Thursday, May 31, 2012

"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit"

We have come to the end of the Easter Season and are about to begin what is called Ordinary Time when we reflect on the three-year long public ministry of Jesus. But before we do so we are given the special feast we are celebrating today, June 3, 2012: Trinity Sunday. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

An Unfathomable Mystery

The great apostolic commission revealed in this Sunday's Gospel implies a service that is pastoral: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations"; liturgical: "baptizing them"; prophetic: "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you"; and guaranteed by the Lord's closeness, until the end of time. And all in the name of the Holy Trinity.

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio puts it our plain and simply. The Holy Trinity has always been a difficult doctrine to swallow. In a sense this is asking the impossible. So how do we understand the trinity? We don't, Fr. Ron Rolheiser explains. God, by definition, is ineffable, beyond conceptualization, beyond imagination, beyond language. It is more to do with worship than understanding.

Fr. James Gilhooley attempts an explanation anyway. The sun is 80 million miles away from us right now. The rays coming through the window are coming from the sun. The delightful heat we are enjoying on our bodies right now come from a combination of the sun and its rays. The Trinity is like that. God the Father is that blazing sun. The Son is the rays He sends down to us. Then both combine to send us the Holy Spirit who is the heat. If we understand the workings of the sun, its rays, and heat, why do some still have difficulty believing the Trinity?

Within the Mystery of the Trinity, adds Fr. Joseph Pelligrino, dwells the wonderful belief that God is both close to us and beyond us, Intimate and Transcendent. It is fundamentally a mystery of community. And therefore, Fr. Thomas Rosica reminds us, all of our earthly efforts and activities must work toward building up the human community that is a reflection of God's rich, Trinitarian life.

Through Holy Week, Easter time and Pentecost, we have been shown the face of God, revealing the loving interactions that are the Trinity. Thus quietly, Fr. John Foley, S. J. tells us, we have become “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” We are to “suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (Second Reading). The fledgling early Church of discovered the Trinity not by studying theology books but by experiencing it. Let us do the same.

Baptized in the Name of the Trinity

The final words of Jesus are presented in Sunday's Gospel particularly because of the reference to baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino points out that we are baptized in the name of all three because the disciples of Jesus both benefit from and manifest all three persons of the Trinity. Through the gift of baptism we belong to God, and God belongs to us. With Jesus we can say Our Father. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler O.S.B. says through Jesus and with the Holy Spirit we are at home in God.

Our mandate is to spend our lives living out that Trinity with all others in the world. And that, as Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS points out, is a daunting task filled with grace and power. If all men and women of the entire world obey the order of Christ given by the Church, Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen explains, only then we shall all be able to contemplate one day the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.

Fr. Phil Bloom says Jesus has given us Mary, his mother as our mother. In baptism we not only become children of God, but children of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And just as the Most Blessed Virgin Mary always said "yes" to the Order of God, ever present in her, she can also help us realize the purpose of our existence: to enter an eternal relationship with God - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Ultimate Freedom -- Until the End of the World

Freedom does not mean doing what you want, when you want, with whoever you want. That's leads to slavery. True freedom, Fr. Phil Bloom clarifies, means the power to become the one you were meant to be. When we seek worldly joy, we end up miserable. We become slaves to a pleasure that diminishes daily.In God alone - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - will we find ultimate freedom. And "Today," says Daniel Durken, "the Trinity invites us to keep playing with them this delightful game of life and love." And why not, asks Fr. James Gilhooley. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

May this be our most fervent desire on this day: to directly experience the Lord Jesus in the proclamation of the Word and in his Body and Blood in the Eucharist. Father Cusick prays that we may declare with supernatural joy: "Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia."

Modern Heresies, Isolation & Salvation

In his new book author Ross Douthat uses the word heresy quite correctly to describe a version of the Christian faith that holds an incomplete version of the full truth. One that chooses certain tenets and discards many others which both balance and complete the picture.

Fr. Ryan Erlenbush points out an example. The Catholic Church teaches that it is a heresy to say that we are certain of our own salvation. Yet the Protestants say, “Once saved, always saved.” Theological hope does not so much make us certain that we are to be saved, but rather makes us to be certain that we are on the path of salvation. On top of this we also see today the rise of the therapeutic culture, a trend that has sorely affected faith. At its core, it emphasizes feelings over duties. Religious man was born to be saved, Philip Rieff wrote in 2006, but psychological man is born to be pleased.

Msgr. Charles Pope says these heresies have left us isolated and unfulfilled. He says the challenge we face today is to re-propose the need for the Church which Christ founded. Jesus did not write a book and send us off to study it. He founded a community, a Church, and told us we would find him there, where two or three are gathered in his name. That is where his actual and true words are read and heard, where his true body and blood are offered and received.

Papal Authority & Infallibility

From the Reformation onward, Protestant Christians have fallen into the trap of Restorationism. This is the idea that the existing church has become corrupt and departed from the true gospel and that a new church that is faithful to the New Testament can be created. These sincere Christians then attempt to ‘restore’ the church by creating a new church. The problem is, each new group of restorationists invariably create a church of their own liking determined by their contemporary cultural assumptions. They then imagine that the early church was like the one they have invented.

The way to find freedom, their thinking goes, is to ditch the institution and create a spirituality and moral code that works for you. To modern ears, this all sounds right. But is it true? Jennifer Fulwiler encourages everyone who has left the Church or is thinking about it, to consider five important questions to ask themselves before abandoning the Catholic faith.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker points out that the Catholic Church is today what she has always been. Her leadership is unapologetically monarchical and hierarchical. Her teaching authority is centralized and universal, and the pope is what he has always been, the universal pastor of Christ’s Church, the steward of Christ’s kingdom and the Rock on which Christ builds his Church. And infallible? In a related article, Fr. Dwight Longenecker also explains that the last thing to remember is that this infallible teaching authority has nothing to do with the sinfulness of the Pope or any other individual Catholic. Infallibility is about the competence and charism to teach the truth–not the competence and charism to abide by it. Moses was a sinner, but he gave us the Ten Commandments.

Family, Divorce & Social Teaching

Children of divorced parents carry baggages that haunt them well into adulthood. Fr. Antonio Lopez reflects on the link between the human image and the divine origin, which draws every child ultimately back to God the Father. By severing the child from his or her origins in love, divorce puts the child’s “filial” identity into question, and together with it, the goodness of his or her existence.

But as Christians, we persevere. Jennifer and Greg Willits' new book “The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living” is directed to anyone trying to live the Catholic faith, and struggling through the pitfalls of human weakness. Their goal: Evangelization -- One Family at a Time. And this brings to mind this tale shared by Paul Dion, STL. He talks about a wild-haired, shoeless college student and this important lesson learned from his story: "You may be the only Bible some people will ever read!"

But there are glimmers of hope. Considering all of the negative influences in television, film, music and sports, it‘s rare to find a positive role model who’s willing to boldly go against societal norms. Enter Lolo Jones, the 29-year-old track and field star who’s been getting a fair bit of press since tweeting earlier this year that she’s a virgin. And we have evangelist Bo Sanchez who shares felling depressed, a few years back as he dealt with personal trials, conflicts in his Catholic community, plus a number of personal trials as well. Then he found the answer. He chose to be happy.

Bringing the Cristero War to the Big Screen

For Greater Glory is a movie that depicts the Cristero War in Mexico. The movie tells the untold story of the Mexican government persecution of the Catholic Church in the1920s. A reported 60,000 people died during the struggle to defend the faith. This sentiment is stirring emotions today in the US as the US government assaults religious freedom as we know it. Catholic leaders are recommending that everyone see ithis movie. The film features actors Andy Garcia, Peter O’Toole, Eva Longoria and Eduardo Verastegui. It will debut June 1 in the U.S. We hope to see you all at the movies this weekend.

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: Sign of the Cross - what is its meaning?
FEATURED BLOG: 10 Questions 7-year-old Catholics should be able to answer
PASTORAL HISPANA: La fiesta de La Santisima Trinidad

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Receive the Holy Spirit."

This Sunday, May 27, 2012, we celebrate the feast of Pentecost. We commemorate this important event, which took place fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ, namely: the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and disciples gathered around Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in the Cenacle. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

The feast of Pentecost is joined to Easter. Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen explains how these two solemnities allow us to call to mind all of the history of Salvation in Jesus the Son of God. What began on Easter, this Sunday finds its fullness and its completion. On the evening of Easter, the risen Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to his disciples for the first time, so that they might receive him in fullness on Pentecost.

The Blessings of The Holy Spirit

Alfred McBride, O.Praem. tells a story of how the first Pentecost could have happened from the point of view of a Greek traveler who stood bewildered in the Jerusalem crowd. What was happening? All about him Jews from many nations milled excitedly and pointed to a group in the center of the square.The apostles were speaking in tongues when they emerged from the Cenacle upper room after being blessed by the Holy Spirit.

What exactly is a blessing? Fr. Ron Rolheiser says it is a way of remaining permanently present to someone. It is a way of giving someone our love, our insight, our strength, our presence, in a word, our spirit, in our physical absence. He points out that Jesus left us with His blessing. His spirit, the Holy Spirit, is received by all who receive that blessing. But, like anything planted so deep in us, it has to have time to make its way into our actions, our words, our deeds.

Fr. John Foley, SJ says whenever we find patches of charity or joy in ourselves, or patience and kindness, or the ability to endure hardship and injuries; when we are tempted toward mildness and modesty, then we can be sure that the Holy Spirit is at work within us. These kinds of qualities are now the signs of the Holy Spirit, much more than heavy winds and tongues as of fire. On Pentecost Sunday, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. explains, we celebrate the wonderful good news that the risen Lord has poured out his Spirit upon us, first of all to convince us of his victory over sin and death, and then to enable us to continue His work of salvation by our own love and concern for others.

On Pentecost, The Church Was Born

In the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit didn't just fill the Upper Room where the apostles had gathered, it filled them. They were on fire for Jesus. They began to understand the mystery of Christ. They were still afraid to suffer and die, Fr. Joseph Pelligrino points out, but that became secondary to throwing open the door, going out and proclaiming the Gospel.

Three thousand people heard them, and caught their fire, and became Christian. Together they formed the Body of Christ, the Church. Pentecost joyfully announces the birth of our parish/faith communities. As the ancient theological formula said, “Jesus announced the kingdom of God and what came was the church.” But the joy of the Risen Christ is not to be limited to this small flock of disciples. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, MS says God’s act of salvation in Christ needs to be communicated to all: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you”.

Have you received the Holy Spirit?

Jesus calls us out of our Upper Rooms. But, as Fr. Joseph Pellegrino points out, our Lord doesn’t just call us to proclaim the Good News. Jesus gives us the ability to proclaim the Gospel. He gives us Third Person of the Trinity that forms us into Church. That Spirit allows us to speak with our lives the language of the Love of God, to hear God in every one of us. This great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is something that continues in the Church right up to the present day. Indeed, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS adds, it will always be one of the identifying characteristics of the Church.

We receive the same Holy Spirit today with our Baptism and Confirmation, Fr. James Gilhooley explains. And its gifts are awesome: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. But we must learn to use them. Have you ever received a new credit card with a sticker saying “Must call to activate before using?” Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says the Holy Spirit and his gifts are the same way. You have to call in and activate them. Do it today and every day, and especially every time you attend Mass.

The Spirit enables the baptized believer to begin a transition from this world which will one day end to the fullness of life in the Trinity which will never end. Thus, Father Cusick tells us, we are given a foretaste of eternal joy by “pouring” abundantly “into our hearts” the eternal love of God.

The Birth of the Sacrament of Confession

In John 20:19-23, we hear "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." It is in this Gospel for Sunday that Jesus institutes the Sacrament of Confession and its grace to forgive sins upon His apostles and His Church.

Sadly, many today express a rather deep impatience with the whole idea of confessing one’s sins to a priest. Why do we require a mediator when seeking the divine forgiveness? Could God forgive outside of the rituals of the Catholic Church? Rev. Robert Barron says of course. God is held bound by nothing. But the incarnational God, Catholics believe, has desired to convey His forgiveness through the body of the church. And that’s why we go to a priest, an embodied alter Christus, for confession.

Despite this teaching, we still see a decline in the use of Confession among Catholics. They exclaim, "But God accepts and loves us as we are!" Yes, this is true. But Confession is not about God loving you more or less. God will love you straight to hell if that's what you want. Fr. Philip Neri Powell, O.P., Ph.D. says Confession is not about how much God loves you but about how much you love God. And, Elizabeth Esther adds, Confession also opens the door to us forgiving others.

Memorial Day, Suffering & Freedom of Religion

It is providential that Pentecost 2012 falls on Memorial Day. Pentecost Sunday underscores our Christian mission. Memorial Day reminds us of the sacrifice required to maintain freedom. An, Fr. Phil Bloom reminds us, our first and most cherished liberty is religious freedom. Today in America, this very freedom is under siege. As our bishops state: "We are Catholics. We are Americans... Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory and instead should be complimentary."

In related Catholic Social Justice news, the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as “pro-choice” is at the lowest point ever measured by Gallup, according to a new survey. A record-low 41 percent now identify themselves as “pro-choice,” down from 47 percent last July and 1 percentage point down from the previous record low of 42 percent, set in May 2009. Gallup began asking people to define themselves as pro-choice or pro-life in 1995. This is consistent with the story we reported last week that the youth of today are more Pro-Life than ever and they are marching in droves to share their belief in the sanctity of human life.

And we can't help but share this video shared by Elizabeth Scalia on homosexuality. She speaks the Catholic truth. And the video by Michael Voris is simply thoughtful and moving. He does a fine job of putting his finger on the exact spot I was unable to find, and does it with beauty and depth. Please watch it. And if you do have friends or family members who are homosexuals, please share this video with them so they may understand how much God loves them and truly understands their suffering.

And on the topic of suffering, Jennifer Fulwiler addresses how to help people who are particularly troubled by the issue of suffering. Whenever the subject of faith would come up, they would ask, "Where is your God when people suffer?" Her simple answer was one word - crucifix. When we suffer, our God is there suffering with us.

Winning, Coffee & a Navy SEAL's Advice to Graduates

Paul Dion, STL's uncle taught him this. "Killing" the person you defeat is not necessary. Making your victory a pleasant lesson for the opponent is the ideal way to win. Losing without learning something is the real loss. And he can't recall how many times his uncle had paraphrased Jean Paul Sartre the existentialist by saying, "It's in dying that you define your life. It's in winning that you prepare your dying." Mighty strong lessons to be learned there.

Eric Greitens is a 38-year-old Rhodes scholar and humanitarian worker turned highly awarded U.S. Navy SEAL. Today, he is the CEO of the Mission Continues, a nonprofit foundation he created to help wounded and disabled veterans find ways to serve their communities at home. To the graduates of Tufts, Greitens issued a unique challenge, one rarely heard at commencements today: to sacrifice, to serve one's country and to live magnanimously. He called students to think above and beyond their own dreams, their own desires, and to be strong. It's a lesson sorely missing in the sad state of today's me-first world.

Finally, Andrew Sciba offers up the top 5 reasons why coffee is better than beer. All in all, he thinks coffee’s wide availability and downright affordable price gives it an edge over beer. Of course, the same could be said for a Honda Civic and a Toyota Supra Turbo.

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 does the Holy Spirit do in your life?
FEATURED BLOG: The Advantages of First Confessions at a Tender Age
PASTORAL HISPANA: Fuente del amor para la Iglesia y el mundo

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Proclaim the gospel to every creature"

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

From Sad Goodbye to Joy

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

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

Ushering In A New Era

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

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

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

Snakes and Poisons of the World

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

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

The Freedom to Choose Good

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

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

Life, Marriage, Faith & Worship

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

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

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

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

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

A Glimpse Into the Future

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

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief
BURNING QUESTION: Why don't Catholics evangelize door-to-door?
FEATURED BLOG: How Will the Catholic Faith Change Your Marriage?
PASTORAL HISPANA: La Ascension es el signo de nuestra esperanza

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

"This I command you: love one another."

This Sunday, May 13, 2012 - the Sixth Sunday of Easter, we meet Jesus giving us the great commandment to love one another. Not only are we to love one another but we are to love another as Jesus Himself has loved us. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

"Love One Another As I Have Loved You"

‘This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.’ This is the central text of Sunday’s Gospel reading and indeed one could consider it one of the most fundamental texts of the Christian faith. And yet it seems at first sight to contain a basic contradiction. We are all well aware that genuine love, real authentic love, must by definition be an entirely free choice. So, Fr. Alex McAllister aks, how can Jesus ‘command’ us to express love one for another? Fr. John Foley, SJ says God’s love never forces us. It is always gentle and respectful.

In the Gospel the meaning of the word “love” is crystal clear. Jesus Himself defines the term by stretching His arms out upon the cross, dying to self so that we might live forever. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS says Jesus gives us His great love the world has ever known. As we benefit for all eternity from the love of Jesus, so too are we called to share His love generously with others. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB says this is truly helpful because so often in this life we get confused about love and far too often think of it as feeling good about someone. When we see how Jesus loves, then we can understand how we are to love.

Those who love God long to be holy as He is holy and so live the commandments by holy thoughts, words and deeds. And they do it out of love, explains Father Cusick, not because of fear of punishment.

Loving Your Crooked Neighbor

But everyone has flaws, even mothers. Fr. Phil Bloom notes what W.H. Auden had said. Only God could ask us to love our crooked neighbor with all our crooked heart. And what shatters our illusion of love is the presence in our lives of people who hate us. Fr. Ron Rolheiser points out that they are the test. It's here where we have to measure up: If we can love them, we're real lovers, if we can't, we're still under a self-serving illusion.

The Holy Spirit quietly makes us able to say yes to faith, but not by imposing upon us or compelling us. The Spirit would rather be a companion in our lives than a home-wrecker. Just like Jesus did, we too need to feel the warmth of the Father's love. And, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B adds, we are to share that warmth with all whom we meet in life.

True spiritual joy is what every human being longs for. But without the experience of receiving and giving this divine love, Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. clarifies, this joy can never be found.

Being Models Of Love To Others

In Sunday's Gospel (John 5:15), we hear the powerful words: "No longer do I call you servants ... but I have called you friends." Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB explains that the Lord calls us friends; he makes us his friends; he gives us his friendship. Pope Benedict says this friendship opens us to all that is good and gives us the measure to discern between what is true and what is false, between deceit and truth.

Each of us is an ambassador with portfolio for Christ. If a person loves the Lord, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says that love in itself will attract other people who are seeking the Lord. Perhaps it will attract a person who is looking for someone to make a life with, certainly it will attract many others who are looking for the meaning to life.

Oftentimes, however, we are completely unaware of the role we are playing. But the non-Christians watching us do not forget that we follow Christ. Sadly, Fr. James Gilhooley reminds us, we frequently disappoint them. Love, true love, lasting love, only results from the Love of Christ. And that love becomes a magnet.

Understanding Catholic Teaching

Time Magazine put the president of the US bishops' conference on its list of the top 100 most influential people in the world. When asked how best he would use this new influence, Cardinal Tim Dolan dismissed the honor, saying “If you count on that stuff, tomorrow that will be diminished. I think what you have to do is try to make sure that you're always on the side of truth." And among the truths that he preaches is Catholic Social Teaching that is so vital in the
current political debate.

As an example, Elizabeth Scalia was watching the Colbert Report and the chat between Steven Colbert and Georgetown’s Father Thomas Reese on why Paul Ryan’s budget bothers Catholics. She expected to like the clip but she didn't.

She notes that in this polarized-unto-paralysis moment within our government and our society, perhaps the Holy Spirit means for us to ponder this -- that loving our neighbors means solutions for the poor should come from us, through ideas born in our communities and our churches, meant to address the needs of the people living around us, and not from a vast, generalized, impersonal, inefficient federal government. That is how we both insure the dignity of the human person before us, who we are to see as a human person and not a category or a unit, and find a connection to joyful gratitude, which is borne of service.

Meanwhile, Dr. Taylor Marshall talks about the time when he was a Protestant looking in from the outside. Catholic salvation to him then was more like a pinball machine. The ball was grace and Catholics were constantly mashing the buttons to keep the ball in play. However, all pinball players know that eventually the ball gets past you and your game is over. How could Catholics honestly believe that human effort could keep the ball in play for decades and decades of human life? Why can’t they just trust in the finished work of Christ and relax? He offers a most lucid explanation you all should read.

Mothers & the Blessings of Life

This Sunday, the world also celebrates Mothers Day. In "Behold your Mother," Cheryl Dickow shares a Happy Mother's Day reflection that focuses on how the Blessed Virgin Mary always directs us to her Son. In fact, Cheryl says our Blessed Mother is like all earthly mothers, saying what needs to be said - even amidst our disdain. Certainly we live in a world where our daily walk with Christ isn’t always the easy path. But Mary doesn’t change her message to the servers during the wedding at Cana: “Do what he tells you to do.”

London's Archbishop Nichols reflects upon the roles of mothers and the family in the formation of children. He said they are paramount to catechizing children about their faith and in the forming of a prayer life that will last a lifetime. And in Simcha Fisher's case, that lifetime is pegged right now in middle school. You don't have to be an obnoxious helicopter parent to realize that kids in their early teens are not yet adults. We're not done raising them yet! It is a tricky age. And she says it is our job to meddle in our children's lives.

And following Vatican approval, the “Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb” is now available for use by dioceses in the United States. The text of the blessing in English and Spanish is posted online and is being published as a booklet addendum to the Book of Blessings/Bendicional. The blessing will be included in future editions of those liturgical volumes. This blessing is considered an effective witness to teh Sanctity of Human Life.

More Mothers Day Reflections

Somebody said it takes about six weeks to get back to normal after you've had a baby. Well, Raoul Pascual notes, that somebody doesn't know that once you're a mother, "Normal" is history. This is just one of a long litany of "Somebody said..." expressions about motherhood that he shares with us. Check out his list and show every mother you know how much they mean to all of us. And we're sure Chasity Brown is one who can appreciate this list. In her article, she talks about celebrating her very first Mother’s Day since adopting her daughter, Marla, from Guatemala.

Dwija Borobia shares one Mothers Day a few years back that was, or perhaps should have been, more difficult to celebrate. On the Friday before Mother's Day, my husband was laid off. It was the day when she learned how to trust God like a child and receive the peace of Christ.

And this is something Jake Frost understands. In a role reversal with his wife, he had to give up his coat and tie for a kitchen appron and became a stay-at-home dad. He notes that we dads can’t change the world to make society value and honor life, family, and those who dedicate themselves to both. But we can change the world of the mom in our own family by letting her know how much we value what she does. No one else will honor her vocation, so it’s up to us. Knowing that we respect her work can make all the difference as she struggles to fight the good fight, day in and day out.

The Google Car has Arrived!

If you're looking for a Christmas gift to put under my tree in December, this is it! Nevada issues Google the first license for the self-driving car. Nevadans will soon see driverless cars being tested on streets and highways.

Google received the first license Monday from the state Department of Motor Vehicles to test the autonomous vehicles. It is believed to be the first such license issued in the country. The 2011 Legislature passed the first law in the nation to permit testing of driverless cars. But state regulations require a person behind the wheel and one in the passenger’s seat during tests. Talk about plug and drive. The future is here and now.

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: Who is your neighbor?
FEATURED BLOG: A Father's Thoughts on Mother's Day
PASTORAL HISPANA: La amistad con Jesus Resucitado

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