Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Therefore, stay awake!"

The readings for this First Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of the liturgical year don’t sound very different in tone from the last Sunday of the outgoing year, not counting the special readings for the Feast of Christ the King. At first sight that might seem a bit surprising. But, of course, in the Church this sort of thing happens all the time. And when you take a closer look, you usually find that there are some very good reasons. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

It's Thanksgiving weekend. And our staff's week is as busy as yours - cooking, dining, spending time with family and friends. Because of this, we are delivering to you - just for this week -  a shorter Catholic Living Today than you normally have been receiving.

However, we still made sure you that receive the full complement of homilies we prepared for this Sunday, November 28 - the First Sunday of Advent. Please click here to access the complete homiletics section we have prepared for you this Sunday.

Also, your ParishWorld is still filled with the latest stories and events in our Catholic world. Please check your parish website to see the latest stories we have compiled for you this week.

It's another eventful week in our Catholic world. Have a great and blessed new week. Enjoy the rest of your Thanksgiving weekend.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Why don't you read the bible?
FEATURED BLOG: 12 Myths Every Catholic Should Be Able to Answer
PASTORAL HISPANA: Adviento es tiempo de prepararnos
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

"This is the King of the Jews"

Sunday's solemn feast of Christ the King, the grand finale to Liturgical Year C, gives us an opportunity to lay aside a lot of cultural baggage about kings and kingdoms, and discover how Jesus Christ can be a true king, unlike earthly rulers. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

The feast of Jesus Christ the Universal King was insituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and is observed on the last Sunday of the Roman Catholic Liturgical Year. It causes us to meditate on the Second and Final Coming of Christ, the last Judgment, and the end of the world.

Christ our Lord

Christ is our King; he is king of our lives, king of our destinies, king of all of creation. He is the ruler; we are the ruled. He is the healer; we are the patient. He is the saviour; we are the saved.

This Sunday’s Mass challenges us with the question: “Who or what exercises power over our lives?” Fr. Charles Irvin says we all know, don’t we, that it should be Christ our Lord -- He should be the One in whose dominion we should live.

Christ is the anointed one. Father Cusick reminds us that Jesus was anointed by God the Father to be the Messiah, and therefore King. By reason of his godhead, Jesus the Son shares in the dominion of the Father and the Holy Spirit over all creation. He is no local warlord, no regional ruler, adds Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. Jesus is the universal King and no one is outside His dominion. His kingdom is not of this world, and so his kingship is not like that of earthly kings.

Conversion into His Kingship

Christian life is a life lived in acknowledgement of our utter dependence on God. This means that conversion is at its very heart. But, Fr. Alex McAllister points out, conversion is not a one-off thing. It is a constant process. We have to continually remind ourselves that without God we are nothing and that we should therefore give him first priority in everything that we say or do. We desire to be good citizens, but ultimately we do not belong to the government. Fr. Phil Bloom says we belong to Jesus - the King over all kings.

College student Anusia Dickow can't help but feel unworthy of such a great king.She looks at the description of our King in the second reading and how powerful He is. But then she reads the Gospel and sees how our King gave up everything, His dignity, His life, on the cross. And so Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB makes it clear that very few can measure up to Christ's kingly stature, remaining powerless in the face of the powerful. Many of us resist with power, even though we resort to very refined forms of pressure and manipulation. Kingship, when God is involved, does not ask people to ignore the failures, but embraces those experiences and redeems them.

The only goal that matters, the only dream that matters is the dream of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and our participation in this Kingdom. Fr. Joseph Pellegtino tells us that this dream includes the purpose for our lives, the formation of a community of God’s love that makes life meaningful. And this Sunday, the scriptures present us with the choice between two kingdoms -- the kingdom of light or the kingdom of darkness. The choice is ours, Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. challenges us. Which kingdom do you serve?

The King as The Suffering Servant

Over the past year, we have seen the important Lukan theme of the imitation of Jesus, especially in his ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation. In Luke's moving Gospel story of the crucifixion, this theme reaches its apex. The teaching in the Gospels is absolutely clear. If you want to be first, then be the last.

If you want to have power, then become the servant of all others. Paul Dion, STL illustrates that this was precisely how Jesus conquered Peter. When the King washed the servant's feet during the Last Supper, Jesus showed that the source of kingly power is service to the Word of God.

Indeed, as Jesus walked this earth, the Kingdom of God was His. He sorrowed, He was lowly, He hungered and thirsted for justice. His heart burst with compassion, He was singlehearted, He brought peace and was persecuted for holiness' sake. He was insulted and persecuted because of who He was. Fr. James Gilhooley explains that this Saviour clearly is no royal person. Rather, in the jargon of college students, He is clearly a Man who walks the talk.

The Solemnity of Christ the King is not about power or about being first. It is instead about doing the will of the Father. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB says today's challenge is about Christians believing and being will to suffer for their beliefs. But why do we have to suffer? Fr. John Foley, S. J. says it's because that is the way of the world. Why didn’t Christ the King change the world and make things perfect? He did, but not in the way we had expected. He did it as Christ the Kind.

Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell

During the whole month of November we meditate on the four Last things: death, judgement, heaven and hell. In the modern age we think little of such things. Msgr. Charles Pope warns us - that death will come is certain. It may come in an instant. Tomorrow is not promised. I can’t even promise you that you will make through alive, reading this post. But not only do modern people think little of death, but even less do we think of the judgment to follow.

Are you prepared to die? Fr. Ron Rolheiser continues the discourse. He tells us that inside the communion of saints, after death, our communication is privileged. Death washes clean. It clarifies perspective and takes away a lot of relational tensions. Why does he say this? Because, he says, our faith and our experience teach us this.

Confessions of a Protestant Missionary to Guatemala

Theirs is a story that captured my attention. Set aside some time and leisurely read their testimony. And I assure you there is much you will learn about our Catholic Church vis-a-vis the different Protestant denominations. Kristine L. Franklin and her husband were Evangelical Protestants who had spent eight years of preparation in the US to be missionaries in Guatemala. After two years of toiling for Christ in that country, their Protestant Christian paradigm began shifting. Disillusioned, they resigned form their mission and moved back to the US. And just over a year after that they embraced the Catholic Church as the one true faith. This is a must-read. Share it with your Protestant friends.

Catholicizing Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day means lots of things to Americans: overeating a big turkey dinner, watching football, getting ready to scoop up the local mall’s 6 a.m. special sales the next morning. More than any other national holiday Thanksgiving is family-centered. Bishop Kevin Farrell reminds us that although many of us are scattered and apart from our loved ones, we return in spirit, if not in person for Thanksgiving. It is a time when we are reminded that people are more important than things.

Joseph Precchen tells us how we can Catholicize Thanksgiving Day. And it should start with a Talking turkey aside, celebration of the Eucharist. And why must we discharge this obligation at Mass rather than in the comfort of our own homes? Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says it's because our sacrifice of thanksgiving is weak and insufficient on its own. There was only One who has ever offered perfect worship to the Father, and His sacrifice is made present again at every Eucharist.

So let's not forget what this special day is all about. Worship of God first and foremost is a strict obligation of justice. We were created out of nothing, through no effort of our own. We were saved by grace; it was not our own doing (Ephesians 2:4). On both counts, we owe God everything. We can never adequately repay him, and so owe him a lifetime of gratitude.

So, are you thankful? What are you thankful for? We bring back an annual ParishWorld Thansgiving tradition. Share your thoughts and prayers of gratitude with us. Click here and complete this statement: This Thanksgiving Day, I am most thankful to God for the gift of ...

Tips for a Hearty & Healthy Thanksgiving

In a country where supersizing and soaring obesity rates have become the norm, what is the best way to deal with our annual feast day? Streamlining. The key to a healthy holiday meal is that less can be more. Less fat. Less sugar. Less salt. And less on the plate. But not less flavor. Check this out: Tips, recipes for a hearty, healthy Thanksgiving meal

Sure, we know the holiday leaves us stuffed. That heavy meal will likely push you to the closest couch for a quick nap. But it's not just the extra calories that make us groggy. Here are the four reasons Thanksgiving makes us sleepy.

Another eventful week in our Catholic world. Have a great and bleesed new week. And Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Why a "crucifix" for Catholics and a plain cross for Protestants?
FEATURED BLOG: Confessions of a Protestant missionary to Guatemala
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesucristo es nuestro Rey

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

"By your perseverance you will secure your lives"

The Readings for Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - direct our attention to the End of the World, otherwise known as the Last Things, or the Day of the Lord. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Two weeks from now the season of Advent will begin. Since Advent is about the two comings of Christ, in Bethlehem and at the end of time, the readings this week and next week, the Solemnity of Christ the King, actually prepare for Advent by speaking about the Second Coming and the end of the world.

The World Will Come to an End

We do not know when the end of the world will take place, Christ does not tell us. But, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino points out, everyone wants to know when. No one wants to hear what Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew 24:36: "But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." And what Jesus does tell us very clearly in this text today, Fr. Alex McAllister explains, is not to listen to those who say the end is nigh.

Apocalyptic speculation is clearly a waste of valuable time and energy. And while Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio reminds us that it is futile to try to figure it out, the Catholic Church certainly does not ignore the fact that the world will come to an end and that Christ will come again in judgment on the Last Day. Instead of pondering about exactly when He is coming again, Fr. Charles Irvin tells us that our Church asks us to place our ordinary living in the context of the fact that He will come again. The important thing is to recognize the certainty of His coming again and not let our thoughts get all caught up and diverted by calculating exactly when He is coming again.

And when "end of days" take center stage, it can't be helped that the Protestant concept of rapture frequently pops into the mix. Michael D. Guinan, O.F.M., discusses the Catholic teaching on Rapture. Will Catholics be raptured? No, of course not, he said. But then neither will anyone else.

Perseverance & Hope

When was the last time that you or I thought about the final coming of Christ? The reality is that this could happen at any time. The lesson, for all of us, is that we need to be prepared at all times. We must have endurance. And this, Father Cusick explains, is an active - rather than a passive - virtue for the Christian. Endurance is built up against temptation to sin and apathy through a life of regular prayer.

And we must have Hope. But this virtue of Hope, Fr. Phil Bloom clarifies, differs greatly from that dreamy emotion we're all familiar with. While the emotion of hope is centered in the body, the virtue of hope is centered in the will. The virtue of hope enables one to persevere until the end, to dedicate all to God. The lesson of all of this, therefore, is to persevere in trusting our God, His love and His presence. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB tells us that only by this perseverance shall we secure our lives in the Kingdom.

We Don’t Have to Wait Until Death

It is important to note that from a biblical perspective, the end of one world is not such a tragic event since it also announces the beginning of a new one, our eternal lives with God. A sorrowful Goodbye must sometimes be accepted before there can be a joyous Hello!

Nobody ever changed his or her life tomorrow. We have a lot of fun reading about people who predicted that the world was about to end. But in a way they were all right, explains Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. The world does end – every moment. In our lives there are little worlds ending all the time--the end of childhood, of education, of employment, of strength, etc. Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. points out that it is the courage, generosity and trust with which we deal with these endings that will prepare us for the final ending.

Viewing History in the Larger Context of God

Often we read the signs of the times in the disasters we face as a people. But, Fr. Ron Rolheiser points out, God didn’t cause September 11. God didn’t send AIDS as a punishment for sin. And God doesn’t single out some people to win lotteries, while causing sickness and tragedy for others. A conspiracy of accidents does that. But God speaks to us through all of those accidents, good and bad. And one of the most important tasks of faith is to search within that conspiracy of accidents to try to find there God’s finger and God’s voice.

The important thing to keep in mind is that before the end there is to be a time of witnessing. Father Thomas Rosica, CSB tells us that the disciples of Jesus are not exempt from suffering. The early martyrs experienced the same pain, but ultimately accepted their divinely chosen path. College senior David Haughney reflects that this week Jesus challenges you and me to do the same. To show our love for him, we must accept. We must let go, and let God.

Advent is coming very soon. The Church will be preparing to see tender love shown forth in a child. Fr. John Foley, S. J. tells us that in pre-Advent (now), we have to take in God’s grandeur in its awesome and fear-invoking stage so we will be humble enough to prepare ourselves for the baby.

Here's our Burning Question this week: Should Catholics join non-Catholic Bible Studies? This question is generating a lively discussion. Come and check out the discussion board.

We Honor Our Veterans & We Remember "Sparky"

Veteran’s Day was this oast week. But it's not too late to think of the men and women who march in the VFW parades. We think of their grandfathers, the gregarious World War II sailors, eager to share sea stories, and their uncles, stolid Vietnam-era airmen reticent to talk about the war. We think of the aunt who served in the Persian Gulf and the neighbor’s son who recently shipped off to Afghanistan. These are our country's war veterans. Joe Carter, and the rest of our grateful country salutes them. A veteran himself, he offers this moving personal reflection: What a Veteran Knows.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Should Catholics Join Non-Catholic Bible Studies?
FEATURED BLOG: What a Veteran Knows

PASTORAL HISPANA: Como explica Jesus el fin del Mundo?

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

"They can no longer die, for they are like angels"

In our Sunday Gospel Reading (32C) for Nov. 10, 2013 we are presented with the tricky question that the Sadducees posed Jesus to catch him out and to demonstrate the logic of their opinion that there is no resurrection of the body. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Christian faith in the resurrection has been met with incomprehension and opposition from the very beginning. On no point does the Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the resurrection of the body. The question of the resurrection is vital not only to the Christian faith but to all people who reflect on life and death.

Resurrection of the Body

Belief in the resurrection is the most fundamental of all Christian beliefs. In fact without it Christianity makes no sort of sense at all. Jesus died on the Cross and rose from the dead to save us from our sins and to open for us the way to eternal life. He died that we might live. Christ can speak about the resurrection because it is precisely through his resurrection that our salvation has been won. Fr. Alex McAllister says our Lord's resurrection demonstrates definitively that he is indeed the Son of God and that everything he has taught us is true—it has the authority of God himself.

Death is hard to talk about. But life after death is even harder. Some people even say reflecting on life after death can be defeatist. That instead of trying to make things better here on earth we will spend all our time thinking about heaven. Ironically, Fr. Phil Bloom points out, those who think about heaven are often the ones who do the greatest good for their fellow human beings here on earth. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. tells us that we do not encounter God in the feelings of past moments that we try to hang on to, or in the feelings of future moments that we try to imagine. Now, explains Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S., is the only time for the decision of faith and for the works of love. Eternal life breaks through and changes life here and now.

Ultimately, Fr. Ron Rolheiser adds, resurrection is about the transcendent power of God breaking into nature and into our lives and doing for us what we can’t do simply through will-power and positive thinking. If we can recognize these breakthroughs, we can welcome the new thing God is doing.

A God of the Living

The Sadducees try to discredit Jesus by ridiculing the belief in the afterlife. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB tells us that Jesus is very clear in the Gospel: God is a God of the living and not of the dead. All who believe are alive in Him. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB points out how in the second part of his answer, Jesus draws on the Sadducees' own Bible, the book of Moses (vv. 37-40). Jesus answers them with Exodus 3:6: God is a God of the living and not of the dead. It follows then, says Jesus, that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are living, not dead.

Love is a force much deeper than life. Fr. John Foley, S. J. explains that when life ceases, love stays. It becomes the home, the embracing arms that enfold us. Love is the substance, life is the outgrowth. So the “place” dead persons go, leaving their bodies behind, is into the heart of love, into the arms of God who is love. Thus, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino tells us, you and I are called to be holy. You and I are made for worship. And we cannot allow anything the world throws at us to keep us from Jesus Christ.

Thoughts on Marriage

Jesus defends the doctrine of life after death. But what he says about marriage is troubling to those who are rather fond of their spouses and can’t imagine a happy eternity without them. Quite simply, there are things about this life, and about marriage, that will last forever. And things that will pass away.

Father Cusick explains further. Marriage is an earthly vocation. In heaven where God will be "all in all", man and woman will find complete fulfillment in divine Love. There each will behold God face to face. The life-long covenant for mutual and sincere gift of self in marriage is for husband and wife a prelude to and help toward the eternal happiness of heaven. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. compliments this thought. He says our resurrection will be not just more of the same, but a transformation of life, a launching into a new realm of life, a life of eternal love of God and one another that will be more exciting than we can possibly imagine.

So is it possible to achieve perfect marriages in this life? Lenora Grimaud says yes. But only if we remember always that in this Sacrament, "The Two Become One Body." When you run into rough waters in your marriage, Fr. James Gilhooley invites you to always remember that Marriage still remains the only game in the world where two can play and both can win. And the chances of success are more likely when couples remember that within a happy marriage, the positive comments should always outnumber the negative about 5 to 1. Fr. Michael Ryan offers this and more hints for a happy marriage in this wonderful article we share with you this week.

Sanctity, Holiness & Saints

Pat Gohn talks about something she says she learned a little too late in life: Faithful priests come from, well, the faithful. So let us consider just how deeply we live out our own intimacy with Christ. We never know – we may be influencing a future priest in our midst!

Plus we bring you some more reflections teh feasts feast we celebrated last week: All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Fr. James Martin, S.J. talks about the lives of the saints. They were not always holy. In fact, many of them lived lives which seemed confusing, bizarre and misguided. But when you know the whole story -- their lives are really tales of love. And they can offer some important lessons for all of us. If we just let them. And Msgr. Charles Pope reflects on Purgatory. Many people think of purgatory primarily in terms of punishment, but it is also important to think of it in terms of promise, purity and perfection.

The Emerging Pro-Life Generation

It seems Pro-life is becoming mainstream. Are we finally at a tipping point? America’s pro-life future is looking brighter thanks to Generation Y, the Millennials, those 60 million people born between the late ’70s and the late ’90s. Opinion polls show a shift in the views of this generation from earlier generations, as well as that our country has become more pro-life than “pro-choice.” And that is indeed good news.

Here's another Life issue where we feel our Catholics can use more illuminating guidance: Catholics and "Do-Not-Resuscitate" Orders. Is a "do-not-resuscitate" order ever ethical? Shouldn't a patient in an emergency situation always be resuscitated, so that the family can evaluate with some time and care what are the limits of ordinary and extraordinary care (and is that distinction used anymore)? We offer you the Catholic perspective here.

Grace At A Bus Stop

Tired of announcements during Mass? Matthew Warner offers some ideas on what to do. Now he's not saying making a few announcements to the community during Mass is a bad thing. But he does think holding them hostage at Mass and forcing them to listen does have negatives that go with them. First, it can take away from the liturgy. Second, it’s kind of rude sometimes. He offers a few suggestions that can possibly result in better communication. Please have an open mind and hear him out.

Finally, we bring you an unlikely tale of bus stop fellowship and the instant community. A Canossian sister shares how a chance encounter with one woman introduced a moment of grace to a city bus on a normal daily run. God truly works in mysterious ways.

Another eventful world 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: What is "Real Presence of Christ?" 
FEATURED BLOG: Generation Y is the Pro-Life Generation
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesús nos enseña acerca de la resurrección

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"Today salvation has come to this house"

Sunday's Gospel point out that, before his conversion, Zacchaeus was a short man, someone lacking in height, but that, after his conversion, the tall man gave back what the small man had stolen. Meeting Jesus, it seems, made Zacchaeus grow bigger in stature. Our Discussion Questions for November 3, 2013 - 31st Sunday In Ordinary Time - will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Zaccheus' Sincere Contrition

In 1st century Palestine, there was nothing so horrible as the specter of a blood-sucking tax collector. And Zacchaeus is not a man who “lives right and does right.” He is a crooked tax-collector, selfish and held in bad repute. Does God therefore withhold love and grace from him? No. Christ wants to love the man’s goodness into existence.

Zaccheus is filled with remorse for his sins, so much so that he promises publicly, before Jesus and other witnesses, to perform reparations for his crimes. What moves Zaccheus to this sincere contrition for his sins and the vow to change his life? Father Cusick says the tax collector encountered the transforming supernatural power of Divine Love. So effective was the man's transformation that the world has placed the former gangster Zacchaeus in the Hall of Fame. He will remain there until Jesus returns for us. Fr. James Gilhooley asks us to imagine what the Christ might do with us if we allow Him.

Zacchaeus demonstrated his love for Jesus by making an effort to see him. For his part, Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. points out, Jesus demonstrated His love for Zacchaeus in particular, and for all men in general, by inviting himself to stay at Zacchaeus' house. What a marvelous exchange! Love for love!

Yet, as Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains, Zacchaeus could have declined the offer. God is not about forced entry. The door must be opened from the inside. We must make the decision to yield to His mercy and receive the gift. So, Fr. John Foley, S. J. challenges us with these questions: Are you and I bold enough to have the master of the universe over to dinner? Even though our clothes may be torn and dirty? Even small and unworthy as we are?

Surrounded by Complainers

We are told that those who accompanied Jesus began to grumble when he chose to be a guest of this marginal Jew, who seemed to be collaborating with the Romans. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB points out that the complainers were envious. They are too mean-spirited to give thanks to God for the remarkable transformation that has occurred in Zacchaeus.

Fr. Alex McAllister SDS tells us that we face the choice of whether to join Zacchaeus or to join the complainers. Jesus is here in our midst. He wants to come home with us from Church today. Are we looking over our shoulders at what others have gained or do we meet Jesus in the eye and spontaneously repent of our sins and give our excess to the poor?

And now, we are faced with a decision: do we want Jesus in our house? It is going to cost us. We will have to abandon that which has no place in our house, in our lives. But it is an easy decision, says Fr. Joseph Pellegrino. Nothing can surpass the all encompassing joy of having Jesus in our lives.

Stewardship - Another Word for Salvation

The real world is not as neat as we might like it to be. Most of us probably want salvation, but we want it without any work or almost without any belief on our part. The point, according to Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B., is that Zachaeus "redeemed" his unsavory work by the generosity that he brought to it. When we see the homeless, when we see the hungry, when we see the naked, when we see the confused and crazy--and in every similar situation, it is our Lord asking us to help Him. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB says these are the people who are Jesus for us today. They invite us out of our trees to know the Lord.

To sum up, this is what salvation is: The joyful recognition of God´s gift, then with faith, entrusting ourselves - all we are, all we have, to Him. Fr. Phil Bloom says that is the essential process of salvation. It is also the essence of Stewardship. Stewardship is another word for salvation.

So what are you good at? What have you been blessed with? Where, in your life and work, does God’s goodness and beauty most shine through? If you can grow more and more towards that goodness, it will fan into an ever larger flame which eventually will become a fire that cauterizes your faults. When you walk tall, explains Fr. Ron Rolheiser, there will be less and less room for what’s small and petty to manifest itself.

Halloween, All Saints Day & All Souls Day

Thursday, October 31, was Halloween. We’ve all heard the allegations. Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian Celtic festival. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods. But nothing could be further from the truth. Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P. explains that the origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American. Halloween falls on October 31 because of a pope, and its observances are the result of medieval Catholic piety.

Nowadays, however, it seems like all kinds of Protestant Christians--and not just fundamentalists--boycott Halloween. Elizabeth Esther was one of them. She was a former cradle Protestant who is now Catholic. And just like Fr. Thompson, she makes the case that Halloween is NOT a pagan holiday. And boycotts are really unnecessary!

Taylor Marshall's 'Top Ten Ways to Have a Catholic Halloween' round things up by showing us how Halloween can indeed be both fun and holy. But what about witches, ghosts and magic? Here's the real deal on what Catholics believe about them. This has to be explained because belief in superstition and in the occult are so ingrained in some cultures. In the Philippines for example, the bishops there told the faithful: don't confuse souls with ghosts. Instead of scaring themselves with the usual ghost stories, Catholics are asked to offer sincere prayers for the souls of their departed relatives.

Here's our interesting Burning Question: Why do we pray for the dead? Let us know what you think. Then allow us to explain to you what the Church says about this matter.

November 1 is All Saints Day and November 2 is All Souls Day. How did these feasts originate? And why do we celebrate them? We explain their origins. From the Vatican, Fr. Lombardi reflects on last Sunday's canonizations and says interest in Saints are growing. It seems Saints are in fashion again. While Dr. Marcellino d'Ambrosio adds his own reflection on the meaning of Feast or Solemnity of All Saints. " All Saints Day Means Holiness for All" explains the good doctor.

Stained Glass and Abandoned Babies

We close this week with two stories. First we talk about how Catholics have often endured the charge that we are an unbiblical Church. Strange accusation, really, for the Church that collected the Scriptures, determined the canon of Scripture and preached it for 1,500 years before there ever was a Protestant denomination. The fact is we are quite biblical and often in ways that are stunningly powerful. Msgr. Charles Pope explains that the Scriptures are manifest in how we live, how we are organized hierarchically, our sacraments, our liturgy - and even in our buildings.

And finally, here's a rescue story with an unexpected twist of fate. A newborn left to die in a dumpster in northwest Calgary, Canada was saved by a man - who only later found out he was the infant boy’s father! God truly works in mysterious ways.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Why do Catholics pray for the dead?
FEATURED BLOG: Top Ten Ways to Have a Catholic Halloween
PASTORAL HISPANA: Invitemos a Jesus a nuestra casa como Zaqueo

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