Thursday, March 28, 2013

"They have taken the Lord from the tomb"

This Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, the Gospel Readings describe that first Easter Sunday when Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb of Jesus early in the morning and sees that the stone had been removed from the tomb. Our Discussion Questions this week will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

The Paschal Triduum

Lent comes to an end before the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. That liturgy begins the Triduum, the great Three Days that celebrate the central mystery of our faith - the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of the Lord.

It would be a tragedy to let this season of grace go by without taking some time for extended prayer and reflection. So we have put together for you a Triduum Guide by Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. which offers suggestions for prayers during these holy days. We also have compiled for you "A Practical Guide to the Liturgies of Holy Week" by Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.

So steal away for as much time as you can and let the Spirit help you pick and choose which devotions will best help you make the most of this special time.

Holy Thursday

To celebrate the Eucharist, says Father Thomas Rosica, CSB, is to commit oneself to a discipleship that "remembers" Jesus, not only in the ritual breaking of the bread and sharing the cup, but also in the "imitation" of Jesus, in the ongoing breaking of one's own body and spilling of one's own blood "in remembrance" of Jesus."

From Jerusalem, Paul Dion, STL presents to you his Holy Thursday report "Do this in memory of me." It is part of our Holy Week from the Holy Land Series that brings you today to the actual place where it all happened some 2,000 years ago.

Good Friday

In his Reflection for Good Friday, Father Thomas Rosica, CSB says the day shows us where God is - there, hanging on the wood of the cross in Jerusalem, and on the crosses throughout the world where people are betrayed, abandoned, denounced, abused, mocked or humiliated. Yet it is only there that we receive the mystery of the death that gives life.

While Dr. Marcelino d'Ambrosio submits this powerfully poetic sermon on the Cross of Christ as the Cosmic Tree. It was preached during Holy Week in the early church, somewhere around the 5th century, by someone whose name has been lost.

Today's Jerusalem is a crowded place just like it was during the time of Jesus. In his Holy Land Report, Paul Dion, STL describes in great detail how he developed a deeper appreciation of the Passion of our Lord as he tried to pray the Way of the Cross on Good Friday along the busy Via Dolorosa. As he jostled his way through the wild Jerusalem crowds, he pretty much could imagine how our Lord had to fight HIs way through these very same crowds as He carried His cross down these cobbled-stone streets 2000 years ago.

Holy Saturday

This Holy Saturday reading on the descent of the Lord Jesus into Hell is used in the Roman Church's Office of Readings for Holy Saturday, with the accompanying biblical reading of Hebrews 4:1-13. What did the Apostles Creed mean when it says, "He Descended into Hell?" Check out this biblical reflection by an early Church Father.

Easter Sunday: An affirmation of hope

Sunday is the day of Easter joy. Yet, even as we celebrate we are painfully aware that for many people it is still Good Friday. Every day it seems there is something to remind us of the poverty, injustice, and violence of our world. Fr. Ron Rolheiser says it's fair and reflective to wonder: Where is the resurrection in all of this? Why is God seemingly so inactive? Where is the vindication of Easter Sunday?

Fr. Jim Kirstein SMA says the the resurrection doesn’t mean that we gloss over pain, suffering and difficult daily life situations, but it does give us a new vision of life. It gives us the freedom to face the dark side of life, and even death with confidence knowing that Jesus broke the bonds of human limitation and death. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino adds further that we will always remember the Passion, but we are not people of suffering, and torture and death. We are people of life and of hope.

While Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB explains to us that our Easter celebration is an affirmation of hope in a world that appears to experience the pain of Good Friday more than the joy of Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday: Jesus alive and present among us

Fr. James Gilhooley shares this Easter Sunday sequence from the Roman Missal which sums up the entire scene in beautiful language: "Death and life were locked together in a unique struggle. Life's Captain died. Now He reigns, no more to die."

What about you? Do you believe Jesus is risen from the dead? If not, how much further do you have to go? Fr. John Foley, S.J. says the greatest of all Easter truths is this: God’s love is stronger than life itself, stronger than death. The Resurrection is molded out of love. If you know that, blessed are you as you come to believe.

And how is Jesus alive and present among us? Is our own friendship with Christ contagious? Do we burn with love for him? Do people avoid us because of our coldness? These are the questions Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB challenges us to answer. While Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS reminds us that the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus ought to restore passion to our life. He says passion drives us to share the Love of God in creative, innovative ways with those around s. Passion is what gives life to life.

Easter Sunday is the day when thousands become Catholic, including a man who almost lost his life five times as a soldier in Iraq. The U.S. bishops' conference shared the story of Jeremy Feldbusch, 30, from Blairsville, Pennsylvania, who entered the Church three years ago. Plus, two of the many thousands who joined the Catholic Church this Easter are a mother and daughter from Japan. Their story is unique because the family's father is a Shinto priest.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief 
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BURNING QUESTION: Do you invite the poor to your Easter banquet?
FEATURED BLOG: Easter is not a low-budget Christmas
PASTORAL HISPANA: El Cristiano es un Hombre Que Cree en La Resurreccion
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

"This is my body, which will be given for you."

The Sunday before Easter is observed by virtually all Christians -- Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox -- as Palm Sunday. Scholars tell us that what we will hear this Sunday is the oldest written account of the passion and death of Jesus. So by reading it in dramatic form, we are able to get very close to the most significant of all events in the history of the world. Our Discussions Questions on the Sunday Readings for march 24, 2013 will guide you during your personal reflection or at your bible study groups.

Palm Sunday Reflections

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains why the Catholic practice of careful, repeated meditation on the Passion of Christ is important. It is the climax of the entire history of Revelation and Redemption. It's the ultimate Revelation of two intertwined realities: human sin and divine love. Fr. Alex McAllister says it entirely typifies the paradoxical nature of the Kingdom Christ came to inaugurate. The King had come to dinner at Simon’s house. Fr. Joseph Pelligrino homilizes how Jesus was anointed with costly perfume in respect. But the Noble One said it was actually a preparation for his burial. Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm says If we take this little story of the anointing of Jesus seriously, we will learn that the passion story is not primarily about how much Jesus suffered, but rather about how much he loved. The glorious Son of God who "reigns from the wood" transformed our death from a curse into the door of eternal life, as Father Cusick explains.

Fr. John Foley declares that the real basis of kingship is serving the people. And Jesus, the true leader, lets go of everything in allegiance to God and in service of His people. And the cross, Fr. James Gilhooley explains, reveals people's hatred for God and God's love for people. And this, according to Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS, is the week we carry our own cross. While Fr. Phil Bloom tells us that if we fix our attention on Christ crucified., we will see a more profound justice at work. And it has a name: the Divine Mercy.

Holy Week
The Holy Week message is "Salvation Through Christ: This is where we're going!" as we celebrate with Christians all across the world. And if like many, you haven't been blessed with the opportunity to spend Holy Week in the holy city of Jerusalem, you can follow Paul Dion, STL, as he narrates his Holy Week in the Holy Land experience - one day at a time - begining with this Palm Sunday Report: "JERUSALEM! JERUSALEM! JERUSALEM!"

In the weeks leading to Holy Week, many of you might have witnessed First Eucharist celebration for the young children in your parish. Fr Longenecker explains quite well "The Many Advantages of First Confessions at a Tender Age." And as we move towards the end of Holy Week, hundreds of thousands are expected to join the the U.S. Catholic Church during March 30 Easter Vigils.

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 two sacraments were instituted by Jesus on Holy Thursday?
FEATURED BLOG: Jerusalem, My Jerusalem
PASTORAL HISPANA: La Cruz es fuente de vida para todos los Cristianos
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Thursday, March 14, 2013

"Let the one among you who is without sin"

Sunday’s Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 17, 2013, is about the woman who had been caught in adultery. Enemies of Jesus bring her to him at daybreak while he is teaching people in the temple area. They ask Jesus whether he judges that she should be stoned. After Jesus exposes their malice, the woman's accusers are afraid to condemn her. Our Discussion Questions this week will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Throw the first stone.”

There is no other event in Jesus' life that more clearly illustrates the triumph of mercy over justice than this story. This scene could refashion the whole earth. The teacher lifts his head. He utters a sentence that sums up the Gospel and all Lent: “Let the one among you who is without sin throw the first stone.”

The Hypocrisy of the Pharisees

The brilliant way in which Jesus sprang the Pharisees' trap on themselves makes this one of the world’s great stories. We can all identify with any of the actors of this drama.  We can easily identify with the woman's accusers.

Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. reminds us how we also too easily take the name of God in vain when, under the guise of defending some orthodox doctrine or practice, we engage in destructive, personal attacks upon those who differ with us. Fr. James Gilhooley details how - like the Pahrisees of Jesus' time - as many as 80% of us favor capital punishment today. Do we really differ that much today from the antagonists of John's Gospel?

Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA reflects upon hypocrisy as virtue that has nothing left but the external appearance of virtue. He then illustrates how Jesus could say repeatedly, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” and then sit down to table with them and even became friends with them. Jesus always held open the door of hope.

From Misery to Joy

What about the woman caught in adultery? We also can all identify with her, in need of forgiveness - often fallen from the pure joy of living in harmony with God's truth and love. Jesus gives the woman another chance. Instead of allowing her to go to her death, Jesus gives her life. Fr. Phil Bloom explains how Jesus transformed her misery into pure joy. He assures us that Jesus also wants to give us joy now.
Fr. John Foley, S.J. preaches that through her Jesus is clearly telling us who God is and how he acts towards each one of us. And just like this woman, full of shame, full of sin, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says we also need to depend on the Healing Power of our Merciful and Compassionate Lord.

God's Forgiveness

Jesus forgives sin. But, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS points out, our Lord doesn’t ignore it. Jesus knows sin for what it is — a fundamental and personal rejection of God. He is not shocked or upset. He forgives and invites the sinner to turn from their evil ways and embrace the good.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB rightly points out that none of us can say unequivocally that we have never sinned. To preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ without acknowledging the necessity of profound personal conversion and the free gift of God's mercy is to deny the central Christian message of conversion.

And no matter what our sins are, Fr. Jim Kirstein explains, each one of us has the capacity to change. However, our God from whom we receive total and absolute forgiveness expects us to do likewise for others.

100 Questions Jesus Asks in the Gospel

Among the many things Jesus did, he asked a lot of questions! To read scripture as a mere spectator looking on is to miss the keynote. So whenever you read the Gospels and Jesus asks a question, answer it! Do not wait to see what Peter or Magdalene, or the Pharisees or the crowd say for an answer. Answer them in your own words. This brings Scripture powerfully alive. Here are 100 of the questions Jesus asked in the Gospel.

If you're a Catholic man, Maurice Blumberg offers this Lenten reflection for you: Opening Ourselves to Jesus’ Call to Follow Him. If you're a woman, send this article to the men in your life. And let the Holy Spirit touch their hearts this Lent.

Reflecting on Sin

The Gospel story we read this Sunday on the adulterous woman and the hypocrytical Pharisees offer us an opportunity to reflect on Sin. Msgr. Charles Pope discusses "The Seven Deadly Sins: Memorize and Understand Them." The more we can know and distinguish them the more we can grow in self knowledge. And from the popular blog Why I am Catholic, Allison Salerno offers another reason why: Because We Don’t Celebrate Sin.

Fr. Longenecker offers bewilderment at those who consider repentance to be a gloomy and unhealthy exercise. He says it shopuld just be the opposite. Admitting our sins and going to confession is actually one of the healthiest and happiest things we can do. Apart from the spiritual graces of the sacrament, he offers several practical benefits to Penitence. And to cap off our reflection on sin, would you care to comment on our Burning Question for this week: What is the worst sin?

St. Patrick's Day

This SUNday, we celebrate St. Patrick's Day. So it might be appropriate that we explain to you "The St. Patrick You Never Knew." No, he didn't chase the snakes out of Ireland. And he may never have plucked a shamrock to teach the mystery of the Trinity. Yet St. Patrick well deserves to be honored by the people of Ireland — and by downtrodden and excluded people everywhere.

Plus we bring you priestly tales of brave Irish clerics clerics who left their misty, green Ireland to serve in dry, dusty Arizona. This is the story of the legacy that Irish priests have blazed in the United States.

Habemus Papam Francuscum

And heh world is abuzz with excitement about our new Pope Francis I. Here are 10 quick facts about him. And here is a quick profile. He is the first pope named Francis. And his elections have upset all of the predictions. The first words he spoke after being elected will give you an good idea of how he intends his papacy to be known.

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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Thursday, March 7, 2013

"He was lost and has been found."

This Fourth Sunday in Lent, March 10, 2013, we hear the Parable of the Prodigal Son, one touching story about two sons and their Father. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Dining with Sinners

The theme of the abundant forgiveness of God continues in this Sunday’s Gospel. It is introduced in the context of the murmuring about the Lord Jesus. What his critics charge against Jesus unwittingly sums up the glory of salvation: God, in the person of Jesus, welcomes sinners and eats with them.

The Parable Father

The parable father, in Christ's mind, is clearly a type for God Himself. What is emphasized in the parable is the father's awesome love for his son even though he really deserves nothing more than hot tongue and cold shoulder. The father knows well the know-it-all boy is primarily coming home because he is hungry and needs a place to live. That he has wasted his money is of no importance to the father.

God's Forgiveness

The Master then is telling us that God will forgive even the worst rogue among us unconditionally. All we have to do is start walking back to God. Like the prodigal son, our motives may not be the purest. Nor do we have to even finish the journey. God is quite willing to meet us before our trip is finished. He will bring us to honors which we humanly speaking do not deserve.

Sunday Homilies & More

Click here to view all the homilies we have compiled for this Fourth Sunday in Lent (Cycle C). We have also compiled a full resource on the important events around our Catholic world in this week's issue of You can find them by clicking 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
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BURNING QUESTION: Should you Confess before you receive Communion?
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