Fr. Michael Phillippino
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 17, 2012
Dear Parishioners, Here is a letter from Fr. Shenan Boquet. I want to encourage you to join him and me in this fortnight of freedom and to pray the rosary or an extra rosary for this intention. Thank you .
The battle lines are drawn, and the arguments are familiar to us now. Although the Catholic Church was intentionally selected as the enemy in a false “war on women”, all faithful Christians now recognize that the threat is really not only against Catholics, but against people of all faith, and our most fundamental freedoms. The First Amendment, which states, in part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” is itself under attack.
This destructive political strategy is backfiring as Christians all over the country are waking up to the true nature of the threat. The Obama administration has used an issue that should have united the nation, the reform of a broken health care system, as a means to force Catholic institutions to pay for abortion-causing drugs, contraception, and sterilization – services which the Church cannot support. Health care reform is also being used to divide the nation and reverse Constitutional freedoms that are the basis of our nation’s laws and prosperity, and the envy of much of the world.
It has been encouraging to see the strong and clear leadership of so many of the Catholic bishops, and we gladly welcome the solidarity of our Protestant brothers and sisters. It has also been deeply edifying to receive messages of concern and support from those around the world who wonder what will happen to the United States if it rejects the freedom of religion. We are determined not to find out what will happen if this fundamental freedom is abolished, which is why we are in this fight now. Of course, we will join in rallies, we will raise our voices and we will make sure that everyone knows the importance of the role of their vote in November. But we also have a power that goes beyond these worldly obligations – the power of prayer.
Our God gave us the only true freedom that we have. We’re made in His image, after all, and we’re also made to be with him – to freely choose to be with Him by living in accordance with His law. This is what authentic freedom is: the freedom to choose the good. It isn’t license to choose whatever feels good and to pretend that there will be no consequences. The choice to turn away from God, to sin, ultimately enslaves, and thus is not authentic freedom. And freedom certainly isn’t served by forcing anyone to act against his or her wellformed conscience with unjust laws. As St. Augustine taught so long ago, a law that is not in accordance with the law of God and nature – that is, an unjust law – has no claim on our obedience. We pray with renewed energy and focus, and we pray in solidarity. I have a challenge for you. I am asking you to commit to praying with the pro-life missionaries of Human Life International, for the defense of freedom of religion. I am asking you to commit to praying one rosary per day during the “Fortnight for Freedom”, a two-week effort called for by our bishops to unite in prayer and action in defense of religious freedom, from June 21 – July 4. I’m also asking you to share this with friends, to have them join us in prayer that people of faith will be free to live their faith in freedom.
Will you join us? Will you stand in solidarity with the US bishops, with our missionaries around the world, and with those in your community in this unprecedented effort? We can win this battle! And a win here will send a message to the world, this is really a fight for all of us who have the right not only to worship, but to be free to live our faith consistently in our workplaces and in the public square, without compromise.
Please join us in prayer during this Fortnight of Freedom and share this invitation with friends!
A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 17, 2012
Tree of Righteousness: Reflections on the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Through the oracles of the Prophet Ezekiel, God gave his people reason to hope. It would have been a cryptic message to his hearers, long centuries before the Lord’s coming.
Ezekiel glimpsed a day when the Lord God would place a tree on a mountain in Israel, a tree that would “put forth branches and bear fruit.” Who could have predicted that the tree would be a cross, on the hill of Calvary, and that the fruit would be salvation?
Eleventh Sunday: The Lord Gives the Growth
The ancient Hebrews understood agriculture. Their lives were dependent on the crops they cultivated and the animals they raised. Yet, they knew that the wonder of growth belonged to the Lord. Paul would allude to this in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” When, in today’s first reading, Ezekiel prophesied that the Lord would take a sprig from a tree and turn it into a noble cedar, the people recognized in this prophecy that growth is always in God’s hands. He would do more for them than they could imagine. Israel, a nation in exile at the time of this prophesy, would become the nation that the whole world would respect. Every kind of bird, all the nations, would live under the tree of Israel. God’s wonders, like the wonders of agriculture, were too wonderful to understand.
What Does it Mean to Call God “Father”?
Father’s Day invites us to ask a very important question – what does it mean to call God “Father?”
Most of the great religions of the world believe in one God and teach the gist of the Ten Commandments.
But that the supreme Being is not just “King of the Universe” or “Master” but “Father,” that he desires us to have a close, familiar relationship with Him – these ideas you don’t find anywhere outside the teaching of Jesus.
Mysterious bones may belong to John the Baptist
A small handful of bones found in an ancient church in Bulgaria may belong to John the Baptist, the biblical figure said to have baptized Jesus.
There’s no way to be sure, of course, as there are no confirmed pieces of John the Baptist to compare to the fragments of bone. But the sarcophagus holding the bones was found near a second box bearing the name of St. John and his feast date (also called a holy day) of June 24. Now, new radiocarbon dating of the collagen in one of the bones pegs its age to the early first century, consistent with the New Testament and Jewish histories of John the Baptist’s life.
Living Eucharistic Lives
It is 10:30pm and the sun is just setting in Ireland. Last night, as we concluded the Eucharistic Procession during the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland, thousands of children, youth, adults and seniors (some even in wheelchairs and with canes) processed behind the Blessed Sacrament in the streets of Dublin for close to three hours. This public demonstration of our faith in the Real, True, and Substantial presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament follows a rich tradition the Catholic Church has had for centuries.
The Holy Eucharist: Central Sacrament Pre-figured in the First Passover
Christ’s institution of the sacrament of the Eucharist was, and is, the single, greatest gift he left to his Church. For, it is the fulfillment of his promise to truly be always among us: “And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Mt 28:20). While there are, indeed, multiple and varied presences of Christ, such as: when two or three are gathered in his name; when the People of God gather to celebrate the Liturgy; when Sacred Scripture—the Word—is proclaimed; or when the priest acts in Persona Christi while administering and officiating at any of the Sacraments, etc. The abiding Eucharistic presence of Christ, with the fullness of his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is truly singular in its reality, intensity, substance and fullness.
Why Devotion to the Sacred HEART of Jesus?
Why do Catholics have devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? I call this “cordial devotion” (from the Latin cor, cordis meaning “heart”). English words such as “cordially” mean “heartfelt,” and our word “core” meaning “center” also comes from this Latin word.
What Did the Heart Signify to the Jews?
The human heart is considered to be the symbolic center of the person and as such is signifies the will. When we are excited or scared our heartbeat rises. In times of stress or sorrow, we can feel a pain in our chest.
Would God Really Send Someone to Hell?
If God is all-good and all-loving, how could he send someone to hell?
At first glance, it seems that he would not.
But God is infinitely higher than we are, and our finite minds can only grasp a tiny bit of his infinite mystery.
Praying 10 Minutes a Day
Sometimes we say or sing aloud our prayer but there’s also a kind of prayer that happens only in the silence. Sure, I sometimes pray on the run and in my car, but there’s nothing like slowing down, easing into the silence, to help us find and know the presence of God.
Suppose I set aside 10 minutes a day…
Just 10 minutes
to sit down in a quiet place,
apart from others,
to breathe deeply,
to be still…
to know that God is near,
at hand, by my side, in my heart.
Behold the Prophet! No One Escapes! – A reflection on what prophets are really like.
We often like to read from and quote the prophets. But if you’ve ever met a real prophet you know that being in the presence of a real prophet can be very disturbing. Prophets love God’s people, but they love them too much to gainsay the truth.
Prophets were famous for goring every one’s ox. No one left the presence of a prophet untouched.
So troubling were the prophets of old, including Jesus, that most of them were persecuted, jailed, stoned, exiled and killed. Most of the Biblical prophets were beyond controversial, they were way over the top. Prophets denounced sin and injustice in the strongest language, announcing doom to a nation that refused to repent.
How a Little Boy Saved a Catholic School
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has closed down a lot of Catholic schools recently including the elementary school my five children attend. But we’re far from alone.
I was searching around the internet about all the different school closings when I came upon news that St. Cyril’s school in Lansdowne which had been reccomended for closure by the archdiocesan Blue Ribbon commission was now remaining open as a mission school.
I saw the news and couldn’t help but smile.
Five Lessons from Saint Joseph
As the father of a teenager with high-functioning autism, I am sometimes challenged to give my oldest child the focus and patience he needs from me. I frequently feel inadequate when I advise and guide my 11 year old son through the minefields of today’s culture. My loving wife should expect my best efforts as a husband, yet I often feel distracted or too worn out to give her the 100% she deserves. With Father’s Day fast approaching, I have recognized for several weeks that I needed to make a course correction and get back on track.
Melchisedech, Yom Kippur, Manna, and the Paschal Lamb: Figures of the Eucharist
The Church recognizes many and various realities from the Old Testament as figures for Christ’s gift of himself in the Most Holy Eucharist. On the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in the Ordinary Form, the Church read from the book of Exodus – how the people were cleansed and the covenant ratified through animal sacrifice at the foot of Mount Sinai.
In the Extraordinary Form, on the other hand, the Church put before us the figure of the Manna in the desert, through the reading of a passage from the Bread of Life Discourse.
There are so many images and figures for the Eucharist in the Old Testament – the Manna, the bread and wine offered by Melchisedech, the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the Paschal Lamb, etc.! How are we to understand what each of these figures teaches us about the Blessed Sacrament?
On Finding a Holistic Expression of the Church’s Moral Tradition
I just finished reading Ross Douthat’s (pronounced DOW-that) book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. As I have told you before, I highly recommend this to your reading attention. The book is an excellent summary of what has happened to the Christian faith in the last sixty years, especially in this country.
Mr Douthat especially emphasizes how the careful balance of classical Christian orthodoxy tipped and an unbalanced, pick and choose, heresy took its place for most Americans. Hence where things tipped left we got things like liberation theology, the “god-within movements and the syncretizing of Oprah, new age and other odd blends. Where things tipped right we got things like the prosperity gospel, and an odd blend of country worship generally termed, Americanism.
Children Make People Happier
Having children makes you happier.
That’s the conclusion of a team of university researchers from the U.S. and Canada, who looked at data from thousands of couples and concluded that parents are happier than non-parents.
The study flies “directly in the face of conventional opinion,” said Catholic parenting expert Ray Guarendi.