Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Proclaim the gospel to every creature"

Sunday, May 20, 2012,  is the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. It is the day that commemorates the rising up into Heaven of the Lord Jesus. It is the day when the body of the risen Christ enters into the eternal glory of Paradise! Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

From Sad Goodbye to Joy

Jesus, when bidding farewell to his friends before his ascension, spoke these words: “It’s better for you that I go away.” “You will be sad now, but your sadness will turn to joy.” Fr. Ron Rolheiser poses some very challenging questions. How is it better that someone we love goes away? How can the sadness of a goodbye, of a painful leaving, turn to joy? Fr. John Foley, SJ replies in his own reflection. He says Jesus continues to be alive within the world, within us and our neighbors. The immense act of modest love that was the resurrection is poured into us and is called the Holy Spirit. His Real Presence now abides forever in the Holy Eucharist, urging us, gently nudging us to say yes to love.

Meanwhile, Dr. Taylor Marshall asks an interesting theological question related to the Ascension. When Christ ascended to the Father how exactly did He sit at His right hand if God the Father doesn't have a hand? Is Christ literally sitting on God's right hand? And just where is Jesus' body after the Ascension?

Ushering In A New Era

There are three things about the Ascension that we should reflect on. Fr. John Dear S.J lists them for us -- what Jesus told the disciples and us to do; the need for this work, and how are we going to do it.

Fr. Joseph Pellegrino explains that the Lord ascends to the Father, but at the same time He is with his disciples, working through them and confirming His presence with miracles. When the Lord Jesus left, Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen points out, the Holy Spirit came. This is why Saint Mark tells us: "The Lord worked with them." The apostles with the help of the Holy Spirit gave themselves to God, Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB. And the gift of consecration by God through sacrifice always involves a mission to advance God's projects in the world.

What we are in fact celebrating therefore is a crucial moment in the whole plan of salvation. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS says we are commemorating the moment that Jesus handed the continuation of his great work over to us, the Church.

Snakes and Poisons of the World

Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS tells us that the apostles were sent into the world to heal and sanctify it. In fact, Mark 16:17-18 talks about signs that will accompany those who believe: they will drive out demons, speak new languages, pick up serpents with their hands, heal the sick, etc. Now then, Dr. Marcellino d'Ambrosio asks, was the "power ministry" we see in the Acts of the Apostles only for the early days of the Church? Or should we expect signs and wonders to be happening today?

In some of the rural communities of our countries, ministers and their congregations take this passage literally. As a test of faith some will plunge their hands into a box of rattlesnakes, pull one out and hold it in front of the congregation. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino offers a few words about such  literal interpretations of the Bible. He says these interpretations often get so bogged down in the details that they miss the point of the message. What was the message that Jesus was giving when He spoke about the signs of those who believed? The message was that His people could fight and conquer evil in its worst forms.

The Freedom to Choose Good

Christians have understood that Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father in order to open new possibilities for us. Fr. Phil Bloom points out that Jesus wants us to have the deepest and broadest possible freedom. Next Sunday the coincidence of Pentecost Sunday and Memorial Day weekend gives us a good opportunity to reflect on human freedoms, beginning with freedom of religion.

Father Cusick adds that freedom is good, but freedom comes from God and is given to us so that we may freely choose to be like God. Freedom is for choosing good, not evil. Jesus Christ took on our flesh and our freedom to choose what is holy so that we can do likewise, with the constant help of His grace in the Gospel and the sacramental life.

Life, Marriage, Faith & Worship

The seeds of faith are shifting. The pro-abortion movement loved to paint the abortion debate in 1970s as a war between grumpy, judgmental grandmas wielding their rosaries against hip young modern women. But now, they are the grey hairs and its the pro-life movement which is young. In fact, Nancy Keenan the departing president of NARAL, the rabidly pro-abortion lobbying organization told Newsweek back in 2010 about the March for Life crowds: “I just thought, my gosh, they are so young,” she said. “There are so many of them, and they are so young.

Dr. Taylor Marshall talsk to Protestants and Catholics alike when he offers a dissertation on how a conversion of the heart to the Catholic faith can change your marriage for the better. He offers five reasons to support his claim. Also, the Archdiocese of Washington speaks out over choice of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as Speaker at Georgetown University, Msgr. Charles Pope has reported. And Kevin Lowry adds to the discussion by tackling Faith at work. He says there’s more to modern-day life than holding a job, regardless of the economic climate. Work must have purpose beyond the paycheck, or it is pitifully unfulfilling.

Judith Costello observes how it seems that many people find themselves distracted during Mass. According to online discussions, hundreds of people say they are kept from a prayerful focus by everything from flip-flops pattering down the aisle, to seeing a person stick the Eucharist in a pocket. We gather together, yet we are separated. Is it being “judgmental” to have reactions to these things? Should we simply focus on our interior experience and block out everything else?

And Jennifer Fulwiler reminds us that the Novena to the Holy Spirit starts today, the Friday before Ascension and will end on the eve of Pentecost. She's been eagerly awaiting this for months. She did it last year and found it to be incredibly powerful. It's a nine-day series of prayers focusing on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And we share it with you here.

Meanwhile, here's a story to inspire. Raymund E. Narag marched in the graduation ceremonies of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan last May 4. He will soon receive a doctoral degree in criminal justice. What's so special about that? In 1995 he was accused of a crime he did not commit—the murder of an equally promising young man. He was only 20 years old and naïve to the harsh realities of the world. When he was released at age 27, he was a changed man. From a maligned ex-inmate in one of the most crowded jails in the Philippines, he now becomes “Dr. Narag,” with specialization in prison administration.

A Glimpse Into the Future

If you think your iPhones and Ipads are great, wait till you see what's ahead for you in the very near future. Watch and share "A Day Made of Glass 2: Unpacked" to see how Corning's highly engineered glass, with companion technologies, will help shape our world. Take a journey with a narrator for details on these technologies, answers to your questions, and to learn about what's possible -- and what's not -- in the near future.

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: Why don't Catholics evangelize door-to-door?
FEATURED BLOG: How Will the Catholic Faith Change Your Marriage?
PASTORAL HISPANA: La Ascension es el signo de nuestra esperanza

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