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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