Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Truly this man was the Son of God!"

Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem was an act of superb bravado. He was coming onto center stage. This was high noon. There was a price on His head. He was an outlaw wanted dead or alive. Our Discussion Questions for April 1, 2012, Palm Sunday, will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Welcome to Holy Week. This Sunday we receive a palm branch - in memory of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio notes that when our Lord entered Jerusalem, they hailed him with palms. Then, in terrible contrast, we will hear about the betrayal of Jesus, his humiliation by public scourging and then...the cross. We read about both events on a Sunday with two names (Palm and Passion) but featuring the same Lord and the same fickle crowd. A day of both joy and sorrow.

We would be so blessed to roam the streeets of Jerusalem today during Holy Week and allow the city to transport us back in time to the days when these events were transpiring. Paul Dion, STL did just that in 2008. And he shares with us his journey of faith as one who walked on the very streets Jesus walked during Holy Week some 2000 years ago.

Preparing to Enter Jerusalem

We prepare now with Christ to enter the holiest of weeks in which we celebrate all of the events leading up to his passion, death and burial. And in doing so, Father Cusick tells us, we recall how by His death He has transformed our death from a curse into the door of eternal life.

Fr. Alex McAllister SDS notes that prior to entering Jerusalem, it seems Jesus Himself had also made some private arrangements without the knowledge of his disciples. The good father describes how he was struck by the similarity between the account of getting the donkey for the ride into Jerusalem, that we have at the beginning of the mass, with the account of the preparations made for the Passover feast. In both cases it seems as though these events were pre-planned by our Lord.

His Triumphant Entry

This Sunday is called “Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion.” Notice, there are two halves to it, palms and passion. They stand in jarring contrast to each other. And the parade begins. Fr. James Gilhooley observes that this would be the only demonstration where Jesus would positively encourage people to salute Him as King. All other times He would not hear of it.

Crowds along the way greeted Jesus as their royal hero. They smoothed their coats on the roadway, then covered them with palm branches cut from the fields. This was in order to soften the pathway for the kingly one, and to keep the dirt off of him. They cried out, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” This Sunday during the Mass, the people will also be holding palms during the ritual procession, just as did those who lined the road long ago. Fr. John Foley, S. J. points out to us that this opening part of this Mass is more than just an historical re-enactment, it is a proclamation of Jesus precisely as king. It is the first half of the jarring contrast.

But Jesus looks beyond the joyous crowd. He can look into our hearts instead. The people who are now paying the highest honor to him will be the same people who will condemn him in a few hours. Fr. Jboy Gonzales, SJ explains to us that Jesus knows something beyond our comprehension.

On the Cross

Crucifixion was devised and designed by the Romans as capital punishment, to put a criminal to death. It was designed to inflict optimal physical pain. But crucifixion was designed with still another even more callous intent. Fr. Ron Rolheiser says it was designed to humiliate the person.

Father Raniero Cantalamessa reminds us that we are all responsible for Jesus' death. On the cross Jesus took our evil on his shoulders, he bore the full consequences of sin, including the sense of abandonment - separation from God. But in the end, Fr. Phil Bloom points out, the Son of God gave a loud cry - a shout of victory.

Palm Sunday gives us the big picture. And that, Therese Borchard says, is to remind us that only God is constant, nothing else. Only the One who created you is able to love you perfectly and unconditionally. And so, Fr. Orly Sapuay, M.S. exhorts us to vow to live under no power but the sign of the cross---- the sign of the Trinity, the sign of hope in the face of death. Let us go with Him, all the way to glory, for we are bound with Christ in God, in suffering and death and in glory.

The Holiest of Weeks

After spending the last few weeks in the desert of Lent, suddenly we find ourselves in an oasis, clutching long leaves of palms. And then, remember what we are doing, and why. Because as Deacon Greg Kendra points out, of all the calendars in all of human history, this is the seven days that shook the world. This is the week that we are called to draw near the cross, to learn its wisdom and to understand the power of forgiveness and mercy that is the sign of our salvation and freedom.

At the heart of our faith is the Paschal Mystery: the Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ. All of salvation history leads up to and goes forth from these saving events. Dr. Isabel Dion, D. Min. tells us that the liturgical services on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion and the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday) are among the very best things we do in the church. It celebrates Jesus’ passing from this world to his Father. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M. exclaims "Don’t miss the best part!” and offers a practical guide to the Liturgies of Holy Week.

It is precisely during “Holy Week” when Jesus’ public ministry culminated with His suffering, death and resurrection. Msgr. Charles Pope presents a brief description of each day of Jesus’ Final week to serve as our spiritual guide. Prayerfully we can and must walk with Jesus in His most difficult and yet glorious week.

2012 Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA) Awards

It's that time of the year again when we Catholics honor film and TV projects that encapsulate the values us Catholics hold dear to our hearts. The Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA) 19th Annual Mass and Awards Brunch on Sunday, April 29, 2012, will honor the 5-time Academy Award-winning, Martin Scorsese-directed family film Hugo, the Tom Shadyac documentary I Am and ABC Television’s Emmy, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Peabody Award-winning series Modern Family. The Emilio Estevez film The Way, starring Martin Sheen, a previous CIMA Lifetime Achievement Award winner, will receive the CIMA 2012 Board of Directors Award.

The CIMA awards is open to the public and will be held this year at the Beverly Hills Hotel. For 2012 CIMA Award tickets, sponsorship and program advertising visit or call 818.907.2734.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTIONS: What sacraments did Jesus institute on Holy Thursday?
FEATURED BLOG: The Veiling of Images in Lent (Old Passion Sunday)
PASTORAL HISPANA: Hoy entramos triunfantes con Cristo en Jerusalen

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies"

In this Sunday's Readings for Mar. 25, 2012, the Fifth Sunday in Lent, some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover feast say to Philip, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." Jesus responds, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Jesus did many good things for us during his 3 year ministry – but to bear all the fruit he was destined to bear according to the Father’s plan, the seed of his life had to fall into the ground and die. This Sunday’s gospel tells us that He would not settle for less. The question, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio asks, is -- will you?

"Sir, we would like to see Jesus."

No other Gospel contains the story of the Greek travelers who approach the Apostle Philip asking to see Jesus. That is not surprising according to Fr. James Gilhooley. John's work was written to present Christ to the Greeks and Gentiles. His Jesus was designed for export.

Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB explains further that the incident of the Greeks asking to see Jesus marks a turning point in the fourth gospel. Before, as at the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus had always said that his "hour" had not yet come. Now through the symbolic presence of the Greeks, Jesus will be able to draw everyone to himself -- Gentiles as well as Jews, people today as well as people of the first century. We, too, would like to see Jesus.

And how do we know the Lord? Not only know about him, but actually know him? The Greeks in this Sunday's Gospel showed how it begins with this request, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." To see Jesus, that is the key to knowing God. To see Jesus, explains Fr. John Foley, is to enter the "new covenant."

The Crucial Hour

Fr. Joseph Pellegrino explains that through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ, His hour has become our hour, His death has become our life, our deaths have become His life, His love.

And why is all this necessary? Fr. Ron Rolheiser tells us that we will find the answer precisely when we ponder in the biblical sense, namely, when we stand helpless, muted, and frustrated, but listening, before a pain, an illness, or an injustice that so overwhelms us that we are unable to rely on any power -- save that of God. What is taught us there holds the key to everything.

The crucial "hour" when one must choose either to love one's life in this world above everything else, or to love one's life in God, of course, will come in the particular circumstances of one's own world. And that is why we are here. God believes in us enough to love us. Fr. Charles Irvin says God has given Himself to us in Jesus Christ. God offers Himself to us and then waits for our response. Is not that what receiving Him in Holy Communion is all about?

"Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies"

All food has to die first. The grain is plucked from the ground, dies, is crushed, mixed and baked to make bread. The fresh fruit and vegetables we eat were all yanked off their life support and are in the process of death when we eat them. In order for us to sustain life, we live off the dead and the dying.

Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. tells us that in order to follow Jesus, we need to be like a kernel of wheat and die. We have to die to self in order to bear much fruit. But, Father Cusick points out to us, we are not alone in our temptation to reject the crosses by which we are born into life if we will only bear them with patience and courage. Our sharing in baptism is the gift of grace so that we can desire a share in Christ's redemptive passion as the focus and purpose of our lives.

As we live through hard times, struggle with questions about faith, and as we love people we don’t like, God continues to call us closer. Fr. John Foley, S. J. assures us how Jesus continually to tell us, do not worry, child, trust me. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” Jesus tells us. And so may we have eyes to see and ears to hear what the God of love has in store for us.

The Assault on Religion Freedom

Today, March 23, more than 120 cities and towns across the U.S. will hear a demand to stop the Obama administration's contraception mandate and restore the freedom of religious institutions and believers. Click here to find a location near you and join the freedom rallies.

The political conversation from the left continue to try to paint this issue as an affront to women instead of the real assault on religious freedom that it really is. "Where are the women?" they ask mockingly as if women in the Catholic Church are oppressed minions of the heirarchy. Kathryn Jean Lopez replies for the majority of Catholic women when she says, "I am a woman and I’m offended." She adds, " I am offended that, once again, parties in positions of power have decided to pretend that all women are cut from the same political cloth. I am alarmed that religion is increasingly seen not as a vibrant good in our democracy but as a mere sideshow for nostalgic people or citizens in need of a crutch."

The discussion from the left also paints the Catholic Church as out of teach with reality. They say Catholics are weak-minded and brainwashed into their beliefs. So how can we claim that the Catholic explanation of reality is the true one? Anna Williams offers a great answer: because no other explanation suffices.

One of the favorite bats the anti-Catholics like to hit us with is the idea that Catholicism, because it is a dogmatic religion--must therefore stifle free thought and free speech. "How nice for you" the condescending Anglican will say to the convert, "Now you're a Catholic you won't have to think anymore." Or, "It must be nice to be a Catholic and have such 'certainty.'" This is said with a snuffling, cynical laugh because by 'certainty' they mean that you have become a mindless moron. Fr. Dwight Longenecker joins the discussion and offers a sweeping explanantion why dogma is so important in espousing free thought.

And remember Fr. Guarnizo from Washington, DC? He’s the one who withheld communion from a Buddhist lesbian activist. Judith Costello offers her take on this riveting story, drawing tangents on her own personal and family life to make her point. Paul Dion offers a very enlightening preface to this article.

Marriage, Adoption & Porn

Lent seems to be the ideal time to look at marriage. Fr. Jesus Richie Santos, SDB advises all married couples that this season is an ideal time for the renewal of their marriages. So, how does your Lent journey shape what you are called to do in marriage? The good priest offers sage words for married couples.

Brianna Heldt and her husband have three biological children. Then they adopted a child. And something she's regularly asked as an adoptive parent is, "How did you decide to adopt?" She offers ten great reasons that will make you take a second look on your own thoughts on adoption.

An unmarried sixteen year old explains how he somehow thought the “don’t commit adultery” commandment had little to do with him. Now he realizes he couldn’t have been more wrong. The truth is that this commandment isn’t only for married people. It’s violated by all ages – including teenagers – almost daily. Everything’s about sex. Check out this very enlightening article about Porn and The Sixth Commandment.

Born Again? Are You Saved?

Why don't Catholics go around saying ‘we are saved?’ In his parish's bulletin last Sunday, a San Francisco priest explains the age-old theological dispute over salvation. Catholicism holds that we are justified by grace and that grace is caused by faith and good works. Meanwhile Protestantism believes that we are justified by grace and that grace comes through faith alone. This article is one of the best explanations we've seen on this topic. I urge all Catholics, fallen-away Catholics and Protestants to read this and be enlightened.

Which brings us to our Burning Question this week: Do Catholics believe our salvation is a sure thing? Paul Dion, STL leads the discussion and he invites you to jump in.

Growing Your Parish & Tithing

What if your pastor stood up next Sunday and said he wanted to double the size of the parish within one year? That's exactly what happened at Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Catholic parish in Washington DC, a predominantly African-American parish. Monsignor Charles Pope made that bold challenge last September and then got to work. In a year he not only doubled the size of his parish, he also created a community of fervent faith and heightened spiriituality. Watch this video interview and see how you can do the same for your own parish.

Bo Sanchez tells us about this Old Testament verse that’s, uh, how should I put it… a bit bothersome. In this controversial verse, God said, “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings.” Bo pokes our hearts with this challenging question, "Why is not giving your tithe stealing from God?" Chew on that for a minute.

Finally, if you think your iPhone is something, wait until you see this. This video is simply amazing! It shows how glass will radically change our lives sooner rather than later. If you're ever wondering why HP and others are dropping desktops, the answers are in this video and the ideas are mind-boggling. Watch the clip and step into the near future -- "A Day Made of Glass... Made possible by Corning."

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief
Burning Question: Do Catholics believe our salvation is a sure thing?
Featured Blog: Blogging, Preaching, and Doubling the Size of Your Parish
Pastoral Hispana: La hora de Jesus se acerca y podemos vivirla con El

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son"

This Sunday, March 18, 2012, is Laetare Sunday, the joy at one stage of our Lenten journey accomplished and a foretaste of the joy of Easter, which springs from the Cross of Christ. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

We Rejoice

Every Mass, every Sunday, even in Lent is an experience of the joys and splendor of the new Jerusalem, the Church on earth and the heavenly city. Fr. Charles Irvin explains that we celebrate that today, Laetare Sunday, with the rose colored vestments, the playing of the organ and the flowers on the altar, all signs of the Church's joy, alive with the Resurrection, which cannot be contained even in Lent, though we still refrain from Alleluias and the singing of the Gloria until the magnificence of the Easter Vigil.

Our entrance antiphon sets the tone: "Laetare Jerusalem; Rejoice Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her; rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow; that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation."

The Wonderful Good News

Jesus gives us the wonderful good news that "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son." We are included in that world, and it should be most comforting to hear that we are loved by the One who is most capable of loving.

This announcement happens in a conversation with Nicodemus, a knowledgeable church elder. Fr. James Gilhooley advises us however that we should not be hard on Nicodemus. Christ enjoyed his company. He relished His talk with the well-read gentleman. The apostles were hardly brain surgeons. Chats of the type described in Sunday's Gospel with them would have been an exercise in futility.

Furthermore, through this gentleman Nicodemus, we receive a splendid outline of the job definition of the Master as He Himself understood it. Jesus tells Nicodemus what is about to happen. Fr. Alex McAllister, SDS says our Lord reveals to this important member of the Jewish hierarchy that God is now going to intervene in a most spectacular way and is going to definitively bring about salvation not merely for the Jewish people but for the whole human race. God has sent his Son who will be raised up so that those who look upon him with faith may have eternal life. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says the sign of their faith is that they will do their deeds in the light.

Only to the Degree that We Believe

Now it’s clear, Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. explains. By dying on the Cross Jesus paid the price for our sins. By rising from the dead he opened the door to eternal life. Trust in the power of his death and resurrection, and you will experience for yourself the very kingdom of God. Look up to the crucified and risen Christ, and you will be saved.

Sounds simple enough. There’s just one catch: When God saved the people of Israel from the fiery serpents, they held on to the bronze serpent long after all the snakes had slithered away.The people of Judah “added infidelity to infidelity,” the First Reading says, worshipping false gods, polluting the sacred temple, ignoring the real God with vigor. Fr. John Foley, S. J. points out that out of compassion God had sent prophets to warn them, but each received only scorn.

Then He sent His Son. Light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. To put it another way, it’s altogether possible to pay lip service to Jesus, then go on your merry way as if who He is and what He commands you to be is irrelevant to everyday life. The liberating effect of God's divine love will be available to us only to the degree that we believe. So then comes the million dollar question–how could a loving God ever send anyone to hell? The answer is very simple. He doesn’t. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says no one is in hell except those who choose it.

It is tempting to think that believing in Christ means simply that we affirm the creed, or that we agree that Jesus existed and worked miracles and died and rose from the dead. The simple fact is that those baptized as infants must "claim" their own baptisms, as it were, as soon as they are old enough to do so, which usually means in early adulthood. The sacrament of Baptism is not magic. And its graces become fully operative in our lives only to the extent that we accept and live the promises made years ago in our names.

Sacrament of Confession

The Church would not truly express the saving love of Christ unless, faithful to his teaching and commandments, she warned us of the reality of our sins. So she teaches that sin is capable of separating us from God forever, yet completely forgiven as soon as we will humbly approach the Lord remembering: "whose sins you forgive they are forgiven them, whose sins you hold bound they are held bound." Father Cusick counsels us all to observe the Church's precept to confess sins at least once a year during the Lenten season.

From the Vatican, Pope Benedict, reaffirmed this during his Papal address on the Sacrament of Confession, "The new evangelization, thus, also begins in the confessional!" In response to this, Fr. José Antonio Varela Vidal, the Confessor of the Basilica of St. Mary Major offered his own reflection on the pope's message regarding Confession

Freedom of Religion, Marriage and More

The public discourse on freedom of religion brought about by the Obama HHS mandate continues. The U.S. bishops say they are "strongly unified and intensely focused" in opposition to threats against religious freedom, specifically the threat posed by the federal government's plan to mandate abortifacients and sterilizations in health insurance coverage. But sometimes even those on the political Right have their streams crossed. As in the case of Glenn Beck who offerd his thoughts recently about teh Catholic Church. Omar F. A. Gutierrez writes that while Glenn may be pretty good at analyzing cultural data in order to give his opinion on the political horizons, Glenn is the last person Catholics should be listening to with regard to how to be Catholic.

Judith Costello laments how slowly yet steadily things have changed in our society. “Good” has become “bad.” The virtues and standards of our faith, have been twisted by the modern world. Virtue is being mocked, or simply discarded. In the news, in classrooms and in the entertainment industry you can find examples of the mockery.

And the Divorce Dilemma we face is one such topic. Eve Tushnet notes that if America has endured a “divorce revolution” since California passed no-fault divorce in 1969, we’ve now entered the counterrevolutionary phase. Divorce rates have fallen from their peak in the early ’80s, the deep pain often felt by children of divorce is openly acknowledged, and young Americans are determined not to repeat the mistakes of previous generations. But as with most purely reactionary cultural movements, the revolt against divorce has only weakened our marriage culture more. We have all learned to fear divorce. Now we must learn to trust in marriage.

But there is hope. And, Joe Heschmeyer says, it all boils down to the kind of friends you have -- Virtuous Friendships are key. Friends who share a deep love for God, and particularly devoutly Catholic friends, call us to higher level of sanctity and enrich our lives. Even if you know each other only casually, once you start exchanging prayer intentions and going before God together, you walk away with an authentic bond formed. No political affiliation or common interest can parallel this.

Crossing the Tiber

A little over a year ago James Tonkowich, a Presbyterian minister for over twenty years, became a Catholic layman. If you’re a Protestant and especially if you’re a Protestant minister listing Romeward, he offers rules hat may help keep you from following in his soggy footsteps across the Tiber.

On the other hand, if you're already Catholic and struggling with your faith, this one's for you. Jennifer Fulwiler gets asked questions from struggling Catholics fairly frequently. Perhaps it’s because she's an atheist-to-Catholic convert, or because readers of her personal blog know that she's a spiritual spaz and therefore am likely to have been through a variety of rough patches in my relationship with God. In any case she shares her "8 Tips for Catholics With Doubts."

But things are really looking up for the Catholic Church these days. The USCCB reports that local churches nationwide have held their own over the last decade. But Texas is a different story. They report a marked shift from sharing states of consistency or decline to a staggering story of historic growth. Seems everything is really bigger in Texas, even for the Catholic Church.

And here's a story of some kids with a van that's making a difference. Kristen Walker reports that on March 13, in Dallas, TX, an organization you’ve probably never heard of revolutionized the pro-life movement. It starts with a kid from Philly, a bus in New York, and an idea that brought him quite by accident to the city where Roe v. Wade started — the city where he hopes abortion will finally meet its match.

End of an Era

Encyclopaedia Britannica pulls the print plug. It will cease print publication, it announced Tuesday. The 244-year-old publication will continue to publish an online edition and provide educational materials for schools. The media landscape has changed considerably in the Encyclopaedia Britannica's 2-1/2 centuries of publication, but nothing has had as great an effect as Wikipedia. The 11-year-old crowd-sourced encylopedia is online, and it's free. Encyclopaedia Britannica's most recent edition sells for $1,395. The times they are a-changing.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief
BURNING QUESTION: Is Jesus God or the Son of God?
FEATURED BLOG: How does Jesus fulfill the Old Covenant?
PASTORAL HISPANA: Necesitamos la luz de Jesus en la Cuaresma

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

"Stop making my Father's house a marketplace."

The Gospel for this Third Sunday of Lent, March 11, 2012,  gives us a shocking picture of Jesus. The gentle savior has turned violent. He erupts into anger as he sees merchants vend oxen, sheep and doves in the temple, sees money-changers doing commerce in God’s house.  Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

The account of the Cleansing of the Temple is common to all four Gospels and uniquely it is the only place in the scriptures where Jesus is shown using physical violence. Fr. John Foley, S. J. asks how in the world does such fury coincide with the silent, humble Jesus we will see in Holy Week? Why so angry?

The Cleansing of the Temple

A bit of a history lesson is in order. In Jewish thought, the temple was not just where sacrifice took place. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, MS explans that it was not just the gathering point for the festivals. It was first and foremost the dwelling place of God – it was a physical reminder of God’s presence in the midst of the people. The holy of holies in the center of the temple was considered God’s actual throne room. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB notes that the temple authorities believed this, but they had narrowed their vision, and thus were unable to see that Jesus himself was the new temple. He himself is the indestructible dwelling place of the divine presence, of prayer and communion with God.

Our buildings were not built just to be a meeting place, or an auditorium, or a place much like a theater where we go to experience a drama. Fr. Charles irvin says we are a communal church, a divine Church populated by men. Laurence Gonzaga is one who long has sought a perfection in this community of men which did not and cannot exist this side of eternity. He admits that he failed to separate the divine dimension and the human realities of the Church. And while we imperfect beings may come here for private prayer, the main reason we are in church is because this where we as God’s family play our roles in the great drama of God coming to us and our going back to God as His family.

The Temple of the Eucharist

No mere monuments of cold lifeless stone are our "temples". Father Cusick says our churches are the authentic descendants of the temple in Jerusalem. Each tabernacle housing the Body and Blood of the Lord is a true "Ark of the Covenant". It is the presence of the living God himself who makes each church and chapel a true temple, where we must bow down in awe before the all-holy God. It is the place where Jesus is present in the Holy Eucharist.

It is the one place where we can be faithful, where we can essentially measure up. Fr. Ron Rolheiser tells us that we can't always control how we feel or how we think and we can't
always measure up morally and spiritually. But, inside of our perpetual inadequacy and occasional doubt and confusion, we can be faithful in this one deep way. We can go to the Eucharist regularly.

Pope John Paul expressly exhibited such faith when he was alive. If he ever visited any place and learned that the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, he stopped everything to spend at least a half hour on his knees. He said his liturgy of the hours, rosary, and was often found laying on his face in prayer. Fr. Joseph Pellegrno notes that Blessed John Paul’s wisdom did not flow from his intellect, it flowed from his faith. While non-believers dismiss our faith in the Eucharist, the foolishness of God is always wiser than all human wisdom.

The Cleansing of Our Own Souls

Fr. Phil Bloom explains the bad news contained in the Gospel - the imminent destruction of the Temple. It represents all the great disasters of human history - perhaps one looming for us. But the Gospel also contains good news. Jesus speaks about the rebuilding of the temple - in three days. He means his body, his Risen Body.

As we reflect on the Gospel. the real Cleansing therefore that we should be concerned with is not so much the chasing out of the money changers in the Temple Courtyard. It is the cleansing and purification of our own hearts and souls - the temple of the Holy Spirit. So when Jesus overturned the moneychangers’s tables, he was fulfilling Scripture and making clear that the messianic time of fulfilment was at hand. No more business as usual. No more ho-hum approach to religion. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says it was now time for living faith, not just religious belief. Zeal for God’s house consumed him, and he had come to light the fire of zeal in us as well.

And what exactly would it be like for Christ to disclose his mysterious presence in prayer? When asked this question, Dr. Lilles says his heart goes to the beautiful descriptions we find in the Life of St. Teresa of Avila, the Confessions of St. Augustine, the Life of Antony, the poetry of St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux's Story of a Soul, and Bl. Elisabeth of the Trinity's Prayer to the Trinity. In these works we find such a variety of experiences, it is reasonable to observe that each time Christ manifests his heart, He does so in an intimate, beautiful, and unrepeatable way.

The Ten Commandments & the Burning Issues of Today

It is no mistake that in our scheme of liturgical readings this account of the Cleansing of the Temple is linked to the handing down of the Ten Commandments for they represent a pattern for our lives as laid down by God himself. They show us in a practical way how to begin to put into practice those eternal values of justice, truth and mercy.

But today the Ten Commandments are more and more ignored by the people. They are regarded as a dusty set of proscriptions of little relevance to modern man. This is a big mistake because a world in which lying, cheating and adultery have become tolerated is an undesirable place to live. A world which ignores God and the rights of others and in which nothing is regarded as sacred is hostile to the deepest aspirations of human nature.

Today we see that the challenges to the Christian values of the family and marriage likewise continues. Just last Friday, USCCB president Timothy Cardinal Dolan wrote a letter to all the American bishops warning them that the situation in the United States regarding religious liberty suggests that "we have to prepare for tough times." On another front, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS comments on the ongoing battle to re-define marriage. He notes that whatever might be said in the media this is not part of any attack by the Church on people of a homosexual nature. The Church teaches that marriage has its roots in the very nature of mankind and cannot be redefined by the Church or the State.

And everywhere, the divorce culture continues to rear its ugly head. Simcha Fisher points to this author, writing for the Huffington Post, who stands out for her astonishing lack of self awareness when she says, "I had to abandon my husband in order to find myself." A virtuous man acts virtuously, and a monstrously selfish woman spends her life trying to find her monstrous self.

In this ongoing political environment, the Temple - which is marriage - is liable to be further debased and it falls to us to see that this does not happen. Like Christ in his own day we too ought to be roused up to defend this most precious of all of all our institutions.

The Irrational Beauty of Conversion

The world is spiraling out of control. It has been, in fact, since its pinnacle eight hundred years ago. But today it seems that any minute now, we’ll hurtle off kilter. The Church is under attack. And yet, somehow, for some reason, people are converting and flocking to the faith. Christian Tappe sees it for what it is. Irrational. Astounding. Beautiful.

How can we do our share? How about evangelizing at work? As Catholics, we are called to strive for holiness and maintain the integrity of our beliefs in the workplace. So how do we fulfill these obligations? We need to act like good Catholics. Meanwhile Dan Burke, a former Protestant pastor, answers a question commonly asked by many Catholics today: Should I read or consume non-Catholic devotional or bible study materials?

Lent, Fasting and More

From a reader: Are Sundays part of Lent? In response, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf points out that Sundays during Lent are during Lent. Lent is a penitential season, right? When we look at the calendar, we see “1st Sunday of Lent”, not “1st Sunday During Lent Which Doesn’t Have To Be Treated As If It Were Lent.”

Meanwhile Msgr. Charles Pope laments that required fasting is almost non-existent in the Catholic Church today. Even the two days where fasting is required for those over 18 and under 60, it is really a mitigated fast of two small “snack-like” meals and one regular sized meal (no snacks in between now!). Not really a fast at all. A truer fast (going without food for the whole day) is practiced by some today as a personal discipline and it is laudable if a person is able. He discusses "The Key to True Fasting."

If you’re ready to shift gears this Lent, Sr. Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP says you should discover the depth—and the ease—of praying with Pope Benedict XVI. She took his Lenten message “To stir a response in love and good works,” and structured it into four prayer sessions of five minutes each. You should check this out.

Happy Marriages

Laurie Puhn notes how people in happy marriages don’t fight, satisfied lovers never complain, and romantic love is constant and everlasting. Are you cracking a smile yet? Seriously though, she writes that happy couples are happy because they handle mundane issues and conflict with verbal tact and warmth so they are still holding hands when serious obstacles come their way. These 10 quick and simple tips to a happy marriage will keep the peace in the family and make your love connection stronger.

And have you ever noticed that the normal trials of life are always worse when you have children? Daria Sockey tells us that we should look to Sts. Felicity and Perpetua who are the patrons of Women in Bad Situations Complicated Further by Children. So, next time your find yourself spending your own 24 hour virus lugging a bucket, mop, and basket of soiled bedding as you struggle to care for other sick family members—ask these two martyrs to help you get through it. They are sure to understand.

Facebook & Catholic Apps

I wonder how many of us can do what this one Chicago woman did. She decided to give up more than the usual when Lent began on Ash Wednesday. Some people might be inclined to give up sweets, pastries, candy or alcohol during Lent. But Christine Melendes has decided to give up Facebook.

And let's talk more tech. Inspired by two women in her life, one of whom has a new iPad, and the other of whom asked about Catholic apps for her son’s iPod Touch, Sarah Reinhard compiled her own list of 13 Essential Catholic Apps. Check them all out and download a few.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief
BURNING QUESTION: What commandments require restitution?
FEATURED BLOG: Should I read non-Catholic devotional materials?

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