Thursday, June 28, 2012

"Little girl, I say to you, arise!"

A defiled lady, a dead child, and our Compassionate Savior. In this Sunday's Gospel for July 1, 2012, Jesus' care, love and healing were far more powerful than the prohibitions of Jewish law, far more powerful than the forces of nature, and far more powerful than the forces of death. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Think of the woman cured of a hemorrhage in today's Gospel. And do not forget His kindness to the widow of Naim or bringing today's little girl back to life with His Aramaic command,"Talitha cumi." Isn't it amazing, Fr. James Gilhooley notes, how a large number of Christ's miracles are centered about women.

Death and Life

“God did not make death.” The First Reading says this. Then where did death come from? The reading also says it entered the world through the devil’s envy. This is a puzzling thought, Fr. John Foley, S. J. surmises. But why does death exist? Death exists because we can choose good. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino explains that the ability we have to choose results in the ability to love and be loved.

Fr. Alex McAllister SDS adds more to the mix. He says sickness and death touch us at our most vulnerable point. They strip us of our illusions and remind us that, no matter how important we are in the eyes of others, we are still human—still very limited and transient citizens here on earth. This thought caused Fr. John J. Ludvik to recall a sacramental call he once made to a dying child. Inside the memory of that day he realizes that any sacrifice of love in our own lives is nothing compared to the anguish of a parent in the presence of a child in danger of death.

Faith - Touching the Hem of Christ

Truly, nothing is possible without faith, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB reminds us. These Gospel stories reveal Jesus' power over disease and death. Jesus accompanies two peple to take that crossing over from sickness to health, from death to life, from doubt to faith and to deeper faith. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS tells us how the people in the passage transfer their uncleanness to Jesus, and to each Jesus bestows the cleansing wholeness of God.

Father Cusick says these miraculous events are signs only of something far more marvelous: eternal life. We must be in bodily union with Jesus Christ if we wish to be raised from the dead to the glorified state of resurrection as he was. Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: 'I am the Resurrection and the life."

Sickness and death truly have a way of shearing through the veneer of our self-importance and social status. Will power, while important, is not enough. In the end, Fr. Ron Rolheiser explains, the power to give life can only be restored to us through grace and community, through letting a power beyond give us something that we cannot give to ourselves. And that comes from the very same Jesus, now Risen Lord, who reaches out with compassion and with power to heal and to give us life. Gathered in his name, Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. counsels us, we pray that in our moment of affliction, we too will hear his words, "Do not be afraid; just have faith."

The Compassionate Lord

Does it surprise you that Jesus was able to heal the woman with a bleeding sickness, even though He didn’t recognize that someone who had touched Him and had been healed through that touch until afterward? Does it surprise you that Jesus declared that the little girl who had died was not dead, only asleep. Encountering misery, passive resignation and distrust, Jesus exerted himself with a warm passion of love to heal the hurting and to reveal a God who is in love with life. Fr. Rich Lifrak, SSCC explains that Jesus was only concerned about those who hurt and who needed his healing.

If that's the case, why don't we see more miracles in today's world? Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says if the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of this supernatural miracle worker, why we don’t see more healing and sanctification going on in the lives of communicants? Maybe it’s because many who shuffle forward in communion lines each Sunday are like the nameless people who bumped into Jesus in the square but were too busy to notice and too jaded to expect anything.

Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says we are called to love as He loves. We are called to have compassion for the hurting. We are not called to judge the cause of their pain. How can we be any different and still call ourselves His followers?

Fortnight for Freedom

In these days before the Fourth of July, our bishops have asked us to pray, study and thank God for the gift of freedom - particularly religious freedom, which is under attack in our world and even in our own country. They launched Fortnight for Freedom, a national campaign of teaching, witness, and prayer against the abortifacient and contraceptive mandate and in favor or religious freedom.

Fr. Phil Bloom uses his Sunday homily to discuss the relationship between democracy and religion. We have a beautiful country, but he says we could lose it. He notes the need to return to religion because it primarily calls us to repentance and virtue. Second, it promotes solidarity - not waiting for the government but solving problems on the smallest possible level. And third -- in a message repeated this week by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. -- when government makes unjust laws, the task of the Church is to push back or resist.

Jesus came into the world to teach us how to use our freedom. Paul Dion, STL said our Lord even went so far as to teach us that choosing death over life is not always bad. Thus it was just appropriate that the Fortnight for Freedom started on the feast day of St. John Fisher, the 15th century English cardinal who was beheaded by King Henry VIII for defending Church teaching on the sanctity of Marriage. Taylor Marshall offers an intriguing article that lists parallels between St John Fisher and St John the Baptist. You'll remember that John the Baptist received martyrdom for protesting King Herod Antipas' adulterous marriage to Herodias.

Fourth of July and Independence

For this Fourth of July weekend, George J. Marlin gives us a little Catholic history lesson. After the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the vast majority of Catholics sided with the revolutionaries, because they considered themselves American, not British. Out of respect for the Catholic presence in his army, George Washington ended the the Fourth of July observance of the anti-Roman holiday known as “Pope’s Day.”

Yet, as Christians we cannot overlook that there are ways of understanding freedom today that are distorted, exaggerated and detached from a proper context. Msgr. Charles Pope advises us to ponder freedom on this 4th of July. Ponder its paradoxes, accept its limits. And ponder finally this paradoxical truth: The highest freedom is the capacity to obey God. But humans often interpret this freedom to mean that God will never force his will upon us. Lenora Grimaud says we think God will never violate our freedom and save us unless we choose to be saved. But, is this really true? Can we have “free will” if we are not truly free?

Freedom of speech is indeed a great thing. Unfortunately, when citizens are free to say what they want, they'll sometimes use that freedom to say some pretty silly things. And that's the case with the 12 most common myths people believe about the Catholic Church. While the proponents of these errors are free to promote them, we as Catholics have a duty to respond. Hopefully, this list will help you do just that.

Jesus, Religion and Photos at Liturgies

Consider the scene. The Bishop has taken his place at the entrance to the sanctuary. He is prepared to confirm some twenty children. It is a sacred moment. The parents are in deep prayer thanking the Holy Spirit who is about to confirm their children for mission….. Oops, they are not! Actually, they are fumbling with their cell phone cameras. Some even scrambling up the side aisle to “get the shot.” Msgr. Charles Pope tackles this quite common obsession for photos at Liturgies.

Some months ago Laurence Gonzaga was directed to the same viral video we had previously reported on as making its way through the social networking universes. Titled "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus," it was a Christian attack on “religion”, or at least, how the author portrays religion. Laurence offers a point by point rebuttal to the video's claims. It's one of the best explanations in response to this video that we've seen so far. We know you will enjoy this.

Finally, as we prepare to celebrate Independence Day weekend, we turn to Brett & Kate McKay. If you’re looking for inspiration in creating an Independence Day to remember, they share how they do the Fourth of July in the McKay family, and the traditions–past and present–that make this holiday memorable for them. Here's their "10 Awesome 4th of July Traditions."

A Blessed and Happy Independence Day to you all.

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 you cry at funerals? Why?
FEATURED BLOG: 12 Myths Every Catholic Should Be Able to Answer
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesus sana para instaurar el Reino

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

"John is his name."

This Sunday, June 24, 2012, we leave the rotation of the Sundays of the Year for a celebration of the Calendar Feast Day: the celebration of the Birth of John the Baptist. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

This feast is put near the first day of summer because from midsummer on, the days do decrease until the arrival of Christ at Christmas when they increase again. Following a sort of theological logic in this, John the Baptist proclaimed that he must decrease and the Lord must increase. This he did, Fr. Ron Rolheiser explains, after seeing how Jesus' power worked. John then understood, accepted a deeper truth, stepped back in self-effacement, and pointed people in Jesus' direction with the words: He must increase and I must decrease. I'm not even worthy to untie his scandal strap!

What's in a Name?

In this Gospel there is a bit of a wrangle about the naming of John the Baptist and we need to go back a few pages in Luke’s story to remind you why. The Archangel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and told him the name of his son would be John. Why John? Alex McAllister SDS explains that the name John is made up of two words that when combined means “Yahweh has shown favor.” St. John enjoyed God’s favour because he was chosen to play a crucial role in the salvation of the world.

The angel Gabriel appeared also to Mary, frightening her with an announcement of her holiness, and the blessedness of her womb, since it would bear the holiest child of all. The name of that child would be what we today know as “Jesus, which in the Hebrew and Aramaic means "Yahweh is salvation.”

A fascinating story, but what does this mean to us today? Fr. John Foley, S. J. suggests that God has a special name for each one of us, one he calls us by in the depths of our heart. It is a name that—if we can hear it and speak it with our lives—will make us who we are supposed to be, and make us the carriers of God’s name itself to others.

We are reminded to pray again for the faith to recognize the divine presence in our lives, to trust in God's tender mercy with an undivided heart, and to bless God always and everywhere with a glad and grateful heart. And it is only as a grateful expression of trust that God's will is to love us, Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB adds, can we with confidence truly pray, "Thy will be done."

Jesus and John the Baptist

Fr. Charles Irvin offers some some more interesting parallels involving John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. Both the birth of Jesus Christ and the birth of John the Baptist were surrounded by angels. Each of their births were mysterious; each accompanied by special acts of God. John the Baptist and his cousin Jesus had God-given names announced by God’s angels. They were not given their names by their families. Jesus and John were both unexpectedly conceived in their mother’s wombs. They were not conceived and born in the normal ways we would ordinarily expect.

A sermon by early Church father St. Augustine of Hippo also reflected on the birth of John the Baptist to bring out the similarities and contrasts between the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and that of his cousin, who is the bridge between the old and New Testaments. Now reflect on this basic Catechetical Burning Question. If St. John the Baptist is is considered to be one of the very highest among the saints, did his soul immediately go to heaven after his death?

When John was born, his father Zechariah, his voice restored, proclaimed a great truth, “You, my child, shall be called the Prophet of the Most High.” The song, or Canticle of Zechariah, is prayed every day by the entire Church as part of the Morning Prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours, or Divine Office. This prayer, Joseph Pellegrino explains, reminds us both of the central event of mankind, the Christ Event, and of our call to join John in proclaiming the Truth. For when we proclaim the Truth, we proclaim Jesus Christ.

The Herald of Freedom

This year the Birth of John the Baptist has an additional importance. It comes at the beginning of the Fortnight for Freedom. During these fourteen days before Independence Day our US bishops are asking us to study, give thanks and pray for religious freedom. And it's appropriate that this Sunday we celebrate the great herald of freedom - John the Baptist. He points the way to ultimate freedom - Jesus. And, Phil Bloom adds, the Baptist teaches the steps to freedom: Virtue ("repent"), Solidarity ("share with the poor") and, when government encroaches on basic freedoms, push back.

Today, June 22, also marks the feast of one such person who did push back and paid dearly. St. Thomas More of England. Born in 1477, he at one time was one of King Henry VIII's most trusted ministers. He was ordered beheaded By King Henry VIII in 1535. In this excerpt from a letter this brave saint wrote to his daughter Margaret from his prison cell, he explains why he defended -- to his death -- the teachings of the Catholic Church and why his faith forced him to resist the King's divorce from Catherine of Arragon and remarriage to Ann Bolyn.

Msgr. Charles Pope notes that just like 500 years ago during Thomas More's time, today's Church cannot evade the fact that we will often be called to be a sign of contradiction. The world will try and shame us, try to cause us to experience guilt through indignant outcries and labels such as: Rigid, backward, conservative, right wing, left-wing, fundamentalist, homophobic, judgmental, intolerant, harsh, mean-spirited, hateful and so on. And we the faithful in the Church will often be required to suffer for our proclamation.

Why will Catholicism always make sense? Devin Rose says the answer is five simple words - Because God Guides the Church. He protects her from error on her doctrines. Not just on the canon of Scripture but on all things concerning the Faith. This is consistent. And so as we move toward the Fourth of July, Fr. John J. Ludvik says may each of us continue to revere and to pray for religious freedom in our country.

Catholicism, Baptism & the Eucharist

The U.S. bishops have announced this week a plan to revise the New Testament of the New American Bible so a single version can be used for individual prayer, catechesis and liturgy. “The goal is to produce a single translation,” said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C. on June 14.

From the Vatican, Benedict XVI says we need to get used to being with God. The pope explained that it is normal and beneficial to ask for things from God in prayer. But, he added, we must also remember to praise him and thank him for his many gifts. And since we are celebrating the feast of the Baptist, Sandro Magister thought appropriately explains why Baptism is so central in the preaching of Benedict XVI. He also offers links to the entire "corpus" of the baptismal homilies of Benedict XVI: the seven he has given so far on the Sundays of the Baptism of Jesus, and the other seven of the Easter Vigils.

Meanwhile, Mark Shea offers his "Meditations on the Rosary: The Institution of the Eucharist." He writes that if the Eucharist is the "source and summit" of our Faith (in other words, God) then it is supremely the Eucharist to which Mary is referred and to which she refers us. For the Eucharist is Jesus. Mary is, very literally, the Mother of the Eucharist. It's from her that Jesus took the flesh which was transfigured, crucified, raised from the grave, glorified — and which is now offered to us as food and drink. Think about that.

Discouragement Busters, Etc.

Have you ever wondered why we get so upset when things don’t go as we painstakingly plan in life? Rita A Schulte, LPC, host of the Heartline Podcast "Consider This," offers a set of remedies she aptly calls "Discouragement Busters." While Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, co-directors of the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University (SPU), talks about a groundbreaking program dedicated to teaching the basics of good relationships. I know some couples who say they never fight and that makes me all the more nervous about my relationship. Does having conflicts mean that we're destined for trouble? They have the answer. has a photo essay featuring the collected wisdom of their Facebook fans who answered the question: "What do you wish you knew as a teen?" They got a wide variety of answers, some good, some so-so, some of it just amusing. Jennifer Fulwiler shares a couple of excerpts from the essay plus her own personal list.

And finally, would you like to know the best site for finding airfares? How do you score free upgrades? Will anyone actually try to call your bluff when you claim a bogus bereavement fare? No one is better suited to answer these questions than an experienced flight reservation agent. Chris Morran gives us "5 Tips From A Delta Reservation Agent." Booking your airline tickets will never be the same again.

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: Did John the Baptist go to heaven right after death?
FEATURED BLOG: How living near your Church can transform your life
PASTORAL HISPANA: El nacimiento de San Juan Bautista

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

"For we walk by faith, not by sight"

This Sunday Jesus teaches the meaning of the reign or kingdom of God by way of parables. He compares the reign of God to the smallest of all seeds - the mustard seed. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

And today, Friday, June 15th, is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Read St. Bonaventure’s tribute to the overflowing love of the Savior poured out for us on the cross and in the Sacraments.

Jesus, the Mustard Seed and His Parables

Jesus speaks to us in parables. Indeed it says in Sunday’s Gospel that Jesus wouldn’t speak to the ordinary people except in parables. However, we are told that He did explain everything to his disciples in private. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS asks, if Jesus had a message of real significance for the world then why did He not speak it in plain language for everyone to understand? Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. explains that through parables, Jesus uses images from our common experience whose truth is evident in order to give us some insight into a reality whose truth is not evident. He uses parables to make us aware that we are a living part of a deeper, real story.

In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus uses this three verse parable of the minuscule mustard seed. Though its beginnings are modest, its final height is awesome. How does this apply to the Kingdom of God? We are small, Fr. John Foley, S. J. explains. The movements of the Spirit in us are so modest as to be nearly disregarded. Yet if we are patient, if we watch for growth within us, in winter and in spring rain, the Spirit gradually will surge up and will let us together yield much fruit. It is a miracle of growth in plants and trees, but even more in goodness and grace that is God’s kingdom in you.

The Growth of Our Faith

The story is told that upon his election Pope John XXIII was unable to sleep because the seemingly insurmountable problems facing the Church were pressing upon him. Then the personal meaning of the seed-parables dawned on him. He was able to pray: “Listen, Lord, this Church is yours not mine. I’m going to sleep.” Only in this trust was John XXIII liberated to take courageous actions that were to change the course of world history.

Jesus in the two seed-parables addresses this human tendency to believe that human fulfillment comes mostly through our plans and efforts. Fr. Ron Rolheiser says we are always trying to achieve something of significance, something that will stand out, something that will last. But most often, our lives do not seem to measure up. We feel ourselves small-town, ordinary, unimportant, and so our restlessness begins to eat us up. As a result, when things do not turn out as we have planned and worked to achieve, we become discouraged and lose hope.

The Nazarene is saying to us, "Develop where you are planted." He warns us to that often we quit growing because, as Fr. James Gilhooley says, we prefer groaning. The coming and growth of God’s reign is the work of God’s love. Its complete realization will be evident only when the Son of Man comes in glory. Our response to this truth about the reign of God is to pray for its coming on earth as it is in heaven. Further, it is to do our utmost to prepare for its coming in the particular circumstances of our lives.

When you prayed in public last, did you make the sign of the cross? And did you look around to see if anyone noticed? When you witness in action to the Gospel by prayer you become the fertile soil in which the Kingdom takes root. Your witness to the Kingdom will be undeniable. Such is of the Kingdom of God which all may see and so find shelter under its spreading branches. Father Cusick tells us that the seed is the Word of God. When the Word takes root, the Kingdom grows. We are called upon receiving the Word to meditate upon it in prayer so that it may take root in us and bear fruit in joy and virtue.

The Fight for Religious Liberty

This Sunday, however, we have a more modest task. Fr. Phil Bloom says that is to address the meaning of the mustard seed. To understand the mustard seed will help us appreciate the role of the Church - and lay a groundwork as we grapple with the issue of religious liberty. in light of this, the U.S. bishops have called for a Fortnight for Freedom to bring attention to their concerns about the diminishment of religious liberty in this country and particularly actions taken at the state and federal level that directly or indirectly lay punitive burdens on Catholic institutions for their beliefs.

Their fight with President Obama, they clarify, has nothing to do with party politics or contraception, and everything to do with what they see as a fundamental assault on religious liberty. Fr. John J. Ludvik points out this fortnight of prayer it is to start June 21, the eve of the feast day of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, two saints who were martyred for refusing to bow to the coercion of the crown over the rejection of papal authority by King Henry VIII.

Fr. Joseph Pellegrino reminds us that we are members of the Kingdom of God. We are members of the Church. Therefore, when you are confronted with media attacks upon religion, a media, which by the way, does not represent the basic perspective of the people but tries to formulate a perspective based on its own preconceived agenda, remember that the Church is forever. For the Lord, not people, gives the growth.

As St. Paul tells the Corinthians in Sunday's second reading: we walk by faith, not by sight. May we always stay united to Church so God might work the miracle of His growth through us.

Reflecting on the The Role of Fathers

Father’s Day is this Sunday, June 17. Relative to this anniversary, it's interesting to note some eye-opening church statistics. Church attendance among men fell to 43 percent in 1992. Then that number crashed to 28 percent in 1996. No one involved in national men's ministries believes that those stats have improved. So what happens if the father had little or no faith? If the father was semi-active and the mother was a faithful worshipper, only 3 percent of their children became active church members!

The relationship between fathers and their children is one of the most important and influential of all human connections. Children want to be like their fathers, or their complete opposites. They can feel protected, smothered, or abandoned by their dads. Barbara Curtis is one who used to think there wasn’t much to celebrate on Father’s Day. Like many American kids, she never really had anyone to buy a card for. Her father left when she was 5 — fulfilling his own dreams while turning four others into a nightmare. She's not looking for sympathy — just trying to make a point about how necessary fathers are to the family, and how disadvantaged children are without them.

Dads can wonder if they’re doing fatherhood right, struggle to express their love to their children, or regret the things they didn’t say or do. But according to Joseph Sinasac, for men, fatherhood is about as close to playing God as they are going to get in their brief lives. Anyone who has ever been through the birthing room experience as their wives brought forth their child knows the exhilaration, exaltation and sheer joy that arises, even in circumstances that, for the mother in particular, are painful and exhausting.

God as Father? Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio talks about how the Fatherhood of God has come under fire with the rise of feminism. If we know that God is pure spirit who transcends male and female, masculine and feminine, why preserve what some believe to be the antiquated, patriarchal practice of referring to the divinity as "Father"? This article uses the occasion of the American observance of Father's Day to address this issue. And Kathryn Lopez summarizes the qualities of fatherhood that Jesus reveals to us from God in the father in the following ten points from the Bible.

Godly Dads

Any way you slice it, the father/child relationship can stir up a lot of emotions, so it’s no wonder these emotions have sometimes been channeled by musicians into songwriting gold. Fatherhood doesn’t get as many songs penned about it as romantic love to be sure, but there have definitely been some dad-themed gems put out over the decades. In honor of Father’s Day this Sunday, here are 10 Great Songs About Dads.

We also ask you to take a moment to watch this special video message and share with the Godly Dads in your life as a reminder of what a blessing they are to us.

And once again we bring back a ParishWorld Fathers Day tradition - the story of a father's unelievable love for his disabled son. We try to be good fathers. But compared with Dick Hoyt, I together with most other fathers suck. Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day. Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. On a bike. Makes Taking your son bowling look a little lame, right? This is one of those truly remarkable stories. Read his story here. But make sure you watch the video.

So this coming Fathers Day, let’s give fathers their due, even if it is a just a hug. They don’t ask for much, but they are needed more than ever. Here are a few ways to celebrate "father" on father's day rather than just by giving more stuff.

He Walked "The Way"

Most of those who have seen "The Way," the 2011 film starring Martin Sheen, have in their minds lived this pilgrimage vicariously. Webster Bull is one who, after being inspired by the movie, recently spent 25 days actually walking the road to Santiago. He notes among other things that there are precious few American Catholics on the Camino de Santiago this spring. But is the film even accurate? Or are all these "Way" watchers living a dream? He says the answer is both yes and no.

Let's see what Emilio Estevez's film—about a father (Sheen) who walks the Way after his son (Estevez) dies here—gets right and gets wrong.

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: Must we believe the Church 100% to be Catholic?
FEATURED BLOG: What "The Way" Gets Right and Wrong
PASTORAL HISPANA: Una Semilla de la Esperanza

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Take it; this is my body."

Two Sundays ago we celebrated Pentecost and last Sunday we celebrated the feast of the Blessed Trinity. This Sunday, June 10, 2012, we commemorate the Blessed Eucharist in the Feast of the Corpus Christi. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

There is a certain logic in this sequence of celebrations. Pentecost is the Birthday of the Church and on the Feast of the Blessed Trinity we look at the very nature of God himself. Today in the Feast of Corpus Christi we examine how God continues to make himself present to his Church, how he sustains and nourishes us. What is the meaning of this solemnity? Carmelite Father Giuseppe Midili, director of the Liturgical Office of the Vicariate of Rome, explains.

Indelicate Question

If there is any one Catholic doctrine that people have choked on over the centuries, it has to be transubstantiation – the teaching that, during the Mass, bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Why are you eating someone’s body and drinking his blood? Have you ever met anyone who finds this a bit hard to take?

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says these problems started during Jesus’ public ministry, as John chapter 6 shows. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (V52). “This is a hard saying who can listen to it?” (V60). In fact so many of his disciples abandoned him that Jesus asked the twelve if they also planned to quit. But when push comes to that famous shove, Fr. James Gilhooley says it doesn't matter what Mother Teresa or you or I believe about the Eucharist. What does matter is what Christ Himself believes about it. For the answer one must go to the record. Today's Gospel of Mark is as good a place to start as any.

We can also look to St Paul who asks, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The Bread that we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though, many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” (1 Cor 10:16-17). Our response is obvious, “Of course! How could it be otherwise?”

"This is My Body"

The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, which we call the Eucharist, is not just one of the seven Sacraments. It is the supreme Christian Sacrament and, as Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm O.S.B. points out, it is presented as such in all the Gospels.

On the night before He suffered, Jesus gave the disciples His body and blood under the appearance of bread and wine. He told them to consume it. Fr. John Foley, S. J. explains to us that these would become re-presentations for all time of the bloody sacrifice on the cross, but now in an unbloody form. At the Mass, adds Fr. Alex McAllister, we are united with the Last Supper and there on the altar just as there in the Upper Room we receive the body and blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine.

Christ said to the Apostles, "Do this in memory of me." (Lk. 22:19) By this very Order Christ also conferred upon them the sacrament of Holy Order, a sacrament that is directly ordered to the celebration of the Eucharist. It is thus, explains Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen, that the sacrament of the Eucharist and that of Holy Orders are indissolubly linked. They have the same origin in the words of Jesus we have just cited.

"O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine"

One of the false statements made against Catholics is that we do not develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But Fr. Joseph Pellegrino counters that not only do we speak directly to the Lord in our prayer life, the deepest treasure of our faith is our personal meeting with Christ every time we receive communion. The Eucharist as our most precious possession.

Fr. Phil Bloom reminds us that in spite of life's disappointments and tragedies - and in spite of our own sins and failings - the Eucharist always makes it through. It is thus both the sacrament that celebrates unity and the sacrament that cleanses us for it. At the Eucharist, Fr. Ron Rolheiser explains, our sins are forgiven because to touch Christ is to be healed, even of sin.

We receive our Lord Jesus under both species - Body and Blood. But not that the we receive more grace than when we receive it under one kind alone, but that we are enabled to apreciate vividly the value of the sign. Sadly, notes Father Paul Gunter, OSB , this distinction has not always been made clear. When not offered Holy Communion under both kinds, some people have expressed a feeling that Holy Communion under one kind alone was, to some extent, deficient.

By The Way That We Live

Most often we refer to the Eucharist as "communion". But we should understand that the communal aspect of the Eucharist is far more than a group of people sharing a meal. It is the union of those who share the Body of Christ into the Kingdom of God. It is, explains Father Cusick, the most effective source of God's grace by which we live as witnesses for generosity among the selfish, for reverence among the irreverent, for faith among the doubting, for hope among the despairing and for heroic love among the murderous and hateful.

Fr. Joseph Pellegrino adds that it is the way we thank God for the manifestations of His Love we experience in every aspect of our lives. We thank God in the Eucharist for giving us His Power to make His Presence real in the world. Thus it is most important to receive Eucharist and let each one of us remember that we ourselves carry Christ. Not in procession but everyday of our lives by the way that we live. Every time we receive the Eucharist, Fr. John Ludvik tells us, we go out on procession taking Christ into the world.

Worthy Reception of the Eucharist

Lately it seems that almost everyone attending Mass receives Communion. But only a very small percentage of them have recently been to Confession. To receive Communion worthily means to be free from mortal sin. Alas, Msgr. Charles Pope laments, very few of the faithful today have any notion of the requirement of receiving communion worthily.

But what about pro-Abortion politicians and remarried Catholics? Can they receive the sacrament? In his public document, Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI has reaffirmed the Catholic Church's teaching that validly married Catholics who get divorced and remarry are
not to be given Holy Communion. He also talks about the aforementioned politicians in his discourse.

Also, did you know that you are required to fast before receiving Communion? Fr. William P. Saunders points to Canon 919 of the Code of Canon Law which states, "One who is to receive the most holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before holy Communion." And now you know.

Understanding the Mass

Even Catholics who don’t know much about their faith have some vague awareness that they’re supposed to go to Mass on Sunday. Ask them to describe the Mass, though, and they might tell you that it involves an introduction, a conclusion, and a collection! This article by is Marcellino D'Ambrosio is a Five Part Series on Understanding the Mass. It is a wonderful primer all Catholics must read.

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf answers a reader who asks just what is the point of going to Mass when in the state of mortal sin. The good father offers a great response - and he throws in fire and brimstones into the mix fior good measure. To another reader who says he habitually arrives late for Mass, the good father explains whether Communion can still be worthily received. And for those who have developed the poor habit of leaving Mass immediately after Communion, Fr. Edward McNamara provides a theological discourse on why this is not appropriate behavior.

And if you're among the many parents who have to go to Mass with defiant toddlers, wiggly preschoolers and teething babies, Kate Wicker knows it can be anything but peaceful. For your Sunday morning scramble, she offers "7 Tips for Attending Mass With Young Children."

Eucharistic Adoration

For those who might not be familiar, Eucharistic Adoration or Benediction is the practice of “adoring” Our Lord in the Eucharist. Our Lord Jesus Christ, present to us as the consecrated bread and wine, is placed on the altar in the church. The faithful come to pray, worship and adore Him in this Blessed Sacrament.

To many, convincing themselves to sit for an hour in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can be a real challenge. JonMarc Grodi offers advise. He says when you have decided you are ready to know God better, to seek truth and accept no substitutes, and to face not only your fears but also the desire, deep down, to really come to know God -- Eucharistic Adoration is a perfect place to start. Be open to the desire to know Him. Ask Him the perilous question: Are you there God?

Religious Freedom & Heresy

Rev. Robert Barron notes that in recent weeks, two prominent Catholic women—Kathleen Sibelius in an address to the graduates of Georgetown University’s public policy school, and Maureen Dowd in a column published in the New York Times - delivered strong statements about the Church’s role in civil society. Dowd‘s column was more or less a screed, while Sibelius’s address was relatively measured in tone. Yet both were marked by some pretty fundamental misunderstandings, which have, sadly, become widespread. Fr. Barron takes them n and explains why it's okay to be against heresy and for imposing one's will on others. This is timely advise to consider as the country winds up for the November elections amidst the real threats to religious freedom the Catholic Church is facing.

Dancing, Apologies & Cosmetic Surgery

'I Hope You Dance... ' is an inspiring tale about an 83 year old woman who wrote a letter to one of her friends. Shared by Paul Dion, STL, it's one of those emails fleeting through the internet that you just have to pass on to your friends. Martha Beck reflects on why the two words, "I'm sorry" can be the most rewarding. Always apologize, always explain, she urges us all. Meanwhile Dan McKean advises us to be careful to not judge too quickly. Better yet, he says we should not judge at all because most of the time we cannot see the ‘bees’. What exactly are these 'bees'? Read the story.

Finally, Nip, tuck sin? Botox anyone? Are they sinful? Simcha Fisher tells us what she thinks in her article.

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 you truly believe in the Real Presence at Mass?
FEATURED BLOG: Can divorced and remarried Catholics receive Communion?
PASTORAL HISPANA: Corpus Christi la fiesta de la presencia

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