Thursday, February 23, 2012

"Repent, and believe in the gospel."

In this Sunday's Readings, February 26, 2012, we hear the story of the flood and Noah’s ark. Also, the Lenten season begins, for Jesus, as He is driven out into the desert by the spirit. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Escaping the Flood

Fr. John J. Ludvik tells us that finding God in situations like Noah encountered is harder than trying to read the last line on a eye chart. Yet Noah, leaning over the deck railing of his ship persevered and came to see what his eyes were straining to behold: a distance shore and, with it, the hand of God guiding the Ark to the safety of dry land.

The rainbow—this most beautiful and transient of all things—is as we have heard, a reminder of God’s covenant. It is a sign of the close bond He established with us after the great flood. We may do enough things to provoke God’s anger, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS points out to us. But in this great covenant God says that he will be merciful to us. Although we have sinned he will hold back his anger; instead he will love us all the more.

Escaping to the Desert

In Sunday’s gospel account we find Jesus right after His baptism by John the Baptist in the river Jordan. But instead of immediately embarking on His public ministry, Jesus puts himself in a place where time doesn’t matter. He goes out into the desert for forty days and forty nights, there to come to terms with who He is and what His life is to be all about, and what sort of Messiah His Father has called Him to be. This was for Him, explains Fr. Charles Irvin, a time full of great significance. He was "driven out into the desert by the spirit."

Fr. Orlando, Sapuay, MS suggests that we also should retreat to our own desert as a "great escape." But unlike Jesus who was temopted by teh devil, ours wouldn't be a source of "temptation". It would be a place where we might have the opportunity to reflect on all the love in our life - a God who constantly takes us to his heart and cares so much for us. And God's loving presence embodied in family and friends who are ready to be there for us, but sometimes never given the opportunity to be so because of the "crazed madness".

And so, as we begin Lent and relate the forty days the Lord spent in the desert to the forty days of Lent, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino counsels that we also can relate tests that we have had or may still have in our lives.

A Focus on Baptism

The Readings also focus on Baptism. In the First Reading, By Fr. Phil Bloom reminds us that we remember the covenant God made with Noah – a covenant that God continues in the voice of conscience. And in the Second Reading, St. Paul tells us that Noah prefigures baptism because he and his family "were saved through water." During Lent we look forward to the baptism of our elect - and the renewal of our own baptism. Like our ancestors we often do not listen to that voice; we give in to temptations. Jesus has a concrete plan of repentance that includes prayer, fasting and financial sacrifice. Repent, and believe in the gospel.

And we challenge you with our burning question for the week: Why do Catholics baptize infants?

A Focus on Prayer

The life-implication of Mark's gospel is that we must pray as Jesus prayed if we hope to love God as he did with an undivided heart when our time of trial is upon us. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB reminds us that our task then is to sustain private prayer as a habit in our lives, even if we have neither the insight nor the courage to see and address all the double-standards and moral blind spots in our lives.

We need to pray regularly. Fr. Ron Rolheiser tells us that if we sustain genuine prayer in our lives, eventually sincerity will weed out insincerity, selflessness will weed out selfishness, and grace will weed out sin. 

And so, Fr. John Foley, S. J. suggests, what about letting each Lenten day partake of certain retreat practices? For instance, what about setting aside a little time daily to let your insides settle down for a while, to create space within you to welcome God. Maybe set up a special place in your house or elsewhere just to pray. And why not take some time to read in advance the Gospel from the upcoming Sunday Mass? Sit down, read it slowly, and let the scene described take place within your mind and heart.

Celebrating Lent

John Cardinal O’Connor gives us a Lenten homily on Scrupulosity. He explains that those of us caught up in scrupulosity honestly believe that forgiveness is impossible for us; God himself can not forgive us despite the crucifixion of his Son. Scrupulosity always involves fear: fear of dying without being able to get to confession, fear of not being forgiven by Almighty God, fear of going to hell. It's like having a little sharp stone in one's shoe. This - a sharp little stone - by the way is what the Latin word scrupulus really means.

And so the Catholic blogger that goes by the name of The Anchoress proposes we start Lent by going back to the Sacrament of Confession. If it has been a long time since you’ve been to Confession, she presents an  an article that features two videos that can helpfully explain the process. And then Marcellino D'Ambrosio lists "40 Ways to Get the Most out of Lent." This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of Lenten ideas. But it’s a start!

Last year, at the Vatican, Pope Benedict celebrated Mass on Ash Wednesday at the Basilica of Santa Sabina, marking the start of Lent and the ancient tradition of the station churches in Rome. And following the station church tradition, the faithful this year also make their way to a different church each of the 40 days of Lent for Mass and the singing of the litany of the saints. The tradition started as early as the third century to honor the martyrs of Rome. Similar to the 15 meditations of the Stations of the Cross, the 40 designated station churches offer time for mediation on the lives of the martyrs and prayers of intercession to these Roman saints.

Yay! It's Lent!

Lent is a beautiful time the Church gives us every year to hope again in hard times and to turn our mourning into dancing. Fr. Peter deSousa explains. Mike Gormley agrees. he says Lent is the happiest of all seasons in the Church calendar and the most joyful of all times in life. Say what? Let's allow him to explain.

Meanwhile Msgr. Charles Pope tells us that on Lenten Sundays, rejoicing in the Lord must be our strength. Although Lent is a time of penance, ne reminds us that nevertheless Sunday remains a day of Joy. The Sundays of Lent are not numbered among the forty days of Lent. Between Ash Wednesday are 46 days. The extra six days are the Sundays of Lent.

Developing a Spiritual Wellness Program

Have you ever heard of something called a wellness program? Maurice Blumberg says the idea behind it is to develop a lifestyle that will keep you healthy and make you less vulnerable to illnesses that require a doctor’s attention. The same applies to our spiritual lives. Judith Costello explains that spiritual fitness is a process of tuning into the silence of the heart in order to connect with God. It’s not easy. But that step of finding some quiet time is only opening the door of the gym. It’s the very basic first step. Lots of people open the door, but seem to change their minds and shut it again!

And if you're among those who are suffering this Lenten season, Mark Henderson offers five simple things a day you can do to stay sane. Simple activities such as gardening or mending a bicycle can protect mental health and help people to lead more fulfilled and productive lives, a panel of scientists has found.

More on the Sin of Artificial Contraception

Jennifer Fulwiler reports that a couple of weeks ago, her parish priest gave a homily about contraception. There were over a thousand people packed into the building, and a slight but noticeable tension developed as he inched closer and closer to the subject. The question of how the people will react to a discussion about this most controversial Church teacing was unexpectedly answered when, as Fr. Jonathan returned to his chair at the side of the altar, the pews erupted in spontaneous, thunderous applause.

If there are priests out there wondering whether to take on this topic from the pulpit, consider that your congregation might already be telling you, "Father, We're Ready for that Homily on Contraception Now."

Candy, Lent & Elvis

We go to Hollywwod to close this week's edition. First we give you everyone's favorite Catholic comedian, Judy McDonald, who shares a few timely thoughts for this Lenten season. Dreaming of candy, she asks, what are you giving up for Lent?

And expect a real nun wearing a habit to strut across the stage at this year's Oscar Awards on Sunday, Feb. 26. Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B., a former actress turned cloistered nun, will attend her first Academy Awards show since 1959 to show support for “God is the Bigger Elvis,” an Oscar-nominated documentary about her and her abbey. Mother Dolores, 73, was an award-winning actress who performed in two Elvis Presley movies. In 1963, she was about to sign a seven-figure contract and was engaged to a Los Angeles businessman when she decided to join the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn, where she is now prioress. Here's a related story we ran on her a few years back.

For years, i've been telling you all that Catholicism is becoming mainstream. With the positive support the Church is getting from all corners in response to the HHS mandate, this highly visible Catholic display on Oscars nighty should make for an interesting evening in Hollywood. Catch the show this Sunday.

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 do Catholics baptize babies?
FEATURED BLOG: Father, We're Ready for that Homily on Contraception Now
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesus nos invita a ir al desierto con El

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

"Child, your sins are forgiven."

In last Sunday’s Gospel reading we had the story of the healing of the leper and we reflected on the fact that, in its consequences, sin is a sort of leprosy. In the Gospel story set before us this Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012, we see something similar. Here sin is clearly compared to paralysis. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Four friends who are believers, carry a sick companion up onto a tiled roof, make a hole, and lower with arduously gentle movements his hammock to the floor below, the place where Jesus is. Jesus forgives teh paralytic's sins and then heals him of his illness.

The Scribe's Narrow View of Religion

The scribes are shocked and scandalized to hear Jesus proclaim forgiveness of sins. Instead of rejoicing to hear that this wonderful power is now available, they chose to cling to their own narrow interpretation of religion. Human knowledge alone is ultimately pessimistic. Fr. Phil Bloom sees this example in the way many "Catholics" today are handling the contraception mandate. He points out that what we are witnessing is an agressive attempt to deny sin.

And now more than ever with this approaching season of Lent, we need a personal meeting with Jesus who is God, the only one who can forgive sin. Jesus and the Church urge you and me, us little bystanders, to go into action and to render true forgiveness to people who hurt us. Fr. John Foley, S. J. reminds us that sometimes we think that only God (and God in Jesus) could forgive sins. Wouldn’t we be blaspheming and making ourselves equal to God if we tried this? The Scribes might think so. But the reason you and I are able to forgive, using God’s own love, is clear: because Christ’s Holy Spirit dwells within us.

A God of Punishment or Forgiveness?

For hundreds of years, Fr. Orlando, Sapuay, M.S. explains, the people of Israel had been incorrectly taught about the nature of God. They had been taught that, due to Israel’s sinfulness, God remained remote and distant -- more interested in punishment than in forgiveness.

How can an all-good God send someone to hell for all eternity? It's a question about God's goodness as old as religion itself. How can God be all-merciful and all-loving if there is eternal punishment? It's a false question, says Fr. Ron Rolheiser. God doesn't send anyone to hell and God doesn't deal out eternal punishment. God offers us life and the choice is ours as to whether we accept that or not.

But our God is a God of Forgiveness. And Fr. Joseph Pellegrino tells us that the reason for our optimism is explained by St. Paul in the Second Reading: “Jesus Christ, whom Silvanus, Timothy and I preached to you is not alternatively ‘yes’ and ‘no’. He is never anything but ‘yes’” With these words from 2 Corinthians 1:18-22, we come to a fuller understanding of Christian optimism. When we pray the Mass, we give our struggles over to the Lord. We let God transform our difficulties into occasions of prayer. We need to trust God. He is not alternatively yes and no. He is always yes.

A Community of Faith

As always with the Gospels there are some interesting points to note. In this Gospel story, the obvious point made was how it was the man’s friends who brought him to Jesus and surmounted great obstacles - bringing the sick man through the roof - on his behalf. Jesus himself recognises their faith and the implication by Mark is that it is not because of the paralytic’s faith but because of the faith of his friends that Jesus heals him.

Fr. Alex McAllister SDS explains that what we see here is the communal aspect of faith. Whatever people say, he adds, faith can never be an entirely personal matter. We are a community of faith and in our common faith we support and nourish each other. Like the paralytic in this story, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. explains further to us, we too need to count on friends who are usually more than willing to help us to meet Jesus

The Eucharist and Confession

What are you thinking, my brothers and sisters, Fr. Richard Lifrak SSCC asks. Do you sometimes feel guilty for the illnesses you have, for your misfortunes, for your bad mistakes, and for your weaknesses. It is for that reason, the good father adds, that we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But alas, laments Father Cusick, today many people have no problem believing that they can forgive their own sins. And they do so. Any Catholic who goes for years without benefit of the sacrament of Confession, he opines, must believe so, for as John teaches, "he who says he is without sin is a liar."

Here's one example of a person who loves Confession. "I try to go to confession every two weeks. I need it. I love it." That's New York NY Archbishop and USCCB President Tim Dolan who shares his thoughts from Rome where he is going to be confered Cardinal by the Pope this week. In a previous story we also shared how he travels incognito on weekends to random parishes in New York, and stands in line unrecognized, waiting his turn to go to Confession. If the good Cardinal-elect, can do it, so can we.

Ash Wednesday and Lent Are Upon Us

Lent starts next week on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. It's the one day of the year when the churches are most packed. Once can't help but marvel at how many people pack into Church to get ashes on their forehead. Even sadder, many of them don’t seem to want communion as much. In fact significant numbers walk out the door after ashes are given and do not stay for communion.

Do you and I intend these things as we go forth or is it just a ritual, something to do because it’s “sorta neat.” What, really do ashes signify? Msgr. Charles Pope thinks that perhaps a brief tour of Scripture is in order. Fr. James Martin, S.J. also reflects on Ash Wednesday, calling it "A Sorrowful Joy."

And Ash Wednesay, of course starts the season of Lent. It also begins the time of repentance. And very year at the beginning of Lent, Taylor Marshall says he's encouraged and excited about it. However after a few weeks, like all of us, he starts growing weary of the fasting and penance. So in order to remind us of why we're keeping Lent, he offers reflections on what Bible teaches about fasting and self-denial.

Fr. John Bartunek, LC likewise shares his thoughts on how to stay strong spiritually during Lent. He says, in general, three things tend to make our Lenten resolutions less transforming than we would like them to be. He share them with us. Paul Dion, STL looks at Lent in the 21st Century and offers his own thoughts on how we should all prepare for the season of fasting, praying and giving.

But what if this was your last Lent. Seriously, give that some thought. How would you react if you were told that this was your last Lent before facing God’s judgment? Would you take a closer look at your life and search more thoroughly for areas needing improvement? This link let's you share your personal thoughts on the topic.

More on Contraception, the HHS Mandate, Etc.

The controversy shows no sign of abating. But it is my opinion that the whole thing offers a bright silver lining. We are openly and publicly discussing the topic of contraception from a Catholic point of view. And our children are hearing it. I bet many of them do not even know that contraception is a sin. But now, they're bring Catechized properly. And we have the Obama administration - albeit unintended - to thank for that. 

Despite what some commentators and politicians think, Church teaching on abortion and contraception has remained unchanged. Fr. Mitch Pacwa says Catholics do well to know this history of moral teaching on contraception and abortion to back up our position against the mandate, as well as to know better how to live the Catholic faith. We present some of the texts from the patristic (early Christian) sources to demonstrate how early was the Christian rejection of these practices, known widely in the Greco-Roman world.

And just prior to 1930, all Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox held that contraception was sinful and contrary to God's will. But today, the only people defending the traditional view universally against contraception are Catholics. We're riding solo and it's a tough battle.

In the discussions regarding American health care and the HHS debate, many folks (even some Catholics) are confused as to why Catholics are so concerned about contraception. "Everybody is doing it," so it can't be wrong...right? Dr. Taylor Marshall examine six reasons why contraception is sinful and contrary to God's will.

And since we're on the topic of sexuality, here's a definitive Catholic guide to sex and dating. "How Far Can We Go?" Mrs. Darwin pulls no punches in this one.

Mardi Gras, Pancakes, Easter Eggs & other Catholic Traditions

Before Ash Wednesday comes Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras and the traditional King's cake or pancakes. Although the drinking, revelry and debauchery associated with the festival of Mardi Gras may not seem to have any association with religion, the truth is that without one of the holiest of Catholic holidays, this highly festive celebration would not exist at all. Danielle Rose explains the story behind Mardi Gras. We also did a little research and came away with some very interesting and cool facts about this aspect of our Catholic faith concerning Fat Tuesday, Lent, Easter Eggs, and much more.

Finally, with official unemployment at just under 9% (the real percentage is probably much higher), it is likely that we all know friends and family affected by this tough economy. It may be difficult to admit, but at some point we run out of helpful advice. We may even start to avoid these wonderful people who need our assistance because we feel embarrassed that we don’t know what to do or how to help. What is the solution? Randy Hain offers "Four Meaningful Ways We Can Help Job Seekers."

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: Should you Confess before Communion?
FEATURED BLOG: A Catholic guide to sex and dating
PASTORAL HISPANA: Nos sana por medio de la comunidad

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

"If you wish, you can make me clean."

Christians often are confused about suffering. Is it ever good for us? Is it always good for us? Should we feel guilty about wanting to be rid of it? In the Sunday Gospel for Feb. 12, 2012, the story of Jesus and the leper, we find answers to these questions. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Dealing with Suffering

Jewish law was harsh to lepers. They had to live outside towns. If they came upon a clean person, they had to ring a bell and shout, "Leper, leper." The historian Josephus wrote they "were, in effect, dead men." They suffered physical pain, as well as psychological and spiritual pain. Society taught them to believe that they were God's abandoned.

To the many who suffer today, there are lessons to be learned from this story. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio offers two of them. It’s OK to seek relief from suffering. And should we encounter it in others, we must do all we can to relieve it. While Fr. Ron Rolheiser offers a deeper reflection. He says God's seeming indifference to suffering is not so much a mystery that leaves the mind befuddled as a mystery that makes sense only if you give yourself over in a certain level of trust. Forgiveness and faith work the same. You have to roll the dice in trust. Nothing else can give you an answer.

A Lesson in Prayer

The leper approached Jesus and while kneeling cried, "If you wish, you can make me clean." Fr. Phil Bloom says this plea contained a simple, powerful prayer. His prayer needed only eight words. The cured man has taught us how to pray. Fr. James Gilhooley reminds us how Jesus showed a fondness for short prayers. Check Matthew 6:7, "In your prayers do not use a lot of meaningless words..." While Fr. John Foley, S. J. looks at the leper's plea as a confession of faith. His spiritual life had already begun. As Jesus answers, “I do want to.”

From the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI urges all to learn from the dying Jesus to pray for the needs of others. He says that Jesus' prayer on the cross -- "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" -- is a reminder that in prayer, we must also move beyond our own problems and present to God the needs and sufferings of others.

The Compassion of Jesus

This gospel story gives us a beautiful picture of the way Jesus responds to us, when we come to him, admitting our own inadequacies, acknowledging that he alone can make us clean, and throwing ourselves on his mercy.

Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. reminds us that we are all like this leper. We have all been marred and disfigured by sin. But, Fr. John J. Ludvik explains, no outer blemish, no embarrassing failure no sinful mistake no feeling of guilt or shame is going to keep Christ from reaching out to you and touching you. Nothing will keep him from forgiving you and restoring you to the community, your family and those you love.

Doubt sometimes tempts us, but there is one thing we cannot doubt: Jesus' compassion. When we sin, be it a lie or any sin, we complicate out lives. That is why, adds Fr. Joseph Pellegrino, the Bible equates sin with chaos. God brings order in chaos. He replaces complication with peace. Filled with divine compassion, Jesus responds to the temporal needs of people for healing and for food; but ultimately he wants to give the gift of eternal life with God

After the leper was healed, Jesus told him, "Go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded." (Mark 1, 44) Some say that priesthood is a creation of the Church and that Christ did not intend to make a priesthood. Father Cusick points out that here in this verse Jesus acknowledges the Levitical priesthood, which He raised up and made perfect by His own sacrifice, creating an eternal priesthood which shall not pass away.

Celebrating Mass

As a Catholic, it is hard to travel much—attending Masses celebrated by priests you have never seen or heard, in churches you can’t find without GPS—before eventually facing the question: What makes one Mass better than another? But then, Webster Bull adds, there comes another question on its heels: Is that first question even a question a Catholic should ask?

Dorothy Pilarski expresses the feeling that she might getting old because she notices that people don’t seem to know how to behave at Mass anymore. So she offers a good list of 10 Tips on How to Behave at Mass.

Marriage, Contraception and More

As the Catholic furor over the Department of Health and Human Services contraception mandate rages, Red Cardigan says she is a little peeved of that 98% thing. She's getting tired of hearing that "98% of American Catholics use contraception." In the first place, she explains, it's such a silly fake statistic.

From Washinton DC, Msgr. Charles Pope rebuts a moving Washington Post story about a dying man who give his Catholic wife the go-signal to marry another man. The wife in return pledges to take care of the husband until his eventual death. The Post article played on people's heartstrings, evoking the essence of the marital vows. But the good monsignor says the story does in fact demonstrate the exact anti-thesis of what that vow truly means.

We also explore the sad end of King Solomon. He was Israel’s third King, known as Jedidiah (beloved of the Lord). His forty year reign was an age of prosperity and national unity. But in the end, his reign ended disastrously, he began to oppress the people, multiplied wives and introduced pagan worship. He died smothered in wealth, sex and power. A man whose heart turned from God. There is a moral lesson for us all to be learned from this.

And Carlos Urbina explores "The Domestic Church" - the Catholic home. The Father is the head, the Mother is the beloved spouse, and the children are brought up learning to love and serve the Blessed Trinity. The true head of the Catholic home is Christ. He offers "7 Steps to a Proper Catholic Home."

And this week Paul Dion, STL comes back to grace us with "Sola Sciptura - Through the Bible Alone." Many of you will recognize a lot of the common expressions he lists. The challenge that hurls at us is to match the expression of everyday English with the Scripture source that gave it to us in the first place. He takes us on a great bible discovery tour.

Winners, Forks, Movies and Downsizing

Winners are planners. Bo Sanchez is sure of it. He says failures don’t plan to fail; they just fail to plan. Think about it, he challenges us. Have you ever met anyone who planned to fail? It's another winning article from this very inspiring evangelist.

Meanwhile, we ran across this story circling the internet about a terminally ill young woman who had three months to live. So, as she was getting her things "in order", she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes."This is very important," the young woman continued. "I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand." You have to read this. It will change the way you look at life.

From Hollywood, a recenlt released new study done over a decade surprised many entertainment insiders. Wanna make money in Hollywood? Release patriotic movies that promote conservative values and do not denigrate Christianity. Conservative movies make more money than liberal movies. That's a pleasant surprise.

And finally, what if the server at your favorite fast food joint asked if you wanted to downsize instead of supersizing your order? That’s a strategy that might make some patrons happier – and a lot thinner, a new study suggests. When people were asked if they wanted to downsize portions of their side dishes at a fast food restaurant, as many as a third opted for the smaller – and thus lower calorie - option. Would you?

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: Can we who are sinful be part of Jesus’ mission?
FEATURED BLOG: Are Some Masses Better than Others?
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesus Tiene Compasion del Leproso

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

"He cured many who were sick with various diseases."

In this Sunday’s Readings, February 5, 2012, we are invited to reflect on the meaning of suffering in the life of the Christian. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Suffering in the Life of the Christian

Sunday's Scripture readings find poor Job saying that life is nothing but drudgery. Every so often, we also hear someone lament how life just seems like a series of problems. Do you ever feel this way? Perhaps this has been a particularly difficult week for you. Certainly, as a country, it seems as if we just move from one crisis to another. Perhaps we can gain some insight from the Sunday Readings on how to deal with these feelings.

Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says Jesus heals the pain not just of the people of the past, but the pain of the people of today. All who call out to the Lord are healed. Some are healed physically. Some are healed emotionally, able to accept their condition in life. All receive spiritual healing as they unite their pain to the Cross of Christ. The blessings we receive can fall away and be broken. We can starve instead of overeat. God knows this too. Fr. John Foley, S. J. reminds us that Jesus stays with us either way.

Fr. Ron Rolheiser chooses to reflect on suicide. In most cases, it is an illness not a sin. He says we shouldn't worry too much about how God meets our loved ones who have fallen victim to suicide. Jesus assures that He has a special affection for those of us who are too-bruised and wounded to be touched. For the Christian suffering is never without meaning. The pain we experience is not merely negative it is a part of the great struggle in which all mankind is engaged, it enables us to be united with Christ in the one great act of redemption.

Spending Time Alone with God

The Sunday Gospel's miracle occurred on a Saturday. Fr. James Gilhooley explains that since Jesus was a Jew, He had spent the whole morning in the synagogue at worship. Do you worship weekly? If not, Christ says to you, "Gimmeabreak."

Perhaps we can also gain more insight from this gospel passage in Mark. Jesus was deluged with people wanting to be healed. They presented Him with their problems. It is interesting indeed that with all the pressing needs and problems He faced, Jesus didn't go out and do more. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. points out for us that Jesus chose to withdraw to a lonely place and spent time alone with God.

Fr. Alex McAllister tells us that each one of us also needs to spend time in a lonely place of our own. Fr. Demetrius Dumm, OSB says this does not mean that we should not strive to achieve legitimate objectives. But it does mean that, ultimately, it is only prayerful attention to the Lord and sincere love of others that will heal the beautiful world that God has entrusted to us and bring the peace and harmony that Jesus came to offer us. We need to pray, we need to build up our courage to face the trials ahead and the best way to do this is to draw strength from the Father in prayer.

Lessons in Stewardship

Today's Gospel presents a fascinating example of stewardship. Fr. Phil Bloom points out that St. Peter's mother-in-law was in bed, sick, when her son-in-law brought unexpected guests. One of them, Jesus, went to her bedside, took her hand - and she sat up. The fever subsided and, quote, "she waited on them." St. Paul, in the Second Reading, also illustrates the joy of service. With no fanfare, he says that he is free - and few have greater inner freedom than Paul. Nevertheless, says Paul, I have become a slave to all. He knew that freedom is not license, doing whatever strikes a person's fancy. Real freedom means service, self-giving.

Father Cusick talka about the priesthood and the Stewardship they have been entrusted with. He explains that the priest of Jesus Christ is a man of God whose whole way of life proclaims that the Lord is his portion and his inheritance. The priest is an undeniable sign to the world of the calling of every creature to the eternal life with God that is threatened by man's sinful rejection of God.

Faithful Citizenship at the Forefront

The HHS contraception mandate of Obamacare remains a very volatile issue between Catholics and teh Obama administration. Rev. Robert Barron continues the discussion be reflecting on how the mainstream media has clearly identified the Catholic Church as the enemy. He does, however, find a back-handed compliment in this. Liberal totalitarians understand now that the Church is perhaps the strongest opponent that stands in their way.

And as political candidates focus their discourses the politics of envy that are purposely set to anger the 99% against the 1%. But just what exactly is envy? Most people use the word today as merely a synonym for jealously. But they are not the same. Envy is sorrow, sadness or anger at the the goodness or excellence of someone else, because I take it to lessen my own excellence. Msgr. Charles Pope explains however that the key difference with envy is that (unlike jealousy) I do not want to possess the good or excellence you have. I want to destroy it.

Which brings us to the prickly question of a "Just Wage." At a recent conference on the social doctrine, Omar F. A. Gutierrez realized that in a room full of some very bright people, they couldn’t figure out what the Church meant by a “just wage,” or a “family wage.” He delivers a report on the topic, beginning with the social encyclicals and how they do talk about this with some specificity.

From social doctrine, to contraception, to just wages, Catholicism finds itself very deeply intertwined in the current political discussions. And the conversations do get heated among friends. And we oftentime end up offending others. Simca Fisher offers a very timely topic -- What's Your Apology Policy? To those of you who never offend anyone, this is not the post for you. And Katie Sciba adds more wisdom by offers the humble pie challenge. She share a litany entitled “Mother Teresa’s Humility List.” She intimates that each time she reads it is like choking down humble pie. And it always leaves her starving for Christ, yearning to imitate Him. We should all do the same.

Building Vocations

This entire week is Catholic Schools Week. And I would like to point out one way in which every Catholic benefits from Catholics schools: Catholic schools produce vocations to the priesthood and religious life. It is particularly fitting that we consider this benefit this week on January 31, the feast of St. John Bosco – the schools which he founded produced over six thousand vocations to the priesthood during his life-time (and countless more since his death).

And what do you say when the firstborn in your brood of twelve tells you she wants to be a nun? John and Ruth Marsh of Bemus Point, NY, near Buffalo, were not at all surprised when 20-year-old Emily announced just that. She wanted to be a Daughter of St. Paul. This is her story.

Job's Lament is Ours

How can we make sense of the suffering we see around us? Sometimes we feel so overwhelmed. Sometimes we feel so weary just trying to make a difference in our small corners of the world. Bo Sanchez offers two reflections this week. In "Do You Want God To Heal You?" he offer three steps to gettng healed. And in "Do You Want Inner Peace?" Bo explains that nope, it doesn’t just come from being quiet, spa treatments, meditation, and breathing exercises. He talsk about how you can have inner peace no matter how busy you are.

Judith Costello is one who faced 2012 with a roar of challenges. With their faith, they know that endings are also new beginnings. Life and death are part of a woven fabric. So their family has made a collective resolution not to take the beauty and bounty of God for granted anymore. And she asks us all to promised to say, “Jesus, I trust in you” every day. Jesus our model and our Lord, is our hope for a future of promise.

Here's something for your young people - and also for the not so young. Fr. Gerard Monaghan explains that most people believe that being chaste means that one is not sexually active. Wrong! What does Chastity really mean? He explains it as a Catholic truth for Catholic youth.

The Technology of 1910

Finally, we go back 100 years to 1910 and look with amazement at the technology developed 100 years ago. One full century ago, the new technologies that had people talking were considered just as groundbreaking. Electricity led the charge of developments that were changing the way people lived every day, with transportation and chemistry not far behind. As the clocks of 1909 ticked towards 1910, more exciting inventions were just around the corner. Plus here's 50 thrifty ideas to help you save money in this tough econonmic times.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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