Mass for us tomorrow, on Sunday?” Totally moved, the archbishop wrote this reflection about how our Catholics in the US under-appreciate the celebration of the Mass.

From the Vatican, the word is out. A decade in the making -- and after an oft-contentious process that's been both praised and panned... and, on all sides, pored over intensely throughout -- it's now official: the complete revision of the Roman Missal in English is an impending reality of church life. Rocco Palmo reports.

And for the first time in decades, the extraordinary form of the Mass was celebrated this week at the Cathedral in Washington DC. For those who are unfamiliar or unappreciative with the splendor of the Latin Liturgy in this form, some questions often arise. Msgr. Charles Pope answers them and explains "Why Celebrate Mass in Latin?" And a Catholic blogger mom who was present at the cathedral offers her un-expert observation: "More so than all the beauty that surrounded me at that mass, within the liturgy and the church itself, was the beauty and looks of absolute wonder on the children's faces." She explains in "A child's view from the pews."

Vocations Awareness, Movies & Virtues

And as the Year of the Priests sets to wind down, the pastoral and school staff at a parish in Aiken, SC seems to have found a great way to promote vocation awareness. Father Jeffrey Darby, a young priest serving at St. Mary Help of Christians Church enthusiastically suggested vocation clubs for boys and girls. Two years later, the results are in and they are very good.

And what movies best represent the seven virtues and the theological gifts? The Regina Coeli Academy in Philadelphia is putting together a list of recommended films for students. Blogger Deal W. Hudson shares his preliminary list. See if you agree with his list.

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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Thursday, April 22, 2010

"My sheep hear my voice"

"My sheep hear my voice"
Fourth Sunday in Easter (4EasterC), April 25, 2010

BURNING QUESTION: Believe in God or in the Church?
FEATURED BLOG: Learning the Spiritual Dimension of the Holy Mass
PRIESTS STORIES: A Bishop in the Father's Heart
PASTORAL HISPANA: ¿Qué significa seguir a Jesús?

Dear Friends,

The fourth Sunday of Easter is “Good Shepherd Sunday.” The Gospel Reading gives us the last part of Chapter Ten of John’s Gospel. In this short text Jesus plainly tells us 1) that we are the gift of the Father to Jesus; 2) we are his and no one can steal us from him and 3) he will give us eternal life. Sunday is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Our Discussion Questions this week will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church roups.

How Free are we REALLY?!

This Sunday’s Readings raise some intriguing questions. And Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio asks them. Does Jesus call all, or just certain people? Is my eternal salvation secure, or is my destiny up for grabs? Is there no free choice, then?

These questions are why someone like young adult Dan Finucane, a senior at St. Louis University, finds this Sunday's Gospel readings difficult to understand. He says it can be hard for us to accept that “no one” can take us “out of the Father’s hand” – that we are one of the sheep for which he cares. Another unicersity senior, Joe Martinez of UC-Riverside, offers his own thoughts on Fate and Predestination. His piece is called "Is God Crossing my Stars."

The Good Shepherd's Purpose

Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says we are called upon today to recognize Jesus' presence in our lives. Like the disciples of Paul and Barnabas at the conclusion of today’s first reading, the only real need we have in our lives is to learn how to be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. For the Mercy of God directs our lives to happiness. Fr. James Gilhooley explains further that Jesus' agenda was twofold - making both this life more attractive and making heaven the final stop.

Fr. Alex McAllister SDS tells us that while Jesus guides and protects us, this doesn’t mean that we are passive and dependent creatures. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, MS suggests further that we are called to be faithful stewards of the Good Shepherd. Once one chooses to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, Stewardship is not an option. Stewardship is what we do, with all that we have, after we say, "I believe." It is using the gifts God has given us, to do the work God is calling us to do.

Hearing God's Voice

Today's Gospel passage presents to us one of the deepest mysteries of the human spirit. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB exoplains that Faith, the ability to hear and to follow a call, is a gift to Jesus and a gift to the followers of Jesus. To belong to the spiritual flock of Jesus, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. tells us, is to hear his voice. This means much more than simply reading or hearing about him. Such information is always helpful, but the decisive moment comes when we go beyond external testimony and begin to discover Jesus at the center of our lives in a profoundly intuitive and trusting manner.

Fr. Ron Rolheiser adds that God’s voice is not a loud, overbearing, threatening voice. Rather, God’s voice invites in, beckons, leaves you free, and is as non-threatening as the innocence and powerlessness of a baby — or a saint. Thus Fr. John Foley, S. J. offers his hunch that you do recognize Jesus’ voice when you hear it. Your feelings move when you hear trustingly a certain Gospel, for instance. Or when you receive the bread of everlasting life and the cup of unending salvation—not as a stranger might, but as a member of the well-fed and greatly cared for flock.

What about trying, Sunday, to notice whether your spirit inclines to Jesus? Maybe you settle into his lap for petting. Your soul seeks him always.

"The Father and I are one."

Father Cusick says there is and can be no mistaking it: the Lord knew and revealed his divinity by his words and works. And Fr. Phil Bloom offers his bottom line for this Sunday's Gospel: Jesus wants us to share his oneness with the Father - now.

Finally as part of our Good Shepherd reflections this week, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains that God told His people that they, simple sheep though they were, had an exalted destiny, to be God’s sons and daughters and live with Him forever. And as we reflect on this Gospel challenge, let us say a prayer that our Church may recover its stray Catholics. Out of approximately sixty million nominal Catholics only 25% or so actually practice their faith by attending Sunday Mass regularly and confession yearly. Fr. John McCloskey offers his thoughts on how we may bring our fallen-away Catholics back into the fold.

World Vocation Sunday

This Sunday is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Parishes across the globe are encouraged to pray for an increase in priestly vocations. In view of this day, Pope Benedict XVI this week encouraged sick people to offer their sufferings for vocations. The Christian practice of "offering sufferings" is one that this Pope has tried to renew.

From the US, the USCCB reports that nearly one-third of the ordination class of 2010 was born outside the United States. They also cited that the vast majority (92 percent) of men being ordained to the priesthood report some kind of full-time work experience prior to entering the seminary, most often in education. Three in five (60 percent) ordinands completed college before pursuing the priesthood. Their median age of is 33 and 11 men are being ordained at the age of 65 or older.

And here's an unusual blessing to the Church. A Long Island woman fulfilled her dream of becoming a nun recently. Nothing too exceptional about that, except the fact that she is 92 years old! Read her story.

More Catholic Stories

From the Vatican, the pope reflected that "Christ Wants Us in Heaven." Benedict XVI says Christ's will for his followers to be with him and behold his glory is like a type of strong and gentle embrace that leads man to eternal life. To the Youth in Malta this week, he said "God Rejects No One." Benedict XVI assured them that God and the Church reject no one, and that they should be proud of their country's Catholic heritage.

Here's some soothing advice. And from an unlikely source. Sam Miller is a prominent Jewish businessman. He is not Catholic. And yet he offers some sage advice to Catholics in a recent column. Be proud, he tells us. Even in the face of injustice in the media, scandals in the Church, and a less than favorable popular public opinion of our priests and leaders: Be proud to be Catholic.

And if you've ever wondered about "The Morality of Tattoos and Body Piercing," Fr. Peter Joseph answers the most basic question about it, "Does this really glorify God?"

Handling Failure, Bunnies and Computer Kids

Bo Sanchez says eagles are amazing parents. He uses lessons he observed from them to tell us that "Failure Isn’t God’s Rejection But God’s Redirection." Pretty powerful stuff from this straight-talking young preacher. Check it out.

Sherry Antonetti, a mother of several young children, shares how she summons her father’s technique of keeping her car relatively fight free by making her children engage in a decade of the Rosary. Each child gets to give a petition before each prayer. No editorials are allowed, but you do get requests that sound largely like hints to the driver. Driving home from school one day, her four-year-old son raised his hand first, “I have one. Bunnies." And the mother's story takes a challenging turn from there.

Finally, if you have young kids at home, "Beware the Lure of the Screen." While the internet is part of daily living today, it does offer its challenges specuially for your very young ones. Dr. Ray Guarendi offers tips on "How to Control Computer Kids."

Another eventful day 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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Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Feed my sheep"


"Feed my sheep"
Third Sunday in Easter (3EasterC), April 18, 2010

BURNING QUESTION: Can we the sinful be part of Jesus’ mission?
FEATURED BLOG: Rediscovering the Sacramental Sense
PRIEST STORIES: Pope - World Needs Voice of Teacher-Priests
PASTORAL HISPANA: Dios llega adonde nos encontramos

Dear Friends,

When the curtain goes up on Sunday's Gospel, the apostles are back in Galilee, broke and hungry. They unknowingly encounter Jesus who helps them catch a boatload of fish. Later back on land, Jesus commissions Peter to lead our Lord's work among His people. Our Discussion Questions this week will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

The Origins of the Papacy

The Gospel this Sunday focuses on Peter and it is a most interesting one. The origins of the Papacy can be found in the dialogue between Jesus and Simon Peter. Jesus entrusts a specific authority to Peter. This authority given to Peter, explains Father Cusick, was to be handed on through the "apostolic succession".

This particular extract is also used in the ceremony of the installation of a Pope. It is solemnly read to the new Pope as a sort of warning at the start of his important new ministry. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains that the pope, the successor of Peter, has a role that has not to do with privilege but with sacrifice. This, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB points out, is the key qualification for the Petrine ministry, and for all ministry in the name of Jesus Christ - a love for the Lord that is characterized by humility, dependence and obedience.

Imperfect but tasked to Evangelize

Peter certainly knew failure along the road of discipleship. The disciple who was called "rock" wept with regret after denying his Lord. Yet he is given an opportunity to repent and recommit himself to Jesus. Peter was to follow Christ and dedicate his whole life to him and work tirelessly for the spread of the Gospel.

Though imperfect, Peter was asked to serve God. The same applies to all of us today. We also are called to be apostles. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says it would be wonderful if we could be ideal apostles like John, who stayed faithful at the foot of the cross until the end. But we are real people like Peter. And like Peter, despite our limitations, we can feed the Lord’s sheep.

"Do You Love Me?"

This was the question Jesus asked Peter three times in this Gospel story. Fr. John Foley, S. J. asks us to personalize this story. He says Jesus is also calling you by name and asking you, “Do you love me?” Let it echo inside you. Stay with it. Think about it. Pray about it.

It is this friendship with Jesus is the one essential thing of life. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. states. However, just like the apostles, we might not recognize Jesus everytime. So the next time you are asked to do something for somebody and you think it beneath your dignity, Fr. James Gilhooley says reflect on this Gospel. And then go out and do whatever the task is.

It is only by living according to this value system of Jesus, explains Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA - attending Mass, by personal prayer, celebrating the sacraments and reading scripture - that we deepen our relationship with Jesus. While Peter was literally asked to give his life for Christ. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS tells us that not all are asked to be nailed to a cross like Peter. But we will all die. And at the moment of our death we can give ourselves to God, an ultimate surrender to the will of God.

And in a wonderful dissertation, Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS ably points out that this resurrections tory describes the four steps in the ministry of reconciliation: accompaniment, hospitality, making connections and commissioning. While Fr. Ron Rolheiser tells us that this Gospel story reminds us that Baptism means derailment. To submit to love is to be baptized, namely, to let our lives be forever interrupted. To not let our lives be interrupted is to say no to love.

Christ's Resurrection

We continue our Eastertide celebration with this great article from the Summa Theologica. St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the great Church scholars, reflects on the Resurrection and gives his five reasons Christ rose from the dead. And in response to a reader question, Fr.John Bartunek offers up "50 Days of Celebrating Easter," ideas that families may use to continue the Easter celebration for the entire season.

Youth minister Jerome Placido recalls the pastor from his old parish always urging people to continue living as an “Easter People.” As a young person back then, he said he never actually understood, nor tried to understand, exactly what it meant. Until this past week as he reflected on the Resurrection of our Lord.

In his "There is a Freedom in Holiness," Msgr. Charles Pope asks, "Is the Christian moral life just a list of dos and don’ts?" He said we should look at Church teachings as more of a description rather than merely a prescription, more as freedom rather than limits. Check out what he means.

Eric Sammons wrote previously that the Catholic’s proper response to Church scandals is to become a saint. Then someone asked by email, “How do you become a saint?” He says he doesn't see sainthood as something mysterious or ethereal. Here are the five steps he would recommend to becoming saints. And blogger Webster Bull offers yet another powerful reason in his blog "Why I am Catholic" - To Be an Old Man Who Goes to Mass Every Day.

It's Confirmation Season

It's going on in many parishes across the country. Our young - and old - are receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. Here's a ParishWorld Confirmation Primer that offers several articles explaining this Sacrament.

And with Confirmation, comes sponsors or godparents. Have you ever wondered why some people have very involved godparents and sponsors, while others don't even know theirs? Perhaps part of the problem is that many godparents and sponsors were chosen for the wrong reasons, or because those same people don't really know what they're supposed to do! Do you? This update will help us to better understand these roles.

Sadly after Confirmation, many of our confirmed "graduate" and drop off from being active Catholics. So how do we keep our youth active after Confirmation? This parish in Minnesota says, "Try the Coffee Shop Approach." Does it work? With this program, 80% of their Confirmation students came back and assumed an active role in parish life.

On a deeper level, Russell Shaw points out that where people suppose that sacramental liturgy is only a symbolic act to which those who perform it assign its meaning, the devising of liturgical settings naturally emphasizes values like novelty and excitement. Practically speaking, as then–Cardinal Ratzinger has pointed out, they aim to entertain. But the more entertaining the celebrations become, the more support they’ll lend to the belief that what is going on is symbolic, nothing more. "Rediscovering the Sacramental Sense" is a must-read for all Catholics.

Lifestyle & Parenting

A national survey commissioned by the U.S. episcopal conference shows that parents are concerned about what their children see on TV. And they want more help to control the amount of sex, violence and drugs viewed by children. Also from U.S. bishops' conference, they are offering this month a series of tips to protect young people from abuse. April is designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the staff of the various dioceses nationwide are renewing their programs and efforts to protect young people.

Have you heard of "Mary, Undoer of Knots?" Lori Hadacek Chaplinreports that it was the Blessed Mother who helped heal a rift between her and an extended family member that an apology would not easily mend. The devotion that came to her help is called Mary, Undoer of Knots.

In a best possible world, anyone who was called to the married life would find a faithful Catholic spouse. Yet, the reality is many Catholics end up marrying someone who does not share their faith. If you are in such a relationship, "One Love, Two Faiths" is for you.

Finally, how well do you think can a family of four eat on just $68.88 a week? That's the food stamp budget for a family of four. For more than 38 million Americans, it's more than a matter of conjecture. And "Eating well on $68.88 a week" offers great insights on how to make it work.

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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Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Second Sunday in Easter (2EasterC), April 11, 2010

Burning Question: Should you Confess before Communion?
Featured Blog: Easter is not a low-budget Christmas
Priests Stories: From Math Teacher to Archbishop
Pastoral Hispana: La Iglesia de Jesús

Dear Friends,

On this Second Sunday of Easter, we always hear the Gospel of Doubting Thomas proclaimed. This Gospel always leaves us pondering two main questions: “Why do we have doubts?” and, “Why do we have faith?” This Sunday is also Divine Mercy Sunday. Our Discussion Questions this week will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Doubts and Faith

In each of the New Testament accounts, Jesus appeared first to women, not to men. In each case the women believed. Usually he then sent the women to the males, who in each case did not believe. Fr. John Foley, S. J. says this was Jesus' way of asking the disciples to take a leap of faith. And just like the disciples, today we also find our faith subjected to the many buffets inevitable to living in a secular society. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS explains how we also frequently wonder if all we were taught was true.

"Peace be with you; do not be afraid," Jesus tells the disciples. He offers evidence, but in the end he asks for an act of faith. Fr. Phil Bloom tells us that this act of faith must be absolute. There is no middle ground. And we have this faith, says Fr. Joseph Pellegrino, because we have experienced the Love of God in our lives as individuals and as a people.

We often assume that those who knew Jesus in the flesh had a great advantage over the rest of us. However, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. assures us that the risen Lord is far more present to us now in the Spirit than he ever was in the flesh. It is therefore important, says Fr. James Gilhooley, that we lives worthy of the risen Christ as we salute this sacred season. We must ensure that our genuine joy is not "make believe."

Divine Mercy, Forgiveness & Reconciliation

Several years ago, the Catholic Church declared the Sunday after Easter “Divine Mercy Sunday.” Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB explains that it is not really a new feast established to celebrate St. Faustina Kowalska’s (1905-1938) revelations. Rather Divine Mercy Sunday recovers an ancient liturgical tradition, reflected in a teaching attributed to St. Augustine about the Easter Octave, which he called "the days of mercy and pardon," and the Octave Day itself "the compendium of the days of mercy."

So what exactly is “mercy” anyway, and what does it have to do with the Easter season? Dr. Marcellino d'Ambrosio tells us that salvation begins now as we are released from the bonds of fear and anxiety by the forgiveness of our sins. Thus, Father Cusick proclaims, Confession is an Easter sacrament. Celebrate Easter, celebrate Confession.

As we ask God for forgiveness, we also are asked to forgive. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, MS says forgiveness is not something we do for other people. We do it for ourselves – to get well and to move on. To forgive is really to remember that love is more important than being right; that we have room in our hearts to begin again.

Papal Reflections, Baptism and Celebrating Eastertide

Eastertide, or the Easter Season, or Paschal Time, is the period of fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. For the early Christians, Easter was celebrated at high pitch for eight days, and then at a more moderate but still festive pace for another 42 days, till Pentecost. So quite appropriately, Joseph Sinasac reminds us that Easter is not a low-budget Christmas. It is in fact Easter that gives faith its meaning. Fr. Romy Seleccion, MS offers his "Ten Alleluias of the Resurrection," a wonderful reflection on the meaning of Easter.

Paul Dion, STL adds that it's the season of new life and vitality. This is the season when we revisit our Baptism and resurrect with Jesus into a new life. Thus, it's quite timely that we introduce this Baptism article from Msgr. Charles Pope. It is tragic to him as a Catholic priest that many parents bring their children to baptism almost as though baptism was no more than a flu shot: Take it and forget it.

From the Vatican, Pope Benedict said in his Easter vigil homily that "indeed, the cure for death does exist" and it is baptism. And on Easter Sunday, he affirmed that the resurrection of Christ is an event that changed the course of history and reversed the destiny of death the whole world faced. He said it indeed changed the world, but it isn't magic.

Observing Mass & Confessing Contraception

The Church teaches that artificial birth control is seriously sinful. Yet, Msgr. Owen F. Campion observes, many Catholics never confess using artificial birth control. Maybe because they have convinced themselves that the Church is wrong. He urges those who have thusly sinned to Confess the use of contraception to their priests.

Is Mass boring to you? If so, be reminded that Holy Mass is about love, says Bishop Javier Echevarría Rodríguez, prelate of Opus Dei. He continues, "You say the Mass is long and, I add, because your love is short." And continuing on this topic, we thought it appropriate to bring back a 2005 interview with Cardinal Francis Arinze who said, "The Mass is a moment of reflection and encounter with God, rather than a form of entertainment."

We also would like to introduce our new ParishWorld blog "For the Catholic Holy Mass." We've been compiling this as a resource that aims to give our Catholics a better understanding of the miracle that transpires each time we celebrate Mass.

New Co-Adjutor for Los Angeles Diocese & More

Confirming the rumors that rumbled though the Vatican over the Easter weekend, Pope Benedict has appointed the successor to LA's Cardinal Roger Mahony upon his retirement next year. Many say he's the “perfect choice.” During his tenure as Archbishop of San Antonio since 2005, Archbishop Jose Gomez has distinguished himself as a theologically solid Catholic leader, one who is unafraid to step into controversy whenever the need arises.

Then we bring you the inspiring story of David Calvillo. For years he ignored his mother's pleas to pray the rosary, a thing he associated with old ladies and funerals. Now he's trying to sell others on the rosary's "power and strength," creating an online group called "Real Men Pray the Rosary."

And if you haven't heard about "Letters To Priests, Thanking The Men Of The Catholic Church," you should. This new book in production aims to publish letters from the public thanking their priests for their many blessings. The publishers are soliciting letters from the public for inclusion in this book. Spread the word around.

Now here's a story about a Catholic actor who sticks to his convictions. He got booted from his new ABC show for refusing to do on-screen sex scenes. Neal McDonough is a devout Catholic family man who is known to the American public as one of the characters from “Band of Brothers” and as the bad guy on “Desperate Housewives.”

Easter Eggs, Easter Edith and Predetermination

Midway through Holy Week, Marion Fernandez-Cueto learned that her mother had died in Australia. So how does one reach Easter when stranded in Gethsemane? See how she found faith in hiding Easter eggs. The lesson learned: We must come to Christ again and again. And you will be touched by "Do you believe in Easter?" It's the story of Edith Burns, a woman dying of cancer in a hospital who everyone fondly called Easter Edith.

Plus here's a story in time for Divine Mercy Sunday. An abortionist doctor has turned to the Divine Mercy. He used to perform abortions. Now, Dr. John Bruchalski's mission is to help spread the message of Divine Mercy through his medical practice.

Finally, from our new ParishWorld "For Catholic Teens" blog, college student Joe Martinez writes "Is God Crossing my Stars?" A Quick Question on Fate and Predestination (For Teens!)

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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Thursday, April 1, 2010

"They have taken the Lord from the tomb"

Easter Sunday (EasterC), April 4, 2010

BURNING QUESTION: What two Sacraments were insituted on Holy Thursday?
FEATURED BLOG: Contemplation and Meditation? What's the Difference?

Dear Friends:

This Sunday the Gospel Readings describes that first Easter Sunday when Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb of Jesus early in the morning and sees that the stone had been removed from the tomb. Our Discussion Questions this week will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

The Paschal Triduum

Lent comes to an end before the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. That liturgy begins the Triduum, the great Three Days that celebrate the central mystery of our faith - the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of the Lord.

It would be a tragedy to let this season of grace go by without taking some time for extended prayer and reflection. So we have put together for you a Triduum Guide by Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. which offers suggestions for prayers during these holy days. We also have compiled for you "A Practical Guide to the Liturgies of Holy Week" by Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M. And if you want to follow the Papal Holy Week Liturgies presided over by Benedict XVI, they will be available online in a live video and audio stream. We give you the link.

So steal away for as much time as you can and let the Spirit help you pick and choose which devotions will best help you make the most of this special time.

Holy Thursday

To celebrate the Eucharist, says Father Thomas Rosica, CSB, is to commit oneself to a discipleship that "remembers" Jesus, not only in the ritual breaking of the bread and sharing the cup, but also in the "imitation" of Jesus, in the ongoing breaking of one's own body and spilling of one's own blood "in remembrance" of Jesus."

From Jerusalem, Paul Dion, STL presents to you his Holy Thursday report "Do this in memory of me." It is part of our Holy Week from the Holy Land Series that brings you today to the actual place where it all happened some 2,000 years ago.

Good Friday

In his Reflection for Good Friday, Father Thomas Rosica, CSB says the day shows us where God is - there, hanging on the wood of the cross in Jerusalem, and on the crosses throughout the world where people are betrayed, abandoned, denounced, abused, mocked or humiliated. Yet it is only there that we receive the mystery of the death that gives life.

While Dr. Marcelino d'Ambrosio submits this powerfully poetic sermon on the Cross of Christ as the Cosmic Tree. It was preached during Holy Week in the early church, somewhere around the 5th century, by someone whose name has been lost.

Today's Jerusalem is a crowded place just like it was during the time of Jesus. In his Holy Land Report, Paul Dion, STL describes in great detail how he developed a deeper appreciation of the Passion of our Lord as he tried to pray the Way of the Cross on Good Friday along the busy Via Dolorosa. As he jostled his way through the wild Jerusalem crowds, he pretty much could imagine how our Lord had to fight HIs way through these very same crowds as He carried His cross down these cobbled-stone streets 2000 years ago.

And from the Vatican, the Pope's former vicar for Rome, said Good Friday's Way of the Cross in the Colosseum can be a precious occasion to help believers go to the heart of the faith.

Holy Saturday

This Holy Saturday reading on the descent of the Lord Jesus into Hell is used in the Roman Church's Office of Readings for Holy Saturday, with the accompanying biblical reading of Hebrews 4:1-13. What did the Apostles Creed mean when it says, "He Descended into Hell?" Check out this biblical reflection by an early Church Father.

Easter Sunday: An affirmation of hope

Sunday is the day of Easter joy. Yet, even as we celebrate we are painfully aware that for many people it is still Good Friday. Every day it seems there is something to remind us of the poverty, injustice, and violence of our world. Fr. Ron Rolheiser says it's fair and reflective to wonder: Where is the resurrection in all of this? Why is God seemingly so inactive? Where is the vindication of Easter Sunday?

Fr. Jim Kirstein SMA says the the resurrection doesn’t mean that we gloss over pain, suffering and difficult daily life situations, but it does give us a new vision of life. It gives us the freedom to face the dark side of life, and even death with confidence knowing that Jesus broke the bonds of human limitation and death. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino adds further that we will always remember the Passion, but we are not people of suffering, and torture and death. We are people of life and of hope.

While Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB explains to us that our Easter celebration is an affirmation of hope in a world that appears to experience the pain of Good Friday more than the joy of Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday: Jesus alive and present among us

Fr. James Gilhooley shares this Easter Sunday sequence from the Roman Missal which sums up the entire scene in beautiful language: "Death and life were locked together in a unique struggle. Life's Captain died. Now He reigns, no more to die."

What about you? Do you believe Jesus is risen from the dead? If not, how much further do you have to go? Fr. John Foley, S.J. says the greatest of all Easter truths is this: God’s love is stronger than life itself, stronger than death. The Resurrection is molded out of love. If you know that, blessed are you as you come to believe.

And how is Jesus alive and present among us? Is our own friendship with Christ contagious? Do we burn with love for him? Do people avoid us because of our coldness? These are the questions Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB challenges us to answer. While Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS reminds us that the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus ought to restore passion to our life. He says passion drives us to share the Love of God in creative, innovative ways with those around s. Passion is what gives life to life.

Also this Easter, thousands are planning to become Catholic, including a man who almost lost his life five times as a soldier in Iraq. The U.S. bishops' conference shared the story of Jeremy Feldbusch, 30, from Blairsville, Pennsylvania, who is among the thousands preparing to enter the Church Saturday evening. Plus, two of the many thousands who will join the Catholic Church this Easter are a mother and daughter from Japan. Their story is unique because the family's father is a Shinto priest.

Youth Life

"A Guide to Lent and Easter for Young People" is an article written with young readers in mind. However, the ideas are big, and you may want to read with them, or simply use this page as a guide to talk to your child about Lent in general.

From Rome, Italian prelates concluding their Permanent Council Meeting noted that it is harder than ever for young people to learn the faith, because the culture keeps them from maturing and developing their freedom. And from Wasghingotn DC, Grand Knight Carl Anderson struck a similar note. While discussing "Young Catholics and Moral Relativism," he said the next generation of Catholcis face unique challenges and opportunities.

A Billionaire Keeps His Word

Here's someone who means what he says. Albert Gubay, an 82-year-old English billionaire has pledged all but $15 million of his $1.1 billion fortune to charity, fulfilling a promise made to God while he was still poor.

Finally, we know that developing good habits is the basic of personal development and growth. Unfortunately, not all the habits that we have are good, that’s why we are constantly trying to improve. Check out this list of 30 practical habits that can make a huge difference in your life.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed Easter.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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