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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  1. Anonymous8:23 AM

    I believe that we have faith, in Jesus, a gift from God, and then, religion,,a very flawed and as we learn every day,completely corrupt institution.. I grew up in a time when the community was very strong and is the old boys hierarchy going to recover that? and as to confession, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

  2. Paul Dion, STL11:09 AM

    Mr. Anonymous, here's part 1 of my reply

    We have faith in Jesus, a gift from God and have faith in the religion that He gave us. Our religion, in fact our Church, is not perfect. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says as much.

    "769 "The Church . . . will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven," at the time of Christ's glorious return. Until that day, "the Church progresses on her pilgrimage amidst this world's persecutions and God's consolations." Here below she knows that she is in exile far from the Lord, and longs for the full coming of the Kingdom, when she will "be united in glory with her king." The Church, and through her the world, will not be perfected in glory without great trials. Only then will "all the just from the time of Adam, 'from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect,' . . . be gathered together in the universal Church in the Father's presence."
    (#769, Catechism of the Catholic Church)

    "I grew up in a time when the community was very strong and respected."

    I cannot count the number of times I am told this. Please be patient, I am going to list some examples when the community of God committed some huge, historical sins. Should I start with the rebellion of the angels? Should I mention what Cain did to Abel? Maybe you've forgotten about Babel? Have you forgotten the idolatry of the Israelites that Moses discovered when he came down from Sinai? Maybe I should mention that Moses himself was denied entry to the Promised Land. What about the Israelites who demanded to have a king so that they could be like the other nations?

    By now you are fed up with this Old Testament stuff. Let's cut to the chase and ask ourselves just how peaceful and respectful the community that dragged Jesus before the Roman Tribunal was? Those Temple people, Sadducees and High Priests sure were sweethearts! Maybe you've forgotten that. Have you forgotten about the cheating ways of Ananias and Sapphira, members of the Community of Followers, whose story is told in chapter 5 of the Acts of the Apostles.

    Maybe you have not carefully assimilated the writings of St. Paul who was never afraid to berate the Corinthians and others of their ilk for the disrespect that reigned in their liturgies. Have you forgotten the mutual excommunication of the Church of the East and the Church of the West at the altar of St. Sophia in Constantinople? We shouldn't forget Luther, should we? Good Catholic monk that he was!

    Be patient, I'm almost at our time. Let me start with Pius XII. He took away the midnight fast before communion. He changed the Friday sacrifice from meatless meals to a sacrifice of your choice. That caused a lot of stir.

  3. Paul Dion, STL11:13 AM

    Mr. Anonymous, here's part 2 of my response:

    I almost forgot, you want me to mention the priests who were so holy back when you were growing up. I grew up very close to the Church and to its people. Here are some of the things that I saw.

    Priests fathering children by women in the parish, some married, some not. My godfather was an active homosexual and never once missed communion. I am sure that there were any number of priests who were homosexual. Priest alcoholics, many of them. Priest addicted gamblers, many of them. Priest haters of blacks who would not accept black children into the parochial school. Priest embezzlers of parish funds.

    Mr. Anonymous, after having said all of that, here is what true believers see. Just as Jesus answered the Temple Officials who asked Him in Chapter 9 of St. John, ""What? Are we blind too?" Jesus responded, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains." (John 9; 41) Jesus knew their sins, just as they knew their sins. His faith never wavered. The man who had been cured, did not waver. He could see. What could he see?

    Let's make a comment about Thomas. This man too, could see, even before the Resurrection.. Go to John 11, verse 16 and listen to Thomas say, "Let us go too, and die with Him." Now, that is tough faith. With the eyes of faith, these two men could see God. We are called to see the same. We are called to see God in His Church. We are called to see the Divine Glory of our Religion. We are called to see the 2000 year history of our Church. We are called to see the fulfillment of the promise "that the doors of hell will not prevail against her." We are called to see the power that our religion has to drive its adherents to live heroically virtuous lives. We are called to see Christ everywhere and to be a loyal disciple of Him, and Him alone.
    We are not called to be disciples of any individual member of the Church. We are not called to be liberal or conservative. We are not called to be judges of our fellow Catholics, lay, priest or religious. We are called to be fruit bearing wheat in a field of weeds.

    We have to remember that the most beautiful flowers and the richest foods that we grow thrive on gross animal waste material. Through it, they reach for the sun. We are called to reach for the Son.

    Mr. Anonymous, get your eyes off the fertilizer and focus on the Son through the light that His gift of Catholicism gives us, including the opportunity to go to confession to Him through His priest.