Pastoral Sharings: "Pentecost"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Pentecost Sunday
June 8, 2014 

Pentecost – A Cycle – John 20:19-23  

A violin made by the 17th century Antonio Stradivari 
came on the market in London. It was valued at $7 
million dollars. Two points made it valuable: firstly it’s a 
Stradivari and secondly in 200 years it had been hardly played. The Holy Spirit is our Stradivari. He has restyled us with His graces at Baptism and Confirmation. But we don’t make use of them.  

Everyone Mother Teresa told us is a pencil in God’s hand. But He gets little writing from most of us. We Westerners should blush at today’s Pentecost. Two thousand years ago our ancestors worshipped trees. They attempted to stay warm without fire in damp caves.
 
They hadn’t yet invented the wheel. But this was not the case with the sophisticated people of India, the Middle East, and North Africa. They were lining up by the thousands waiting patiently to be baptized with the Holy Spirit by the Apostles & Co.
 
The Pentecost story comes out of Acts of the Apostles. Its nimble prose is almost a daily history of the early Church. The Acts are a historian’s delight.
 
The word Pentecost is borrowed by us from the Jews. So too are other elements in our Liturgy. We owe much to the Jews and their genius. We even borrowed Jesus from them. If Christians are anti-Semites, they are guilty of short memories.
 
Originally Pentecost was a great Jewish feast. The Jews never took any gift from God for granted. They spent quality time thanking God for the first crops. The holy day was celebrated fifty days after Passover.
 
We celebrate Pentecost fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ. We salute not the appearance of tomatoes in our gardens but rather the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the founding members of Christianity. Today our Christian ancestors were confirmed in the Spirit. The terrible beauty that is the international Church was born. Is there any wonder we shoot off liturgical fireworks at Pentecost?
 
At the point we discuss, the Jesus followers were leaderless. They were scared. They were short on bodies but not brains. They numbered one hundred forty timid souls – the apostles, Mary, and unnamed individuals. This was hardly a group equipped to take over the world. They clung to each other like fly paper. They were in the large room which had been the scene of the Last Supper.
 
It was to these frightened souls the Holy Spirit came with His wagon load of gifts. They discovered that Christianity was not designed to be a do it yourself affair. (Daniel Durkin) In charismatic language, they were slain in the Spirit. They began to feel like super strong people. They found themselves ready to take on the cosmos. They heard each other speaking in foreign tongues. These languages would be their passports to evangelize the world.
 
What happened to them that first Pentecost? Take a glass of clear water. Drop in a few drops of red dye. Ah, red water. A new creation. A few drops of the Holy Spirit into our souls and they became a new creation. A little bit of the Holy Spirit will take us a long way.
The Holy Spirit was already the electricity causing the light to burn but remaining invisible. (Regis Armstrong)
 
The bedlam occurring in the Upper Room was heard. Someone dialed 911 and a mob assembled. It was an international crowd. They watched the freshly confirmed apostles rush from the Upper Room. They spoke in various tongues about Jesus. The Church was jumping into the fast lane. The world would never be the same.
 
Many say, “If the Holy Spirit gave us the same gifts, what a job we’d pull off for Christ! We’d turn our town upside down.” The good news is that we received the same cornucopia of gifts at Baptism and Confirmation. These were our personal Pentecosts. The bad news is that we have never thrown the on switch to use these gifts. Most of them sleep. Think of the Holy Spirit as the generous uncle everyone wants. He loads us down with wonderful gifts at our Baptisms and then doubles the ante at Confirmation.
 
But the gifts become like the Stradivari violin in London. Though increasing in value, they are hardly used.
 
Today is a good day to blow the dust off our spirits and play sweet music. The Spirit will assist us. He is the master of surprises making the impossible possible. He reminds us it does not require great people to do great things – just unselfish ones. (Patricia Opatz) This Pentecost become God’s well worn pencil. Leave your signature on the world.
 
Jesus does not need lawyers. He needs witnesses. (Paul VI)

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Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 8, 2014

Pentecost Sunday, Year A—June 8, 2014
Gospel (Read Jn 20:19-23)
 
Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus surprised the disciples “on the evening of that first day of the week” by appearing in their midst without using a door (locked “for fear of the Jews”). We wonder if He had to calm them down a bit, because He said, twice, “Peace be with you.” We can imagine how startled they were. He showed them His wounds, in case they thought He was a ghost. Then, Jesus gave the apostles an astonishing commission: “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.”
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Solemnity of Pentecost: All Different All One
When I think of  Pentecost Sunday, I have to remember Pentecost of 1984.  I was a young priest then, visiting Rome with my parents.  I was able to assist Pope John Paul II at the solemn Pentecost Mass in St. Peters Basilica. It was just me and the Pope, and about 65 other priests, a dozen or so cardinals, an assortment of bishops and about 10,000 people. Boy did I behave!  There is quite a lot I could tell you about the experience, but what really hit me was the universality of the Church. The  priests who assisted were from all over the world.  The Pope gave his homily in several languages and then confirmed people from all over the world. I was and still am fascinated by the way that we are so different one from the other; yet we are all the same in our faith. 
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Reflections for Pentecost Sunday
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:4)

Today we celebrate that great day when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the apostles. The power of God was on display in a dramatic way as three thousand people accepted the gospel, repented, were baptized, and joined the Church.

What followed was an exciting and continuous display of God’s power. People came together for prayer and the Eucharist. Many were healed of sicknesses or delivered from demons. Some felt compelled to care for the poor, and others, to proclaim the gospel abroad. Despite tensions from within and persecution from without, the Church continued to grow, all because the Spirit was at work.
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The Feast of Pentecost: The Gifts and Charisms of The Holy Spirit
A reflection on the meaning of the Feast of Pentecost and the person, gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit. The Feast of Pentecost, originally the Jewish Feast of weeks commemorating the gift of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai 50 days after the Exodus, was the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out in the Upper Room upon the apostles and other disciples in the form of tongues of fire and a strong wind, fifty days after Easter Sunday, the day marking the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  Pentecost is seen as the birthday of the Church.
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Gift of Piety Fosters Fraternal Solidarity, Pope Says
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis reflected of the gift of piety at his general audience June 4, explaining that it is not just a superficial feeling, but, rather, a religious reality that leads us closer to God and to our neighbor.

“In this sense, piety includes the ability of rejoicing with those who are cheerful and of crying with those who cry, of reaching out to those who are alone or anxious, to correct those who err, to console the afflicted, to care for and help those who happen to be in need,” the Pope told those gathered in St. Peter’s Square June 4.
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Make Christ Present, Wherever You Are
Katharine made her First Holy Communion last Sunday – a momentous event, a holy moment! Naturally, she received some gifts to mark the occasion: A scapular (the plastic bothered her; I’ll get her a cloth one), a child’s Bible, and a beautiful ceramic holy water font. The font clearly caught her fancy, and she asked me that same evening how we could get the “special” water for it.

Fortunately, I already had a small bottle of holy water in the house, so we hung up the font near her bed, filled the reservoir, and then dipped our fingers to bless ourselves. She went to bed very content – happy to have received Jesus in one Sacrament earlier in the day, and then encounter him again in that mini-Sacramental reminder just before sleep.
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A Faith-Filled Heart
Imagine with me now that you are an 18-year-old college freshman and your were just admitted into the hospital. You had awoken earlier, in the middle of the night, with an extremely uncomfortable pain in your arms and chest. You’re now alone, stressed, and scared beyond belief. Finally, after what seems like hours, a doctor walks in and is sporting an awkwardly calming, yet alarming, grin as he shakes your hand and pulls up a chair. He sits down for a moment as he looks at his clip board, then slowly raises his eyes to make contact with yours, and he tells you, “I’m extremely sorry to tell you this, but we have found enzymes in your blood stream that lead us to believe you and your heart are dying.”
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Jesus teaches us not merely how to avoid temptation, but how to be prepared for temptations to come
The battle against temptation in our lives is, of course, an ongoing struggle. Some moments and periods of our life provide more temptation than others, but no day goes by without at least some sort of temptation. While it is important to battle temptation in the moment, it is also important to build ourselves up by grace so that in moments of temptation we can draw on that strength and preparation to more easily win the battle.
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Clothe the Naked: Acknowledging the Need for Human Dignity
Nake is an archaic English word meaning “to strip clothes off.” To be “naked,” therefore, is to be in a state of “having had your clothes stripped off.”

Why does this bit of pedantry matter? Because it speaks volumes about what our ancestors regarded as the natural state of man.
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The Friendship of the Saints
Solomon says, “A faithful friend is the medicine of life and immor­tality”; and he adds the significant words: “They that fear the Lord shall find him.” The Old Testament delights us with the story of the friendship of David and Jonathan. “Jonathan loved David as his own soul”; and David’s love for Jonathan “passed the love of woman.”
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Natural Law and the Heart of Man
Is there anything so wicked as a man trying to silence his  conscience?  It is a willful act that happens in stages: Bit by bit, incident by incident, rationalization by rationalization, the voice of a man’s conscience can be stifled—that still small voice within him eventually becomes fainter, until his heart turns to stone and covers the voice within.
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How to Share the Gospel With People Who Don’t Care
We are in a situation in the West that the Christian church has never experienced before. We have a good news to proclaim, but those who need to hear are deaf.
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Pope Francis Encourages Married Couples
VATICAN CITY — In his June 2 homily, Pope Francis addressed married couples at the Vatican, pointing to fidelity, perseverance and fruitfulness as the three characteristics of authentic Christian love.

Using the fidelity of Christ to sinners as the ultimate example, Pope Francis commented: “It is a faithful love. It is a persevering love. He never tires of loving his Church.”
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The Final Confrontation
“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel….
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If You Can’t Make Daily Mass

Our spiritual lives are centered upon Jesus’ sacrifice, made present in the Eucharist. Probably the majority of us however, have schedules that keep us from attending Mass on a daily basis. It may come as a surprise to learn that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph – and the majority of Jews at the time – found themselves in an analogous situation. They also arrived at an ingenious solution that we can make our own.
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Overcoming Loneliness
Feeling down in the dumps?  Feeling like nobody really understands nor really cares? Feeling dreary, dark and bewildered and confused?  Feeling as if life does not have any real meaning and purpose?  Feel like just throwing in the towel and saying: I have had enough!

St. Ignatius of Loyola would call this a state of desolation. One of the most common manifestations of desolation is that of loneliness—you feel alone in the world and nobody really seems to care about who you are and where you are heading in your life.
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The Double Helix of Faith and Family
Over sixty years ago, in a small laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin, Harry Harlow devised a series of groundbreaking and controversial studies.  Using infant macaque monkeys, Harlow was interested in examining early attachment in order to test theories posited by John Bowlby and others about the importance of love and maternal interaction.  He and his students created two “surrogate mothers.”  One was simply made of wire mesh while the other was covered in cloth.
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Hope for Eternal Joy
You are created to know God, love God and serve God in this life so as to be happy with Him forever in Heaven. Man is created to praise God, reverence God, serve God and by means of this to save his soul.

These concise and clear statements should motivate our thinking, our decisions, and our actions during the whole course of our life. This should be our philosophy of life: heaven. Our life has as its primary purpose to do all we can, at all times, places and circumstances to attain our goal—eternal life in God. May we long for heaven:  “As the deer yearns for the running waters so my soul longs for you my Lord and my God.
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10 Good Reasons to Save Sex Until Marriage
Purity and chastity seem to be virtues that have gone out of fashion. The crisis of values ​​has led many young people to see sex as the center of their dating relationship. Sexually active men are considered “winners” and women “experienced,” while someone who saves him or herself in chastity is taken to be a prude, sexually incapable, or repressed by the Church. However, the reality is completely the opposite. Let’s take a look at 10 reasons to promote sexual abstinence among our youth.
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What Happens When You Don’t Believe in Christ…
…you don’t believe nothing. You’ll believe anything.

I’ll leave the Chesterton fans to quote the exact quote.

Someone else has observed that the rise of rationalism in a society will always bring about more superstition. Another observation was that when sacraments are denied witchcraft starts to be on the rise.
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Do Muslims Worship the Same God Catholics Do?
CCC 841, quoting the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium 16, from Vatican II, declared:

The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.

Some will say this declaration does not indicate Muslims believe in the same God we do because it only says “Muslims… profess to hold the faith of Abraham,” not that they actually do. So what gives?
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Evangelizing Jehovah’s Witnesses
Last month I posted an entry on evangelizing Mormons. I figured it would be appropriate to follow that up with some tips for how to evangelize another group of people you’re likely to meet on your doorstep: Jehovah’s Witnesses. (If you’re unfamiliar with their beliefs click here and here.)
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Why Do So Many Churches Have “First Church of” in their Names?
Reader Nick from New York wrote in to ask, “Why do so many churches have ‘First’ in their names? Why do we rarely see ‘Second’ or ‘Third’ churches?”

The blog at Open Bible did a neat little experiment a few years ago, using a random sample of 300,000 church names to look at some of the naming patterns of churches in the U.S.

Looking at their data, you can see the different branches of Christianity favor their own naming conventions. The Catholics tend to use the names of saints, while some of the Protestant denominations are a little more straightforward and descriptive, and often use their location and the order they were founded in their names. That is, the “First Baptist Church of [Town]” got that name because it was the first Baptist church founded in that area.
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Pastoral Sharings: "Seventh Sunday of Easter"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Seventh Sunday of Easter
June 1, 2014 

Seventh Sunday of Easter – A Cycle – John 17:1-11

Abraham Lincoln won over more people to his cause by
his death than he would have had there been no 
assassination. Begin with Edwin Stanton, his Secretary of 
War. Early in his administration, Stanton had sneeringly referred to him as “that giraffe.” But immediately after the president’s murder, Stanton blubbered tearfully, “There lies the greatest ruler…the world has ever seen.”
 
Your personal radar should be warning you that today you are walking into awesome country. For this is the only Gospel where the Teacher names Himself “Jesus Christ.”
 
Jesus has eaten sparingly. Still He reluctantly pushes away from the table in that famous Upper Room that Thursday eve. You would be reluctant too if you knew what the next day was offering. The Last Supper is history. Surrounded by His well-fed guests, He walks out into the air. The clever John sets the scene by telling us the Master raises His eyes to the heavens. Then, under the starry, starry night, He begins what has come to be known in history as the priestly prayer. As you listen to Him speak to His Father, you fear that you are listening to a conversation that was meant to be private.
 
In the first five verses, He prays for Himself. And, in the balance of today’s Gospel, He prays for His colleagues. They are shuffling restlessly about Him and thinking only of an after-dinner cognac, a Havana cigar, and a good night’s sleep.
 
At this point, Jesus is the King who must die. Yet, He says, “Father…glorify your Son that your Son may glorify you.” What is this all about? How could He be so upbeat?
 
It is one of the strange paradoxes of history that death is often the entrance into glory. (William Barclay) As it was with Lincoln, so too it is with Christ. Matthew 27:54 tells us that the Centurion on Calvary was overwhelmed by the majesty of the death he had just witnessed. And there burst out of him that eternal one-liner, “Clearly this was the Son of God!” And, as it was for the nameless Centurion, so it remains for you and me almost 2000 years after the fact. “In hoc signo, vinces.”
 
Erase Good Friday and you would have to put the glory of Easter Sunday in the back of the file cabinet. Yet some in each century insist on removing the cross from Christianity. But what do they end up with? A la carte choosings from the message of Jesus: a sample of this and a sample of that. Many Christians are not able to see the redemptive value in suffering. In time of difficulties, they are deprived of a model to emulate. God is neglected and a false god embraced for one’s own fulfillment and kicks. Stripping Christianity of the cross prompts the question, “Where’s the beef?”
   
“I have…finished the work that you gave me to do.” Once Christ had finished that celebrated supper, He could have rolled up His sleeping bag and retreated north on a long fishing holiday to the Sea of Galilee. Not even the Father would have gotten in His way to ask, “Quo vadis?” Yet, had He listened to His fears and exited the programmed crucifixion, you and I would never have known just how much God was willing to expend for us. The Son freely walked into a horrendous murder. Cannot even the dullest among us guess at the love God has for everyone of us? And, as the Christ stayed the course, so also must we.
   
“Eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God.” To know the only true God means much, much more than knowing Him with one’s brainpan. It is to know Him with heart and the spirit. Sigmund Freud wrote, “In small matters trust the mind but in the large ones the heart.” Thanks to Christ, we know that God is not playing the recluse on us. Quite the contrary! He is very definitely within our reach and touch. Is it possible that the Teacher could have been more graphic and blunt in His language? I think not.
    
I attended a grammar school concert. The man next to me told me his son was singing in the choir. “Wait till you hear him.” The concert began. The choir was made up of eighty boys and girls. The father asked, “Doesn’t he sing beautifully?” I of course could not hear the boy, but I was certain his father could. God is the same with ourselves. Though we are all part of a huge chorus that makes up the six billion plus people in the world, He is able to hear each of us as though we were singing solo.

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 1, 2014

The Ascension of Our Lord, Year A—June 1, 2014
Gospel (Read Mt 28:16-20)

Today’s Gospel records the end of Jesus’ forty days of post-Resurrection appearances and teaching. The account of what actually happened during those days is quite spare. We know that although Jesus appeared to His friends, His relationship with them was not as it had been before. He appeared and disappeared. He was often not immediately recognizable. Things had changed. As we work our way through today’s readings, we see that an even bigger change was about to take place.
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Homily for the Seventh Sunday in Easter
Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, my reward with me.

Jesus, who this past Thursday Ascended into Heaven, is coming soon back to us. On Pentecost Sunday He will come into the hearts of the disciples in the Upper Room, bringing them “His reward”, the Holy Spirit, with Him.

(St. Paul, incidentally, calls the Holy Spirit the “down payment” of that reward given to all who follow Jesus in this life. On judgment day, Jesus will “pay in full” each person according to his or her deeds.)
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Ascension – What’s in it for Me?
The celebration of the Ascension used to leave me a bit flat.  It was clear what Good Friday did for me.  And Easter Sunday’s benefits were indisputable.  But as for the Ascension, what’s in it for me?

Christianity is about a kind of love we call agape or charity.  It is love that looks away from itself to another and gives itself away for another.  The Divine Word did not become man or endure the cross because something was in it for Him.
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Solemnity of the Ascension: Loneliness and the Presence
There were only eleven of them, eleven disciples.  Judas had betrayed the Lord. Matthias had not yet been chosen.  So just eleven men went to Galilee following the message Jesus had given to them on Easter Sunday through  Mary Magdalen.  They were told to meet Jesus on the mountain in Galilee.   What were they thinking when they climbed that mountain?  Were they thinking about Moses who climbed Mt. Sinai to receive God’s covenant of the Ten Commandments? Perhaps they were thinking about Elijah who climbed that same mountain, only called Horeb.
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Christ’s Resurrection Unites Us,Pope Proclaims at Ecumenical Celebration
JERUSALEM — At an ecumenical celebration in Jerusalem during his visit to the region, Pope Francis told interdenominational Christians that the risen Christ unites them all in a message of hope for the world.

“Each of us, everyone baptized in Christ, has spiritually risen from this tomb, for in baptism, all of us truly became members of the body of the One who is the firstborn of all creation,” Pope Francis said. 
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5 Ways the Eucharist Erases the Original Sin
In that seemingly dismal specter that was Golgotha, the Church has always seen hints of the Garden of Eden.

Just as the entire human race sinned and died in Adam, so also all were redeemed and restored to new life, St. Paul writes (Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15). Taking its cue from St. Paul, the Church has drawn further parallels. Just as Christ was a second Adam, so also Mary was a second Eve. And just as a tree was once the scene of so much sin, a tree (the cross) became the source of so much grace. Each figure or element from the Genesis account is annulled by a greater reality in the gospels, so the thinking goes.
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The Ascension: To Be Continued
A good story will typically end nicely, bringing everything to a neat conclusion—perhaps with the words “And they lived happily ever after.” So it would make sense for the Gospel — the greatest story ever told — to end the same way: Christ returns home to His Father and “They live happily ever after.”
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Following the Footsteps of the Fisherman
Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land carries enormous significance as the heir of St. Peter. In a real sense, the successor of St. Peter is returning to his roots with this visit to the Holy Land. He is going back to where it all began, and he will be the first successor of St. Peter to offer the Eucharist in the Cenacle, the upper room where the Apostles celebrated the Last Supper with Jesus and where they gathered to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit until Pentecost.
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Our Journey Back to God
Three Jehovah Witnesses visited our seminary a few days ago. In the course of our discussion, they offered me a complementary (but unsolicited) copy of their magazine. The front page had a picture of a happy looking family, with the sun shining brightly in the background, a beautiful water fall behind them, some animals in the background, beautiful well-kept green lawns and many children praying and laughing. One of them said to me, “This is what paradise will be like.” I mentioned that I never heard of a paradise here on earth. He told me that after the Resurrection, only the faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses will be saved from eternal annihilation and reside forever on Paradise earth.
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Spiritual Combat: A Call to Arms
Perhaps one of the greatest temptations in the Catholic life is that of complacency. We go through the motions, attending Mass on Sunday and maybe going to a parish program or two, but the Faith never really penetrates deep into our souls. It remains a superficial reality; just another thing to do in our comfortable, civilized lives.
 
We love to complain about the problems in the Church—rending our garments over this bad bishop or this corrupt priest. We ask: Where are the saints of the modern Church? Where are the holy men and women who can be shining lights in this dark world? We lament the state of things, never realizing that it is us that God has called to be saints. It is we who must strive for sanctity as if our life depended on it—because it does.
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How to Deal with Past Sins
We all know that Peter was the first pope. What we often forget is that Peter was also a terrible sinner. I can think of at least five times in the Gospels where Peter messed up, but the time that he denied Jesus was the absolute worst.
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The Battle of Prayer
Prayer is a powerful source of grace and the mother of all virtue but the Catechism acknowledges that prayer is a battle. The Gospel is the story of spousal love and prayer is a means of communicating that love. Love is a necessary catalyst for persevering in prayer.
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I Was An Atheist Without Hope in Life. Then I Tried Praying
From the darkness of panic attacks, depression, and disordered anxieties, God brought me healing and faith through the Catholic Church.

Life-long Christians have trouble understanding what it must be like to be an atheist. And life-long atheists are similarly puzzled by how anyone could be gullible enough to believe in Jesus. I’ve seen both sides and got to tell my story on The Journey Home.
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Pope Francis’s Third Way
“You’re between a rock and a hard place!” one says when faced with a seemingly unsolvable dilemma. This weekend Pope Francis was not so much stuck between a rock and a hard place, as stuck between one wall and another.
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The Saints & Overcoming Boredom
It is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.  Romans 13:11

One of the most important conversions in the history of the Church occurred partially as the result of a problem that most of us have faced: boredom. It’s the story of the founder of the Jesuits: St. Ignatius of Loyola.
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What Is Truth? Part I
There is truth and there is the truth.

First a little story. A man is a first time passenger on a great ocean liner of infamy. After some loud noises, the massive ship begins to drastically list. Fear begins to enter into the heart of the man, who is concerned for his family and all the other souls on board. He spies a presumably knowledgeable ranking officer on the deck and puts the question to him. “Sir, the ship is listing badly. Are we all going to drown?” With indifference, the officer says truthfully “I assure you, we will ALL not drown.” So the man thanks the officer and runs off to tend to his family. Within a few hours, the man and his family are dead in the freezing ocean. Being dead, it is difficult to ascertain whether the man is comforted by the fact that the Ship’s officer technically told him the truth.
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Preserving the ‘vital sources of our humanity’
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput
A week after arriving in Philadelphia in 2011, I got an email from a very persuasive student inviting me to speak at his school – the University of Pennsylvania. I said yes, and I’m glad I did. It was my first taste of our city’s many excellent universities and colleges, from Villanova and St. Joe’s, to Neumann, La Salle, Holy Family, Immaculata and others.
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Why It’s Okay to be Against Heresy and for Imposing One’s Will on Others
Recently, two prominent Catholic women—Kathleen Sebelius in an address to the graduates of Georgetown University’s public policy school, and Maureen Dowd in a column published in the New York Times—delivered strong statements about the Church’s role in civil society. Dowd’s column was more or less a screed, while Sebelius’s address was relatively measured in tone. Yet both were marked by some pretty fundamental misunderstandings, which have, sadly, become widespread.
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Why Holy Water?
Q: A Protestant friend came with me to Mass last Sunday and asked about the Holy Water fonts and why we make the sign of the cross with it when we enter and leave the Church. What answer would you give to her?
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Do Catholics Worship Statues?
When I was a Protestant I wondered why Catholics had so many statues of saints in their churches. There were two problems. First, I had been raised to believe that carved images were wrong because they broke the commandment “you shall not make to yourself any graven image.” Second, I was told that Catholics worshipped the saints, and sure enough, when I went into a Catholic church I saw people kneeling down and praying in front of the statues.
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Stories of Success
My seven year old son hung his head low as he walked off of the baseball diamond after his game.  I asked him what was wrong, and he said, “this is our third game, and I still haven’t gotten on base.” My immediate reaction was sympathy, followed quickly by a sense of failure as a dad.  If I had been out practicing hitting more with my son, he would be better.  If I had limited his time with video games, he would be more athletic.  If I had been more focused, he would be more focused.  If I would have pushed, he would have succeeded.
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What Makes A Perfect Priest?
What are the qualities that make a good priest, and how can the Catholic community find the young men who possess these qualities? The experience of recent decades shows that the opinions of psychologists and even clergy have not always proven the best guide. Why not go to the source: the perceptions of the parents themselves?
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Protestantism is Subjective, Catholicism is Objective
Please note: When I address the differences between Catholics and Protestants, I am addressing doctrinal issues; I am not judging anyone’s personal holiness or love for Christ.

Once upon a time, five hundred years ago, a group of Christians broke away from the Catholic Church in protest, declaring that the Bible was a Christian’s only legitimate authority. Without an authoritative Church, each protesting (i.e., Protestant) Christian was now able to interpret the Bible himself, as Protestants believe God intended.

However, this new paradigm of each Christian interpreting Scripture for himself means that there are as many interpretations of Scripture as there are Protestants. As you can imagine, this leads to a host of problems for a religion that exists to proclaim Truth.
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Pastoral Sharings: "Sixth Sunday of Easter"

WeeklyMessage  Homily from Father James Gilhooley
  Sixth Sunday of Easter
  May 25, 2014 

  Sixth Sunday of Easter – A Cycle – John 14:15-21
 
   A sailboat got caught in heavy seas. A rogue wave
  flipped the boat over. The heavy keel righted the boat, 
  but there was heavy damage. A SOS brought the Coast 
  Guard (CG). The seas were so rough the CG ship could not rescue the crew. So, it placed itself as close as it could to the sailboat. The CG protected the sailboat from the brunt of the 10 foot waves. Finally they made port.

The Holy Spirit plays the same relation to us. He takes the brunt of our troubles. He not only lives inside us but also He walks beside us. He brings us into port. (Unknown)

Jesus in this Gospel told the apostles the extraordinary statement He would not leave them orphans.

The setting was the Last Supper. He had announced His impending departure. The twelve were wiped out. The Christ had to lift His people off the floor and put them back on their soft cushions. He promised to continue His presence with them through a Helper. He would serve as their eternal Deus ex machina. The Helper would be the Holy Spirit.

Jesus in John’s Gospel uses the Greek word menein forty times. It translates as abide or remain or stay. He remains with us through the Holy Spirit or Parakletos.

Parakletos is a tough word to translate into English. A popular translation is Comforter. That term is traced to the fourteenth century English reformer, John Wycliff. (William Barclay)

The word does a disservice to the Third Person of the Trinity. A comforter is understood as one who stands about waiting till we fall on our faces. Then he slips us chocolate with a sympathy card and tells us, “No problem.” The Spirit will do that. But His role as Dutch uncle is but a small part of His assignment.

The Parakletos is one who will be right next to us on our journey as a companion, even a buddy. He will support us so that we seldom fall on our faces. He will be our Knight Protector. It is the Spirit who will lead the rescuing cavalry when we find ourselves surrounded by the bad guys. Much of our lives we looked for God in the momentous while He’s been waiting in the moment. (Michael Yaconelli) Waiting patiently for us in the moment is the Holy Spirit.

Many college students I worked with said, “I just can’t cope any longer.” I told them that I found myself in similar situations often. But then I took ten, sipped a cup of hazelnut coffee, and prayed to the Parakletos.

And, more often than not, what had been a stressful situation eased off and sometimes disappeared entirely. I told them I was falling back on that wonderful promise of Jesus, “I will not leave you orphans.” In many areas, I am a Bible-belt fundamentalist. I hold Jesus to all His promises. I expect the Holy Spirit to deliver. He is a legal and healthy steroid. I am seldom disappointed.

But I did emphasize for the students that the Helper is not a party crasher. He waits for an invitation. Then He will come and ring our bell loudly with His elbow. His hands will be filled with gifts. They are outlined in the Scriptures. He leads us into truth (Jn 16:13.) He guarantees we are God’s children (Rom 8:16). He helps us pray (Rom 8:26). He offers us hope (Rom 15:13). He empowers us to help other believers (1 Cor 12:4). He aids us to be another Christ (2 Cor 3:18). He gives us spiritual muscle (2 Cor 3:18). (Barclay)

However, He expects that we will join our physical bulk, intellectual energy, and the gifts He has already given to us at Baptism and Confirmation to His new gifts.

The Parakletos is summed up well in these lyrical words. Eternally the Holy Spirit is love between the Father and the Son but historically the Holy Spirit is love between God and the world. (Daniel Durkin)

The Church’s historical record over two millennia shows that Jesus did not pull the legs of the apostles. He did not leave them orphans. Nor do people of faith accept that the promise has gone somewhere into limbo in the contemporary Church.

Moving about post-Christian Europe, I met many young Christians. They were working for the Gospel in almost hopeless situations. Yet, each of them assured me, “The Holy Spirit will think of something.” None of them showed fear. They were serene. The Spirit had much to do with that serenity. They had not forgotten the promise of Jesus. They did not feel orphans. They are a “creative minority.” (Benedict XVI) Their main advocate, the Holy Spirit, stands before them like an unconquerable mountain. 

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
May 25, 2014

Sixth Sunday of Easter
Gospel John 14: 15 – 21

This Gospel is part of what is known as the Last Supper Discourse. They had a difficulty understanding this when they heard it before the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. We hear it, not only after these events, but also after both the Ascension and Pentecost. We also have two thousand years of Christianity behind us that provides us with the reflections, teachings and experiences of the presence of the Triune God in our lives and the life of the Church.
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Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A—May 18, 2014
Gospel (Read Jn 14:15-21)

Today we continue in Jesus’ Last Supper Discourse with the Twelve. He is speaking forthrightly to His friends about an imminent change in their three-year jaunt with the itinerant Teacher. Here we discover the dramatic difference between Jesus and all other teachers who came before or after Him. It is the singular distinction of Christianity, separating it from all the religions or philosophies the world has ever known. Jesus simply tells His apostles that Someone Else is coming.
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Holy Spirit – The Paraclete
He wore steel rimmed glasses and had hair to the middle of his back.  The fringe on his buck-skinned jacket bounced as he walked.

At least that was the way I was accustomed to seeing Mike as he bopped around town.  It was just a few years after Woodstock, and we were all taken with hippie culture.  It seemed so free, so new, so exciting.

But that day at the entrance of the mall, I scarcely recognized him.  His hair was cut and his clothing conventional.  He was passing out tracts and spoke to me of the Holy Spirit.  I scratched my head and vaguely remembered some talk about the Holy Spirit in confirmation class.   But I had to admit that I really did not know much about this third person of the Blessed Trinity.
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Sixth Sunday of Easter: As Good as the Christian Samaritans
They were the people that everyone hated.  They were the Samaritans.  The Romans and Greeks and other gentiles hated them because they saw them as just another group of Jews, only ones who could not benefit the empire much.  The Jews hated them because they saw the Samaritans as half-breeds.  The Jews believed that the Samaritans had polluted blood, part gentile and part Jew.
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Obedience and the Christian Life
There is no way around it: the Christian’s life is to be one of obedience. “Let him who has ears to hear, hear,” says Jesus. That does not mean that we are beholden only to God, under our own understanding of who God is and what He wants from us. God in His mercy does not abandon us to our vagaries. He chooses to save persons through persons, says Saint Edith Stein, recommending, for progress in the spiritual life, that we seek a director, and heed the person’s advice; and this wisdom holds even for people who by the grace of God have advanced beyond where their directors are. Jesus did not found a club of like-minded individuals. He founded a Church, and said to Peter and the apostles, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” If men reject you, said Jesus, they reject Him.
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Christ In Us Through the Rosary
To linger in the domain of Mary is a divinely great thing. One does not ask about the utility of truly noble things, because they have their meaning within themselves. So it is of infinite meaning to draw a deep breath of this purity, to be secure in the peace of this union with God.

With this we come back to what we said in the beginning. Man needs a place of holy tranquility that the breath of God pervades and where he meets the great figures of the Faith. This place is the inaccessibility of God Himself, which only Christ opens to man.
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Spiritual Powerhouse: Mary’s Rosary
The Rosary is principally composed of the Prayer of Christ, the Our Father, and the Angelic Salutation, the Hail Mary. In his 2002 apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (On the Most Holy Rosary), Pope John Paul II develops this dynamic further:
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What does Jesus Mean by the Fire of Hell?
In the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours (in the Office of Readings) we are getting close to the great culmination of the Book of Revelation, when the victorious Christ is united with his bride forevermore. Just prior to this great victory is the casting down of Satan into fiery hell and the sealing over of the great abyss.
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Even Jesus Sometimes said “No.”
One of the struggles that many Christians experience is that the needs around us are so great, yet we are limited, both in personal strength and resources. Lurking in the back of our minds is the notion that whatever the problem, Jesus would always help and therefore we should too. But is it always wrong to say “No” when there is need?
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‘He Will Bring Hope’
JERUSALEM — In a whirlwind three-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Francis will visit Jordan, Palestine and Israel, bringing a message of hope, peace and reconciliation to a region troubled by conflict.

The impending visit has encouraged Christians in the Holy Land, who are looking forward to the Holy Father’s journey.
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5 Old Testament Models for How to Live
How can one be a faithful Christian amidst a godless culture?

It’s a question that presses upon us today with renewed urgency. But it is not a new question. It is one that confronted the earliest Christians in the waning years of the Roman Empire. St. Augustine tackled the issue in his magnum opus, The City of God. Centuries later, great saints like St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thomas Aquinas were still grappling with it.
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How Contemporary Physics Points to God
Does modern physics provide evidence for the existence of God? This article presents a general overview of the answer to that question (a more thorough treatment may be found in my recent book, New Proofs for the Existence of God). I will divide the topic into three parts:

1. Can Science Give Evidence of Creation and Supernatural Design?
2. What is the Evidence for a Beginning and What are the
    Implications for Creation?
3. What is the Evidence of Supernatural Intelligence from Anthropic
    Fine-Tuning?
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The Search for Unity: A look at the 1,000-year-old divide between the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic churches — and what’s being done to bring them back together
“Hail East and West, for whom both we fight and from both we are fought!”                              — St. Gregory the Theologian

In 2011, I published “Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity” (University of Notre Dame Press, $38). There I tackled what serious observers describe as the one final substantial hurdle to unity between the Orthodox and Catholic Church: the role of the pope. The picture on the front cover features a beaming Pope Benedict XVI and beaming Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, arms united upward as though in victory salute at the latter’s church in Constantinople during a visit in 2006.
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Holy Interfaith, Pope Francis!
Why is Pope Francis going to the Holy Land accompanied by a Jew and a Muslim?

Is he saying all religions are equal? Is he proposing that all religions are simply different paths up the same mountain? Is he watering down the Catholic faith, compromising to appease Jews and Muslims and present a peaceful face where there is no peace?

No.
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To Say You Love Jesus but Do Not Love His Body the Church is Rude And Destroys Your Claim to Really Love Him
Q: My daughter says she loves Jesus but just doesn’t like the Church (for lots of reasons). She doesn’t see any problem with this and doesn’t think going to Church is necessary. Is there anything I can say to her? – Name withheld, via email.

A: The Church is the Body of Christ (cf Col 1:8; 1 Cor 12:27; Rom 12:4-6). Hence to declare love for Jesus but disdain for His body is inauthentic. We cannot have Jesus without His Body.
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What is the Goal of the Catholic Church?
Why did Christ establish one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church?

Why did the eternal Son of God become incarnate of the Virgin Mary, call the Twelve, establish them on the rock that is Peter, give them the power to proclaim his Kingdom and even to absolve sins, and empower them with the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth? In other words, why did Jesus ascend into the heavens and leave his Church to finish the mission?
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“How is Your Soul?” — A Reflection on Spiritual Motherhood
Spiritual motherhood is a topic that more people are becoming aware of within the Catholic Church. Around the United States, retreats and conferences include this subject and new groups are forming to implement its practices.  Spiritual motherhood is about caring and self-giving. It is other-focused. Recessed in the nooks and crannies of our daily lives, if we open our eyes, we discover people who need spiritual nurturing, affirmation, and guidance, and don’t receive it.  This is spiritual motherhood, and it isn’t only for a biological mothers.
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Doing What Christ Has Done
                     “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do.”

Does Jesus really mean these words? How can we, weak and sinful as we are, ever dare to do what Christ has done and even imagine that we can do greater works than He has done? Can we hope to transform the lives of others, give hope to many, be obedient to the Father’s will even to the point of death on the Cross, forgive those who hurt us, serve all people selflessly, love God and others without counting the cost, and speak the truth with courage no matter the consequences?
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Prophecy, Prophets and Priests
Prophecy, for the most part, has a paranormal connotation.  It implies the reception of knowledge by an individual that has predictive qualities infused by an unnatural source. Because of this understanding it is often ignored by the mainstream. It is deemed to be esoteric and often relegated to fringes of society. This is unfortunate, because legitimate prophecy builds on charismatic leadership and natural philosophy, and lastly depends on supernatural inspiration.
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Evangelization in the Work Place
The very title of this column may scare you off, but bear with me and you may find the topic less daunting than you fear.

God has brought us into this world to prepare us all for everlasting joy with him in Heaven. This eternity of bliss, however, is intended not just for you or me, but for as many as possible. So a large part of our mission here on earth is to share our faith with family, friends, and all those put in our path on the road to everlasting glory. And that includes those outside the home that we may spend much of our waking hours with, those in the workplace.
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.Soldiers lay down weapons for rosaries as they pray, pay homage to Mary
LOURDES, France (CNS) — It looked like any other military parade with bands playing, flags waving and thousands of men and women marching in colorful uniforms decorated with medals and ribbons.

But instead of impressive displays of tanks and trucks, troops from dozens of nations fell in line behind religious banners, a large wooden cross and a rose-strewn statue of Mary. Candles and rosaries — not weapons or rifles — were held aloft in soldiers’ hands.
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When Satan Pulls Wool Over Our Eyes
Distilling some of the ideas in my book on Thomistic angelology, I published a previous column in Crisis on the massive intelligence and powers of angels. The flip-side of these spiritual faculties, as Aquinas points out, is the existence of a dark kingdom, using the same intelligence and power to prevent the spread of God’s kingdom, get more recruits, and consolidate the powers of evil in the world. In Luke 4:7, Satan declares that power over the kingdoms of the world have been delivered to him, and he offers Jesus a share in this power, if only Jesus would worship him; Jesus avoids the temptation, but does not contradict Satan’s claim of power.
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The Right to Do Wrong
Robert R. Reilly’s new book, Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything, is about Nature, understood as that telos towards which every created thing seeks its perfection.

It’s also about sodomy, which behavior is clearly unnatural, and – as Reilly carefully, meticulously proves – it was always considered so. Look to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle – Greeks, of course, whose culture is often (wrongly) portrayed as homophile – all of whom condemned sodomy as disordered.
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Pastoral Sharings: "Fifth Sunday of Easter"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 18, 2014 

Fifth Sunday of Easter – A Cycle – John 14:1-12 

A man passed a funeral parlor. In the window stood a sign 
“WHY WALK AROUND HALF DEAD WHEN WE CAN
  BURY YOU FOR FIFTY DOLLARS?” If we are half dead 
Christians, we should enlist with Jesus. He who said, “I am the Way!” will recharge us with His spiritual cables and get us into the fast lane.  

Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged in 1945 by the Nazis. Before his execution, he told a fellow prisoner, “This is the beginning of a new life.” Said the prisoner, a British officer, “Dietrich knew the WAY he was going.”  

A poet wrote that you do not know the meaning of a person’s life until he is dead. Is that true of everyone? I think not. But it was true of the Christ and His servant, Dietrich. It could be true of us yet.  

Today’s chapter 14 begins the farewell address of Jesus to His troops. The theme of today’s Gospel is to pick up the sagging morale of His followers. Jesus had informed them that one of them would betray Him. The apostles must have gone into shock at the news of a mole among them. Their small world was turning upside down. They needed a spiritual tranquilizer in super milligram range. Christ was offering it to them. He was not done with them yet.  

We owe that blunt apostle Thomas much. The Master said, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas, who must have been a hot pistol to handle even for Christ, bought none of it. “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How do we know the way?” Thomas wanted a heavily marked AAA roadmap as well as road flares. His doubts provoked Jesus to say, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Just eight words but arguably the most important words spoken in the 5000 years of recorded history.  

That line rang like a loud bell in the ears of Thomas and his friends. It still so sounds in the 21st century.  

Thomas a Kempis wrote in the 15th century, “Without the Way, there is no going. Without the Truth, there is no knowing. Without the Life, there is no living.”  

Note what the Master did not say. He did not say, “I am a Way, a form of Truth, and a way of Life.” (Unknown) He would not support the pick and choose Catholicism which is popular among us. I am speaking of a smorgasbord Gospel. “I’ll take the Beatitudes but not the Eucharist.” But CS Lewis said, “Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance and, if true, is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”  

If you’re a cafeteria Catholic, you have started your own religion. You’ll have competition, though. There is a new religion starting every five days.  

What a pity so hard on the heels of Jesus come the Christians. (Annie Dillard) A popular T-shirt reads, “Jesus, save us from your followers.” 

Christ’s remarkable statement was clearly on the record as unqualified. Had it been otherwise, it is unlikely John, today’s author, would have recorded the line for posterity. Indeed John might not have stayed around. Evidence shows he could have made a good living as a writer.  

Goethe in the 19th century shouted something we can identify with. “When I go to listen to a preacher, I want to hear of his certainties, not of his doubts. Of the latter I have enough of my own.”  

I was in Boston. I was lost. I asked a man for directions. He confused me. I asked another and he said, “Follow me and I’ll show you the way.” The man had become my guide. I relaxed. Happily for us, Jesus is our guide. He does not give directions in hundreds of words. Nor does He say, “You can’t miss it.” Rather, He informs us confidently that He is the way. More to the point, He says, “Follow me. I’ll show you the fast way.”  

Professors have said to us, “I have taught you the truth as I understand it.” But no professor was so presumptuous to say, “I am the Truth.” None except One and that is the reason we come here today to worship Him. So we pray the 86th Psalm, “Teach me thy way, O Lord, and I will walk in thy truth.” Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Einstein, great thinkers all, were, like us, confused. They sought the truth. But Jesus is the truth. Big difference that.  

The University of Rostock in Germany has chiseled above its main entrance for all students to read: “Many theories but one truth.”

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
May 18, 2014

Fifth Sunday of Easter
John 14: 1-12

In the gospel of St. John Jesus makes a series of powerful symbolic statements, each of which begins with the famous words “I am”, in which he likens himself to various images and things which illustrate some dimension of his person and mission; for example, “I am the bread of life”, “I am the light of the world”, and “I am the good shepherd”. In today’s gospel reading from the fourteenth chapter of St. John, he says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”.
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Fifth Sunday of Easter: How Do I Get There?
How do I get there from here?  That question used to be part of every car trip to an unfamiliar place, at least when the wife got her way and the husband asked for directions.  About twenty  years ago, a newly married couple from the parish invited me to dinner.  I took down their address, but these were the days before everyone had some sort of a GPS system and everyone had a cell phone.  I had neither at the time.  And I got lost, roaming around developments for an hour and a half and terribly upsetting the young lady and her husband.
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Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A—May 18, 2014
Gospel (Read Jn 14:1-14)

Today’s reading comes in the context of the Last Supper Discourse (Jn 13-17), when Jesus speaks to the Twelve more directly than we have yet seen. His hour has almost arrived; the time for parables is over. The apostles understand that one of them will betray Jesus. They are deeply disturbed. Twice in the preceding chapter Jesus unsettles them with these words: “Where I am going, you cannot come” (Jn 13:33, 36). Now, Jesus seeks to comfort them.
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I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life — What does Jesus Christ mean when he says this John 14:1-12?  Are there not many  paths to God, many truths? 
“As long as you believe in God and try to be a good person, your religion doesn’t matter.”  “There are different paths up the same mountain, but they all lead to the peak.”

How many times have you heard people speak this way?  This is the prevailing wisdom.  It’s politically correct.  Tolerant.  Reasonable.

But it’s wrong.  Jesus has the nerve to say “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father but by me.”
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Strengthen Your Adoration In Christ
All Christians know that God became man for us. Not all, however, realize that He did more than this. Not only did He become one of us; He willed also to make each one of us a part of Himself. In addition to the mystery of the In­carnation, there is the mystery of Incorporation. We are incorporated into the person of Christ.
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Be meek, open to joy, newness offered by the Holy Spirit, pope says
Christians who are too serious and gloomy have the Holy Spirit missing from their lives, Pope Francis said.

Be meek and open to the Spirit and don’t fight the joy and unexpected newness he brings, the pope said May 13 during his early morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
People who think they can and do know everything won’t be able to understand God, he said in his homily, according to a report by Vatican Radio.
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Complete Joy
A reflection on today’s Sacred Scripture:

“I have told you this so that My joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” (John15:11)

Complete joy sounds unattainable in today’s world; after all, who really has it? People do. Jesus says it’s ours if we remain in His love by keeping His Commandments.
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Just a little while longer…” A Meditation on the brevity and urgency of life
There is a passage in John 16 that is unusual for its repetition. This past Sunday it was the assigned Gospel in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The expression “in a little while” is repeated seven times in the brief passage. In fact, its repetition is almost to the point of being annoying, such that the reader is tempted to say, “Alright, already! I get it! In a little while!” But obviously John, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit want to drill this into us. The “little while” of this passage is seemingly a critical perspective for us to lay hold of.
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Pope Francis Says Fortitude Not Just for Extraordinary Circumstance
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis spoke on the gift of fortitude during his weekly general audience address on Wednesday, May 14, explaining that it helps us to remain faithful not only with the big things, but also in our daily activities.

“We shouldn’t think this gift is only for extraordinary circumstances,” the Pope noted Wednesday, because, “for most of us, the gift of fortitude is exercised in our patient pursuit of holiness in the circumstances of our daily lives.”
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Well Said: Best explanation of the Trinity I’ve ever seen
Of course, when I say “best explanation” I’m talking about helping me actually get a handle at all on what the Trinity is. Who better for that than C.S. Lewis? No one, right?
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Our Lady’s Request: Pray for the Dying!
Today is the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal. It is also the anniversary of the assassination attempt on Pope St. John Paul II, when Our Lady of Fatima intervened at what seemed the moment of his death to save his life.

This is fitting as Our Lady at Fatima appealed to us to assist those at the moment of their death, those in most need of mercy. More than 150,000 people die each day, which is 6250 an hour!
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.Don’t Turn Your Back on Fatima
Did you hear the true story of the Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors? Fr. Hubert Schiffer, SJ and at least four other Jesuits were living in quarters eight blocks away from the epicenter of the bomb. They miraculously survived the bomb blast and Fr. Schiffer lived for at least fifty more years without a trace of radioactive side effects. Fr. Schiffer attributes the miracle in his own words as related by Fr. Paul Ruge O.F.M.I, “We believe that we survived because we lived the message of Fatima. We lived and prayed the rosary daily in that home.”
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The Rosary & Mary’s Jewish Prayer Life
When I ponder what it means for Mary to be the mother of God incarnate, one of the most astounding aspects is the role she played in shaping Jesus’s human prayer. Yes, in the heights of His soul Jesus beheld the Father as clearly as the angels in heaven; but as a child, “He learns the formulas of prayer from his mother. . .He learns to pray in the words and rhythms of the prayer of his people” (CCC 2599). 
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Miracles Do Happen
I believe in miracles, in big ones and in small ones. God is still alive and well on planet earth. He still cares for us and also cares for what matters to us. He hears our cries. He knows our desires. He sees our needs. He wants to heal us and make us whole. As for us, we just hope he answers us in the way we want, but that’s not always the way He works. God’s ways are higher than our ways and He always knows what is best. So, even though we might pray for miracles in our lives and in the lives of others, they may not come with the answers we expect. Sometimes we receive more than we thought and sometimes the answer given was entirely different and totally unexpected.
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Spiritual Armor: Godly Relationships
At a teaching conference for the formation of priests and their teams working in the Church’s ministry of healing, deliverance and exorcism, an experienced exorcist shared a tragic story of how a young woman became fully possessed by demonic spirits. She had become estranged from her family and alienated from friends through a series of losses and broken relationships. Overwhelmed with loneliness and full of despair, one night she sank onto her bathroom floor and cried out from the depths of her desolate heart, “Is there is anyone out there who will be my friend?” Here, a very desperate, isolated girl opened a doorway and sent an invitation into the very real spirit world that surrounds us all. Fallen angels, demons, were quick to seize the opportunity to enter into a “relationship” with this poor soul.
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A Journey to Heaven, Hell and Purgatory – After a near-fatal motorcycle crash 30 years ago, priest said guardian angel showed him the afterlife
Father Jose Maniyangat is a priest in good standing in the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida. He is an associate pastor at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Orange Park, a suburb of Jacksonville. He is the diocesan spiritual director for the Legion of Mary. And, with the blessing of Bishop Felipe Estévez, he leads a Eucharistic and charismatic healing ministry  in which he leads healing missions in parishes in the United States and throughout the world.

But that isn’t all.

Father Maniyangat also says he died in a traffic accident in 1985, was taken by his guardian angel to visit heaven, hell and purgatory and came back to life to continue his ministry as a priest.
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The Devil You Say!
Gotta give credit where credit is due. Pope Francis is not shy about talking about the Devil to a world (and a Church) that believes they have moved past such things.

The Washington Post has written an article on the subject. It is full of the usual biases, but still notes the phenomenon of a Pope unafraid to call the Devil by name.
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Science, Saints, and the Shroud of Turin
Science has newly confirmed something about the Shroud of Turin that saints already knew.

Centuries ago, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in ecstasy asked Jesus which was His greatest unrecorded suffering and the wound that inflicted the most pain on Him in Calvary and Jesus answered:
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Basic Life Science and Catholicism
“Quit forcing your religion on me! Your Pope might think that a fertilized egg is alive, that it’s human, but that’s your opinion– I believe in science! It’s no more a person than a skin cell is, and you just think it has a soul. If abortion upsets you, you should get people to use birth control.”
 
If you’ve been in abortion discussions, you’re probably familiar with this kind of assertion. I’ll admit that I’ve taken some slight liberty with the paraphrase– I combined several variations into one claim. Other than that….
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The influential Catholic whose love is boundless
I love lists for some reason, and so fell delightedly on the current edition of Time magazine, which is devoted to a list of the 100 most influential people in the world. On the cover is Beyoncé, the popular and respected chanteuse, in a curiously unflattering photograph. It is interesting that Beyoncé makes the cover of Time, and no doubt there is much food for thought there, but I would rather comment on the two people on the list whom I immediately recognized as Catholics.
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Hell Is for Real, Too
Heaven Is for Real, the story of a young boy who reportedly had a real-life experience of heaven during emergency surgery, is currently playing in movie theaters. The film is not doing as comparatively well as the eponymous, bestselling book that inspired it — more than one million e-book copies alone of which have been sold — but it will likely inspire other Christian films, given that its gross receipts have exceeded its relatively modest budget more than sixfold thus far..
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“It’s a Setup”: The Note that Saved a Marriage from Adultery at 30,000 Feet
I was taking the Atlanta to Bentonville, AR flight several weeks ago intending to do business with Wal-Mart. When I got to the gate, my usual people-watching hobby kicked in. I noticed an animated woman who seemed to be doing all she possibly could to get the attention of this man. I noticed they both had wedding rings (hers a whopping diamond) but did not seem to be married to each other.
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Help to Avoid Committing Adultery Through Social Media
Is mankind evolving into a more peaceful and prosperous people – or are we on a path toward ever-increasing moral depravity, social chaos and destruction?

Answering that dichotomy depends on one’s worldview, but Christian author Jeff Kinley is in the latter camp, telling TheBlaze that he sees human beings continuously and perilously cutting God out of society.
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The Story of Hosea and What It Says About God and Holy Matrimony
The story of the Prophet Hosea and his troubled marriage is a powerful testimony to us of our own tendency to be unfaithful to God, but also of God’s passionate love for us. We do well to recall the story especially given the “great debate” among some in the Church today over the question of divorce and remarriage. And while there are many painful stories of what some have had to endure in difficult marriages, it may be of some benefit to those who are in the struggle to remember that God is in a very painful marriage with His people—yes, very painful! God knows the pain of a difficult marriage and a difficult spouse. The story of Hosea depicts some of God’s grief and what he chooses to do about that grief.
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Pastoral Sharings: "Fourth Sunday of Easter"

Father Alex McAllister SDS
May 11, 2014
Fourth Sunday of Easter

Today we mark the Fourth Sunday of Easter which is more commonly called Good Shepherd Sunday. It is given this name because in each Sunday of the three-year liturgical cycle there is an extract from Chapter Ten of John’s Gospel which is all about the Good Shepherd.
 
In the first part of that Chapter which we are presented with today Christ solemnly tells his disciples a parable about the role of a Good Shepherd. He then goes on to explain that this is his role and teaches his Apostles about how in fact it is he who is the Good Shepherd and indeed that he is the very gate of the sheepfold.
 
We see how this role fits in perfectly with the life of Jesus who is the true Shepherd who, as he explains later on in the chapter, is the one who gives his life for his sheep.
 
On this Sunday we take the Gospel reading as our cue to speak about vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. We do this out of recognition that while we have one true Good Shepherd in Christ we also need other shepherds to lead each of the very many congregations of Christians spread throughout the world.
 
In recent years we have frequently spoken about the shortage of those coming forward to accept this role. Here at St Joseph’s for the first time in many years we have a living example placed before us. After five years of studies Brother Paul was ordained deacon before Christmas and will be ordained to the priesthood on 28th June.
 
We assure him of our heartfelt prayers as he steps up and begins his new ministry of service in the Church. We have certainly benefited from his ministry over the last couple of years and hope we will do so in the future but from his ordination day onwards as a priest.
 
It is now to the next generation that we have to look for future vocations. Most likely it is from among our altar servers that new vocations from within our congregation will come. It is they who are closest to the priest and by serving on the altar they have come to a close appreciation of the Divine Liturgy and understand its importance better than most.
 
So we remind our young people and especially our altar servers to think about the possibility of studying for the priesthood or embracing the religious life. We assure them that these are deeply fulfilling vocations and that they are essential to the ongoing life of the Church.
 
Through one or other of these vocations it is possible to be involved with people at some of the most important moments of their lives and to mediate to them the care Christ has for each member of his Church.
 
Besides giving vitally important pastoral care, they as priests will be very much involved in opening the grace of the sacraments to the people, bringing them in particular the Eucharist and through their preaching opening up the secrets of the scriptures to their listeners.
 
These are highly significant and valued ministries which while they involve many sacrifices also provide many lasting rewards.
 
Shepherding is a wonderful metaphor for the ministry of Christ and his pastors in the Church of today. It has many aspects which Christ’s listeners two thousand years ago would have been much more aware of than we can ever be.
 
We live in the middle of a teeming city while the people to whom Christ was explaining his purposes were mainly peasants; people who had an intimate connection with the land and the animals.
 
His listeners understood very well the role of a shepherd. They knew that while at times it was a lonely task it also meant a wonderful intimacy with the sheep who in their turn depended entirely on their Good Shepherd. It is a role which requires at some moments great bravery and at other times deep patience. It is a role which involves both regular routines and also the ability to think quickly and to make the right decisions very speedily.
 
The task of a shepherd is essentially one of caring and protecting the sheep in his charge. It is much the same for a priest in the Church of today. The priest too leads and guides; he shows by his life what being a Christian today involves. It is at some times a lonely task and at other times it involves deep intimacy with the people.
 
What we discover is that for those with a true vocation it is the most fulfilling thing they could do with their lives. Let us hope and pray that among our congregation and within our families young people see the value of just such a vocation and have the courage to respond to God’s call.
 
The last sentence in our text today is an important one. Christ says, ‘I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.’ It is vital to understand this. What Christ wants is for us to live truly fulfilling lives. He wants us to enjoy ourselves; of course he does not mean this is any merely superficial way for what Christ wants is for us to experience is deep and true fulfilment in life.
 
Christ wants us to get the very most out of what life has to offer. He wants us to experience all that life can give us; both its highs and its lows, its pains and its pleasures. By means of these experiences he wants us to end up as wise and deep and fulfilled human beings. He wants us to understand the human heart and to be open and sympathetic friends to all we meet.
 
In short what Christ wants is in his own words for us to ‘live life to the full’. If non-Christians tell you otherwise then put them right. The Lord of Life does not want or need fearful and gullible followers as part of his religion. He does not want or need people with empty heads who follow him because they are too dumbto do anything else.
 
No! What Christ wants is fully functioning human beings; people who are intelligent, people who understand life, people who know what his message entails, people who have the courage of their convictions.
 
And this Church is full of exactly this sort of people. We are not here because we are under pressure, or afraid of a vindictive God. We are not worshiping him because we do not know what else to do on a Sunday morning. We are not meek and mild followers without minds of our own.
 
No, we are here out of conviction. We are here of our own volition; we are here not because we could not think of anything better that we could be doing, we are here because we believe that the very best thing to do is to worship together with our fellow Christians the Lord of Life and of Love who comes to us in this most beautiful of all the sacraments. And it is our deepest desire and delight to be one of his true and faithful disciples.
http://www.catholicwealdstone.org/wordpress/?p=1654

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Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
May 11, 2014

Fourth Sunday of Easter
Gospel John 10:1-10

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday because on this Sunday we hear the Gospel in which Jesus teaches us about the Good Shepherd. In addition to the Good Shepherd I see two other images that can be looked at, the Lamb of God and the Good Sheep. This gives us three images in the Gospel, the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God and the Good Sheep..
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Fourth Sunday of Easter: The Voice of the Lord
In the United States, most of our ranches are self contained.  By that I mean that the rancher has his own fields for crops or grazing and his own facilities to care for his livestock. 

That is not the case in the most of the rest of the world, not just the ancient world of Jesus, but even in the modern world.  In much of the world, the animals belonging to various families are kept together in a large pen.  This is particularly true regarding sheep.
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Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A—May 11, 2014
Gospel (Read Jn 10:1-10)

Today’s reading is best understood within its context in John’s Gospel. In the previous chapter is the account of Jesus’ healing of the man born blind, a Lenten lectionary reading. Recall that it was a lesson about spiritual sight and blindness. The simple blind Jewish man whom Jesus healed was able to see and worship Jesus as the Messiah. The Pharisees who interrogated him, however, wanted nothing to do with Jesus: “We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from”
                                                                                                                                 (Jn 9:29).
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Reflections for Sunday, May 11, 2014
They were cut to the heart. (Acts 2:37)

What a vivid image! But this is not the only place in Scripture where we see this happening. The Letter to the Hebrews says that the word of God is a “two-edged sword” that slices between “soul and spirit” (Hebrews 4:12). On the road to Emmaus, the disciples’ hearts burned as they heard Jesus explain the Scriptures (Luke 24:32).

Peter, the man who just fifty days ago had denied knowing Jesus, was now speaking boldly about him and what he accomplished for us on the cross. Through his preaching, he presented the people with a picture of Jesus that cut many of them to the heart and brought them to conversion.
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If You Can’t Make Daily Mass, Pray Like JMJ
Our spiritual lives are centered upon Jesus’ sacrifice, made present in the Eucharist. Probably the majority of us however, have schedules that keep us from attending Mass on a daily basis. It may come as a surprise to learn that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph – and the majority of Jews at the time – found themselves in an analogous situation. They also arrived at an ingenious solution that we can make our own.
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Pope’s Mass: Stay away from vanity! It’s dangerous
During his Monday morning Mass, Pope Francis talked about following God. He explained that Christians should always stay away from vanity, power and greed. That way, they won’t try to take advantage of their relationship with God.

POPE FRANCIS
“Sometimes we do things to stand out and feed our vanity. But vanity is dangerous.  It immediately makes us fall into pride, arrogance,  and eventually it all stops there.  We must ask ourselves. How can I follow Jesus? Do I do good deeds in a discreet way, or do I just like to be seen?”
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Seven Proofs for the Natural Immortality of the Human Soul
The late Dr. Antony Flew—perhaps the greatest among atheist thinkers of the last 100 years—came to faith in God largely through his studies in philosophy and, most especially, science, as he recounted in his book written with Roy Abraham Varghese, There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.
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‘Faith calls for sacrifice': Oregon family descended from martyr-saint
Phu Nguyen, a University of Portland sophomore, is descended from a saint.

Phu’s great-great-great-grandfather died for abiding by his faith. The Vatican considers the torture endured by the renowned Vietnamese martyrs among the worst in the history of Christianity.

St. Matthew Nguyen Van Phuong was born in Vietnam in 1801. After his parents died, he was raised by the local priest in Quang-Binh, in the central part of the Southeast Asian nation.
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Can Anything Good Come from Temptation? Yes, Here are Five Things
One thing that is common to every human person is the reality of temptation. At times we may wonder why God permits it. Why does he allow mortal and spiritual dangers to afflict us? Could he not by word of command prevent every temptation that afflicts us? And if he can, why does he not? Is he just setting us up for a fall?
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The Power of Novenas
I’m a Catholic, and I am not going anywhere.

With some of my friends, family, and fellow travellers I have been discussing how a Catholic should respond and behave in these times.
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The Role of Inward Prayer
All prayer which deserves the name must be inward. The term inward is used here to describe a form of prayer which moves, as it were, away from the spoken word and toward silence.

As to contemplative, this term is rather too wide and general to describe a form of prayer whose main feature (or trend) is to draw away the soul from the manifoldness of mental activity and to enable it to become single-pointed. The term meditation also does not fully convey this meaning. Of the two, contemplative prayer is probably the more accurate term — so long as we bear in mind the sense in which the word contemplative is used.
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.Is Religion Relevant?
All around me I see religious leaders trying to make the faith relevant for people. Whether it’s a Protestant pastor laying on parenting classes or the local megachurch advertising drug free rehab sessions, or maybe it is a Catholic priest doing his best to provide a hip hop sermon and a groovy style, or perhaps it’s a sincere pastor who spends all her time housing the homeless and feeding the hungry, maybe it’s the community church with cool music and a hipster pastor…I see them and envy their energy and passion, but as a Catholic priest I wonder if that is what I am supposed to be doing. I doubt it.
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VIDEO: Dr. Scott Hahn on Angels and Saints
Angels and saints are very near to us in every way, united to us in relationship through Jesus Christ. They are present with us, family to us, and they are helping us become holy. In this book, Angels and Saints, Dr. Scott Hahn, draws deeply on Scripture to reveal a new understanding of the angels and saints, to celebrate them as holy members of the one Church – on earth and in heaven.
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Why the Culture of Life Will Win
“Authentic freedom has its necessary foundation in the truth about the human person: it is… in the search for Truth that we become free. When the demands of truth are ignored or repressed, the pursuit of freedom can easily become a mere pretext for license, a new form of tyranny, the first victims of which are always the weak, the defenseless, those that have no voice.” — Pope St. John Paul II
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Mercy is Love’s Second Name
With the canonization of Pope John Paul II on April 27, 2014, the world exceedingly rejoices. In God’s providence, the Holy Father’s elevation to sainthood occurs on Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast instituted by “the Great Mercy Pope” himself when he canonized St. Faustina Kowalska on Divine Mercy Sunday in the year 2000.

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Heaven Is Best Left to the Imagination
There’s a rich history of movies — think The Song of Bernadette, The Bishop’s Wife or It’s a Wonderful Life — that attempt to provide a glimpse of the supernatural through ordinary people’s encounters with the Divine. In an age where many seem to believe that neither heaven nor hell actually exist, Heaven Is for Real is a most welcome entry into that category of films. We brought our entire family to see it on opening weekend.
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Facing Death as a Catholic: We Who Remain
One of my favorite scenes in Return of the King is Sam and Frodo sitting together as Mt. Doom erupts around them. When Frodo says, “I am glad you’re with me Samwise Gamgee, here at the end of all things,” my heartstrings are always tugged because Frodo is reaching for the soul friendship. Love ‘till death. Boundless loyalty despite suffering and sacrifice because love is sacrifice. But, what about after death?
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Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The First Commandment – False Gods, Divination, and No Graven Images
In light (or should I say darkness) of the recent news coming out of Harvard University regarding their Satanic Black Mass that is to occur on May 12, I found it fitting to discuss what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on superstition, idolatry, divination/magic, irreligion, atheism, agnosticism, and graven images.
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Why Evil and Suffering Don’t Disprove God
We believe so many lies about ourselves.  We believe we’re hopeless, that we can never change, that things will never change, that nothing we do matters, that we don’t deserve love or goodness or justice or dignity or a million other things.  We are trapped by the lies we tell ourselves and the lies that others tell us.
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Satan Isn’t Fussy, But Neither is Christ
Spokesmen for the “Satanic Temple” of New York are giving conflicting stories about whether a consecrated or an unconsecrated Host will be used in the Black Mass “recreation” hosted by Harvard’s Cultural Studies club. 

Does it make a difference? Yes, a big difference. A Black Mass is a sacrilegious parody of the Mass which profanes the Eucharist. It would be hard to overstate how dreadful this is to Catholics. Countless martyrs have died protecting a consecrated Host from injury. So if they are planning to use a consecrated Host — that is, if they are going to insult and damage the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ under the species of bread — then Catholics should be fasting and praying to make reparations.
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Hell Frozen Over
Judas is in hell. Despite the contortions of some celebrated theologians such as Hans Urs von Balthasar, it’s quite difficult to find universal salvation in the Scriptures. Even Plato noted that if the extremely wicked were not extremely punished in the next life, the world might seem founded on injustice.
  
Does it make a difference? Yes, a big difference. A Black Mass is a sacrilegious parody of the Mass which profanes the Eucharist. It would be hard to overstate how dreadful this is to Catholics. Countless martyrs have died protecting a consecrated Host from injury. So if they are planning to use a consecrated Host — that is, if they are going to insult and damage the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ under the species of bread — then Catholics should be fasting and praying to make reparations.
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Righteousness Meter: How I’m Better Than You
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” ~ Luke 18:11

Let’s be honest.  It’s so easy to look at a neighbor who’s doing things all wrong and think “I’m glad I’m not him!”  Yes, it’s human nature to be glad you’re not anybody else besides you. We tend to think we do things better than most people. We think we parent better, love better, spoil our children less, are smarter and less superficial, and the list goes on and on.
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Are the End Times Upon Us? Author Says ‘Unrestrained Immorality’ Mirrors ‘Pandemic Godlessness’ Seen in the Bible
Is mankind evolving into a more peaceful and prosperous people – or are we on a path toward ever-increasing moral depravity, social chaos and destruction?

Answering that dichotomy depends on one’s worldview, but Christian author Jeff Kinley is in the latter camp, telling TheBlaze that he sees human beings continuously and perilously cutting God out of society.
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On Punching Heretics
There was an odious man named Frank in our fundamentalist church when I was a boy who had a brood of badly behaved children. When one of them would act up, Frank would haul the miscreant out of the sanctuary and wallop him. When he would re-appear with the unfortunate sprog, Frank would mutter sanctimoniously, “Sometimes we need to administer love to our children.”

The memory brings to mind another fracas at church in an earlier time. At the Council of Nicea, Bishop Nicholas of Myra punched the heretic Arius in the face. Arius had been asked to defend his doctrine that Jesus Christ was only a created being and not God incarnate. The future Santa Claus, fed up with this nonsense, got up and administered some love. St. Nicholas is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker. Some work. Some wonder.
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The End of the World
For millennia men have wondered whether the world as we know it will come to an end and if so, how the world will end. In ancient Judaism speculation about the world’s end took the form of apocalypticism, the view that God will bring about the end of human history, exercising judgement upon the life of every person, and inaugurating His everlasting Kingdom. This apocalyptic viewpoint was taken up into early Christianity through its founder Jesus of Nazareth. The early Christians looked forward to the return of Christ at some unknown time in the future when he would inaugurate a new heaven and a new earth fit for eternal habitation. Here is how that event is described in the Apocalypse of John, the last book in the New Testament:
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Pastoral Sharings: "Third Sunday of Easter"

WeeklyMessage Father Michael Phillippino
May 4, 2014
Third Sunday of Easter

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

In today’s reading the two disciples are on the way to 
Emmaus encounter Christ on the first day of the week. 
They recognize him in the “breaking of the bread” which 
was the early Christian term for the celebration of the Mass. This happened on the first day of the week, which was the Lord’s Day.
   
The Lord’s Day or Sunday is God’s gift to us and is a day of special grace. It is a day which God has given us to rest from profane activities and contemplate with and in God the work he has done for us. Our Lord exhorts us to keep holy the Sabbath and in the New Testament Christ commands us, “Do this in memory of me.”
 
Sunday is our first and most fundamental feast day, which celebrates the core mystery of our faith, the resurrection of our Lord. We celebrate it not just at Easter but every Sunday. It is difficult in our day and age to protect this day. I see many people who are trying to pack so much into their day and are working seven days a week to make ends meet. They do not realize that they are robbing themselves of the very things they are pursuing by not keeping holy the Lord’s Day. If only they could believe that it would be far more profitable for them if they truly revered the Lord’s Day. “Time given to Christ is never time lost, but rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human” (Pope John Paul II, On Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy, Daughters of St. Paul, 1998, N.7).
 
This requires faith of course, and it seems that faith and the understanding of how important the Mass is in maintaining our relationship with Christ is dwarfed by the demands we place upon ourselves in today’s society. St. John Paul II, lamenting this fact, wrote: “In the minds of many of the faithful not only the sense of the centrality of the Eucharist but even the sense of the duty to give thanks to the Lord and to pray to him with others in the community of the Church seems to be diminishing” (Ibid, 5).
 
Keeping the Lord’s Day holy is recognition that we cannot save ourselves, that it is a work of God. It is trusting in his provision for our lives so that we do not have to destroy ourselves by working ourselves to death. We are not slaves, we have been freed by Christ, but so many behave as if they were still slaves. As the author of Hebrews warns us so strongly:
 
Take care, brothers, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God. Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today” so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin. We have become partners of Christ if only we hold our first confidence firm until the end, for it is said: “Oh, that today you would hear his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion’.” Who were those who rebelled when they heard? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt under Moses? With whom was he “provoked for forty years”? Was it not those who had sinned, whose corpses fell in the desert? And to whom did he “swear that they should not enter into his rest,” if not to those who were disobedient? And we see that they could not enter for lack of faith” (Hebrews 3:7-19).

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
May 4, 2014

Third Sunday of Easter
Luke 24: 13-35

The disciples walking on the way to Emmaus in the late afternoon of Easter Sunday did not realize that they were speaking in person with Jesus. The fact that his appearance was different to them is clear; after all, they would hardly fail to recognize such a personal friend and guide, yet their delayed recognition goes beyond visual images and embraces a broader human tendency to fail to see the things that ought to be the clearest to us. They finally recognize him when he takes bread and breaks it to share with them, representing the Eucharist which he had previously shared with his apostles on the evening of Holy Thursday, immediately preceding his passion and death.
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Third Sunday of Easter: Apostolic Witnesses
Last weekend was amazing. The world’s attention was focused on the canonizations of Pope St. John XXIII and Pope St. John Paul II. Hundreds of thousands attended the celebration.  Millions more watched it on television.  Its true significance was not the canonizations themselves.  Its significance is that they pointed to the central event in the history of mankind.  They pointed to the Christ event, the coming of the Eternal Word of God as one of us, as man; His proclamation of the new spiritual Kingdom of God; His destruction of evil and death through the  sacrificial love of the cross; His giving His Life to us at the Resurrection and at our personal acceptance of this Life, our Baptism; and the continuation of His power and presence through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. 
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Third Sunday of Easter, Year A—May 4, 2014
Gospel (Read Lk 24:13-35)

Isn’t it interesting that when Jesus appeared to two “downcast” (Lk 24:17) disciples on Resurrection Day, He didn’t do the very thing that would have broken into their despair—identify Himself? Why were these men traveling away from Jerusalem? Surely it was because Jesus’ death there had deeply disappointed them. They had been “hoping that He would be the one to redeem Israel” (Lk 24:21), and that had fallen to dust and defeat. What was the point of staying in Jerusalem any longer?
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Reflections for Sunday, May 4, 2014
Were not our hearts burning? (Luke 24:32)
  
Great writers have a knack for conveying deep, lasting truths in just a few words. This is the kind of artistry that we find in today’s Gospel. In telling the story of two people who meet the Lord on the road to Emmaus, St. Luke also tells us about the transforming power of the Mass.
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Pope Francis Canonizes St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII
VATICAN CITY — Rain was threatening to spoil today’s historic canonization of two popes in St. Peter’s Square, but at the very moment that Pope Francis proclaimed Popes John XXIII and John Paul II saints at the Vatican, the sky began to brighten.

Speaking in Latin at the canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square for the two popes, Francis confirmed they were in heaven with the words: “We declare and define Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II to be saints, and we enroll them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church.”
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Holy Spirit’s Gift of Understanding Helps Us View Things With Mind of God
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis explained that the Holy Spirit’s gift of understanding allows Christians to obtain “intimacy with God” and helps them understand things “as God understands them.”

“When the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts and enlightens our minds, he makes us grow day by day in the understanding of what the Lord has said and accomplished,” the Pope said at his Wednesday audience on April 30.
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The Difference Easter Made
One of the striking things about the Easter and post-Easter narratives in the New Testament is that they are largely about incomprehension: which is to say that, in the canonical Gospels, the early Church admitted that it took some time for the first Christian believers to understand what had happened in the Resurrection, and how what had happened changed everything. In Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches (Basic Books), I draw on insights from Anglican biblical scholar N.T. Wright and Pope Benedict XVI to explore the first Christians’ unfolding comprehension of Easter and how it exploded their ideas of history and their place in history.

So, what changed after Easter?
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Our Lady, our guide Through her many apparitions over the centuries, Mary leads us more closely to her Son
Nearly 2,000 years ago, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote that “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son” (Heb 1:1-2). God did not abandon the world after creating it; instead, he revealed himself to our first parents, made a covenant with Noah, chose Abraham to be the father of a multitude of nations and formed his people of Israel.
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We Are Not Going Anywhere
I’m a Catholic, and I am not going anywhere.

With some of my friends, family, and fellow travellers I have been discussing how a Catholic should respond and behave in these times.
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Rejoice in the Lord At All Times
Saint Paul exhorts us with these uplifting words: “Rejoice in the Lord; I say it again: rejoice in the Lord.” (Phil. 4:4).

St. Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises in the fourth week, the week in which we contemplate the Risen Lord Jesus, insists that in contemplating the Risen Lord Jesus who came to console that we beg for joy, but not a partial or mediocre joy but to beg for “most intense joy.”
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Christ’s discourse with Nicodemus
Nicodemus was afraid, or ashamed to be seen with Christ, therefore came in the night. When religion is out of fashion, there are many Nicodemites. But though he came by night, Jesus bid him welcome, and hereby taught us to encourage good beginnings, although weak. And though now he came by night, yet afterward he owned Christ publicly. He did not talk with Christ about state affairs, though he was a ruler, but about the concerns of his own soul and its salvation, and went at once to them. Our Saviour spoke of the necessity and nature of regeneration or the new birth, and at once directed Nicodemus to the source of holiness of the heart.
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Spiritual Weapons: Fasting
Fasting gives birth to prophets and strengthens the powerful; fasting makes lawgivers wise. Fasting is a good safeguard for the soul, a steadfast companion for the body, a weapon for the valiant, and a gymnasium for athletes. Fasting repels temptations, anoints unto piety; it is the comrade of watchfulness and the artificer of chastity. In war it fights bravely, in peace it teaches stillness.                       – St. Basil the Great

Are you struggling with a sin? I mean a sin that you just can’t seem to get rid of; a sin that is keeps you in a constant state of guilt and despair. You’ve prayed, you’ve frequented the sacraments, but you just can’t seem to break its hold.
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My Message from Heaven to Stay Awake and Pray the Rosary
I learned to pray the rosary in 1989 while in my early thirties. I vowed to say it daily. But a few weeks after the birth of a new baby, I decided to skip it in favor of getting to sleep. That’s when a Divine message let me know, it’s worth staying awake to pray the rosary.

When I was around ten years old, my parents decided to pray a family rosary one evening. It was the first time ever.
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On “Knowing” and “Making” the Truth
Often I asked students: “What is the first thing required for making a chair?” The answer is not wood or a saw. The first thing is to “know” what a chair is. Our knowledge of a chair remains valid whether we make one or not. But if we have all the material and tools needed to make a chair, no chair will result unless we first know what a chair is. In addition, we must decide actually to make one. Every “made” chair is particular: a this chair, not that chair.
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You Live in an Age of Miracles
The Gospel for this past Sunday began, “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.” Miracles and signs have not ceased since the time of Christ, in fact, on April 27 the Church celebrated the canonization of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II – two men who have profoundly changed the lives of many and changed the course of history.
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Praying With Children
It’s a troubling fact today that many Catholic children don’t know the basics of the faith. Many come to religious instruction in parishes without knowing how to make the Sign of the Cross or recite the Our Father or Hail Mary. Teaching children growing up in a secularized world, catechists and teachers can’t assume that their pupils know how to pray.
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The Papyrus that “Proved” Jesus Had a Wife? Yeah, That’s a Fake
An announcement that’s sure to bum out progressives everywhere is that the much ballyhooed ancient papyrus which PROOOOOOOOOOVED that Jesus had a wife isn’t actually…uhm…real.

You might recall that two years ago, Harvard professor Karen King announced that an ancient papyrus mentioned that Jesus referred to a wife. Hey, it was written in some old type language on a piece of dirty cloth and it said something that many people wanted to believe so therefore it had to be true.
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Truth Defeats Our Lies
We believe so many lies about ourselves.  We believe we’re hopeless, that we can never change, that things will never change, that nothing we do matters, that we don’t deserve love or goodness or justice or dignity or a million other things.  We are trapped by the lies we tell ourselves and the lies that others tell us.
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Pope: If you have peace, there’s no room for gossip, envy or defamation
In his daily morning Mass, the Pope talked about early Christians and the inner peace they received from the Holy Spirit. He said, measuring the life of a Christian community, is based on its harmony, witness, poverty be it spiritual or material, and its care for the poor.

POPE FRANCIS
“Because the only one who can do this is the Holy Spirit. This is the work of the Spirit. The Church is built up by the Spirit. The Spirit creates unity. The Spirit leads us to witness. The Spirit makes us poor, because He is our wealth and leads us to care for the poor.”
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Without gloss: Francis of Assisi and Western Catholicism
By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

I want to start with a simple statement of fact.  All Christian life is a paradox.  What I mean is this.

In Isaiah 55, God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts [higher] than your thoughts” (8-9).  Then in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples, “You therefore must be perfect, [even] as your heavenly Father is perfect” (5:48). 
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The Blessings of Religious Burnout
I will never forget the half-joking remark conveyed to me by a friend, made to him by a priest, about zealous Catholic converts having a “five-year shelf life.” After that point, presumably, one’s faith must mature – beyond that initial, largely natural zeal, toward a supernatural wisdom and charity – or perish.

The remark was all the more memorable because at the time I had only recently passed that five-year mark, and felt myself at a turning point. My friend, a fellow convert, had run into frustration and disillusionment after a half-decade or so; and my own experience was beginning to look similar.
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Why Our Unique Solar System Points to God
In an earlier post on this site titled “How Contemporary Physics Points to God”, Fr. Robert Spitzer addresses the Big Bang and the five anthropic conditions that exist in of our universe. These anthropic conditions lead to intelligent life on our planet. Concerning the anthropic conditions Fr. Spitzer writes: “The odds against all five of the anthropic coincidences happening randomly is exceedingly and almost unimaginably improbable. Most reasonable and responsible individuals would not attribute this to random occurrence (because the odds are so overwhelmingly against it), and so, they look for another explanation which is more reasonable and responsible.”
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The 11 Best Educational Websites for Kids
Even pediatricians agree that a little bit of screen time each day is okay for kids.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children over 2 should be limited to 2 hours of “recreational screen time” per day. 
In our house, we try to limit recreational screen time to one hour per day, but because we homeschool our kids do a lot of educational work online.  And they love it!  Our kids race through their work so they can get to their computers.

Here are my picks for the best 10 educational web sites for kids:
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Pastoral Sharings: "Second Sunday of Easter"

WeeklyMessageFather Alex McAllister SDS
April 27, 2014
Second Sunday of Easter

Very often you see pictures of St Thomas touching the wound in Christ?s side but in actual fact the Gospel does not record this event. Christ certainly showed him his wounds but it is never mentioned that Thomas reached out his hand to actually touch them. 

Interestingly, apart from this incident, Thomas is portrayed in the Gospels as being very brave. In the account of the raising of Lazarus that we heard on the last Sunday of Lent when Jesus gets the message of Lazarus? illness and he decides to go up to Jerusalem we find Thomas saying, ?Let us go too and die with him.? 

These are not the words of a timid and fearful man; a man beset by doubts. And yet when the other Apostles tell him of their meeting with the Risen Lord, which for some unknown reason he had missed, Thomas flatly refuses to believe them. 

What Thomas had missed out on was an encounter with the Risen Christ. And, no matter what the other Apostles said, he refused to believe. He wasn?t open to persuasion or reasoning. 

And I think we have to say, ?Rightly so!? After all, faith does not come from reasoning or from what anyone else tells us. Faith is a gift of God and it principally comes though an encounter with the Lord. 

In Thomas? case this was the actual presence of the Risen Jesus who showed him the wounds of his crucifixion. For St Paul it was his Damascus experience. 

In every case, let me suggest, faith comes through an encounter with the Lord. Mostly these are not physical encounters like that of Thomas, but they are just as real nonetheless. 

Each one of us comes to faith by a different route. Things happen to us on life?s journey that help us to see the hand of God at work in our lives. 

As a child we might be brought up by our parents to believe in God and we grow up accustomed to pray each day. In this way prayer becomes a natural and even essential part of our lives. 

But this is not merely the saying of prayers. What our parents have initiated us into is a dialogue with the Lord ?with a person, with God himself. Each time we pray we are entering into an encounter with God. 

At some point or other the young person faces the criticism of others and they question whether this is a real dialogue or whether they are just talking to themselves. If their prayers are more than merely superficial then they may well come to the realisation that this is no empty dialogue but a real and meaningful conversation with the Lord. And through this insight their faith is strengthened and moves to a new and deeper level. As life goes on our faith is validated by all sorts of events and occurrences. I clearly remember talking to a group of secondary school pupils. We were discussing prayer and I asked them if they ever felt that their prayers were answered. 

One girl said that together with her whole family she had prayed very hard for her grandmother who had cancer. She explained that although they had prayed for a cure the grandmother actually got worse and eventually died. 

Nevertheless she felt that her prayers had been answered because her grandmother had died peacefully and was happy to go to God. It was also clear that her own faith had been strengthened by this and that she felt closer to God and to her family as a result. Thomas said that he wanted proof. He said that unless he could put his hand in the wounds he would not believe. But when Christ appeared to him that was enough, he never reached his hand out to touch the wounds. 

Instead he fell to the ground with the great words ?My Lord and my God? on his lips. Throughout his life Thomas never lacked courage. Tradition has it that he preached the Gospel in many different countries ultimately travelling as far as India where he was martyred. As we have heard together with Jesus he set out on the road to Jerusalem saying to his fellow Apostles, ?Let us go too, and die with him.? Well, he certainly got his wish even if he had to wait a few years for it! 

His faith was surely tested more in that final moment of his death than it ever was before. But in the end he remained resolute. His words to Jesus, ?My Lord and my God? or something very like them were surely on his lips as he gave up his spirit. 

Thomas had the extraordinary privilege of knowing Jesus in the flesh and also of meeting him in his risen form. But the greatest encounter of all was at the moment of his own martyrdom when he was drawn into the presence of God in heaven. 

It is this final and ultimate encounter that we are all preparing for. And the best preparation of all is for us to open our eyes and see the hand of God in our lives and for us to spend time in prayer and dialogue with him, but most of all by sharing his body and blood in the Eucharist. 

It is in these ways that our faith is fed and strengthened. It is by doing these things that at that final moment, with God?s grace, we will make that great and wonderful prayer of Thomas our own.   
http://www.catholicwealdstone.org/wordpress/?p=1645

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Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
April 27, 2014

2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)
Gospel John 20:19-31

The Gospel begins with Easter Sunday and ends with the Sunday after Easter. On Easter Sunday the disciples were still mourning the death of Jesus, and even though they had heard reports that the tomb was empty and that Jesus is Risen, this reality was too much for them to accept and they remained in fear hidden away behind the locked doors of the upper room. This was same upper room where they had only days earlier celebrated the Passover with Jesus and were probably already referring to it as the “Last Supper.” While Jesus had been buried in a tomb of rock, the upper room was becoming their tomb.
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Second Sunday of Easter: Doubts, Divine Mercy and St. John Paul II
The Sunday after Easter always presents the event that took place in the Upper Room one week after Jesus rose from the dead.  Pope John Paul II also designated this Sunday as Divine Mercy Sunday.  And today the world celebrated the Canonization of this pope whom so many refer to as John Paul the Great. I believe I can tie all three of these themes together.
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Doubting Thomas
The Gospels tell an incredible story.  A virginal conception.  Miraculous healings.  Even people coming back from the dead.  How are we to know that it’s not all just a fanciful fabrication? 

There is much evidence for the reliability of the Gospels, but here is one of the strongest bits of evidence I know.  Think for a minute.  If you were part of a group who decided to perpetrate an elaborate hoax, what would be your motive?  Wouldn’t you want to gain some significant benefits from such a risky business?  Maybe fortune, fame, and privilege?  And if you were to be prominent figures in this tall tale, wouldn’t you at least want the story to make you look good?
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Second Sunday of Easter, Year A (Divine Mercy Sunday)
Gospel (Read Jn 20:19-31)

The celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday usually focuses on the sheer ecstasy of His victory over death. All during Holy Week, we are absorbed with the details of His horrific Passion. When we reach Easter, our hearts nearly burst with joy that Jesus is alive and vindicated as God’s Son. In other words, it’s easy to dwell on the fact of the Resurrection and be so dazzled by it that we do not think much beyond that. The mercy of Divine Mercy Sunday (yes, intended pun) is that now we begin to meditate on the meaning of the Resurrection. Today’s Gospel gets us started.
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Jesus Died to Save You – What Does THAT Mean???
You see the signs beside the highway blazoned “Jesus Saves”. You hear the religious slogans from Catholics and Protestants, “Jesus died to save you from your sins.” or “Jesus blood was shed to wash away your sins.”

I’m sympathetic when I hear modern secularists say with frustration, “What on earth does that mean??!! How can the death of a criminal two thousand years ago cleanse away my ‘sins’?”
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The Five-Fold Argument for the Resurrection
The New Testament consists of first-century, seemingly first-hand accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It also claims to be an eyewitness account and makes some mighty bold claims about what the authors saw and heard. Yet a first-century audience (that is, an audience which would have been able to call “shenanigans” if the authors were just making things up) believed these accounts, copied them, and spread them both textually and orally throughout the entire Roman Empire and to faraway places like India.
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Live Out Divine Mercy
According to both Blessed John Paul II and Saint Faustina Maria Kowlasksa, the virtue of mercy is the greatest attribute in the Heart of Jesus. This being the case we should strive to understand this virtue and even more important try to live it out to the full.
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Honoring Two Beloved Popes
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are expected to flock to Rome on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27, for the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II.

But for those Americans who can’t make the trans-Atlantic trip, there will be plenty of fanfare and celebration stateside, as two of the 20th century’s most beloved popes become saints.
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I Can Tell He Loves Me
The old saying is that all roads lead to Rome. 

And that has been my experience being here over the last two days.The faithful are flocking into Rome from all corners of the globe, with various countries waving their flags, and every language imaginable being spoken.
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Two Modern Saints for the Modern World
Pope Francis shook the Catholic world on July 5th, 2013, with the announcement that Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II will be canonized together on April 27th, 2014.

Pope Francis approved the healing of Floribeth Mora of Costa Rica from a brain aneurysm as miraculous, making it the second approved miracle attributed to the beloved Polish pope who passed away in 2005. The first miracle was the healing of a French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, who had been afflicted with Parkinson’s disease—the very ailment that John Paul II suffered from. Both of these women prayed for John Paul’s intercession and both of their prayers have been answered.
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3 Things Catholics Need to Confidently Reclaim and Own Again
I’m thinking of a person who describes himself as a Christian, gets his beliefs from the Bible, and has a passion for sharing Jesus with others. What kind of person comes to mind?

I bet the first thought most people have is an evangelical Protestant.

But not a Catholic.

And that’s a problem.
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Seek the Lord’s Will, Even in Uncertainty
Wouldn’t it be great if we had a direct connection to Heaven — a phone line by which we could call God Himself and ask questions such as “Lord, what’s the easiest way for me to solve this problem?”; or “Father, how much longer do I have to put up with this situation?”; or “God, I really don’t know what it is that You want me to do; will You please show me?” There have been such cases recorded; the Old Testament hero Moses, for instance, used to talk to God face-to-face,123 (123 Exod. 33:11) and the Apostles were able to question Jesus whenever they wanted. Many mystics and visionaries throughout the centuries have allegedly held conversations with Jesus or one of the saints, and there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of persons today who claim to be in contact with Heaven.
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At the Gate Called “Beautiful.” What the Miracle by Peter and John Teaches us about our Spiritual Journey
At the daily masses of the Easter Octave, we have been reading about, among other things, the story of a paralyzed man whom Peter and John encounter just outside the Temple at the Gate called “Beautiful.” This paralyzed man’s story is our story and as we read it we learn something of our own spiritual journey to the Lord and to heaven, symbolized here by the Temple. Let’s look at this moving story, as it is not merely the recounting of an event taking place 2000 years ago; rather it is our story.
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God is Not a Vending Machine
“If God is so good and loving, if He’s really there at all, why didn’t He answer my prayer?” This question has been asked by atheists and agnostics and doubters and believers and skeptics and observers and disinterested third-parties alike. For some it presents a serious challenge to their faith, or to the possibility of their having any faith at all.
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The Dignity of Dying
Within the last month we’ve marked the anniversaries of two important deaths that, while linked inextricably because of when they occurred, could not have been more different.
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Does Faith Need Culture? Answers from Scripture & the Church
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”

(John 10:10 ).

Is culture something necessary for the life of faith? Or, is it rather a distraction? Does it pull us further away from a focus on the next life, by rooting us in the things of the earth? Is it a temptation to try to build a lasting city, when Hebrews says “here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (13:14).
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The Meal at Emmaus – Jesus’s Todah
The story of Jesus’s journey to Emmaus has to be one of favorite stories in the whole of Scripture. Cleophas and another disciple were traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus, devastated by their Master’s crucifixion only days before , and utterly bewildered by the women’s report of the empty tomb, when Jesus sidled up alongside them and struck up a conversation. “What are you discussing?”  Then, while preventing their eyes from recognizing him, Jesus “explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Lk. 24:27).  And as if that wasn’t enough, after he accepted their invitation to dinner, “he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.” (Lk. 24:30-31).
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Are There Souls in Hell Right Now?
It has become fashionable in some Catholic quarters these days to question where there are now or will ever be any souls populating hell. Hell, it is taught, is a “real possibility,” but whether there are any souls actually there, or whether there will ever be any souls there, is unknown to us.

It is, of course, true that hell is a “real possibility” for each of us. And that is a sobering thought. But it is also true that souls are actually in hell now, and will be for all eternity. This is a teaching of our Catholic Faith.
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Origins of the Rosary
The rosary is one of the most cherished prayers of our Catholic Church. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description.”
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Knights’ success built on founder’s desire for charity
In many ways, Father Michael J. McGivney was just one more of that band of hardworking Irish-American priests who spent themselves building up the Church in America in the latter years of the 19th century. But in one truly extraordinary respect, he was unique: Before he was 30, Michael McGivney had founded what was to become the largest Catholic men’s organization in the world: the Knights of Columbus.
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Why Catholics Must Reject Elite Culture
It seems that Catholics have been getting nowhere in the public square lately. The problem is not just losing ground on this issue or that, but an increasing inability to get our issues recognized as real and legitimate. That’s true not only with moral issues, but also with more basic ones like the rationality of religion and the very existence of human nature.
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Why Catholicism Is Preferable to Protestantism
My new book, The Protestant’s Dilemma, shows in a myriad of ways why Protestantism is implausible. We sifted through many arguments to boil the book down to the most essential. A few chapters didn’t make the cut but are still good enough to share.
Here’s one of them.
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Mao Thought He Could Eliminate Religion, He Was Wrong
China, according to the Telegraph, may very well be home to more Christians than any other country in the world by 2030. I know that seems like some futuristic date but hey, that’s only 15 years.

Officially, the People’s Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.

Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao’s death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution.

Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world’s number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.
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How To Pass A Personhood Amendment
Everybody knows that Roe v. Wade created a national right to kill your unborn children, and everybody knows that the #1 item on the pro-lifer To-Do list is “Overturn Roe v. Wade.” However, once Roe is overturned, we’ll still have a lot of work to do. Abortion will be a state issue. Unfortunately, most state courts would gladly recreate Roe v. Wade at the state level, using the state constitution to magic abortion rights back into existence. Some have already done this. Meanwhile, although many states provide some legal protections to unborn children, these protections are not considered inalienable human rights; they could be completely repealed with a single legislative act.
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