Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"Be watchful! Be alert!"

This Sunday, November 30, 2014, we celebrate the First Sunday in Advent. This marks the beginning of a new church year: the liturgical actualization for us of the saving events of Christ's life, death and resurrection. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

 Because it is Thanksgiving weekend, I'm busy preparing Thanksgiving dinner for my family while multi-tasking this week's homiletics email for you. So we hope you understand why you're receiving a truncated version of your Catholic Living Today.

The gospel passage for Sunday proclaims the essential truth that will be celebrated in all its dimensions throughout the year -- namely, the "advent" truth that God has come in the person of Jesus Christ, and that the same Lord, now invisibly present through the Spirit, will come again in power and glory.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Enjoy the Thanksgiving weeken with your family and loved ones.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Did John the Baptist go straight to heaven when he died?

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

"He will sit upon his glorious throne"

This Sunday, November 23, 2014 we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. This is the Last Sunday of the Church Year. Through this feast the church is saying that all of our celebrations can be summed up in one statement: Jesus is our King, we serve him. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.
Universal King

But who is this Person we salute on the feast of Christ the King? Fr. James Gilhooley  says call Him anything you want - Christ the Sultan, Christ the President, Christ the Pharaoh. It is immaterial to Him. He remains the Son of God. The Acts of the Apostles tell us He turned history upside down by His resurrection. And this, Fr. Alex McAllister, SDS explains, is the Gospel paradox – that the High King of Heaven becomes lowly for our sake. That He who is to be worshiped by everything that lives and breathes becomes the one most despised of all, and dies in disgrace on the cross of Calvary.

Lord and Just Judge

Sunday's selection from the gospel of Matthew is very appropriate for the feast of Christ the King. It portrays Christ as a king who presides over the scene of the final judgment. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. says it also brings forth three Gospel truths that act as a filter with which to view the entire bible: Jesus is returning in glory; He will judge all nations; Calling Jesus “Lord” is not enough.

This kingdom of Christ, a reign of charity and peace, is for all. We the baptized are the agents through whom the social kingship of Christ will be realized. Father Cusick says the Lord sends us out as His disciples so that all mankind may be brought under His reign in the world. We are asked to do His work. But He respects and honors His subjects’ needs and desires - their free will. And that, explains Fr. John Foley, S. J., is exactly how a real King acts.

But what will the Last Judgment be like? Many will come before Him, not having commmitted offenses or infractions of the law. Thay might not have done anything positively destructive. But in the presence of suffering, they also heartlessly did absolutely nothing. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D. notes that these sins of omission ultimately seal the fate of the damned. Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. warns us that many on that last day will hear Him say, "You have chosen to live without me, your God, and I will respect your choice.”

"Lord when did we see you?"

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to make the kingdom of God a reality in whatever place we are, in whatever time we live. Jesus’ command to practice the corporal works of mercy is direct, uncompromising, and everywhere present in the entire New Testament. Fr. Ron Rolheiser points out that taken as whole, every tenth line in the New Testament is a direct challenge to the Christian to reach out to the physically poor.

Christ is present in those people we meet who are prayerful, spiritual, and charismatic. But, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino reminds us, the Lord is also present in those who may not even recognize His presence in their lives. He is present in those mocked by our society, the poor, the eccentric, the oppressed, the unborn. When we give help to a family struggling to make ends meet, we are helping Christ.

Thus the most plaintive line in our gospel story, Fr. John J. Ludvik explains, is the one that echoes twice from the dumbstruck crowd: "Lord when did we see you?" And, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB adds, the most stirring refrain of Sunday's Gospel is found precisely in these words: "You did it to me."

And so as we conclude the Church year, we ask the Lord to help us serve the Kings of Kings as He presents Himself in those reaching out to us.

Prayer, Communion & Pornography

"What the Catholic Church in the United States really needs to stiffen its backbone is a good persecution." How often have we heard somebody say something like that? How often have we said something like it ourselves? Be careful what you ask for—you just might may get it. The persecution of religion in America has begun. And Russel Shaw says the Catholic Church is its prime target.

Three years ago from the Vatican Pope Benedict made this call for daily prayers, "I would like to renew my call to everyone to pray the Psalms, to become accustomed to using the Liturgy of the Hours, Lauds, Vespers, and Compline. Our relationship with God can only be enriched by our journeying towards Him day after day.”

While back in the US, Taylor Marshall reflected on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Council of Trent as he discusses "The Difference between Spirtual and Sacramental Communion." And Patrick A. Trueman tackles a scourge that is affecting so many Catholic men - Pornography. It has become America’s pastime, and we are awash in it.

A Catholic Thanksgiving

A curious question: Is “Thanksgiving” Catholic? The history books will tell you that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the pilgrims in 1621. Not true, explains Taylor Marshall. An interesting bit of trivia is that the first American Thanksgiving was actually celebrated on September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. The Native Americans and Spanish settlers held a feast and the Holy Mass was offered.And did you know that it was President Abraham Lincoln who officially proclaimed it a holiday in 1863? His intent was crystal clear - as this reprint of his official proclamation will show - and it's as valid today as it was in 1863.

So how do you evangelize your family this Thanksgiving? Start with celebrating the day with Holy Mass. We are bound, if we are able, to observe the third commandment and keep the Lord’s Day holy by gathering together to give thanks. Eucharist after all means thanksgiving. But thanksgiving can’t be limited to Sunday Eucharist. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio reminds us that we are called to develop a lifestyle of thanksgiving. We’re called to become a Eucharistic people.

What Are You Thankful For?

Anthony Duk shares a moving Thanksgiving story with a twist. It's the story of painful Thanksgivings and how a gift bouquet of thorns was able to offer a meditative respite for the holiday. And then Chris Mueller shares one of his favorite thanksgiving stories that takes place long before the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. In fact this one goes back to a little town in Italy known as Assisi. And it's a story most famous for two of its most remarkable citizens - St. Francis and St. Clare.

As has been our Thanksgiving tradition, we bring you back our Thanksgiving Prayer Book. We reflect on how imperfect our lives always will be. How good things will always co-exist with the unfortunate ones. But despite this, there are many things God has blessed us with that we can be truly thankful for. Share your blessings with us.

Celebrating Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year. Shuffling through airport security in your socks or sitting in traffic may seem like a breeze compared with the stresses of settling in under the same roof with family. Tensions often run high during the holidays, but there are polite and effective ways to manage those tricky interactions. Here's how to be a heavenly houseguest -- and keep your sanity.

Ours is a country where supersizing and soaring obesity rates have become the norm. So what is the best way to deal with our annual feast day? Streamlining. The key to a healthy holiday meal, we've discovered, is that less can be more. This Thanksgiving, celebrate without supersizing. Here are tips and recipes for a hearty, healthy Thanksgiving meal. And sure, we all know the holiday leaves us stuffed. But it's not just the extra calories that make us groggy. Here's the "Four Reasons Thanksgiving Makes Us Sleepy."

And so we gather at the Thanksgiving dinner table with big appetites and grateful hearts. But before anyone digs in, someone most likely will offer the customary blessing or prayer. When you sit down with family and friends and bow your heads to pray, what should you say? Here's a wonderful Thaksgiving dinner prayer suggestion from Deacon Greg Kandra.

We Need Your Help - An Update

We thank those of you who contributed to our Stewardship Drive. Our Gospel Matthew 25: 37-40 for this Sunday tells us:

"Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Many needy parishes continue to wait for our help. And we ask you to help us help them. Our goal is to gift 10 needy parishes with their own parish evangelization websites. Your assistance will allow us to make a real difference in the Catechetical and spiritual lives of these parish communities.

The following characterize why our mission is so important:
First  - 95% of our Catholics in the pews are under-Catechized.
Second  - Over a million articles of evangelization are viewed each month in ParishWorld!

Everyday, we continue to make a difference in the spiritual lives of countless Catholics like yourself. If you haven't helped with our campaign, we plead with you, please consider a financial gift today. And 100% of your gifts - every single dollar - will go to setting up these gift parish websites.

We pray the Holy Spirit be your guide as you prayerfully consider a financial gift to support our mission. We have a long way to go to meet our Stewardship goal. Your small gift can and will add up to a wonderful and much anticipated holiday gift for the many parish faith communities in our waiting list.

Click here to donate today.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. A most happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: What are yout thankful for?
FEATURED BLOG: 'And with your spirit,' once again
PASTORAL HISPANA: Solemnidad del Nuestro Senor Jesucristo

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Jesus has some words this Sunday about investing what we receive. He tells the famous parable of the talents. The man who receives five talents, put them to work and made an additional five. The second receives two and makes two more. But the man who receives one talent, buries it. Jesus calls him "wicked" and "lazy." Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

A Different Kind of Accountability

This Sunday's Gospel story presents us with the last of the three parables that form Jesus' final discourse in Matthew's Gospel. Each of the three parables relates a different kind of accountability required of Christians as they prepare for their glorious encounter with Christ.

The central message of today's Gospel parable concerns the spirit of responsibility with which to receive God's Kingdom: a responsibility to God and to humanity. When the Master gives the servants the talents to look after he basically turns them from servants into managers. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS says they are now expected to make decisions about how to manage the vast amount of money placed in their care. But despite this promotion, Father Cusick points out that we all remain servants of God. And we are still responsible to God for the way we use the abilities He has given us.

We are also to realize that like the three servants in Sunday’s Gospel, what each of us has been given is different. Some of us have received short straws. So, Fr. John J. Ludvik explains, Jesus does not expect us to “measure up” to our neighbor, per se. But we are nevertheless expected to give life a first class run with these gifts. We are not to bury our talents. How we use our abilities to enrich and help others is our fulfillment of Christ's command to love others as we love ourselves. And Love, explains Fr. John Foley, S. J., is the only one thing he knows spiritually that goes away if it is buried, but which gets greater if used.

Fear Factor

We live with fears. Fr. Orlando, Sapuay, M.S. says some of these fears are so complex or long-standing that we don't even know how we got them or where they originate. But in this passage, the one-talent man not only confesses he was afraid, but he gives us a hint of why that is true. The Good News of Jesus Christ, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB explains, is that we must abandon fear and be industrious, reliable and creative in doing God's will, lest we turn out to be like the third slave, "worthless, lazy louts"!

Our failure to take heed of the rest of what Jesus has said has sometimes made for a spirituality that is a half-truth. Fr. Ron Rolheiser warns us that in the name of religion, we have sometimes become unhealthily fearful, timid, and guilt-ridden. This means that the mere avoidance of serious sin does not make for good Christians. And if we are not moving forward, as Fr. James Gilhooley wisely cautions us, chances are good we march full speed backwards. So, perhaps we should extend the meaning of the parable a little further and think of the many ways that the life entrusted to us can be wasted, even without doing evil things. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler explains this in his reflection.

Be Ready for the End

Should we be afraid of death? Should we be afraid of the end of time? Fr. Joseph Pellegrino quotes St. Paul who tells the Thessalonians - we know that we should but we shouldn’t be afraid that it will catch us off guard. And what is the antidote to fear? It is this: an attitude of gratitude. Whatever God has given you, Fr. Phil Bloom urges us all, thank Him and ask his help to invest it as best you can.

Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Church

Last Sunday, we celebrated the Feast of the Dedication of the Major Basilica St. John Lateran. It is one of those few feast days on the Church’s calendar that require some digging before its value is even minimally appreciated. When we do invest the time, the yield is rich. So Sr. Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP took out her shovels and uncovered some gems. Paul Dion, STL also takes this opportunity to communicate an important element of our Catholic Faith tradition that we do not often consider. It has to do with the churches that have played an important role in our history as Christians.

Purposeful Prayer, the Bible & Catholic Wellness

It may surprise you to learn that America is decidedly pro-Bible. According to research commissioned by American Bible Society, Barna Research polled 2,000 Americans and discovered that nine out of 10 households own a Bible. A full 86 percent of people surveyed indicated that they consider the Bible to be sacred or holy. That’s the good news. The bad news is why aren't they reading it?

This reflection by Msgr. Charles Pope may help us understand the role the Bible plays in our lives. He says only with God’s help can we begin to realize that “The Most important things in life aren’t things” is more than a slogan. Only with God’s help and a lifetime of grace can we ever hope to really appreciate this insight and absolutely true. In heh second of his two-fer reflection on the Bible, he looks at the story of St. Paul’s arrest, beating and imprisonment at Philippi that serves as a kind of paradigm for the radicality of true Christianity and why it so perturbs many in this world.

Cheryl Dickow also delivers her own two-fer this week. In the first one, she talks about Catholic Health and Wellness. She expresses how she has come to realize that while the initial good intention is a necessary first step to health and wellness, a viable course of action must accompany it—preferably something not too painful, boring, or time-consuming. And in her second reflection, she warns about how we often try to insert our own liberties and try to direct God in our prayers every time we suffix the words "so that..." to them. Think about that for a second.

From the Vatican, two stories likewise come down from the pope. ‏First, Benedict XVI is recommending that young people use the Gospel as they make future plans. And secondly, he reminds the world that death and life in Christ is more than a changing season. He says God's intervention in the drama of human history does not obey any natural cycle. It only obeys His grace and faithfulness.

Top Ten Lists

Here's a couple of Top Ten lists we encountered this week. The first is "10 Steps To Get Involved in the Pro-Life Movement" by Susan B. Anthony. You might have said to yourself: I am opposed to abortion, I want Roe v. Wade to be overturned, I want pro-life heroes to be leading our country and the states, but HOW? This article's for you.

The second list presented by Donna Hicks is a bit more philosphical. It talks about powerful internal self-preservation forces we have that can be so harmful if we don’t develop an awareness of them, and learn how to restrain them. She calls her list the “Ten Temptations”-- ways to maintain your dignity when your instincts think they know better.

Church-Goers and Not

A Gallup report that fewer Democrats than Republicans tend to be churchgoers. About 52 percent of Democrats or those who lean Democrat seldom or never attend church. Among Republicans or those who lean Republican, 38 percent say they seldom or never attend church. Do what you wish with these numbers, but one soul turned away from God - regardless of political party affiliation - is one too much. So we Catholics have our work cut out for us.

Which brings us to the church-goers, some of them you've talked to when they knocked on your doors many times in the past. I am talking about the Protestant missionaries the likes of which I have had the frequent pleasure of entertaining on my front porch for Bible sharing. And I must admit equally for frequent Bible misunderstandings. I can't help but share this funny story from Patrick Madrid. It is a hysterical albeit mythical account of an encounter between a pair of Mormon door-knockers and a Jehovah's Witness homeowner. I mean no disrespect by sharing this tale. But there are some Catechetical lessons Catholics can learn from this.

We Need Your Help Today

For the first time ever, we are sending out an appeal for assistance from our readers. It is no secret that this economy has been hard on Catholic parishes. And it has not been easy for us as well. The Gospel for this Sunday tells us that what Christ has given us is multiplied in its giving.So we ask you to please consider giving a financial gift to our ministry. We will use your gifts - all 100% of it - to construct parish websites and mobile apps for the many needy parishes that currently wait for us to gift them with our service ministry.

Proverbs 19:17 tells us: "He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed.” Your assistance to us will indeed be a good deed in the eyes of God. For you are not just helping our ministry. You are also helping many communities of faith stay strong to their Catholic roots, beginning with the grateful parish members of St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Buckley, WA. Please click here to send your contribution.
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: Is it OK for God to get angry?
FEATURED BLOG: "So that..."

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

In this Sunday's Gospel for Nov. 9, 2014, Jesus is angered upon seeing the merchants and money-changers disrespecting the temple in Jerusalem. Also, the universal Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, the diocesan church of the Pope in Rome. Our Discussion Questions on the Sunday Readings will be a good guide for prayer groups or for individual prayer.

On the Feast of St. John Lateran we hear about the only recorded act of violence by Jesus. Fr. Phil Bloom reflects upon this and explains why there are things that Christians should hold as worth fighting for. Jesus referred to the temple in Jerusalem as "my Father's house." Fr. Campion P. Gavaler explains the fact that the invisible God manifests his presence in visible signs recognizable by faith is at the heart of biblical revelation. But why did Jesus get so angry in the Gospel for Sunday? Was this an act of love? How could it be? Fr. John Foley, S. J. explains.

Fr. Joseph Pelligrino preaches that Sunday's celebration is not really about a place, after all. It is about us. We are the Church. Together we are a place of refuge from the terrors of the world. Together, united with Christ, we are a people of love in a world of hatred. Father Alex McAllister reflects further that the Church building is therefore a real visible symbol of the greater Church which is the Body of Christ. It is a living sign of the unity of the Church. 

The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome is celebrated because, according to Father Cusick, it is the one place of worship which is prior to all others. The Pope is the bishop of
Rome and the Lateran Basilica is his diocesan church. Paul Dion, STL, explains that celebrating the dedication and consecration of these wonderful temples is part of our Christian heritage. We revere them just as we revere and respect other holy people and holy things in our lives as Catholics.


The elections are over and our democracy manifested itself again as a miracle that occurs. Despite the divisive, passionate – at times even nasty - political discourse we as a nation engaged in over the months prior to the elections, we always come together once it’s all over and embrace our newly elected public officials.In the days after the elections, the nation savors the moment of hope. But it is one that comes with the challenge of accountability.


The Catholic Church is discovering the possibilities of the Internet as a tool for evangelization in many ways. And if your parish or Catholic organization is experiencing website issues - ineffective, static websites with no evangelization value - can help. As the leading providers of Catholic websites, allow us to show you how we can help your Parish use Mobile internet to really "make a true Catholic difference." Click here to view short slide show.


Aaron Wiederspahn is "The Movie Man Who Bumped into God." Read how he found God and his Catholic faith while shopping at a Borders store. And as the economy melts down, many people are being heard asking themselves about life’s larger priorities — about what is important and why.” The story is called "Re-Ordered Priorities: Turning Back to God." We also have a report on how many young men today don’t know how to offer and accept criticism like a man. Instead they handle criticism like little boys. "How to Give and Take Criticism like a Man" is a great read. Plus be inspired by some great life lessons we can glean from "The Fern and the Bamboo."


"Quiet Time" is a story that dares you to unplug your self for an hour from the your phone, computer, TV or whatever else might be taking your attention and give it to God. And finally we ask you to read "Reconciliation: An Experience of Forgiveness," a reflection about a young man who finds himself thinking about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, about asking a priest at school to hear his confession. Why would anybody voluntarily reveal their failures, faults or even their crimes?

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

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

If you belong to a Catholic parish or organization and your website has been unproductive, static and unchanged for months and provides no real evangelization value, we can help. ParishWorld is the leading provider of Catholic websites in the USA. We deliver websites that accomplish the missionary work! They evangelize, they catechize, they touch many lives. Click here to see our FAQ. We will tell you how we have helped many parishes enjoy websites that achieve as many as 30,000 pageviews per month! We offer your parishes and organizations evangelization websites that "Make a True Catholic Difference." Call us or send us an email today.

BURNING QUESTION: Why do we pray for the dead?
FEATURED BLOG: The Beautiful Miracle of Democracy
RECONCILIATION: Seeking Reconciliation Before and After the Election
PASTORAL HISPANA: Somos Templos Vivos
PLUS: Why your Parish website just became obsolete

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