Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Whoever loves me will keep my word"

Sixth Sunday in Easter (6EasterC), May 9, 2010

BURNING QUESTION: What is the Holy Spirit in your life?
FEATURED STORY: What's bringing so many Catholics home?
PRIEST STORIES: Priests aren't immune to temptations
PASTORAL HISPANA: El Espiritu Santo nos Recordara Todo

Dear Friends,

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that he is leaving them and returning to the Father. They are going to experience loss, they are going to miss Jesus who has been their teacher and guide and who has changed them so much. But he reassures them by saying that he is going to leave them the Holy Spirit to be their advocate. Our Discussion Questions this week will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

John's Gospel obviously displays a much more developed theology then the three synoptic gospels. However, it was still written early in the so-called sub-apostolic time. The remarkable fact is not that there is a strong theological slant to it. Rather it is surprising how relatively early in the history of the early Church a strong Trinitarian perspective has emerged.

A Church in Turmoil - Then and Now

The early Church community in Jerusalem was not without its problems! Several of the controversies are evident in Sunday's first reading from Chapter 15 of the Acts of the Apostles. The people addressed in the first reading were absolutely convinced that since salvation came through the Jewish people, a person could not become a Christian unless he or she first became a Jew. The same could be said about the second reading.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says this Council of Jerusalem left us a model for dealing with difficult situations in the Church. Both the theological issues and the feelings of people were very important for the apostles. Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio explains further that this Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 brings up a very interesting point -- in discerning the proper interpretation of the Scriptures and of the will of God, where do we turn for guidance, the teaching authority of the Church, or to the Holy Spirit?

Today, our Church - from the Vatican to our local parishes - still has its own share of troubles. The recent sexual abuse cases by clergy are still in the news. Speaking about it, Salesian Father Enrico dal Covolo noted that priests are not immune to temptations. And like the Apostles, they can fall. Even in our local parish ministries, petty quarrel never cease to manifest itself.

But despite it all, the Catholic faithful remain steadfast. A new poll says 86% of Catholics have not allowed the abuse scandal to shake their Faith. And hundreds of thousands of fallen-away Catholics, and even non-Catholics, continue to find their way home to Rome, thanks to an apostolate in the New Evangelization started by a former advertising executive who is spearheading The bottom line, according to Fr. Phil Bloom, is that disunity, criticism and complaining can destroy faith, but unity - working for a common vision - can lead others to faith.

"The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name"

Father Cusick explains how Jesus the Lord sends the Holy Spirit, and Jesus and the Father are also revealed and made present to us by the Holy Spirit of love. Fr. Andrew M. Greeley says this truth is revealed to test our faith, not to provide theologians with raw material for their speculations (though there is nothing wrong with that), but to dazzle us with the brightness of God's glory, the power of God's knowledge and the passion of God's love. If you and I say yes to this Spirit, Fr. John Foley, S. J. explains that in knowing Jesus we will know the Father. We will find him in the Mass, in the Great Eucharistic Sacrament, in prayer, in the people around us.

Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. says the Holy Spirit is given to us as one who stands at our side, in bright days and dark, to help us understand the reality of this love of God that Jesus offers to us. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS says we need to turn to the Holy Spirit and ask him to be our consoler. We need to tell him our story and explain our troubles and unpack our feelings. We usually call this prayer, the name isn’t important but the time and the frequency are.

"Peace I leave with you"

Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says it takes a huge step to trust God to bring us happiness. When we accept in faith the testimony of Jesus about the love of God for us, we are liberated from the need to worry excessively about ourselves and are thus enabled to become more aware of others and more ready to share our love with them.

Fr. James Gilhooley reminds us that to profess love for God and forget His commands may be our idea of bliss, but it is not Christianity. Rather, it is the Gospel according to you and me. It is decaffeinated Christianity. And one comes up with a faux Jesus. If we believe in the resurrection of Jesus, explains Fr. Ron Rolheiser, we can stare the empirical facts in the face, no matter how bad, and know that injustice, selfishness, violence, loneliness, chaos, and death are only an interim chapter in the story.

Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. tells us that what Jesus promises is peace brought about by full harmony with God - for salvation. It is a peace that surpasses understanding, according to college sophomore Colleen Corcoran. She explains the stark contrast she feels between nominal peace and the spiritual peace that Jesus offers. Although not as tangible, God’s peace always seems more substantial.

The Price of Our Faith

It is too easy to take our faith for granted. Msgr. Charles Pope reminds us how we can complain about the Mass being “too long" or boring. Perhaps the air conditioning or PA system is less than ideal. Perhaps the Church’s moral teaching seems too demanding or “out of touch.” But have you recalled that the apostles died in torture so you could have this faith? He shows us exactly how they suffered.

Catholic blogger Webster Bull is one who appreciates it. He said one of the reasons he is Catholic is that no matter what happens to us - drink too much last night, argue stupidly with the spouse, thrashing over a problematic relationship or a financial problem - the church door is unlocked somewhere near you and Mass is about to begin.

And here's a reader question many will find quite useful. How does one peacefully handle telling fallen away Catholic family members, that they should not receive the Eucharist while attending the Sacrament of First Holy Communion? Fr. John Bartunek, LC responds with some practical and kind suggestions.

Happy Mothers Day

The month of May is the time when we Catholics traditionally celebrate our Blessed Mother. Here are a few of our favorite May Marian feasts, perfect if you’re looking for a special way to honor Mother Mary this month. And Sunday is Mothers Day. Cheryl Dickow shares a reflection about the blessings she has received from her now 70-year-old mother through the years. Chastity Brown talsk about the happiness and challenges she went through as she celebrated her very first Mother's Day. Then my friend Raoul Pascual shares a special Mothers Day list of reflections he calls "Somebody said..."

And to all the mothers out there, you know that you are priceless in the eyes of your family. However, you are also valuable. According to this one study, the services you provide your family is worth a lot of money if you were actually compensated for them. And what's the magic number? A full-time stay-at-home mother would earn $134,121 a year if paid for all her work, an amount similar to a top U.S. ad executive, a marketing director or a judge.

Two Movie Reviews by Sr. Hosea

Sister Hosea Rupprecht, FSP, is a Daughter of St. Paul. she is also an associate at the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Culver City, one of the leading media literacy centers in the country. This week she reviews two movies for us.

"Preacher’s Kid" releases in a Blu-ray and DVD combo pack with digital copy to stores on May 4th. Christians will recognize the parallel between Preacher’s Kid and the Parable of the Prodigal Son from the Gospel of Luke in this moving coming-of-age story.

"Babies" was released in theaters on May 7th. She notes that in advertising, it’s said that nothing sells like animals and babies. After watching Babies, a new film from award-winning French director, Thomas Balmes, Sr. Hosea is even more convinced it’s true. For a few short minutes during this film, we are transformed into their world and reminded of the joy life can be. Check it out in a movie theater near you.

Another eventful week in our Catholic world. Have a great and blessed new week. Happy Mothers Day to all mothers out there.

Keep the Faith Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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