Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

In Sunday’s Gospel for Nov. 6, 2011 - 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew’s recount of the 10 virgins sits amidst numerous parables about the heavenly kingdom. In fact, all three of the readings today are end-of-times in nature. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

In the course of the liturgical year have worked our way through the whole Gospel and now we come to that point just before the events of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection. Sunday’s First Reading reminds us peacefully and beautifully to watch for God at sunrise; to keep vigil because Wisdom (the Holy Spirit of God) actually is searching for those who are waiting. God's wisdom “meets them with all solicitude.” The Responsorial Psalm boldly names our craving for God. “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God,” the antiphon says. And, stay awake, the Gospel adds. Make preparations. Do not be foolish. Do not forget to forego.

Familiar Warnings for Nominal Christians

From the perspective of secular philosophy, the end of life is simply the end of everything. In such a situation, the monks at St. Vincent Archabbey tells us, it makes sense to be interested primarily in acquiring power and using it for one’s own purposes. If the teaching of Jesus is trustworthy, however, such a program of life will lead to an unhappy surprise at the end.

We believe that Christ will "come again in glory to judge the living and the dead," as we say each Sunday in the Creed during the Divine Liturgy. What does that mean for you and me? Fr. Orlando Sapuay, MS says part of the answer comes from the "Parable of the Ten Maidens." This Gospel is simply reminding us that there is another life. And it is for that life that we live this life. God wants us freely to choose Him. But, the Abbot of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert reminds us, we can also choose against Him. Or we can just choose to ignore Him.

Being "ready" in today's Gospel meant for Matthew the performance of good works. But, as Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB explains, we know that there were other obligations to be fulfilled as well: abstinence from bad behavior (15:19); love of enemies (5:44); love of other Christians (24:12); forgiveness of those who have wronged us (18:21-35); bold faith (21:21); loyalty to Jesus (10:32); and love of God (22:37). This attitude of readiness and longing can be cultivated in our prayer life. In that most familiar of all prayers the Our Father we reverently say the words "thy kingdom come." Fr. Alex McAllister says these three words are a very compact way of saying that we long for its coming and that we really do want to be ready when Christ comes.


Wisdom is offered to us by God this Sunday, particulaly in the First Reading. But God does not push her off on us. She is found and recognized only by those who are alert and actively seek her out as we make our way back to God, the God who has gifted us with His wisdom, the wisdom to seek and find Him in this life and in the next.

However, college student Anusia Dickow admits that frequently she feels the difficulty of attaining wisdom. This could be because more often than not, Fr. Ron Rolheiser explains, being “intelligent and clever” is something that can work against our understanding of the deeper secrets within life and faith.

You and I desire God more than anything else. At the center of our souls is a thirst that will never be slaked unless the God of all creation comes in person to be living water for us.The task is to become post-sophisticated, that is, to remain full of intelligence and learning even as we put on again to the mindset of a child. But since we are not children, Fr. John Foley, S. J. points out, we can overlook the joy or pleasure when our goal finally arrives because our minds have for so long ignored our desires.

Stewardship and End of Times

Fr. Joseph Pellegrino explains the background of the Second Reading. Some of the people in Thessalonica were so convinced that the end of time was coming soon, that they had stopped working. Paul had to write a second letter to Thessalonica saying that those who were unwilling to work should not eat and condemning those who instead of remaining busy were acting like busy bodies.

Living out our Time, Talent and Treasure is so very important. We don’t know when the Lord’s return will take place or when we will be ushered from this earth. So as stewards of God’s manifold gifts, Fr. John J. Ludvik tells us that we must use all of the time we have – every minute that passes – wisely. We need to devote our lives to developing the talents we have been given, as in our Gospel reading, and fulfilling our responsibilities in our families, as exemplified by the worthy wife of the first reading.

The Rapture

Sunday's second reading contains a reference to an event sometimes called "the rapture." In fact, First Thessalonians 4:17 is the only biblical reference to a rapture in relation to the Second Coming of Jesus. So Fr. Phil Bloom gives it a much-deserved closer look. We also thought it prudent at this point to bring back from our archives a great article on the Catholic understanding of Rapture.

And so as we reflect upon the Gospel parable, let us remember that the purpose of oil in a lamp is to produce fire. If our lamps are empty, we cannot have the fire of Christ burning in our hearts. In Communion we receive Jesus. When you think about it, He is the "oil" for our lamps. We want His fire in our hearts. I cannot give it to you. No one else can do it for you. You have to know Him and He has to know you.

Prayer and the Saints

Many Protestants object to invoking the saints in prayer for the good reason that they feel that this practice obscures the mediation of Christ. However, the Catholic Church teaches that the prayers of Saints in Heaven are still mediated to God the Father through Jesus Christ. Christ is the one mediator between God and man, whether those men are in heaven or on earth. But just how do Saints in Heaven 'Hear' Us? Taylor Marshall explains that the answer is the Holy Spirit. St. Augustine taught that just as the Church is the body of Christ, so the Holy Spirit is the "soul of the Church."

One such saint is Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Fr. Dwight Longenecker shares the blessed experience that one fine day he met a saint - this tiny unassuming old nun who tended to the poor in India. And so we look to these very same Saints to be our role models in prayer. But how do they pray? Marc John Paul writes that the constant prayer of the Saints is not an effort to become good at praying. Rather it is a fiery effort to pray each time as if for the very first time. It requires perseverance and faith to achieve such a prayer life.

We can't do it alone. The Holy Spirit does, for us, what we can't do in our prayer. With this in mind, Marcel from Aggie Catholics share with us his "12 Tips For Overcoming Difficulties in Prayer." While Carmelite Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D. discusses prayer and six practical means to overcome sins and faults of the tongue.

The Church, Liturgy, the New Roman Missal

George Weigel can't wait for the long-awaited introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal. It takes place on Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent. He discusses the “changes in the words” of the liturgy and how it offer the Church a golden opportunity to confront, and then break, some bad liturgical habits that have accumulated over the past several decades. One such bad habit is explored by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf. He talks about people who arrive at Mass really late and then go to Communion. Meanwhile he also offers to priests and bishops a critical way to revive our Catholic identity. He asks them to engage in a grassroots effort to revive the Sacrament of Penance.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap. also spoke this week. He said it’s not enough to approve of His teachings, or to know “about” Him. We need to love Him. We need to be with Jesus, and in Jesus. And no one can ever be fully “with” Jesus if she or he rejects the Catholic Church, the Church Jesus founded precisely to act in His name and fulfill His promise, so that He would remain with us until the end of time.Our Burning Question relates quite well: Must we believe the Church 100% to be Catholic?

And here's one ministry that's taking this mission to heart. Catholics Come Home has announced a major prime time evangelization initiative set to air on American TV networks beginning in mid-Advent and ending after Christmas. The initiative’s advertising campaign aims to reach 250 million television viewers in over 10,000 U.S. cities and in every U.S. diocese.

And from the US Congress, some good news arrived this week. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a resolution reaffirming the United States’ official motto: “In God We Trust.” The non-binding resolution, introduced by Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., passed by a vote of 396 to 9. It encourages the motto’s public display “in all public buildings, public schools and other government institutions.” It now falls upon President Obama to sign it into law.

Safe Computing

Finally, let's talk about computers and how dependent we have become upon them more than ever before. Julie Myers offers 10 tips that will help you protect your computer and ultimately the information stored on it.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. A blessed and happy new week to all.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Must we believe the Church 100% to be Catholic?
FEATURED BLOG: Breaking Bad Liturgical Habits

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