Thursday, October 30, 2014

"And I shall raise him on the last day.”

We start our journey this week with Discussion Questions on the Sunday Readings for use by prayer groups or for individual prayer. This weekend, we celebrate All Saints Day on Saturday,
Nov. 1, and All Souls Day on Sunday, Nov. 2.

Father Joseph Pellegrino explains our Catholic belief regarding the souls of those who have gone before us. We are reminded by Father Cusick that we should use this occasion to pray and offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice for all of the "faithful" departed, of whom the Lord speaks in Sunday's gospel. While Father Phil Bloom tells us that we are baptized in the death of Jesus. And even though death seems to wipe out everything, that is not so. Fr. Philip Chavez encourages us to find peace with those we know who have passed away.

One of the most difficult yet wonderful parts of spirituality is the topic of death. Fr. John Foley, S. J. wonders how in the world can our beloved ones be so filled with the spark of life and then have it suddenly go out? Ask yourself thihs, "Did you cry at your loved ones' funeral?" It is this Week's Burning Question.

Father Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. reflects on the text of the Beatitudes in Matthew's gospel which serves as the gospel for both All Saints and All Souls. Father Alex McAllister laments that in this modern age there is a tendency to downgrade the importance of saints and regard them as a sort of spiritual icing on the cake — nice but unnecessary. And Marcellino D’Ambrosio quotes Leon Bloy, a French Catholic writer who once said “the only tragedy in life is not to become a saint.”

ELECTIONS 2008. It's only four more days before the US elects a new president and many are still undecided. We are reminded as we ponder our vote that the "Catholic approach" does not allow for choosing between "opposing evil and doing good." They need to go together. And before you go to the polls, Fr. John Corapi offers a guide so you may properly "Form Your Conscience, Vote Your Conscience!"

A TIME FOR PRAYER. So, with the end in sight, let me suggest that it’s time to pray: to pray for the candidates; to pray for ourselves, that we refrain from tribal voting and make wise and prudent choices; and to pray for our country, that we grow up a bit more in the years ahead.

HALLOWEEN. Today is Halloween and children everywhere will be out prowling the night for treats. And you've probably heard the allegations that if you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods. Nothing could be further from the truth. The origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American. And if you've wondered about witches, ghosts and magic, we bring you "What Catholics Really Believe."

WALMART AND AL CAPONE. The first of our Stories of Hope this week is a gem of a blog by Fr. Philip, OP: "10 Reasons the Catholic Church is Not WalMart." Read this wake-up call and share it with all your Catholic friends. Plus we bring you "Two Stirring Stories of Fate" featuring Al Capone.

FLU SHOTS & CAR DETAILING. Taking care of your car's appearance doesn't qualify as vanity, it's smart vehicle ownership. You can hire a professional auto detailer to care for your car for $100 to $500 -- or you can swipe their secrets, do it yourself and save some dough. We give you their Top 11 secret tips. And since the flu is nothing to sneeze at, experts are making their annual plea for people 50-plus and other at-risk groups to get their shots. Should you get a flu shot? Check out this story and find out.

Another eventful week in out Catholic world. Have a safe and blessed new week.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief.

BURNING QUESTION: Did you cry at your loved ones' funeral?
FEATURED BLOG: 10 Reasons the Catholic Church is Not WalMart
STORIES OF RECONCILIATION: Blessed is this peace-maker
PASTORAL HISPANA: El sentido de la muerte para los católicos

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"

Sunday’s Gospel Reading - for October 26, 2014 (30A) - revolves around the question: “Which commandment of the Law is the greatest?” Another way to put this question is to ask, “What do I need to do to achieve salvation?” Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

In the Sunday Gospel according to St. Matthew we encounter Christ in conversation with a lawyer who has asked him a question, not in order to learn, but in a malicious plot to destroy Christ. Out of this evil intent Christ brings forth the beautiful gift of the "greatest commandment": "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

In his response Jesus takes the opportunity to instruct His people to encourage us in the truth, teaching us about the foremost duties of life and teaching us about the proper biblical relationship between love and law.

A Two-fold Yet Single Commandment

Fr. Alex McAllister SDS shows us how the two commandments quoted are not original to Jesus. This is very old teaching. The command to love God is from Deuteronomy 6:5 and the command to love one’s neighbour is in Leviticus 19:18. But we do see three firsts, Fr. James Gilhooley points out to us. For the first time in Jewish theology, Jesus had taken the two concepts and made them two sides of one coin. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio refers to it as the two-sided coin of charity. Also He was the first to argue that "on these two commandments hang the whole Law..." Finally, He was a complete original in telling His audience one must love Jews and Gentiles. The Gentiles were the ones the Pharisees loved to hate.

Henceforth, Father Cusick makes clear to us, Jesus tells us that the Decalogue, the ten commandments, must now be interpreted in light of this two-fold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law.

“Love God and love your neighbor.”

Christian love is first and foremost about knowing God. It is a love, according to Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B., that comes from the goodness of God, the one who loves and reaches out instinctively to anyone who is in need. After that, it is about loving our neighbor. Love for God, explains Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, comes to its own identity through its fulfillment in a love for neighbor. It is in putting God first in our lives and incarnating that love through acts of sharing, service, commitment, prayer, hospitality, etc., Fr. John J. Ludvik adds, that we live that love and make Stewardship a way of life. It is the heart of our daily lives, the springboard of our actions, a practical way of life.

But we also learn something else from verses 37 through 40. Jesus shows us here implicitly that love to God and love to neighbor flow from God's love to us in Christ. You can't love God or love neighbor christianly, Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. clarifies, unless you have experienced the love and the grace of God yourself. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says it is the basis of our decisions, the reason for our prayer life.

Creeds and Laws

Inevitably we end up talking about creeds, dogmas, commandments, and boundaries. As in any tiny seed, there is present a fairly complete script for this love's health and growth. Fr. Ron Rolheiser says good creeds, dogmas, and commandments simply lay out that script for love so that it can be consciously read. Fr. John Foley, S. J. says we need these laws to help us. But the root of law and of life is fair care of others. It is loving concern under God for human persons. Ultimately it is an imitation of God’s love for us.

Mass, Decorum and Faith

A couple of weeks ago at a Mass celebration, a baby somewhere toward the back half of the church began screaming. It started at the Eucharistic prayer and lasted through the Sign of Peace. After several minutes of this, the priest stopped Mass and asked the parent to take the uncontrollable baby outside. As you might imagine, calls poured into the parish office either complaining about the priest or excusing the parents. Her bottom line? Sometimes things worth our time and effort come with rules and expectations. Mass should be one of them. Read her full essay here.

And any parent knows, Mass with defiant toddlers, wiggly preschoolers, and teething babies can be anything but peaceful. So as an adjunct to the above story, we bring you Kate Wicker's "7 Tips for Attending Mass With Young Children." And we think this article by Fr. John J. Ludvik is quite relevant to this discussion as well - "Proper Posture, Gestures and Observance During Mass." It is a greatly detailed teaching article that reminds us that the postures we use throughout the liturgy train our bodies so that Christ may live in us.

And here'ssomething that caught my eye because I was challenged about it by a Protestant friend just in the last week: "Does the Bible Prohibit Religious Images?" This topic is a real stumbling block for a lot of Protestant Christians, and even Catholics often are left a bit uneasy, unsure how to rectify what the Bible seems to say with what the Church teaches. So let's join Joe Heschmeyer for a serious discussion about idolatry and iconoclasm.

Effective Catholicism

How does one become an effective Catholic? Let's start with prayer. Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D. offers her "Ten Practical Prayer Tips from the Carmelite Sisters" in response to a reader query on how one can find some time to pray.

Then let's offer some practical tips. Ashley Crouch offers her advice to incoming freshmen — from someone with experience. She instructs them on "How to Be a Catholic Woman on Campus." While Marc Barnes talks about "Why It’s Great to Be a Young Catholic."

And there's more tips for you all this week. Borrowing an idea from Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, this list compiles 7 Habits of Highly Effective Catholics. Emily Stimpson looks at the aftermath of Vatican II and offers a back-to-the-basics look at what Catholics should know. She calls it "10 Things Catholic catechists should know." Plus she gives us another list: 19 Words Every Catholic Should Know. It's a list adapted from the Diocese of Harrisburg’s “Basic Catholic Vocabulary.” And to top off our set of lists this week, here's Travis Ketner's five reasons why you should vote in every election.

Bob Hope and His Ladies of Hope

Bob Hope — “the most honored entertainer” ever, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, for his achievements in theater, radio, film, TV, philanthropy and business, and an extraordinary record of service to country, with 199 USO shows around the globe — won the biggest prize of all in the waning days of his life when he converted to Catholicism. And he had his mother, wife and Our Lady of Hope to thank for making all the difference in his life.

Finally, Leila Miller talks about why she should never have had eight children. Had she listened to the devil and modern conventional wisdom, that is.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. A blessed and happy new week to all.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: What commandments require restitution?
FEATURED BLOG: Does the Bible Prohibit Religious Images?
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesus Nos Invita a un Amor Integral a Dios y al Projimo
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar"

This Sunday - October 19, 2014 - in Matthew's Gospel, the Pharisees try once again to entrap Jesus in His speech. They ask Jesus the question, "Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?" Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

The Hypocrisy of the Question

Jesus is fully aware of the hypocrisy of His opponents, and He does get the better of them. ut He does so with the simple truth. If Jesus supported paying tribute to Caesar, He would be discredited as a prophet. If however, He argued against paying this tax, it could be used later to portray him to the Romans as a dangerous revolutionary. Jesus' answer avoids taking sides in the question of the lawfulness of the tax. The answer took them by surprise and they went away and left him alone

They set a trap for Jesus, but fell into their own trap. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S says that Jesus teaches us a dear lesson. When we adhere assiduously to the Word of God and to our Lord, in true repentance, the traps which others set for us will become their undoing rather than ours.

Service to Caesar

Are service to God and to Caesar compatible? The Lord commands not only to give to God what is God's (that is, everything), but also to give to Caesar what is Caesar's. Jesus’ response tells us that one’s citizenship does not have to be at odds with one’s faith. It is St. Paul who reminds us that the moment a person comes into contact with the currency of the country of which he is a citizen, he thereby acknowledges that he is obligated to pay for the support of that government, to obey its laws, to render that government obedience, fear and honor, in fact he is obligated to pray for that government (1 Timothy 2:2).

When government seeks to provide for the just welfare of its citizens, it is doing the work of God. We are to live completely the requirements of justice and peace in social relationships, and to work for the common good. As patriotic Americans, we need to participate in the affairs of our government responsibly and intelligently so that our public policies may reflect the wisdom and justice of God. Patriotism as a virtue means keeping the proper order of Christian priorities.

Father Cusick tells us how we have in our own day an abundance of conflicts between Church and state. Is a matter political or religious? If it's deemed political, many believe, the Church should have nothing to say. The old expression “My country right or wrong but my country,” is not valid for the Christian when that means participating in immoral acts. For example, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino illustrates, the Christian would be wrong to support and fight for abortion simply because abortion is a law of our country.

The Christian would also be wrong if he or she does not fight for just and moral laws. Whether opposing the culture of death or any tyranny of the political order, the Christian gives first allegiance to the laws of God. As Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez says in his reflection on Respect Life Month, “This is who we are as Catholics.

Just this week, our bishops alerted us to encroachments on the Church's legitimate autonomy. Fargo Bishop Samuel J. Aquila this week also predicted that government authorities may one day attempt to silence the Catholic Church in the United States. “We are in a very real clash," he said while warning that these encroachments could result in an erosion of freedom of religion in our country.

Fr. Phil Bloom says the US bishops are asking us to respond by putting God first. Our consciences belong to Him. The bishops' role is to teach, govern and sanctify. This business of applying moral norms to political activity in order to help form Catholic consciences falls under their teaching umbrella. This is covered in last week's re-release of the USCCB document "Faithful Citizenship." The point they are making is the truth. It is not, mind this carefully please, it is not to present just enough truth to an electorate in order to influence their vote toward one candidate over another. It is so that we Catholics can profess to the truth in faith and morals.

Giving to God what is God

If the image of Caesar was stamped on Roman coins that were to be rendered to him, the human heart bears the imprint of the Creator, the one Lord of our life. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says God has marked us for his own and sent us on mission to the world. It means God put you and me into the world to sanctify it, to befriend the things of Caesar. And, Fr. John Foley, S. J. points out, we are to work in the world of sin - in spite of our own sins. Do our human projects make us better prophets, servants and agents of the Kingdom of Jesus?

And increasingly, Fr. Alex McAllister, SDS adds, we who believe are going to be put on the spot and asked to explain our beliefs to those who have absolute no prior knowledge of God and Jesus Christ. If we look around, Fr. Ron Rolheiser tells us, we see many of our friends who are pagans.They do not know that spirituality comes not from within ourselves but is a direct gift from God. Let us never be ashamed of working publicly for Jesus' kingdom, and telling people about Him.

Greed and Wealth

Protests and debates about the state of our economy banner our news headlines. Father Longenecker clarifies that he is a priest and not an economist. But it doesn't stop him from voicing this thoughts. He opines that the economic disaster we are now facing is the fault of individuals--not governments. Put very simply, individual people are lazy, greedy, thieves. He says this applies to politicians, bankers, stock brokers, financiers, CEOs of multi national companies and it also applies the underclass--the homeless, the indigent and the destitute--and everyone in between.

Rev. James V. Schall, S.J. adds to the discussion when he points out that the New Testament isn’t a textbook in economics or politics. The New Testament is interested in the poor. But it is also interested in rich young men who are asked to give their wealth to the poor and to follow Christ. While By Father John Flynn, LC adds another dimension to the mounting problems we face. Fewer children and diminishing numbers of married couples will have a significant impact on economic growth and the ability of governments to finance welfare programs.

Prayer, Spirituality & Eucharistic Adoration

In the face of all the disheartening worldwide economic news we see daily, Pope Benedict XVI urges the faithful not to give in to pessimism, adding, "Do not be afraid to live and give witness of the faith!"

Patrick Madrid reflects on his observation that over the last 25 years or so, he has noticed with bemusement an unfortunate trend in the United States in which an increasing number of lay people arrogate to themselves the title of “spiritual director.” He regard this as unfortunate because, except in certain rare exceptions, he thinks lay people are simply not qualified or competent to serve as spiritual directors. So he offers some thoughts on the important qualities to look for in a spiritual director.

And refelecting on the many causes of our spiritual estrangement, JonMarc Grodi discusses the fears that often cause people to hold tight to their lukewarmness about really pursuing God. He says it is there, alone in Eucharistic adoration, when this perilous question really comes to bear, “Are you there God?

Teens, Facebook & God's Messengers

Simcha Fisher shares a few strategies for encouraging your husband to be a little more chatty. Her "How To Get Your Husband To Talk To You" teaches wives how to have an awful but necessary conversation.

Carmelite Sister Timothy Marie, O.C.D. talks about her grief and mourning over the recent death of another Carmelite sister she worked with closely. And just as she was at her wit's end, God sent her a messenger who arrived unexpectedly to console her - of all places on aisle 3 of the local Staples store!

Here's another unexpected messenger from God. And she comes to you on Facebook! "Poolesville Compliments" is an anonymous teen Facebook "friend" who has been taking to heart the pope’s challenge to use social media to make Christ’s presence felt. A great evangelization story of teens who are using Facebook for good.

Finally, what’s in a nickname? The many football fans among you will love this. Here are the stories behind the nicknames of the NFL’s 32 teams—and what they were almost called.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. A blessed and happy new week to all.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: What role does conscience play in our Christian lives?
FEATURED BLOG: The Bishops are Guilty of Being Honest
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesus nos muestra como ser honestos

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

"Many are invited, but few are chosen."

This Sunday the Church presents for our consideration the wonderful parable of the royal wedding banquet. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Invite Everyone to the Banquet

The message of this parable of the royal wedding banquet is clear. God invites the people of Israel to his wedding banquet in heaven but despite the fact that they have enjoyed his favour over so many generations they do not come.

Jesus shed His blood for all. Fr. Phil Bloom affrims to us that our Lord invites all to the heavenly banquet. And this, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS says, is certainly good news for us. We are Gentiles and we have taken up God’s invitation and we are here at the great banquet he has prepared for us. In Christ, the abundance of the kingdom of grace and peace, the banquet of God's goodness, is poured forth for all: " must go out into the byroads and invite to the wedding anyone you come upon." For God, Father Cusick explains, there is no "A" list or "B" list. All are called to accept adoption as His sons and daughters, and to share the bounty of the wedding hall.

But one of the most dangerous temptations for traditional Christians, cautions Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B., is an easy assumption that they have responded to God's invitation and are now comfortably seated at the banquet waiting for their final and inevitable heavenly reward. This temptation is so insidious because it really is based on the fact of faithful religious observance.

Proper Attire for the Feast

Matthew's addition of the guest without the wedding garment can certainly leave the reader perplexed. As early as the second century, Irenaeus wrote that the wedding garment signified works of righteousness. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB tells us today that it signifies repentance and a change of heart and mind. This is the condition for entrance into the kingdom and must be continued in a life of good deeds. To illustrate this point, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino speaks about how Jesus took a man named Saul, a man who murdered Jesus’ first followers, and transformed Saul into Paul, the great apostle of the early Church.

The Lord does this for each of us. He takes each of us, with all our humanity, with all our weakness, and He uses us to make Him present to others. He does this, explains Fr. Orly Sapuay, M.S., because our faith is a love story, not a strategy. It is loving the greatest lover of all. He says now is the time to begin weaving our garments, to begin loving God with our whole soul, and heart, and strength, and to begin loving our neighbors as ourselves. Now is the time to seek that selfless love—to put on that spotless wedding garment—that will save us.

The Banquet of the Eucharist

Sunday’s readings also foretell a messianic banquet. Isaiah, chapter 25, describes the meal as both earthly (“on this mountain”) and heavenly (“he will destroy death forever”). Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. explains that Jesus did not just mean a kingdom located in heaven. He also meant a community of believers on earth who accept the rule of God and who hope to find a place eventually in heaven. And this kingdom, though only fully realized in the future, does have a present embodiment – the Mass.

Fr. John J. Ludvik reflects upon how Sunday Liturgy should permeate our lives. We can’t survive without the Eucharist. Every parish is a microcosm of the universal Church, deriving strength to carry on our mission and ministries from the Eucharist. But, Fr. Ron Rolheiser adds, Christians argue a lot about the Eucharist. What does it mean? What should it be called? How often should it be celebrated? Who should be allowed to fully participate?

Quite often the charge against the Church is it removes joie de vivre from life. But Fr. James Gilhooley is quick to point out that the early Christians got the point. They possessed a "certain holy hilarity." They went about their lives with a bounce in their steps and a smile on their faces. And they attracted millions of converts. And so Fr. John Foley, S. J. reminds us also that Jesus did both: He fasted and He feasted. This Sunday readings invite us to come in, to open up, eat, enjoy what is there. To receive as Jesus did. But when it was time to let go of it all—life, friends, peace and possessions—our Lord did that with love. Jesus wants us to receive his life and then give it out to the world.

October - Month of the Rosary

It’s not an overstatement to say that the family Rosary can and must play a pivotal role in the renewal of our society. For that reason, especially during this October month devoted to the Rosary, Leon Suprenant encourages families to make the Rosary part of their daily life.

Here's a question from a reader? Is it appropriate to recite the Marian prayers before the Blessed Sacrament? Fr. Edward McNamara responds that genuinely praying the rosary in any circumstance should always bring us closer to Christ and will never give more importance to Mary than to Him. If that were to happen, then it would mean that we have still to learn how to pray it as the Church, and indeed the Blessed Mother herself, desire it to be prayed.

Prayer, St. Jerome & Lectio Divina

Fr. Mark Daniel Kirby brings us the story of St. Jerome, the translator of the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible into Latin, the tongue of the common folk. He was a lover of the poor Christ who sang the praises of monastic solitude, saying that “monks do on earth what the angels do in heaven.”

‘I’d like you to convert Chicago,” was how Francis Cardinal George, archbishop of Chicago tasked Fr. Robert Barron about nine years ago. The result may just be on a PBS station near you this fall. Father Barron has created a remarkable book and TV series called Catholicism. It is openly a work of evangelization and is done in a way that is welcoming to a wide potential audience.

And so how can we bring others, especially those we love, into a right relationship with Jesus Christ? And how can we ourselves come to know and serve Jesus better? Joe Heschmeyer talks about how almost every Christian struggles from time to time with at least one of these two questions. And how if we don't, we should. Then Dr. Lilles offers a nice followup regarding the gift of intercessionary prayer. He tells us that the more we love someone we also see how much they suffer, and the more we see this, the more their plight moves us to humbly seek God on their behalf.

Steve Jobs & John Wayne

Steve Jobs, the man who more than anyone shaped the technological landscape we live in passed away on three years ago. The word genius will be thrown around a lot about him, but that word genius misses the point. Many people have genius, but few geniuses have the kind of flexibility, endurance and ability to admit wrong turns, face them and correct them. The Secret to Jobs' Success? "Live Every Day As If It Were Your Last"

John Wayne, for many, was a Hollywood legend who symbolized true masculinity and American values. To Fr. Matthew Muñoz, he was simply “granddaddy.” This priest of Orange diocese reflects on the conversion of his grandfather to Catholicism.

Parents, Teenagers & Dating

For fifteen years Judith Costello has been a freelance writer. Before that she was a full-time artist. These are not the kind of professions with a guaranteed income! And lately, as the jobs and paychecks dwindle into meagerness, she finds herself staring at the neighbor lady as she drives off to work every day. And suddenly, she finds herself feeling jealous! Wow. Now that was a shock to her!

Here are a couple of sets of Catholic advices - one to teen-aged dating. And another for the parents of these very teen-agers.

Julie Rodrigues starts off with "10 Tips for Catholic Dating." She says if you are still single, know that a boyfriend/girlfriend is a gift, not something you can force or work for. Live your life focused on putting God first, investing in a deeper relationship with him and with others, but remaining OPEN. Open to whoever He puts in your path, whether a person or a religious community.  And then Patrick Madrid reflects on 31 years of parenting teen agers. He offers "Clever advice for parents of teenagers" compelte with an entertaining comic video.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. A blessed and happy new week to all.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Why is it a sin to miss Mass on Sunday?
FEATURED BLOG: Is gambling a sin?
PASTORAL HISPANA: El amor de Dios para nosotros

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

"The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone"

We are back in the vineyard again this Sunday, October 5, 2014, immersed in another of Matthew's complex Gospel parables. Sunday's Gospel parable is often called the parable of the wicked tenants. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Jesus told these parables in answer to the question: "What is the kingdom of God like?" As in all parables and lessons of the vineyard, the landowner is God. Once again, Jesus was talking about the religious leaders and elders of Israel, who are the tenants, in this parable. But this, Fr. Alex McAllister, SDS points out, was no afternoon exchange of pleasantries. No this was an out-and-out confrontation with the elders asking Jesus, "What authority do you have for acting like this?"

Respect Life Sunday

The parable tells us that we must exercise stewardship over Gods’ gifts to us in a responsible manner. It also tells us how God relates to us. And one of the main gifts we have from God, explains Fr. James Gilhooley, is the gift of life for which we are responsible. This is a  most appropriate message for this weekend because Sunday is Respect Life Sunday, the start of a month-long period when Catholics across the nation join together to witness to the inherent equality and transcendent value of every human being.

Fr. John J. Ludvik tells us that too many are like the tenants who refused to share their grapes or their wine with others, who do nothing about stewardship or protecting life from conception to old age, and so many areas in between. The Bible teaches that life is a gift of God and hence we have to respect it from womb to tomb. And all of life is a blessing!

Related to this, the US Bishops Conference have spoken out against mandating contraception and sterilization insurance coverage that could cause the ‘persecution’ of Catholic institutions. They urge all Catholics to do likewise as the deadline for implementation looms.

The Lord Will Never Abandon His Vineyard - the Church

Matthew masterfully transforms this Sunday's allegorical parable into a rich account of salvation history. The parable of the wicked tenants reminds us once again that we cannot control God's continuous merciful outreach to others. Thomas Rosica, CSB says it compels us to look at our lives, our attitudes and actions, in light of whether they are an embrace or rejection of Jesus' saving message. This message was emphasized by Pope Benedict this week as he challenged young people to “dare to be glowing saints, in whose eyes and hearts the love of Christ beams and who thus bring light to the world.”

Therefore the prayer of our liturgy this Sunday, Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. explains, is that we may receive the grace to open our hearts to the prophetic voice of Jesus and become a people who produce abundant good fruit in accord with God's will. But while we are all asked to be children of the Church, Father Cusick is steadfast in reminding us that there is no salvation outside of the Church for those who commit apostasy - those who deny their Catholic faith once having truly understood and embraced the Faith. To reject the true Church and her orthodox teaching is to reject Christ and His Salvation, for all graces by which he saves us come through His bride: the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

In the Midst of Troubles

In the beginning of the second reading St. Paul said, “Be anxious about nothing, but bring everything to God, through prayer and supplication united to thanksgiving. And then the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In the midst of troubles, St. Paul is telling us not to have any anxiety at all. How did St. Paul overcome anxiety? Fr. Phil Bloom says St. Paul's prescription comes in two parts. First, prayer - putting our troubles in God's hand - making our requests known to him. And the second part of the prescription is thanksgiving. If we seek happiness where God is present, we do not need to be anxious.

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. reminds us of America's national anxiety in his reflection. Many assume America will last forever. But we are not invulnerable, as September 11 and Katrina have reminded us. If we continue to yield sour grapes, our walls too will come tumbling down. Yet St. Paul speaks of a “peace that passes all understanding.” Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says this is so because we possess Jesus Christ. And He is all we will ever need. And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding comes upon us, dwells in us, and is our treasure. And it’s ours for the asking.

The Stone Rejected By the Builders

There is much, much more in the Gospel. And Jesus hints at this after he has told the story: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes."

This new metaphor is the key to the Gospel tale, which fills it with dramatic new meaning. Fr. John Foley, S. J. tells us that Jesus is the son sent into the vineyard. He is to be rejected and killed, just as the prophets and the owner’s son were.  God sent his own son into the trap of human life not because life is perfect, but because love is. The crucified one, adds Fr. Ron Rolheiser, is the stone rejected by the builders, the one deemed expendable so that normal life will not be disrupted. But the crucified one is also God. Jesus the Christ  is what He was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Fr. James Gilhooley says He is none other than the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

There is a special intimacy with God that can be had only in standing, as did Mary and John, near the cross, in solidarity with the crucified one. College student Megan Diestelmeier says it is up to us to choose to see through God’s eyes. It is up to us to choose to live with compassion, and see the dignity and worth of everyone around us, and love them all.

Martin Luther, the Pope and Catholic "Rules"

“Martin Luther” is not a popular figure in most Catholic circles. Understandably so. Most Catholics who think about Luther at all, hold him responsible for the dividing of Christendom and the problem of ongoing Christian disunity. Yest when it comes to ecumenism, Mark Brumley reports that the most important point for Pope Benedict is that we keep in view our common ground as Christians. But we shouldn't stop there.

The problem of evil cannot be solved through debate. Rather, adds Taylor Marshall, it won't be solved "until I go into the sanctuary of God." We are to follow the example set by King David in the Old Testament. Go to Church, kneel before the crucified Savior in the tabernacle and open our hearts. The Holy Father calls us to be an evangelizing presence in the world. We must allow God’s grace to transform a generation that at times seems to be lost. In other words, Leon Suprenant reminds us, let's be Catholic!

Mark Shea recalls a while back, how the Mainstream Media (MSM) got itself all in a tizzy about “the Vatican” supposedly issuing “seven new deadly sins.” What was absent from the misguided conversation thread that followed was any concept of life in Christ as a relationship. They chose to focus instead on the rules, as if they were written on a card and magnetized to the refrigerator. Luckily for Jennifer Fulwiler, she's learned a lot by talking through these kinds of thoughts with her confessors and spiritual directors. She shares the four simple rules she learned from them that act as a safeguard to prevent too much worldliness from creeping into her daily life.

Omar F. A. Gutierrez uses St. Vincent de Paul as a great example citing what Chesterton once said about the saint. The difference between a sinner and saint is not that the saint doesn’t sin. The difference is that the saint knows they’re a sinner.

In These Tough Economic Times

For Tim Drake, and for the many others suffering around the country, it's been a tough summer financially. His Buick unexpectedly died and had to be replaced. His pneumonia led to unexpected doctor’s bills. His riding lawnmower bit the dust. As the primary provider for our family, he has tried to shield his children from this reality as best I can, but they’ve still felt the results. Then on his birthday, his young son gifted him with something he will never ever forget - it's the $6.15 Christ.

And maybe we need to look to our grandfather's generation for guidance during these hard times. Their generation wasn’t perfect. They had their own set of flaws and weaknesses. But they got a lot of things right. And one of those things is how to handle your finances. Here's "4 Personal Finance Principles That Would Make Your Grandfather Proud."

Finally, Eric Porteous gives us his interview with NFL Quarterback and 3-time Pro Bowler, Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers. A fellow Catholic, Rivers discusses Faith as an NFL player, the importance of Mass and the Sacraments, temptation, Natural Family Planning and trash-talking as a Christian. Even if you’re not a football fan, you need to read this.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. A blessed and happy new week to all.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Should Catholics Join Non-Catholic Bible Studies?
FEATURED BLOG: The Pope, Martin Luther, and Our Time
PASTORAL HISPANA: El regalo de la fe es para compartirlo

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