Thursday, April 26, 2012

"I am the good shepherd."

We call this Sunday - April 29, 2012, the Fourth Sunday of Easter - Good Shepherd Sunday and we traditionally use this commemoration to speak particularly about vocations to the priesthood. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

The Good Shepherd

There's a practice among shepherds in Israel at the time of Jesus that needs to be understood in order to appreciate what Jesus says about God as the Good Shepherd. Fr. Ron Rolheiser explains that sometimes very early on in the life of a lamb, if a shepherd senses that this particular lamb is going to be a congenital stray, he deliberately breaks its leg so that he has to carry it until its leg is healed. By that time, the lamb becomes so attached to the shepherd that it never strays again. And sometimes such lambs still stray.

To remind us of the Lord’s concern for each one of us, the Fourth Sunday of Easter always gives us the Gospel of the Good Shepherd. No matter how many times we flee from the Him, Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB reminds us, Jesus is always willing to come after us once again and give His life for us.

And "He saves us from our sins." When we come upon this expression, we're tempted to limit this to something like “I can go to heaven because of the Blood of Jesus.” And that is true. But there is so much more. Fr. Joseph Pellegrinoso explains that it means we luxuriate in the Presence of Jesus Christ. We want to remain in this Presence.

Concern for Others

Jesus also compares the good shepherd to the mere hired hand in the Gospel. But what is wrong with just working for hire? Fr. John Foley, S. J. imagines that a lot of us are like this out of necessity. Ponder this: Why can’t we work simply for gain?

Easter celebrates God’s extravagant giving of Himself . And with Him we also celebrate our calling to becomie our true selves by being gifts for one another. For how can we be true followers of the Good Shepherd,  Fr. Orly Sapuay, M.S. asks, unless we shepherd one another?

This concern for others will create in us that wonderful sense of "knowing" Jesus and being "known" by him, Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. preaches. Sunday's readings therefore invite us to ask for forgiveness for the times we have not responded to those for whom we care, and ask for the grace to be good shepherds. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB tells us to therefore fix our eyes anew on the Good Shepherd who knows that other sheep not of this fold are not lost sheep, but His sheep.

The Most Inclusive Religion

What really ticked off the ancient Romans still ticks people off today—Christians have the “arrogance” to claim that Jesus is the only savior. This Sunday's readings not only back this idea plus the even more offensive idea that God wants only one church, but also accounts for the fact that both truth and godly people are to be found outside the visible boundaries of the Church. How to put these ideas together? Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. explains.

The Church, in union with Peter the rock throughout the world, is the gate through which all men go to eternal life as Father Cusick explains. But in the Gospel Jesus also states, "I have other sheep who do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice and there will be one flock, one shepherd." Jesus wants everyone - and so do we. Because of Jesus, adds Fr. Phil Bloom, we belong to the most inclusive religion -- reaching not only the most remote corner of the globe, but also the most remote corner of the human heart.

Which brings us to the one most monumental mission of the Catholic Church in the next millennium. Fr John McCloskey says that will be to recover our lost Catholic sheep and help them to "revert." Last week we also brought you Fr. Robert Barron's "Why Catholics Leave the Church and What Can Be Done About It." We bring it back this week because it is quite relevant to these discussions.

Let Us Pray for Vocations

Sunday is National Day of Prayer for Vocations. Fr. Rich Lifrak, SSCC says this is a day to appreciate these shepherds, these priests, these brothers, these religious sisters we find on this earth and to pray for more servant-leaders to arise, not only for our sake, but for the sake of our children and our children’s children.

Why does a young man consider the priesthood? Fr. Michael Simone talks about the Diocese of Wichita. It's an amazing Diocese of only 121,000 but has 46 seminarians. Joseph Pronechen also shares the experience of St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken, S.C., a vocations-aware parish where the Holy Spirit is working overtime.

So, how can our Church win the hearts of young men? Anthony Esolen says if you are going to command the respect of young Catholic men, you must fight for theological truth. And, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS advises, we also must ask ourselves whether our very own parishes are cooperating with God in His intention to call people from among us to ministry in the Church. Do we transmit this call to those of our parish we think might be suitable candidates? Or do we say just say nothing and stay quiet out of a false shyness?

And we can't talk about vocations and not discuss the Diaconate. For more than a millennium, Latin Catholics saw an overwhelmingly celibate corps of ordained ministers. And for the last 40 years a new pattern has emerged that includes deacons who are both ordained and married. It is not surprising that confusion persists over the “double vocational sacramentality” of a married deacon.

Catholic Social Teaching

In this week's National Catholic Register Congressman Paul Ryan, a Catholic, takes up the topic of how Catholic Social teaching can guide our discussion on public policy. Msgr. Charles Pope presents some excerpts of the Congressman’s reflections and add a few of his own.

Continuing with his reflection on prayer in the early life of the Church, Benedict XVI this week at the Vatican commented on the apostles' discernment as they faced the problem of finding time to preach and serve. Sandro Magister reports that the Pope also explained how to respond to the persecutions that are still hitting Christians today. In the same way as the apostles. Without fear, without revenge. With freedom, courage, prayer.

Priests in Combat & CIMA

Fr. Kyle Schnippel was the Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati when he heard this story. In one Chaplain Training School, a Marine General gave a pep talk. One of the Protestant Chaplains raised his hand to ask a question, "Sir, what is your advice as to what we should do during open combat?" The General, in a moment of political incorrectness, asked the new chaplains if there were any priests among them. Four Catholic priests raised their hands. One man also raised his hand and said: "I'm an Episcopalian priest." He responded back: "No, I meant a Real Priest!" It made me chuckel so I thought I'd share it with you all.

Finally, if you want to be see how brightly God's light shines today in Hollywood, join us this Sunday for the annual Catholics in Media Awards (CIMA) at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Film and TV projects that explore the human spirit and extol Christian values will be honored. "Emilio Estevez's movie "The Way" is one of them. Hollywood celebrities who share our Catholic faith will also be in attendance. Ticket information can be found here.

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 non-Catholics go to heaven?
FEATURED BLOG: The gruesome death of St. Mark the Evangelist
PASTORAL HISPANA: El Buen Pastor cuida su Iglesia

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Monday, April 23, 2012

400,000 !!!

Often we fail to realize that the people most in need of Christian nourishment are the very same people we see sitting next to us in the pews of our own parish churches. And the many others around us -- our Catholic family members, friends and neighbors -- who don’t make it to Church anymore.

The vast fields of the under-Catechized is just as important a missionary destination as the fields of the un-Catechized! And these mission fields can be found in our very own communities -- in our very own homes.

Since our inception in 2006, ParishWorld has been bringing the Catholic understanding of our faith to vast numbers of active and inactive Catholics within our parish communities and beyond.

We talk about sin. We talk about forgiveness. We talk about justice. We talk about God's love. We talk about Jesus and the fullness of the Catholic faith.

And in March 2012 we reached a very important milestone in our missionary work. Each month in the pages of over 400,000 articles of faith are now viewed online by you, your friends, your neighbors and countless other faceless souls seeking to learn more and wanting to become more involved in the Catholic Church.

That's close to 5 million views a year! 5 million articles of faith read each year!

We do it on the web. On Facebook. On Twitter. And we do it on the many individual parish websites we service all across the United States. Just during the past Holy Week alone, 170,000 viewers came to our websites for answers to what the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus meant to each one of us and to our world.

And now it’s time to ask for your help again. So we can continue. So we can expand further the ever-growing reach of our ministry.

We've managed to keep afloat amidst the turbulent waters of world economic crisis. But now it is time not just to survive, but to flourish!

Our online database of 12,000-plus Catholic articles is now one of the largest in the Catholic world. And managing and editing it has become a big challenge for our meager resources. Our server company tells us we're quickly becoming their largest user of bandwidth. The monthly server fees we pay them have increased as a result.

Doing God's work do come with costs!

We're also ramping up to develop ParishWorld 2.0, our dream website model with an even more robust engine that can handle 100 times more volume and traffic. It will equip us and the many parishes we service across the USA with even better tools to edit web pages, integrate with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and with much more video, audio, and music.

Plus we're releasing an exciting new mobile ParishWorld Catholic app that will simply knock your socks off!

But to make this happen, we are asking you to help financially in two ways:

1) We need to identify 30 people among you who will pledge $1 a day for the next year to cover the related cost of our server fees. That’s less than the cost of a cup of coffee or a soft drink or a bottle of water. $30 per month. Can you do this? This will assure we're paid up on our server fees each month so we can continue working in God's vineyard.

2) We need to raise $15,000 in special gifts over the next month to pay the companies working to redesign the new ParishWorld website and mobile app so we can serve even more people who are searching for answers. Can you give a special gift of $1000 ... $500 .. Or $100?

You can do it online right here via credit or debit card or paypal. You can contribute by phone at (818) 4466-PWD, or by mailing a check to ParishWorld, 1230-5 Madera Road #158, Simi Valley, CA 93065.

Delivering a better understanding of our faith . . . Bible Studies, daily homilies and reflective articles . . . Catholic questions answered . . . to inspire, to witness, to Catechize, to build faith . . . through the New Evangelization.

All "For the greater glory of God."

We're now at 400,000. Help us get to 1,000,000. That's worthy of your Christian charity, isn't it?

Can you please lend a helping hand to a Catholic ministry in need today?

In His Service,

WALLY ARIDA, Publisher & Editor in chief
Your brother in Christ

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Touch me and see."

Sunday’s Gospel for April 22, 2012 - Third Sunday in Easter - is “the rest of the story” about Emmaus. Well, here is the story that has the surprise ending in today’s Gospel. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

We have all heard this tale. Several disciples, walking in sorrow to a small town, were joined by a stranger who began explaining to them the story of Christ as foretold in the Jewish Scriptures. When the three of them arrived, they ate, and the men knew in a flash who it was at the moment when he broke the bread.

Now here, Fr. John Foley, S. J.explains, is the rest of the story. The men ran to Jerusalem as fast as they could to tell the eleven apostles. Probably they were babbling and prattling, being so excited, but in the midst of the enthusiasm, suddenly, without warning, Jesus appeared. “They were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.”

"See my hands and my feet! Touch me!"

Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. points out how In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that He is not at all a ghost. Vampires are not real. Werewolves are not real. Zombies are not real. But Jesus is real. He is the Son of God become man, who died for us, but then rose from the dead. When the disciples saw Jesus, they did not see a ghost. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says Jesus appeared to them as a living, solid form.

Jesus said, “Look at my hands and my feet. It is me. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." The resurrected Jesus of today's Gospel is a flesh and blood person, says Fr. James Gilhooley. He speaks. He is even hungry. Why else would He eagerly ask, "What's for supper?" He even went on to eat something right in front of them, adds Fr. Joseph Pellegrino.

Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB explains the message our Lord gives us with his apparition to the disciples. Even when we fall and sin, God is right there trying to help us walk in faith once more. It is as though Jesus Christ is standing right beside us each moment and saying: see my hands and me feet! Touch me! I am truly with you.

The Wonder and Awe of Emmaus at Every Mass

"Breaking of bread" is an ancient name for the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass. At Emmaus Jesus gave his Body and Blood as he celebrated the Eucharist. Father Cusick says there the disciples encountered the Easter Christ: "they had come to know Jesus in the breaking of bread." (Lk 24, 25)

Jesus frequently referred to eating together as a sign of the peace of God’s reign. To eat with the disciples now showed not only that He had forgiven their lack of faith, but the reign He had promised was now coming into being. Fr. Orly. Sapuay, MS explains how Jesus chose to be remembered by eating and drinking together: the tradition of giving thanks, breaking bread, and sharing the cup we call the Eucharist. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB adds further that each Sunday we also listen to readings from Scripture in order to learn how the Spirit was with Jesus, and how the Spirit wishes to inspire us.

The HHS mandate and Freedom of Religion

One of the more disturbing aspects of this HHS mandate is knowing the degree to which our nation has profited from Catholics only now to have our consciences treated so shabbily. As an example look at the life of Fr. Edward J. Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town, and whose cause has recently opened. Many may remember the 1938 movie about the straight-talking priest played by Spenser Tracy, who won an academy award for his portrayal. Omar Gutierrez explains that under this over-reaching HHS mandate, even good Fr. Flanagan wouldn't have qualified.

We now live in an era of moral relativism, where womanhood has become a bit of a lightning rod and where religious views are shifting. Jennifer Fulwiler finds it ironic when contraception is said to allow anyone to live "freely." Women are handed contraception, and told to forget all about the possibility of parenthood. Then, when the contraception fails, as it so often does, they find themselves feeling trapped, perceiving that their only escape is through the doors of an abortion facility. This, to her, does not look like freedom. Let's look at five practical ways one can remain faithful in a hostile and confused culture.

And then let's look at how the life of Dorothy Day should be so terribly misunderstood and why this ought not to come to any great surprise to any of us. The case for canonization for this intrepid Catholic journalist from the 1930s is now open. So, you want to help the poor, convert your neighbor, be wildly attractive to those who come to know you? Go to Mass, pray the rosary, recite the hours, read on the saints, be like Dorothy Day and pursue sanctity. That, friends, is the antidote to hypocrisy and is the path to helping the poor and the ignorant.

Do Catholics Worship Idols?

The problem of Catholics leaving the Church, reports Fr. Robert Barron, is obviously, serious and complex. And anyone who would suggest an easy solution is naive. However, having listened to a representative sample of those who have left, he thinks parishes, priests, and church administrators might take some relatively simple and direct steps that would go a long way toward ameliorating the situation. The good priest tackles why Catholics leave the Church and what can be done about it.

Related to this, the alleged Catholic worship of idols is one bomb our Protestant brothers and sisters always throw at us. Fr. Dwight Longenecker explains that when we venerate an image of Jesus, Mary or the saints in our devotions we are honoring them, but we are also praising the God for the fact that through their physical lives, his glory is revealed.

Infant Baptism is another. Many Protestants (though not all) disagree with our Catholic practice of baptizing infants. Alas, Msgr. Charles Pope laments, the Protestant denominations (mostly Baptists (another irony), Pentecostals, Fundamentalist and Evangelicals) who refuse baptism to infants engage in a novelty unknown to the Church until recent times. It is a simple historical fact that the Church has always baptized infants.

The New Chivalry & More

Randy Hain tells the story of brothers gathered for a Catholic blessing of the early departed around the grave of their father who died unexpectedly from a heart attack. There's a lot of unfinished personal business that lingers. A familiar tale, perhaps? Click here for the story.

It is springtime, and weddings are aplenty. One of the traditions performed at many weddings is the garter toss. Matt Sciba finds it to be an utterly revolting tradition. One such event happened at the wedding of a couple he knew in college. Matt and Julie married last week, and when the time came for the garter to be removed, Matt did something unexpected. As Julie sat in her chair, Matt approached her with a water basin and a towel. With perfect tenderness, he humbled himself and made a beautiful gesture of his service to her. He washed her feet just as Jesus did at the Last Supper. Nice, huh? Food for thought for every groom-to-be out there who's planning a wedding soon.

Here's an interesting question. Is marriage a part of God's plan for everyone? By the way many married folks treat singles, it would appear the answer is "yes." I hear comments like, "What's a nice girl like you doing unmarried?" and, "What you need is a good wife!" Henry Harris opines that being Christian and single can be a very fulfilling alternative to married life.

Hiccups & Bottled Water

We've all been tormented by hiccups at some point in our lives. Melissa Jeffries takes on hiccups , how they work, what causes it and how to stop it. And now that the weather is starting to warm up again, many of us will naturally reach out for bottled water every chance we get. But did you know that many well-known brands actually come from public water? Phil Lempert says beware of bottled water because labels don’t tell the whole story.

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A ParishWorld Milestone

ParishWorld has reached another milestone -- thanks to you.  Over 400,000 page impressions are now being viewed in our websites each month. And it's very gratifying to all of us in ministry work that this milestone means 400,000 articles of faith are being read each month in our pages. We are touching lives, we're moving spirits and we're bring Jesus into the hearts of people. How blessed we are to play a part - no matter how small - in God's work. Let us praise Him always for He is good.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Is the Mass a Banquet or a Sacrifice?
FEATURED BLOG: Do Catholics Worship Idols?
PASTORAL HISPANA: La paz es el regalo de Cristo

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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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Thursday, April 5, 2012

"They have taken the Lord from the tomb"

"Alleluia!" we proclaim this Easter Sunday - April 8, 2012 - as Church. “Alleluia, praise the Lord. Jesus is alive. He is our Savior. He is our Redeemer. And He is ours. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Holy Thursday

Benedict XVI reflected on the Easter Triduum this week calling it the "fulcrum of the entire liturgical year." Yesterday was Holy Thursday. On the night before He died, Marcellino D'Ambrosio, PhD says the Lord Jesus made some startling changes in the ritual of the Passover meal. Instead of being content with the traditional Jewish table blessing over the bread, Jesus proclaimed “take and eat for this is my body.” Over the third cup of wine, known as the cup of blessing, He said “take and drink for this is my blood.” Then He commanded the disciples “do this in memory of me.” Obedient to the wishes of the savior, we remember and reenact this solemn moment in a special way each Holy Thursday, but more frequently in every Mass.

Which brings about a common question: Is the Mass a Sacrifice or Fellowship Meal? Fr. Dwight Longenecker notes that it’s easy to see how this thinking came about, and within the “spirit of Vatican 2″ it’s not hard to draw the conclusion that the Mass is essentially a fellowship meal and a re-enactment of the Last Supper. However, this is not the case.

Today is Good Friday

This is the most sober day of the Triduum. Dr. Isabel Dion, D. Min. reminds us that on this day, we recall and make present Jesus’ death and we seek to enter more deeply into the mystery of His death and resurrection. The Church continues to watch and pray in silence. There is NO Mass. We see the altar bare and there are no candles. We fast and abstain in solidarity with Jesus. God’s Goodness is truly manifested.

During the whole Holy Week and especially today, we also reflect on The Seven Last Words of Christ. They refer not to individual words, but to the final seven phrases that Our Lord uttered as he hung on the Cross. We bring you this set of meditations based on the writings of Archbishop Fulton Sheen in his book, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary. We also bring you a separate set of reflections from Fr. John Dear SJ who asks us to listen to the words of Jesus from the cross for clues about following Him faithfully on the way of nonviolence in pursuit of justice and peace. Here's a link to the famous seven last sayings of the crucified, nonviolent Jesus.

Holy Saturday

This is a day of grief and mourning, of patient waiting and hoping. With Mary and the disciples, we grieve the death of the most important member of our Christian community. The faith of Mary and the disciples was strongly challenged on that first Holy Saturday as they awaited the resurrection.

Danielle Bean reminds us that on this day no Mass is offered, not even a Communion service like Good Friday’s. It isn’t an official fasting day, but many Catholics eat modestly this day as we wait to celebrate the Resurrection.

The Meaning of Easter

The lectionary Readings of Easter Day and Easter Week serve up a rich repast of revelation regarding Jesus’ resurrection. Like those of Holy Week, these readings command attention, and if we are awake, hardly allow us to think of anything else.

Light, Word, Water, Eucharist are the four elements of the Easter Vigil Service. Of course, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS clarifies, what we celebrate is only one thing: the resurrection of Christ. But these four elements of our Vigil Service help to highlight the resurrection in its various aspects, and enable our liturgy tonight to be worthy of the holiest night of the year. On Easter Sunday, we see the flowers, the candles, the music, and all the Easter appointments are symbols of the Life worth Living. They are symbols that the world has been transformed by the Power of the Cross. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says it reminds us that there is hope in the world. That Hope is Jesus Christ.

Just why did Christ rise from the dead? St. Thomas Aquinas gives us five truthful reasons. Michael Barber reports.

Christ is risen, though we might not see him. Fr. Ron Rolheiser tells us that the miraculous doesn't force itself on us. It's there, there to be seen, but whether we see or not, and what precisely we do see, depends mainly upon what's going on inside our own hearts. Fr. John Foley, S. J. says the light is coming. Morning has eased our faces into daylight, into the soft, humble glow. Christ became the night. Christ is the light.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Easter is not a low-budget Christmas, Joseph Sinasac aptly points out. To the secular world, Easter is a minor holiday, a time of candy, colored eggs and Easter bunnies. But the meaning of Easter is more than springtime and dyed eggs. The significance of Easter, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio tells us, is that not only sin but death has been conquered by the one who foretold his own resurrection before he gave his life for us on Good Friday.

The climax of the Easter gospel and the essence of its implications for us lie in the statement "he saw and believed." Coming to believe in the Risen Lord is the purpose and the point of the entire gospel, Fr. James Gilhooley explains. Father Cusick quotes Tertullian, an African Church Father who converted to Christianity around 197 A.D., who testified: "Belief in the resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its beginnings. 'The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live.' "

The Easter Story Moves in Our Lives

Fr. James Gilhooley relates a story about how the thirteenth century Francis of Assisi once had been asked for a coin by a beggar. Francis was coming from Easter services. He embraced the beggar warmly, called him "my brother," and gave him several coins. As Francis left the poor man, he turned back to wave. He saw Jesus Himself standing where the beggar had stood. He waved at Francis with a smile. There was a huge bleeding wound in His hand.

And to this, Paul Dion, STL adds our Burning Question this week: Do you invite the poor to your Easter banquet?

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 invite the poor to your Easter banquet?
FEATURED BLOG: Easter is not a low-budget Christmas
PASTORAL HISPANA: Alegra a Toda Iglesia

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