Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

April 15, 2012 is the Second Sunday of Easter, also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. The Church looks at these eight days - from Easter Sunday until today - as if they were one single day. We reflect on a single event: resurrection of Christ. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Sunday of Divine Mercy

Divine Mercy Sunday is a Roman Catholic solemnity celebrated on the Sunday after Easter, the Octave of Easter. In 2002, the Vatican published the third edition of the Roman Missal on which the English translation we now use is based. After the words “Second Sunday of Easter,” we now read “(or Sunday of Divine Mercy).”

Robert Allard says the words “Second Sunday of Easter” are there in the title for us to remember where the Sunday of Divine Mercy was placed, not to indicate to the clergy that there were two different feasts to be celebrated. The Vatican did not give the title of "Divine Mercy Sunday" to the Second Sunday of Easter merely as an "option," for those dioceses who happen to like that sort of thing! Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says this means that preaching on God's mercy is not just an option for this Sunday.

And this Sunday being Divine Mercy Sunday, we thought it would be an opportune time to bring back this reflection on the death of Osama Bin Laden by a survivor of the 9/11 Twin Towers attack. May it help you discover the true meaning of mercy during this Sunday's celebration of this virtue.

Oh Ye of Little Faith - Doubting Thomas

Divine Mercy Sunday couldn’t have come on a better day. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. points out to us that the gospel tells us the most famous apostle story after Peter’s denial—Thomas’ skeptical and outrageous statement that he won’t believe it till he sees it.

Thomas had put all his hope on Jesus of Nazareth.And then Jesus was arrested, and crucified. Everything seemed lost. Thomas’ mourning was so great that he simply could not believe it when he heard the other disciples say on that third day after Jesus’ death that they had seen the Lord.

He would not believe them. What they were saying was too good to be true. Thomas the apostle had told his fellows that seeing is believing. But Fr. James Gilhooley explains that Christ taught the apostle that believing is seeing. It is the sight of Christ that frees the disciples from fear and makes them glad. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. says it is the wounded Christ that transforms them into preachers.

Do you believe the resurrection? Fr. John Foley, S. J. says this is a good question to ask, at least so says St. Paul, because if the answer is no, then “our faith is in vain” (1 Cor 15:14). Are you a Christian because of what you have done or what Christ has done? What is more important, belief in Jesus or performance of good deeds?

Dark Nights of Faith in Our Lives

Why are dark nights of faith given to us? Why does God seemingly sometimes withdraw his presence? Fr. Ron Rolheiser tells us that Jesus always makes us let go of something that, while it may have been good for awhile, an icon, is now causing some kind of idolatry in our lives.

There are a lot of people who do not believe that the happiness of the Lord is offered also to them. There are a lot of doubting Thomases in the world. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino reminds us that they need us. They need the experience of our happiness. They need us to point the way to Jesus Christ.

And Fr. Phil Bloom quotes a Protestant theologian who wrote something that we could all reflect on this Easter day: "The evidence for Jesus' resurrection is so strong that nobody would question it except for two things: First, it is a very unusual event. And second, if you believe it happened, you have to change the way you live."

Jesus Gives Us the Sacrament of Confession

Wait a minute. So Jesus, not the Church, established this Sacrament of Confession? Where does the Bible say he did that? Right there, Marcellino D'Ambrosio points out, in John’s gospel for this Sunday. He breathes on them and says “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound.” (Jn 20:19-22).

If you have a problem with the Church intruding on what you think ought to be just between just you and God, you’ll have to take that one up with Jesus. It was his idea. This sentiment is shared by Brianna Heldt who says, "The idea of Confession was repellent to me as a Protestant. But the actual experience of Confession has been, by far, the best surprise of my new Catholic faith."

Confession is a very intimate experience and they are private. The Catholic Church maintains, however, that there is also a social aspect to sin. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Jesus provides us with a way of being reconciled to God and to those we've hurt, and to be strengthened in our connection to God's entire family. This is more than symbolic, Ellen Fanizzi explains, it is spiritual reality expressed through ritual.

People have all sorts of reasons for not going to confession. The biggest reason I hears is, "I take my sins directly to God!" Those fears and claims can easily be dispelled and Jamie McAdams decided to list ten top reasons for going to confession. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf adds to the conversation by offering his Top 20 tips for making a good confession. Deacon Greg Kandra reminds us that the profound act of being reconciled with God enables us to live Easter every time we emerge from that confessional. We breathe again. We see light again. We hope again. We are given grace.

The Road to Emmaus - A Mass Celebrated

It's a requisite Easter story for Christians. The very familiar passage about Jesus’ encounter with the disciples on the road to Emmaus is rich with many themes and teachings. Msgr. Charles Pope makes the point that for a Catholic this resurrection account is unmistakably a Mass. True it is in seminal form, but all the elements are there. The teaching is clear, the risen Lord Jesus is now to be found in the Liturgy and the Sacraments. It is for us only to have our eyes opened and to recognize him there.

The good monsignor explains further that in the context of what is essentially a liturgy, Jesus reorders and orients the two disciples who have, in effect, lost their way. Through this liturgical encounter, Jesus gets these disciples moving in the right direction again. As such, we are taught that the Liturgy, especially the Mass, has a way of reordering our disordered lives and restoring our lost orientation.

U.S. Bishops Issue Statement on Religious Liberty

The U.S. Catholic Church's struggle against the war on Religion freedom being waged by the current administration continues. Marking a new era of intense church-state friction, the U.S. Catholic bishops issued a hard-hitting statement today that defends the free exercise of religious institutions in the United States and abroad. 'An unjust law cannot be obeyed,' they state, in face of growing threats to freedom.

Stories of Hope and Gas Pumping Tips

One Easter nearly a decade ago, J. Prever woke up before dawn at her parents’ house in New Hampshire and went outside. Spring in New England is something we all should travel continents to see: all things fresh, all things new, the air perfumed with lilacs and budding trees. It was completely beautiful, and she was completely miserable. Sher offers her Easter story for the chronically depressed.

Here's a story about a doctor who used to perform abortions. Then he returned to his Catholic faith. Now, Dr. John Bruchalski's mission is to help spread the message of Divine Mercy through his medical practice. And if you have a smart phone (who doesn't these days?), check out this iphone app that aims to spread hope worldwide by promoting the message and devotion of Divine Mercy.

Finally, I don't know what you guys are paying for gasoline. But here in California we are paying upwards of to $4.50 per gallon. This guy's line of work is in petroleum for about 31 years now. He shares some tricks to get more of your money's worth for every gallon.

And one last thing. Do you know of a parish that's dealing with website issues? The parish website has not changed in months maybe even years; no one really reads the website; website contains articles that are old or outdated; no one in charge of the parish website; it doesn't play much of a role in parish evangelization; or the parish staff just plain too busy to deal with it. Email ParishWorld at and get a FREE ONLINE DEMO on how we can help make your parish website become a dynamic and and active part of our pastoral ministry.

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 is Faith?"
FEATURED BLOG: "Are you saved?"
PASTORAL HISPANA: La fe es el ingrediente para resucitar con Cristo
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