Pastoral Sharings: "17th Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 27, 2014

In our Gospel today we are presented with three more 
parables about the nature of the Kingdom. The first two 
about the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price 
tell us about the inestimable value of the Kingdom. The 
third one about the dragnet tells us about the great 
diversity of its make up.

I recently visited a most interesting Auction House, I’d noticed it was viewing day and as I was in the vicinity went in to take a look. It’s a fascinating place; there were all kinds of interesting items of furniture as well as a lot of old crockery, jewellery, paintings and many other curiosities.

There’s only one day for viewing so the place was full of people examining the various items they were interested in and making notes in the catalogue.

I watched a chap examining a collection of rather old clocks. He had a magnifying glass in one eye and was carefully peering into the back of each of the clocks to see the state of the mechanism.

He reminded me of the merchant in the parable today looking for the pearl of great price. This clock dealer was using his expert knowledge to see which of the clocks were worth buying. And who knows, one day he might discover a clock worth thousands that no one else has recognised!

This is a very good image for the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is all around us but most people aren’t aware of it. But those of us who do realise that it is there do everything we can to possess it.

The majority of people only have the very haziest notion of the spiritual; they think that there might possibly be a God but don’t see much evidence of his hand at work in the world and so forget about him most of the time.

It is often only when there is a crisis that they bring him to mind, but because they are so unfamiliar with the things of the Spirit they don’t know how to pray or call upon his aid.

They don’t realise that one of the greatest signs of God’s presence in the world is the very fact that he doesn’t make himself overtly known.

Clear evidence of God’s presence is that he gives us the tremendous gift of free will and leaves us to make our own decision as to whether we acknowledge him or not.

Paradoxically it is God’s apparent absence that shows how great he is. He doesn’t need to press himself upon us and make himself known. Actually it would be a sign of weakness if he had to constantly advertise himself. He prefers anonymity and ambiguity, he wants us discover him for ourselves rather than force himself upon us.

In ordinary life to give an anonymous gift is regarded as something special. This is particularly the case when the gift is a large one. But most people, quite naturally, want a bit of credit and it is hard for them to resist the temptation to reveal who the giver is.

And yet there is a negative side to making oneself known because it can place an obligation on the receiver of the gift. They might feel that they have to be extremely grateful or obliged give something in return.

This is the very reason why God doesn’t advertise his presence overmuch. If he let us know just how much he has done for us we would feel under such a heavy obligation to him that we would be completely paralysed and wouldn’t be able to do anything other than praise and thank him for the rest of our lives.

In the person of Jesus God has revealed himself definitively to the world. Through Jesus he has shown us what he is like and makes the great sacrifice that takes our sins away. But there is no definitive proof of this; we are invited to take it on faith.

And so the choice rests with us. The invitation is placed before us and it is entirely up to us whether we accept it. We are invited to believe in all that Jesus told us and to embrace the Gospel as our way of life, but there is absolutely no compulsion.

It could be that those of us who have taken Jesus at face value have a special sensitivity to the things of the Spirit or perhaps it is that we are open to the action of God’s grace in our lives.

Whatever the reason, we have come to know God; we have come to appreciate that his Kingdom of love and peace is indeed the “pearl of great price” that we simply must possess.

But unlike the merchants in the story or the man in the auction house we do not only want to possess it for ourselves because we understand that the Kingdom of God is not that kind of thing. It is not something that can be limited only to us; it is something that in order to possess we must share with others.

This is one of the great paradoxes of the Gospel. To possess the Kingdom means to share our knowledge of it with others. To truly believe in Christ means leading other people to the same knowledge; for secret faith is no faith at all.

We need to be like the householder, mentioned at the end of our Gospel reading today, who brings out of his house things both new and old. We should be happy to bring out of the house that is our life all kinds of treasures to share with our neighbours.

But these treasures are not things like clocks and pearls but attitudes and virtues like love and justice and truth and hope and so on. What we bring out from our treasure store are the values of the Kingdom, the attitudes of Jesus and the knowledge of the one true God.

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

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A—July 27, 2014
Gospel (Read Mt 13:44-52)

The Gospel reading gives us another cluster of parables about the kingdom of heaven, adding to an unusually high number in just one chapter. The first two are very similar. In one, the kingdom is compared to a “treasure buried in a field.” The one who finds the treasure immediately recognizes its great value, so he hides it again, for safe-keeping, and “out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” He is thrilled with the prospect of the riches the treasure will bring him. Knowing its value, he has no trouble selling all his other possessions. Nothing he currently owns is worth more than the treasure in that field. In the next parable, a merchant is out searching for fine pearls. He finds one of staggering quality; he, too, “goes and sells all he has and buys it.” He knows that the pearl of great price will more than compensate him for whatever losses he has to count. What is the message here?

Seventeenth Sunday: Wisdom
This Sunday’s readings begin Solomon’s request for Wisdom and conclude with a summation of the Lord’s teaching on the parables. 

At the conclusion of the Dissertation on the parables in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus states: “Every scribe of the Kingdom is like the head of the household who brings out from his storeroom both the new and the old.”  Jesus spoke to the Jewish people, well versed in Hebrew scripture.  The Gospel of Matthew was pointed towards Jewish Christians. Jesus is not replacing what we call the Old Testament with the New Testament.  He is combining the best of the Hebrew Scriptures with the New Way, the Kingdom of God. The wise one, the scribe of the Kingdom, therefore, knows how to use what is old and what is new.

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Matthew 13: 44-52

The tone of the first reading of today’s mass is shaped by the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, made nearly three hundred years before the birth of Christ. Classical Greek language and culture had a strong intellectual and conceptual focus, often seeking to capture ideas and realities in abstract terms. This stood somewhat in contrast to Hebrew language and thought, which was intensely earthy and visceral. An example of the differences in the Greek and Hebrew ways of thinking shows through in this text from the First Book of Kings. In the translation influenced by Greek idiom we hear King Solomon ask for the gift of “an understanding heart”, whereas in the Hebrew original we read that he asked for “a listening heart”.

Reflections for Sunday, July 27, 2014
Knowing We are Treasured by God

Out of joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)

Have you ever noticed how much effort some people put into identifying themselves with certain groups? From social clubs to frequent-flyer programs, from parish committees to social networks, we are all looking for some sense of belonging. But the problem is, for every group that has welcomed you, there are even more that won’t. This is why the gospel truly is good news: Jesus welcomes everyone, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, slave and free. He has established a group where no one ever has to be turned away.

Jesus is in the House! A Consideration of How Jesus’ Teaching Must Take Place in the Church
In the 13th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, which we are currently going through in daily Mass, there are a number of parables that Matthew seems to have collected from Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. Among them are the parable of the sower, the parable of the wheat and tares, the parable of the mustard seed, and the parable of the yeast.

Another structure employed by Matthew, likely recording the actual practice of Jesus, is the mention of  “the house.”

Angels, Our Friends Indeed
Never forget that God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten son. And he so loved his children, that he gave us each an angel.

I recall scooting to one side in my desk during second grade at St. Albert the Great school to make room for my angel to sit next to me. Our teacher Sr. Annette had just talked to us about our angels and made the suggestion that we could leave room in our seats for our angels to sit next to us. Since angels are spirits without physical bodies, it might seem silly, but I think my angel really did fill in that space next to me.

Front Row With Francis: The Sacrament of Confirmation
When I got assigned to write about Pope Francis’ general audience on Confirmation, I was filled with joy. I smiled thinking how beautiful God works in our lives. I go to different churches and talk about the importance of Confirmation to our young people and tell them my story, and how the Holy Spirit worked so powerfully in my life.
Pope Francis puts an emphasis on how important it is for baptized Catholics to fulfill the graces they received from Baptism and go on to Confirmation to be sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Abandonment to Jesus
Per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso: through Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus.

“Without me, you can do nothing.”

“With You, Jesus, I can do all things.”

Renew these thoughts which bind you to Him and which plunge you into the abyss of love which is His Heart. The logical and necessary consequence of the complete confidence which I have preached to you until now is total abandonment.

Our Journey to God Never Ends—Even For Saints
When Catholics speak of conversion, we usually mean the journey of our hearts, minds, and souls to God—not an instantaneous experience, a sudden surge of faith and emotion, or a bolt of supernatural lightning that seals us forever as the elect.

The idea of faith as a journey is well illustrated in the lives of some of the twentieth century’s greatest apologists. Thomas Merton climbed the “seven story mountain.” C.S. Lewis went from the Church of Ireland to atheism to high Anglicanism. Malcolm Muggeridge, a prominent British journalist, spent most of last century on his path to conversion, ending in the Church in the early 1980s. Muggeridge described it as finding his “resting place.”

What is the Answer to Suffering, Pain and Loss?
Many years ago, I taught 4th Grade CCD for my parish religious education department. It was the first evening of classes and I was starting the process of getting everyone introduced to one another when one boy blurted out, “I am going to be your worst nightmare.” He was speaking to me. You could say that I was taken aback, but that would be an understatement. Where in the world did that come from? And how should I respond?

Miracles and Evangelism
Some of the greatest gifts God has given to the Church for evangelism are the gifts of miracles. As a Pentecostal before I became Catholic, I always believed God still performs miracles, but I never saw anything close to what Catholics too often take for granted in both the number and kind of miracles God pours out upon his One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church in every generation. Everything from the raising of the dead, to restorative miracles of the body and more have been experienced in the Church for 2,000 years fulfilling our Lord’s prophetic words of Mark 16:17-20:

Ten Ways To Grow in Prayer
Prayer is the key to salvation.  St. Augustine says that he who prays well lives well; he who lives well dies well; and to he who dies well all is well. St. Alphonsus reiterates the same principle:  “He who prays much will be saved; he who does not pray will be damned; he who prays little places in jeopardy his eternal salvation.  The same saint asserted that there are neither strong people nor weak people in the world, but those who know how to pray and those who do not. In other words prayer is our strength in all times and places.

Irrationality and Infallibility
Not too long ago I spoke with yet another Protestant minister who is about to leave his ministry and join the Catholic Church. He said he ended up in this situation because he had a seminary professor who kept challenging his students to, “Think it through.”

He tried to think through his opposition to Catholicism because he had a parishioner who was asking troublesome questions in his own journey to the Catholic Church, and as the pastor tried to think things through he ended up becoming a Catholic himself.

6 Ways to Cultivate the Virtue of Humility
Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist, there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.     —St. Augustine

If you’ve read this blog for any time at all, you’ll know that I speak frequently about the importance of humility. The saints make it perfectly clear that humility is the foundation of all spiritual growth. If we are not humble, we are not holy. It is that simple.

But while it’s simple enough to know that we should be humble, it’s not always so easy in practice. Accordingly, I want to discuss six methods to cultivate the virtue of humility.

Why Prophecy?
“Despise not prophecies. But prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” –1 Thessalonians 5:20

From time to time on a Catholic blog or Facebook post someone will make reference to the prophetic utterance or alleged message from some saint, seer, or sage.

Almost always in discussions about prophecy, whether old or new, somebody will correctly state that even approved private revelation is not binding on us and nobody is ever obligated to believe in it.

So the question is, why bother with it at all?

How to Forgive When I Can’t Forget
While many people believe forgetting an injury is part of forgiveness, Fr. Justin Waltz, pastor of St. Leo’s Church in Minot, ND, suggested just the opposite during a retreat he gave. In fact, he stated that forgetting is not even possible. “The only type of forgetting I have heard of is stuffing,” he said during a retreat presentation and added, “The hurt is not gone, it is just buried deep within.”

A Timeless Lesson and the Burden of Sin
I have been thinking a great deal about my experience at Reconciliation this past Saturday. I felt an intense and unexplainable urge to go and confess my sins when I woke up that morning. I try to go every six weeks or so, but this was no routine visit to the priest for me. I needed to unburden myself of the numerous venial sins I had committed since I last participated in this Sacrament. I was able to see the true nature of these sins as a tremendous burden on my shoulders, as a fog that kept me from seeing the path ahead and absolutely as obstacles in my relationship with Christ. I know these observations to be true because the moment I left the confessional booth I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted, my spiritual vision was restored and I was again focused on serving the Lord.

Ten Tips for a Better Confession
In the context of an Ignatian retreat it is always beneficial to prepare oneself to make an excellent Confession. To make a good confession demands prior preparation. The better the prior preparation, the more abundant the graces and the more overflowing the river of peace in your soul!

Following are ten short helps to make the best confession in your life.

We Don’t Call Her “The Virgin Mary” For Nothing
Whenever we talk about Mary, we address her with many different titles: Mother of Jesus, Mother of God, Holy Mary,  Blessed Mother. However, out of all these, the one most often heard across Catholic (and Protestant) aisles is The Virgin Mary.

Virtually every person that claims the Christian faith accepts that Mary miraculously conceived Christ as a virgin. Yet, it is widely believed across every Protestant denomination that after Mary gave birth to Jesus, she was free to give herself fully to her husband Joseph, and thus ceased to be “the virgin” Mary.

For Catholics, it’s a different story.

Responding to “Spiritual but Not Religious” Christians
Over the last several years I have encountered a fair number of Christians who claim they are “spiritual but not religious.” In other words, they do not identify with a particular Christian denomination, using the Bible alone to guide their faith. It’s an ideology that says religious institutions are outdated and unnecessary.

A Place for Family Prayer
Life today is fast-paced and can lead us astray, so we need to slow down sometimes and reset our direction toward God. The best way to begin this reorientation is by making space – both physically and spiritually – for prayer in the home.

Catholicism and the Perils of Technology
A confession: I am writing this column on my MacBook Air computer with my iPhone at my side. And I regularly enlist the help of a cellphone App to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. And after all, I live in the heart of Silicon Valley and have lectured to 300 actual and would-be Techies and Masters of the Universe.

Five Rules for Consoling the Dying
There are some things that should never be said to the dying. I’ve never bothered developing a comprehensive “no-no” list but years of parish ministry have attuned me to the particularly egregious.

First, if you are approaching a bedside, try not to act like a novice Optimist Club member, all hale and hearty and booming of voice. I know you are trying to cheer people up, but that’s not the way to do it. Ginned up bon ami “let’s do lunch soon” camaraderie makes me wonder if you can see reality.

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Pastoral Sharings: "16th Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 20, 2014

Last Sunday we had the parable of the Sower, this  
Sunday  we have the parable of the Man Sowing Good  Seed, next Sunday Jesus compares the Kingdom of  Heaven to a treasure hidden in a field.

These agricultural images are obviously very appropriate to his listeners who were much closer to the land than most of us are. Jesus uses many other easily understandable images in his parables; for example, today we also have the mustard seed and the yeast in the flour. But there are many, many more images recorded in the Gospels.

This is a completely different approach from the scribes and the Pharisees who tended to work from the Law. Religion being for them a matter of following sets of laid down instructions: “keep these rules and God will be happy with you!” is what they seem to be saying. And: “if you don?t understand them just ask us?the experts!”

But if we take a closer look at these parables of Jesus we find that some of them are very odd indeed. Because we don’t know the background or the actual situation we tend to take them at face value and believe that what Jesus says is true but they wouldn?t have sounded like that to his listeners.

There is something wrong with each of these three parables. To start with the people would have been very puzzled with the behaviour of the farmer in the story about the darnel. No one in their right mind would leave the darnel growing in the field till harvest time. It would soon multiply and choke the wheat.

The mustard seed is not actually the smallest seed and neither does it become the biggest shrub. Although it grows to about eight feet there are certainly plenty of bigger bushes than that.

And then the story about the woman with the yeast would also sound very odd because the quantities Jesus uses would make bread for over a hundred people and no woman could knead that amount of dough on her own.

So although Jesus takes the figurative approach because all his listeners, from the most sophisticated to the simplest, can understand them, that doesn’t mean they don’t find something odd about them.

It is this very oddness that helps the people to see that Jesus is not conveying literal truth but spiritual truth. In the first case it is about the problem of evil in the world and how God gives even the worst of us plenty of time to convert.

In the second and third parables it is about the smallness of the community of believers and yet the greatness of their influence in the world.

By using parables with images that the people are familiar with does not mean that Jesus is making things easier for them. By making things understandable for them Jesus is actually clarifying the moral choices that life lays before them. He is forcing them to choose which direction to take.

The parable about the good seed and the darnel certainly presents a very stark comparison between those who do good and those who do evil. Jesus seems to be suggesting that you are either a) virtuous and will shine like the sun or b) are evil and will be thrown into the blazing furnace. He presents no middle way.

That sounds rather unfortunate to us. If you are anything like me you have a bit of good and a bit of bad in you. Not completely bad! But then not completely good either!

This puts us all in a bit of a quandary. We want to be good but we find ourselves badmouthing our neighbours; we want to be holy but we don’t say our prayers very often; we want to be trustworthy but, well, if nobody?s looking?!

This is the very human dilemma most of us are in. We want to get to heaven but we are a little nervous of that big book and what St. Peter has been writing about us over all these years.

We might not like what we find when we get to those pearly gates. Will we gain admission or not? It could be a bit of a moot point! There might be a lot of humming and hawing!

What Jesus is doing is highlighting the fundamental choice all of us must make in our life. Naturally he wants us to choose the good, to follow the way he outlines for us.

But, of course, it must be our absolutely free choice and that leaves open the possibility that we might make a fundamental choice for evil, a choice not to go the way he sets before us.

Jesus does not do this to be difficult. He does it so that we see clearly the way we are going in life. He does it to help us make the right choices without ever restricting our freedom. This is, in fact, the most loving and caring thing he can do for us.

And he gives us time to convert, time to turn our lives around; but this time is not without limit for there certainly is a day of reckoning. The parable is warning us to start making those changes now because one day the reaper will surely come to gather in the harvest.

In the Screwtape Letters, a little book by CS Lewis, the devils are having a meeting and trying to work out better ways to tempt man. It is the smallest devil who comes up with the best temptation of all. He says to the others, “Let us tell man there is no hurry.”

This really is one of the most insidious of all temptations and we must guard ourselves against it. We so easily think that we can do evil today and seek forgiveness tomorrow only to find that tomorrow never comes.

What happens is that with constant repetition we discover that we have grown so used to the sin that we have forgotten that it is a sin at all. The truth of the matter is that the longer we leave it to correct our faults the harder it is to do so.

These parables may have sounded odd to their first listeners but they contain profound spiritual truths and there is enough in them to meditate on for a whole lifetime. And if we learn the lessons they contain they will last us much longer than a lifetime, they will last us for all eternity.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
July 20, 2014

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)—July 20, 2014
Gospel (Read Mt 13:24-43)

In this chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus uses parables to teach the large crowd gathered to hear Him at the seashore. In the first one, He says, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field.” However, during the cover of night, “while everyone was asleep,” an enemy came and sowed weeds all through his field. The weed, sometimes called “darnel,” looks very much like wheat in its early growth. If it gets ground up later with the wheat and made into flour, it can cause sickness. In Jesus’ day, personal vengeance sometimes took the form of sowing this weed in an enemy’s wheat field, a punishable crime in Roman law.

Sixteenth Sunday: Weeds among the Wheat – The Price of Freedom
If, along with me, you watch the news every evening,  or read the paper every day, you experience a non stop barrage of terrible things that happen in the world. A young lady testifies what her life was like after being attacked.  Doctors detail numerous beatings a little boy received before his death.  Earthquakes and other occurrences of nature kill thousands.  Perhaps tragedy may strike our own families.  Or we may read about corruption within the government, or even Churchmen behaving immorally. When these situations take place, we sometimes are tempted to ask, “Why didn’t God do a better job in creating the world.  Why is there so much evil around us? Why does God allow terrible things to happen?”

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A — Modern
Gospel Matthew 13 : 24 – 43

The Gospel today continues with some parables of Jesus. Parables are intended to cause the listener to think about them, and reflect on what Jesus meant in telling them. One can hear the same parable numerous times, and each time gain a different insight into its’ meaning. The three given to us today; the weeds among the wheat, the mustard seed, and the yeast, are about the Kingdom of Heaven. As I reflected on them the virtue that stands out is patience.

Reflections for Sunday, July 20, 2014
Yielding to the Work of the Holy Spirit in Our Lives

The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness. (Romans 8:26)

If you remember nothing else about St. Paul, remember this: he loved to talk about the Holy Spirit! For just one example, take a look at chapter eight of his Letter to the Romans, and you’ll see:

Augustine’s two rules for reading the Bible
St. Augustine, whom most consider the greatest of all the Church Fathers, spends the last three “books” of his Confessions interpreting the spare outline of the Creation recorded in Genesis. The result is a moving tribute to Divine Love, and to the surpassing fulfillment each soul finds in God alone. But along the way he teaches us two important things about how to read Scripture. They are well worth passing along.

Novena to St. Anne begins July 17
Saint Anne’s feast day is on July 26th, so the St. Anne Novena is traditionally started on July 17th; however, you can pray it anytime. St. Anne (Hebrew, Hannah, grace; also spelled Ann, Anne, Anna) is the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the grandmother of Jesus, and the wife of Joachim. She is mentioned in the Apocrypha, chiefly the Protoevangelium of James, which dates back to the second century. Devotion to St. Anne dates back to the sixth century in the Church of Constantinople and the eighth century in Rome.

Help! I need Practical Ideas for Living the Faith
For the last several years, there has been an increased interest in practical advice on how to practice their faith.  Certainly, the uncertainty and growing chaos in the secular world have something to do with this. More recently, we have seen more obvious clashes between our culture and our Church. We can look back through Salvation History and see the pattern. The answer today, just like in times past, is the same — turn away from sin and towards God. The right path has always been surrender to the One who alone is good and loves you.

Build A Spiritual Defense
Most of us can sense when something is working against us as we persevere to grow in faith and strive to live the Gospel in communion with Christ. Sometimes, quite suddenly our peace of soul or joy in the Lord is oppressed by heaviness and negativity. Many people experience situations when strife arises, friendships abruptly break down, misunderstandings in families or groups cause division, odd accidents happen, strange twists occur and pathways are blocked. It is imprudent to always assume these are due to diabolical influences but often the devil is in mix. When a person becomes a threat to the demonic realm due to their love for God and/or some good work that builds up the Church, the devil reacts to the degree that God allows.

Finding Hope Through Grief
In May 2000, Christi and Mark Tripodi endured any parent’s most wrenching ordeal. Their 3-year-old son, Bobby, was stricken with bacterial meningitis and died within a day of the diagnosis.

Almost a year and a half later, Bobby’s distraught parents had not accepted his death. Counseling and support groups did not alleviate their sorrow.

Christ, Our Strength
I’m in Krakow, Poland at Mass in 1988. Poles pack the church to overflowing.  This is not the Easter Vigil; it’s merely one Sunday Mass at one Catholic church in a city with over 100 churches and Mass schedules that read like an auctioneer’s call:  6:30, 7:00, 7:30, 8:00, 8:30…

All the Masses I attend in Krakow are packed; people line the walls and fill the vestibule and even stand outside.

Reflecting on Our Lady of Mount Carmel
I think of Mary as a gardener throughout human history. Trouble in France? Here comes Mary with rosary in hand and a full dose of prayer. Something’s tough in Russia? Mary’s on her way, pulling a hose behind her for some special fertilizing. They need help in the United States? There’s Mother Mary, clad in gloves, trowel in hand.

There’s no weed in our lives that’s too big for her, no overgrown mess that’s too intimidating. She doesn’t look outside her heavenly window and exclaim in frustration, “Won’t they ever learn?” She just shows up with a smile and heavenly help.

Don’t Give in to Discouragement
Psychologists tell us that one of the chief evils of our age, an evil apparently less evident in earlier ages, is that of easy defeat. Be this as it may, most people who are honest with themselves would probably have to admit to indulging in despondency. They are fortunate if they have nothing worse to confess than despondency; there are many who labor under the weight of near-despair. Whether guilty of surrendering to the tempta­tion or whether burdened with a sense of guilt that in fact is without foundation, a man can reduce his spiritual vitality so as virtually to close his soul to the operation of hope. When hope dies, there is very little chance for faith and charity.

Passing Along All that is Noble and Worthwhile
I was blessed to grow up with great parents. We didn’t have much, but my parents made sure my sister and I had love, discipline, faith, strong values, and an appreciation for the value of hard work. My mother played a vital role in our family, as all mothers do, but I find as I grow older that I am most like my father. I pass many of the lessons he taught me on to my own children and still look to him for wisdom and advice. Look back on your own upbringing. What role did your father play? Were there other role models? Just as many of us live out the lessons we learned in our youth, our children will someday emulate us. They are always watching and we have to decide if we will be their heroic role models who consistently set the right example or relinquish our fatherly responsibilities to a host of bad societal influences. Which will it be?

Four Critical Rules for Catholic Fathers
It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.—Pope St. John XXIII

I often feel completely lost and befuddled as a Catholic father in today’s world. How do I set the right example? How do I help my sons grow up with a strong Catholic faith? How do I prepare them for a culture that often teaches and rewards actions counter to what we believe and how we should live? One of my frequent daily prayers after I thank Jesus for my wife and children is to ask for help in living up to my vocation as a husband and father. Do you ever feel this way?

The Christian Way of Life: 1st Century and 21st Century
In the ancient classical world during the first century, the Christian way of life clashed dramatically with the pagan practices of the day. In “The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus”, the author acknowledges that the early Christians possess a “wonderful and confessedly striking method of life.” Unlike pagans who abandon their sick or unwanted children to die in the mountains, the early Christians “do not destroy their offspring.” Unlike pagans who do not honor the holiness of marriage, Christians “have a common table, but not a common bed.” Unlike the worldly who worship the belly and live only for pleasure, Christians “are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh.” Christian living and morality followed a higher standard and sublime ideal.

Young people find healing, purpose, God’s love in theology of the body
For campus minister Amy West, St. John Paul II’s theology of the body is more than just the late pope’s writings on the human body, the creation of male and female, marriage and human sexuality. It is a means of healing and self-discovery for young people.

“What I see with each coming year is that students are wounded. They’re wounded by their upbringing, by the evermore secular culture, by the evermore sexualized culture, and they’ve never learned or they’ve lost the value of their own self-worth and their own dignity,” West, campus minister at George Washington University in Washington, told Catholic News Service.

Who Will Crush the Serpent’s Head?
In the Douay-Rheims version of the Bible, we read:

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.”

And the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.

“I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel” [Gen. 3:13-15].

This translation, found also in many older editions of the Latin Vulgate, is the basis for common depictions in Catholic art of Mary with a serpent beneath her feet.

Should we be Judgmental?
Repentance can be born only of grace. If God does not send grace to a spirit, making it understand the perpetrated evil, then there can be no supernatural repentance. Without grace, a demon can understand that it was a foolish decision to have rebelled, a decision that has caused it suffering. But true repentance is qualitatively different from just mere awareness. It is not simply an act of the understanding; rather, it is a gift from God so that we might bend our knees before Him and humbly ask for His forgiveness. Without this grace, one may feel pain for making a wrong decision, but true repentance is beyond him. Demons can admit that their choice led to suffering, but this does not stop them from hating God.

Why Does Hell Need to be Eternal?
Repentance can be born only of grace. If God does not send grace to a spirit, making it understand the perpetrated evil, then there can be no supernatural repentance. Without grace, a demon can understand that it was a foolish decision to have rebelled, a decision that has caused it suffering. But true repentance is qualitatively different from just mere awareness. It is not simply an act of the understanding; rather, it is a gift from God so that we might bend our knees before Him and humbly ask for His forgiveness. Without this grace, one may feel pain for making a wrong decision, but true repentance is beyond him. Demons can admit that their choice led to suffering, but this does not stop them from hating God.

Sinful Curiosity is at the Root of Many Sins
Curiosity is one of those qualities of the human person that are double-edged swords. It can cut a path to glory or it can be like a dagger of sin that cuts deep into the soul.

As to its glory, it is one of  the chief ingredients in the capacity of the human person to,  as Scripture says, “subdue the earth,” to gain mastery over the many aspects of creation of which God made us stewards. So much of our ingenuity and innovation is rooted in our wonder and awe of God’s creation, and those two little questions, “How?” and “Why?”

Are We Really Teaching the Catholic Faith?
A gentleman once asked me; “how can we effectively proclaim the Gospel to those who won’t listen.” The tone by which he asked the question was one of frustration, anger, and fear. How could I or anyone for that matter involved in evangelization and catechesis not relate to this person as we have often asked that question ourselves.

I Didn’t Want to Live Anymore, Then I Met Him…
here was a time, not too long ago, when I thought all was lost in my life and I couldn’t go on living any more. It was the Body of Christ that saved me.

I was raised in a pretty normal albeit free-range family. My mum was Catholic so raised us in the faith. I was really close to my family, I had great friends and a happy and easy school life. I had a strong faith and sense of morality, which kept me firm and grounded as a young adult. In other words, life was good.

Better Prepare Yourself for Communion
acramental Theology teaches a key principal that all Catholics should know so as to derive the most abundant graces that flow from the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Sacraments.  This key principal is called Dispositive Grace. What this term means, in clear and unequivocal terms, is that you receive graces from the Sacraments in direct proportion to your disposition of heart and preparation of soul.

Yes, they ate Locust. A Review of Some the Common Foods at the Time of Jesus
Generally speaking, the Israelites of the time of Christ were frugal eaters. Frankly, until about 100 years ago, frugality in eating was more imposed than chosen. Food was more scarce and less convenient than it is today. Its availability was seasonal and all the elements needed to be made from scratch; even water needed to be hauled in from wells, etc.

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Pastoral Sharings: "15th Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessage  Homily from Father James Gilhooley
  July 13, 2014
  15 Ordinary Time
  Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A Cycle –  
  Matthew 13:1-9
   Mark Twain wrote: “Giving up cigarettes is easy. I do it 
   a”hundred times a week.” Many 
   of us, like Twain, grow easily discouraged from one broken resolution or other. If you do, today’s parable has your name on it.
When this Gospel opens, Jesus is sitting by the Lake of Galilee. He is getting a tan and much needed beach time.
Leisurely He is reading the sports pages of a week old copy of the Jerusalem Times and sipping a glass of good red wine. Suddenly out of that famous nowhere appears a huge crowd.
He springs to His feet lest He be trampled by these happy friendlies. They clamor for what they think will be an impromptu lecture. The favorite outdoor sport of the Jews was to search out distinguished rabbis and drain them dry. Intellectual gymnastics was the Jewish idea of a good time. Today was the turn of our Jesus. Good-naturedly He obliges the almost playful group.
Remember Teacher is the Gospel term used most commonly of Jesus.
Since the microphone system was poor, some of His words were being lost. The crowd was pushing Him into the lake to better hear Him. Since He had showered that AM at the Holiday Inn, He did not need another bath. So, the Teacher nimbly lifted Himself into a large fishing boat drawn up on the sand. He obviously exercised. (Do we? If not, why not?) Seated in the bow, He continued His talk.
Incidentally, when was the last time you were sitting at the beach and a large mob surrounded you? And they shouted, “O great teacher, share your wisdom with us.” Do you see now the type of Man we are lucky enough to follow? Have you sold Him short when He has so much to teach you? If yes, reconsider.
Put this point into your mental computer. Matthew says this was the first parable Jesus spoke. So, He must have spent hours burning the midnight oil at His Sony laptop polishing it. This was to be His debut on the lecture circuit. Jesus knew one bomb and you were road kill. This is one more reason to pay this parable super attention. There is gold out there in those parable hills. We have to dig it out with some old-fashioned sweat. Even in the spiritual life, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Many others on the lecture circuit have used the parable method, but no one has matched the Master’s skills. A literary critic wrote: “He is one of the world’s supreme masters of the short story.” How many short stories of de Maupassant or O Henry do you remember? Yet you know all of Christ’s.
This is a parable of encouragement. It was meant for the apostles and ourselves. To the twelve, the Nazarene was numero uno. He was an original. Yet they were discouraged that so few were actually buying into Him. “Master, why so much effort and so few gold rings?” His answer was this parable. (William Barclay)
Even the dullest gardener among us does not expect every single seed he sows to come up singing roses. He knows the wind will blow some seeds away. The squirrels will grow fat on others. However, even the amateur gardener keeps on sowing. And he certainly does not give up expectations of a generous growth of flowers.
Jesus tells His own troops never to throw in the towel even when one’s efforts seem an exercise in futility. People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway. (Kent Keith)
Think of of John Harvard here. In 1640, he came to the American colonies from England. He was a promising scholar. The New World appeared to be his oyster. But the poor fellow upped and died after but one year. His will gave $3500 and 200 books to a fledgling university. The school became Harvard University. Today it staffs a faculty of 1000 and has a student body of 10,000. It enjoys an international reputation. (Barclay)
John Harvard’s death appeared to his contemporaries to be an abomination, but it produced riches beyond anybody’s imaginings.
So, this parable of the Nazarene teaches that even if much of your labor or your money seems to go for nothing, do not allow yourself to go into a downer. The ballgame may well go into extra innings. Your honorable self may prove to be as much a winner as Christ Himself. Struggle on.
We mourn that the glass is half empty. With a smile, Jesus fills up the glass. Had Mark Twain taken this parable seriously, he would have ended his nasty cigarette habit.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
July 13, 2014

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)—July 13, 2014
Gospel (Read Mt 13:1-23)

Our Gospel opens with a picturesque scene of Jesus sitting “by the sea” and drawing such a large crowd that He had to get into a boat and go offshore a bit so the people could hear Him. If we were reading Matthew’s Gospel from its beginning, we would see that the reason Jesus had such a big following was that “He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people. So His fame spread…” (Mt 4:23-24a). We would notice, too, that the first great teaching by Jesus recorded in this Gospel is the Sermon on the Mount. Here we find several chapters of straight talk about how men ought to live. Noticeable is the lack of any parables. After that, we get many more accounts of Jesus’ miracles.   Then, in chapter twelve, we find the beginning of strong opposition to Him. He healed a man on the Sabbath, and “the Pharisees went out and took counsel against Him, how to destroy Him” (Mt 12:14).

Fifteenth Sunday: Can We Handle the Truth?
This Sunday’s gospel can be divided into three sections.  The first is the parable of the sower.  Seed is thrown out on a footpath, where the birds eat it up, on rocky ground where it had no deep roots, among thorns where it was choked, and finally on good soil where it yielded the abundant harvest.  The  message of the parable is clear and simple: Be good soil.  The third section of the gospel is an allegorical interpretation of the parable of the soil.  Every section of the parable is seen as containing  a separate message.  The seed along the path is the man who hears God’s word but doesn’t understand it.  The birds are the evil one who devour what is scattered about in his mind.  The seed on the rocky soil is the man who does not have firm roots in his faith.  The seed among the thorns is the man who wants to have faith but is preoccupied by the things of the world.  Good soil is the man who hears the message and makes it his lifestyle.

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A — Classic
Matthew 13:1-23

Gospel Summary

This parable about the sower of seeds is the first of seven parables that Matthew placed in the center of his gospel. Each of the parables adds a specific dimension to the reality that Matthew has described in the previous two chapters: although there are disciples who have begun to believe in him, Jesus is experiencing much rejection.
In the parable, the sower goes out and sows a great amount of seed. For various reasons much of the seed does not come to fruition. However, some of the seed that fell on rich soil produces an extraordinary amount of fruit.

Reflections for Sunday, July 13, 2014
Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 65:10-14; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23)

Allowing the Scriptures to Transform Us and Bear Fruit in Our Lives

My word … shall not return to me void. (Isaiah 55:11)

A farmer is very careful during planting season. He selects the best seeds, chooses the most fertile land, and plants each crop in just the right location. He does all of this in the expectation of a good harvest. Yet despite all his effort, he can’t make the seeds grow. It’s up to the seeds themselves. By contrast, it’s our heavenly Father who makes the seed of faith in our hearts grow and bear fruit. And he does it by pouring his word on us like a gentle rain shower.

Thinking Liturgically: Who is Our Helper?
Why do we go to Mass?  While this might seem like an easy question, try and figure out a way to describe why we go to Mass in a quick and easy fashion.  Traditionally, it is said the point of Mass is fourfold:  that of adoration, reparation, intercession and thanksgiving.  To anyone well versed in liturgical theology, they can tell you what this means.  But can the average person in the pews?  They aren’t meant to be theologians, they just want to go worship.

Experience the Life of Peace Christ Wants for You
In today’s gospel (Matthew 11:25-30), Jesus speaks of a relationship with Him to which He invites us that promises rest for the weary. In light of his other sayings, we see these words a clear implication of a peace that he offers to us.

But many followers of Christ don’t seem to be peaceful. Indeed, in my ministry, I often speak to Catholics and other Christians who admit they lack peace and aren’t sure what to do about it.

True Grit and the Sacred Heart of Jesus
As a convert to the Catholic faith it took me a while to appreciate the Sacred Heart of Jesus devotion. To tell the truth, it seemed kind of sappy, sentimental and well… French. All hearts and flowers and perfume – almost like a Valentine from Jesus. Yucch.

God is the Ultimate Therapist
One of the more common statements that we hear from Protestants in regards to confessing our sins to an ordained priest is “I just confess my sins directly to God”. Of course, we should acknowledge our sins immediately when we are aware of them and ask God’s forgiveness. However, the God who created us knows what we need infinitely more than we do. This is why He instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Confession and Culture
Apart from political activism (which the Church certainly encourages her members to engage in to help establish just societies and safeguard human rights), what can we as Catholics do to turn things around in our admittedly erring country?

One of the best ways to evangelize a formerly Christian country is through the practice of frequent confession and reception of the Eucharist, both of which, in addition to being sacraments, are extremely potent forms of prayer.

No more excuses about how the flesh is weak.The spirit is eager and willing!When it comes to the demands of the moral life, one of the tendencies of our fallen human nature is to emphasize our weakness and minimize the reality of our strength. It is surely a tendency related to the cardinal sin of sloth, wherein we experience sorrow, sadness, or aversion to the good things that God is offering us.

There’s a part of us that would rather stay locked in our sins and in our weakness, either because we fear the changes that holiness would bring or, even worse, we find holiness unappealing.

12 Claims Every Catholic Should Be Able to Answer
The Church has an important responsibility in protecting the integrity of our Faith. It never rejects ideas out of hand, as some dissenters would claim, but has two thousand years of prayer and study behind the beliefs it holds to be true. 

Freedom of speech is a great thing. Unfortunately, it comes at an unavoidable price: When citizens are free to say what they want, they’ll sometimes use that freedom to say some pretty silly things. And that’s the case with the 12 false claims below. Some of them are made over and over, others are rare. Either way, while the proponents of these errors are free to promote them, we as Catholics have a duty to know better and to respond in charity.

Fr Dwight Longenecker: A Hot Line to the Holy Spirit
Catholics certainly believe in the individual’s infilling with the Holy Spirit, but we hold this in balance with the equally important truth that the Church herself is inspired and filled and guided by the Holy Spirit. The Church is the Body of Christ on earth, and as such is a living, moving, breathing, Spirit filled organism-against which the gates of hell will never prevail. It is this Spirit filled Church which provides the balance and ballast for our own individual experience of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit-filled Church which provides the correction and qualification of our claims. It is the Spirit-filled Church which validates God’s guidance in our lives and it is the Spirit filled lives of the saints, the teaching of the Church and the liturgy of the Church which deepen, broaden, complete and sacramentally seal the personal infilling of the Holy Spirit.

Will Francis’s legacy be his constant reference to the battle between good and evil?
Deliver Us From Evil is a new film based on the experiences of New York police officer Ralph Sarchie. When the cop investigates a series of horrific crimes, he is led into the realm of the demonic and teams up with an unconventional priest to cast out the devil.

Some reviewers rate the movie as a typical exorcist horror film, scratch, and yawn then flick the channels. They shouldn’t.

God Only Helps Whom?
Have you ever heard the story of the man who prayed that God would save him in a flood? He stood on top of his roof, praying that God would save him. Three different rescue teams tried, and when each asked if he was okay and offered to bring him to safety, he turned them down, declaring that God would save him. Eventually he ended up drowning in the flood, and when he reached the other side, he approached God unhappily asking, “God, I trusted in you, why didn’t you save me?”

Get me to the Church on Time! A short meditation on Sunday morning struggles
One thing I surely have easy as a priest is getting to Church on Sunday. All I have to do is walk down the stairs, go through the dining and walk the passage through to the Church. There I am.I realize that it is not as easy for most of my parishioners and I am always grateful to see them, knowing the sacrifices many have made to get here.

The Secret to Converting Your Friends and Family
There’s someone out there you want to see safely home in the Catholic Church, right? Someone you know would be the next St. Augustine, if he found truth and decided to work for truth for the rest of his life.  You’ve been evangelizing to him by buying books and videos, posting articles on social media, even speaking directly on the stuff he’s missed. Still, he’s unmoved, probably  accused you of judging. So, you’re about ready to give up.

Please don’t!

We Are A Work in Progress
Workshops for teachers, spring training for Baseball players, ongoing courses for professionals, coaching, reviewing, updating, cutting away the dead branches and debris—life demands constant labor to improve, upgrade and perfect. Even more important must be the constant labor at ongoing formation for followers of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   All of us are a work in progress (W.O.P.) an incomplete project, a task that can always be improved.

Loving The Unlovable
On social media as in your dining room or your workplace, you are guaranteed to encounter people who test your patience. We are, as Catholics, commanded to love all people. There is no exclusion in Scripture or Tradition for jerks. There is no asterisk that features an addendum explaining that I am not required to love the person whose main goal appears to be to ruin my day, or even my life.

How do I get Rid of my “inner ugliness?”
Dear Father John, I have been struggling with some interior trials with forgiveness, resentment and jealousy. I call this “inner ugliness.” I have been praying fervently, going to confession, and receiving excellent spiritual direction. I have been willing myself to be charitable even when I am not feeling it. So here is my question. What am I missing, why do I still feel “inner ugly”? How do I let go of all of this?

Mass is Boring…
…is a complaint we too often hear.

But why is that and what’s to be done about it? Part of the problem is that we live in a high energy entertainment culture. People go and sit down together and they shift into an audience/consumer mindset. Subconsciously it’s like they have settled down to watch TV, attend a sports event or go to a movie. They want to be stimulated and entertained. Their involvement level is very low.

Worship is a different dynamic and many people don’t know what to do so they’re bored.

Karen Explains to Protestant Family Members Why She Became Catholic
Dear Family,

So that you know I have been vigilant in reading and studying about the Catholic Church.  Below are the many, many reasons why it is apparent to me that the Catholic Church is Christ’s Church that he built, and why there is no doubt in mind this is where I belong.  Sorry it’s so long, but there is so much to say and cover.  Here it goes, primarily it all starts with the Eucharist more than anything else.

How to talk to non-Catholics about the Faith
In 2013, Pope Francis had barely settled into his new Vatican living quarters when some enterprising journalist coined a phrase: “the Francis effect.”

Over the course of the past year, that phrase has repeatedly resurfaced in the likes of The Boston Globe, The New York Times and The Economist, alluding to what some see as a renewed interest in the Catholic Church sparked by Pope Francis.

The evidence, however, suggests that the more apt phrase might be “the Francis moment.”

World Youth Day 2016 logo and prayer revealed
Vatican City, 3 July 2014 (VIS) – In a press conference held this morning the metropolitan archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, presented the logo and official prayer for the 31st World Youth Day.

Three elements are combined in the symbolism of the logo: the place, the main protagonists, and the theme of the celebration. The logo of the 2016 World Youth Day, to be held in Krakow, illustrates the passage from the Gospel according to Matthew, 5.7: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”, chosen as the theme of the event.

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Pastoral Sharings: "14th Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessageHomily from Father Cusick
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 6, 2014 

Zechariah 9, 9-10; Psalm 145; Romans 8, 9.11-13;
Matthew 11: 25-30

“Father, Lord of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise.” Christ calls upon God, His Father and ours, in today’s gospel according to St. Matthew, Chapter 11, verses 11 to 13. God our heavenly Father is the source of all fatherhood, both natural fatherhood within the families into which each of us are born, and the spiritual fatherhood of the priesthood. It is God the Father Himself who is attacked whenever earthly fathers and mothers and the family are attacked. From the beginning it was God’s fatherhood over each of us that the Evil One sought to destroy in tempting Adam and Eve and he does so still.
These times in which we live have made genuine motherhood and fatherhood an endangered species. In this month of July each year we celebrate a foundational modern document for the truth of marriage and family life: Humanae Vitae. In this papal encyclical his holiness Paul VI of blessed memory, declared as a matter of faith and morals that every use of artificial contraception is a moral evil. He prophetically declared that once the unitive and procreative aspects of the one marital act were separated by aritificial means of contraception that marriage itself would be threatened. Is it any more in doubt that that he was absolutely right? 
Many children will never draw their first breath, or be able to come to know the love of our Father God through their earthly mothers and fathers. We continue to legislate, fund and promote ever more vicious attacks against human life at all stages, from the newly conceived to the elderly. Everyone in society is culpable, whether by active promotion of these evils, or by failing to do more to stop abortion, contraception, euthanasia or infanticide through partial-birth abortions. 
From the abortifacient contraceptives which are pushed on our young people in pervasive physiological sex education, to the doctors who pervert their profession in support of life into one of taking the lives of the elderly, the so-called “useless” and the unwanted, our society embraces more and more the godlessness of sin and death. Now, in a Hitlerian turn, we are judging who among the living has no ”quality of life” and are therefore liable to legally-sanctioned murder by starvation and dehydration. The most recent assault against the innocent unborn is the presidential veto of the partial birth abortion ban. 
Our bishops and Catholic people are called by Christ to take the strong stand necessary to stop the violence and bloodshed of the holocaust around us in the culture of death. Our bishops have called upon us to write, call and lobby our leaders to stop the attacks upon the sacred gift of human life and have established a national day of prayer and fasting for life. Every Friday is a perfect opportunity to pray and sacrifice for the sanctity of human life as we meditate upon the offering up to death for our salvation of the perfect and holy life of Christ, God and man. 
Let us preserve and protect God’s plan for the family: fatherhood and motherhood within the lifelong commitment of marriage. Let us encourage chastity and self-control for the unmarried, rather than condemning them to the error and unhappiness of promiscuity and births out of marriage that come with fornication. When our Catholic faith is no longer simply a label, or only an identity for us, but instead a way of life in Christ, then we will be able to sincerely call upon God in prayerful praise as does our Lord. 
The Catechism of the Catholic Church directs us: “Before we make our own this exclamation of the Lord’s Prayer, we must humbly cleanse our hearts of certain false images drawn ‘from this world.’ Humility makes us recognize that ‘no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him,’ that is ‘to children.'” (CCC 2779) 
God has existed in His divine eternal splendor from the beginning. We have been called to share His own wonderful light in and through our Savior Jesus Christ. We must encounter, accept and love Him as He is, not as we would have him be. Christ founded the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church to enable us to know and live the truth, already now, in this world that will one day end, and forever in the glory of heaven. Let us become like children so that we are always able to humbly receive the truth from our ever-living, love-giving heavenly Father.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
July ,6 2014

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)—July 6, 2014
Gospel (Read Mt 11:25-30)

Today’s reading is best understood in its context within Matthew’s Gospel. In the preceding verses, Jesus upbraids some of the cities of Galilee for refusing to repent and believe in Him as Israel’s Messiah, even though they had seen Him perform many “mighty works.” Their proud resistance to Jesus, the carpenter’s Son, brought them spiritual blindness. Because He had revealed so much to them without a response of repentance and faith, He warned them: “…it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you” (Mt 11:24).

Fourteenth Sunday: He is Meek and Humble of Heart
Today’s Gospel tells us about the Heart of Jesus. It gives us these words of comfort: “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”   

What do these words tell us about the Lord?  What do they mean for us?

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A — Classic
Matthew 11: 25-30

Gospel Summary

This Sunday’s gospel is brief but exceedingly rich in meaning. It has two distinct, though related, parts. In the first, Jesus expresses profound gratitude to the Father, source of all being and goodness, because he has freely chosen to take note of the little ones. He has done so by giving them a share in his divine wisdom, while withholding it from the “wise and learned.” This certainly does not mean that God despises learning but rather that the learned are too often tempted to pride, and thus closed to God’s gift.

Reflections for Sunday, July 6, 2014
Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion(Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145:1-2,8-11,13-14; Romans 8:9,11-13; Matthew 11:25-30)
Following Jesus with Greater Zeal and Excitement.

You have revealed them to the childlike. (Matthew 11:25)
Life is an adventure for little children. If you give them a present, they might play with the wrapping paper or the box it came in as much as the gift itself. Give a young boy a small fire engine, and he’ll imagine himself putting out a giant fire. Give a young girl a doll, and she’ll treat it as her own child. Children are also curious and imaginative, capable of intently focusing on the task at hand—especially when it comes to playtime!

Seeing With God’s Eyes
Some gifts are a mystery to me, to the point that people blessed with those gifts inspire me. I’m thinking of two in particular: People who build houses and artists.

They convince me to look at others in a whole new way.

A Burning Heart
There are many and varied images that we see of Jesus Christ. One that seems to cause the greatest curiosity may be the Sacred Heart image. This is the image where Jesus is pulling back his cloak to reveal his heart which is flaming and surrounded by a crown of thorns. Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Alacoque and said this to her, “My Heart, loving passionately mankind, can no longer contain the flames of its charity; it is necessary for it to manifest it to them, in order to enrich them with the treasures it contains.”

10 Arrows to Launch Us to Heaven
We offer you ten short counsels to help you in your daily battle to arrive at spiritual maturity and eventually in the loving embrace of your Heavenly Father. Prayerfully meditate upon these ten fiery arrows that if used well, launched at the proper time and place can serve to raise you up on high.

The Lord Through a Looking Glass
I remember the day I discovered the joy of playing with a prism and the power generated by a magnifying glass. I was sitting on the windowsill of our fifth grade classroom and chatting with friends. We were looking at Mrs. Grace’s plants and goofing around with the magnifying glasses and prisms. I was fascinated by the rainbows appearing on our notebook paper when we held a prism just so between our fingers and thumb. What an amazing thing, this ray of sunlight! I studied the spectrum, trying to figure out just where one color ended and another began.

Prepare Your Heart to Pray
Prayer is, as it were, being alone with God. A soul prays only when it is turned toward God, and for so long as it remains so. As soon as it turns away, it stops praying. The preparation for prayer is thus the movement of turning to God and away from all that is not God. That is why we are so right when we define prayer as this movement. Prayer is essentially a “raising up,” an elevation. We begin to pray when we detach ourselves from created objects and raise ourselves up to the Creator.

I’ll Forgive You If…
Have you ever held back from forgiving someone because they hadn’t met your conditions?

That happened to me once. I inadvertently offended someone and I sincerely apologized three times. I noticed that the person did not accept my apology or offer forgiveness.

I finally said, “You know, I have now apologized to you three times very sincerely. I really am sorry for what I have done. However you have yet to offer me even the slightest token of forgiveness.”

Plague of Darkness
It has been man’s tendency since the fall to worship created things instead of the Creator. There are different kinds of light and by replacing God’s light of truth with the apparent created light, we voluntarily plunge ourselves into an imperceptible darkness. The author of The Book of Wisdom explains that we come to mistakenly believe that those things upon which the created light cannot shine, such as our secret sins, remain “unobserved behind a dark curtain of forgetfulness.” Though these hidden transgressions may be darkened and forgotten to us, they remain ever in the plain sight of God.

Thinking Liturgically: God’s Justice
When the priest begins Mass in the Extraordinary Form, he does so by praying Psalm 42 (or 43, depending on your bible’s translation.)  The priest asks for God to judge Him (and all present), and to distinguish his (and all of our) causes from that of the unjust.

When we attempt to understand what this passage means, we must begin by eliminating any attempt at being self-referential.  Some will see this as a priest asserting his and his congregations holiness before God.  Yet such is a failed understanding of the Gospel.

Are You Too Busy to Pray?
The length of your prayers should be measured by the amount of your work, and inasmuch as it has pleased our Lord to place you in the kind of life in which you are perpetually distracted, you must accustom yourself to making short prayers, but you must also make them so habitual that you will never omit them except upon the rarest occasions.

In the morning, when you rise, you should bend your knees before God to adore him, make the Sign of the Cross, and ask him for his blessing for the entire day; this can be accomplished in the amount of time it takes to say one or two Our Fathers.

‘Fastest Nun in the West’ on path for sainthood
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —  The Archdiocese of Santa Fe announced Wednesday it is exploring sainthood for an Italian-born nun who challenged Billy the Kid, calmed angry mobs and helped open New Mexico territory hospitals and schools.

Treasures of Tradition: St. Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians
When beginning a consideration of the Church Fathers almost everyone will begin with Clement. Considered the second, third or fourth pope after Peter (depending on whose list you agree with), he marks the first post-apostolic writer whose text remains with the Church today.

What Attachments are, and what they are not
For most of us, attachments to this world are THE struggle that most hinders our spiritual growth. 80% of the spiritual life is a battle about desire and the fundamental question, “What do you want most, the world and its pleasures, or God and his Kingdom?” So easily this world gets its hooks into us and we become attached to it. It is hard to break free from inordinate desires.

Fallen away family member – What can I do?
Dear Father John, how can I convince family members who have fallen away from the faith to come back to God and the Church?

You can’t. Only God can do that. But you can help. Here are some thoughts about how.

Religion is Meant to be Used
Many years ago I was active in the Legion of Mary, the largest apostolic organisation of lay people in the Catholic Church, with over 3 million members in almost every country of the world. One of the tasks our praesidium (local group) undertook was weekly home visitations assigned by the parish priest.

What were typical homes like in Jesus’ time?
In Jesus’ time, the smallest homes of the very poor might be little more than a square, stone structure covered with a whitewashed sort of stucco. There would typically be one larger multipurpose room and a smaller back room for the animals. Some houses in hilly regions were partial cave dwellings, built up against the limestone rock face, perhaps with the front section built onto it. The traditional site at the house of the Annunciation in Nazareth seems to have employed this strategy.

Hell: Vacancy or No Vacancy?
“I am and always will be the optimist, the hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams.”—The Eleventh Doctor
The above passage is one of my favorite quotes from Doctor Who. There’s nothing exactly profound about it, but that’s often what’s so genius about The Doctor.
In the past, I struggled with being an optimist. I always preferred to see myself as a realist. Life is what it is, and it’s best to accept it and deal with it.

Sin is Sexy – Isn’t It?
Since talking about hell has become embarrassing for most Christians, you won’t often find discussions about the eternal consequences of sin.

But look at the temporal consequences of sin: addiction, misery, spiritual blindness, compromising our relationship with the truth in order to rationalize our behavior, etc.  Sin causes so many obvious problems this side of the grave that one wonders why we all habitually engage in it.

llluminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible
“This is a work of art, a great work of art … a work for eternity.”
Pope Benedict XVI in praise of The Saint John’s Bible

Opening on June 2 and continuing through October 2014 at the Knights of Columbus Museum, Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible showcases the first handwritten and hand-illustrated Bible to be commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in 500 years.

Facebook: 5 Ways It Can Bless Your Life
Facebook is a vastly overused, much maligned facet of social media. Of that there can be no denial. We’ve all read stories of mothers neglecting their children to play some inane game. Dinners burn or go uncooked and families fall apart because a virtual ‘relationship’ got in the way. Other, smaller, proofs of the downside of extreme usage are most likely evident on a daily basis, somewhere in the world. There’s another, more worthy side to the Facebook coin, however.

Rudyard Kipling’s “If–”: A Lesson In Manhood
For a particular poem to retain its power across years and generations, it must give expression to something that transcends the passing of time, and do so in such an exquisitely memorable manner that it simply cannot be imitated or remade. Competitors and critics may sally forth and give it battle; lesser authors may adopt its theme or mimic its style; but its image will remain—an image somehow more perfect, and more captivating of a deeper truth, than any other that belongs to the civilization which holds it dear.

Unlikely Apostles
To: Jesus, Son of Joseph
Woodcrafter’s Carpenter Shop
Nazareth 25922

From: Jordan Management Consultants

Dear Sir:
Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.

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Pastoral Sharings: "Saints Peter and Paul"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Saints Peter and Paul
June 29, 2014

Today we celebrate the feast of two great saints; saints
we consider, after Christ, to be the very cornerstones of
the Church.

Two great saints and yet two very human creatures. Paul
the persecutor of Christians; Peter who denied Christ three times. And yet it is entirely typical of the way God deals with his people that these two unlikely characters should become such important figures in the establishment of the Church.

God chooses the weak to confound the strong. And he so often intervenes in the lives of the most unlikely people so as to bring about a conversion. A complete turn around; so that instead of undermining the action of God in the world they actively promote it.

Two great saints so well balanced with complimentary gifts. Peter, the Prince of Apostles, the touchstone of unity in the Church to this very day. And Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, the first and the greatest Christian Missionary.

These two poles of unity and mission are the hallmarks of the Catholic Church. They are at the root of our faith and each one of us needs to reflect them in our own lives. We need to constantly review our lives to see we are actively building up the unity of the Church and that we are also widening its boundaries.

You might say that this is too big a task for one person and you would be right. But nothing will be done unless each one accepts his or her share of responsibility for these things.

You can get a situation where everyone thinks that unity within the parish is a good idea but yet nobody does much about it; then all you need are one or two people who act divisively and everything falls apart.

Each one of us must actively strive to build up unity within our Christian community. That means we must work together, socialise together and pray together. If no one did any work around here, if no one bothered to socialise and if no one took the trouble to pray or worship together this would not even be a parish.

Thankfully we do all these things. We do them all quite well, but, as our schoolteachers so often told us, we could do better. Take those three things, working, socialising and praying, and let each of us resolve to do a little more in each of these areas and you would see this parish transform from a good one to a really excellent one.

The same goes for the family. There we have also to work, socialise and pray together in order to be a fully functioning family. I think we have the ideal opportunity to do these three things around the family table.

When we prepare a meal there is work to be done and it shouldn’t all fall on one person. The food needs to be bought and prepared, the table must be set, the food served, the dishes washed and everything cleared up. When each person plays his or her part the whole family works together smoothly and we all feel better as a result.

Because of the different generations within the family socialising can sometimes be difficult. We don’t all like the same kinds of music or the same kinds of trips out. But around the table we generally have little problem socialising with each other, we can share our experiences and no one needs to dominate. It is really not so difficult to avoid arguments for an hour at mealtimes!

We know that prayer is quite often difficult within the family. It was perhaps OK when we were little and our parents helped us to say our prayers. But as we grow older it can feel embarrassing and we don’t all have the same degree of faith, and while it might be fine to worship alongside each other in Church it is not quite so easy to pray together in the home.

But grace before meals is still considered an acceptable ritual. We should take care not to lose it and if we have lost it we should try to reinstate it. Perhaps we might introduce it on a special occasion and then try to keep it going on Sundays or whenever we sit down as a family to eat.

A good way is for someone to say the simple prayer that we know so well: Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord. Then perhaps each one could briefly say aloud some intention they would like the others to pray for and then draw it together by saying: God bless the cook!

The family meal can provide us with a means of working on these three important areas of work, socialisation and prayer which can build up our families and make them really united.

That was unity—which we think of as symbolised by Peter, how about mission—which we think of as symbolised by Paul?

If we were to briefly define it we could say that mission is witness to the Gospel of Christ. We can give this witness in hundreds of ways.

This very building is a witness to Christ; the fact that many of our facilities are available for use by the community is a witness to his Gospel. The crucifix on your living room wall is a witness. The parishioners who visit the housebound and the hospital give witness. Just by coming to mass this morning you give witness—your neighbours know quite well where you are going!

Sending your children to a Catholic School, helping with the various societies in our parish, speaking up on an issue of justice at work, going to a funeral, all these give witness. Even the smallest of things can give testimony to Christ and so help build up his kingdom here on earth.

We are aware that the world is growing more and more secular and we might feel that the Gospel values are no longer reflected in the media and in the life of our nation. I was at a state run secondary school recently and I was appalled at how few of the pupils knew the Our Father. Just from a cultural perspective this is a real deficiency.

There is no doubt at all that we Christians really have to do more on a national and local level to evangelise our society. But again this is not something that can be left to a few. All of us must play a part. We cannot be anonymous Christians in our world. We have to be identifiable.

People will not be convinced by slogans or advertising, they will only be convinced by persons and we are those persons. Our task is to stand up and be counted for who we are and to demonstrate by our lives that Christ is our Lord and that we have found salvation in him.

Saints Peter and Paul are our models and our guides and our real helpers in all these tasks. As they did we too can with the grace of Christ overcome our human weaknesses and be involved in building up the unity of the Church and widening its boundaries.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 29, 2014

Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul (Year A)—June 29, 2014
Gospel (Read Mt 16:13-19)

In an exchange that is very familiar to most of us, we read in our Gospel about Jesus asking questions of the apostles. Does it surprise us that He wanted to know, from them, what people thought about Him? Was it really the case that He didn’t know? Or did He perhaps have a deeper purpose in quizzing them? In answering, the apostles tell Him that people thought of Him as a very holy man, surely a prophet in the spirit of the great ones: John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah. However, Jesus wants to know: “But who do you say that I am?”

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul: They Couldn’t Even Tweet
If only St. Peter was on facebook! He would have had a whole bunch of friends. People from all over the world could have seen pictures of him entering Rome, standing in the forum, waving from a seat in the Colosseum, eating gelato at the chariot races. People in China could have read his sermons.

If only St. Paul could have tweeted. He would have followers everywhere. They could have read his reactions to the Galatians returning to Judaism in only 140 words or less. He would have had to condense his Letter to the Romans a bit, or extend it over a few hundred tweets, but he still would have been very popular.

Saints Peter and Paul, Cycle A — Modern
Matthew 16: 13-19

As is appropriate for two men who were constantly in danger during the course of their apostolic ministries, the Lord’s desire and ability to rescue those in trouble is made clear in each of the readings and in the responsorial Psalm on the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul.

The passage from the Acts of the Apostles describes how Peter miraculously escaped from imprisonment when an angel appeared to him and: “The chains fell from his wrists… they passed the first guard, then the second, and came to the iron gate leading out to the city, which opened for them by itself”. Thinking over this remarkable series of events Peter concludes, “I know for certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod” (Acts 12:7-10).

Reflections for Sunday, June 29, 2014 – Proclaiming the Word of God
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. (2 Timothy 4:18)

Wait a minute! This passage sounds a lot like today’s psalm: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them” (Psalm 34:8). It shouldn’t surprise us, though. One thing Paul became very good at was taking a truth from Scripture and reworking it so that it reflected his experience. This is precisely what he did in today’s passage. Reflecting on his many years of preaching the gospel, he knew that even then, as his life was drawing to a close, God would continue to fulfill the promise proclaimed in this psalm.

Ten Ways to Fall in Love with the Eucharist
The saints are the mad-lovers of Jesus; they were on earth and now are in heaven loving God for all eternity.  In this article, we will give a list of what some saints have said in an excess of love for the most Holy Eucharist. Then we will give ten keys to unlock the treasure-case of gems to love the Eucharist more in our lives! Let us read and meditate on the fire of the saints and the Eucharist:

On Hearing God Speak
How do we hear God speak? It’s a common question, especially in the context of discerning one’s vocation. Many people wish God would appear to them in a vision and tell them what to do, or at least send a text message. But while there have been saints who were blessed with such experiences – St. Catherine of Siena, for example, received a vision at an early age, from which point she knew she would consecrate her life to the service of God – for most of us, God speaks in more subtle, mundane ways.

Falling in Love: Knowing the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an act of love.

It is a love that we express through our thoughts, words, or actions to our good God, Who makes His divine love known to us through His Son and through the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the manifestation of human and divine love in Jesus Christ, True Man and True God, Redeemer and King.  The Sacred Heart of Jesus reveals the depths of God’s love for us.

Church is essential for faith; there are no ‘free agents,’ pope says
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians are not made in a laboratory, but in a community called the church, Pope Francis said.

At his weekly general audience June 25, Pope Francis continued his series of audience talks about the church, telling an estimated 33,000 people that there is no such thing as “do-it-yourself” Christians or “free agents” when it comes to faith.

Front Row With Francis: The Nature of the Church
After concluding his talks on the gifts of the Spirit, Pope Francis now takes up the subject of the Church, its identity and mission. He began by warmly welcoming everyone as his brothers and sisters. This was a fitting greeting since his address emphasized God’s desire to form a family of people through Fatherly love. During this introduction, the Holy Father centered on the roots of the church in God’s dealings with Abraham.

Finding Forgiveness – Remembering the Purpose of Mass
“I know I have been forgiven because I’ve been to confession, but I don’t feel forgiven! How can I find peace and know that I’m forgiven? ”

This is one of the most frequent questions I get as a priest. A similar question comes up with the problem of forgiving others, “Father,” the person asks, “my business partner screwed me real bad. I’ve tried to forgive him, and I’ve given it all to God, but I still feel resentment and bitterness. I still want revenge. How can I find peace?”

How to be a Hero to the Long-Suffering
Everybody loves a story with a hero’s victorious ending.  Folks rally around watching with sustained interest dramatic battles between good guys and bad guys, or the patient battling an illness laying claim on his body, or the underdog standing up to a corrupt entity.  We love it when, after the blood, sweat, and tears, justice is served and good prevails.  We live vicariously through the hero, feeling triumphant interiorly – although we did nothing more than watch a movie or read a book.  We identify with the hero precisely because we all struggle against evils in our lives, and it is right that we should wish to prevail over them. We make the hero our own because we want to rise victorious, too.

Who Can Enter the Kingdom of Heaven?
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ . . . but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

Jesus teaches that His Father’s will is accomplished through actions, not just words. It’s not sufficient to say, “I believe,” or “I’m sorry.” When our days here end, having merely spoken these words will not have been enough.

Six Practical Ideas for Integrating our Catholic Faith with Work
How do we integrate our faith with our work? If you think about it, most of us will likely spend the majority of our adult (awake) lives in the workplace. A typical eight-hour work day accounts for a third of the total day, with the other two-thirds devoted to sleeping, family, friends, faith, and so on. In the practice of our faith, do we consider the workplace as an opportunity to be open about our Catholic beliefs or do we ignore this vital time and only think about being Catholic the other sixteen hours a day?

Regard Every Man As Better Than You
“Regard every man as better than you are, for without this thought a man is far from God, even though he performs miracles.”   – Nun Magdalina

The Christian life is not a checklist to be filled out. We do not become better Christians by merely making sure all our pious I’s are dotted and our T’s crossed. We are not good Christians because we have massive families, or vote for the right political parties, or go to church every day of the week. A good Christian, a saint, is one who follows Christ, and when a fall occurs, is one who rises up again and continues walking towards the Light.

Am I Too Much Work for God?
I have a hard time accepting that God loves me just the way I am. I experienced abuse growing up, and lived in a very dysfunctional family. My son had cancer and chemo at the age of 13. I married an emotionally, religiously abusive husband. I have a hard time knowing and accepting God accepts and loves me. I feel like maybe I am too much work, even for God. Can you help me?

On Inequality
Envy, it strikes me, is a more dangerous and prevalent sin than greed. Greed wants excess in material goods. Such goods indicate what I think important, my end. Envy means that I refuse to acknowledge my neighbor’s real virtues and accomplishments. As Genesis taught, we can even envy God. We can covet God’s being as the source of good and evil. Greed is earthly and concrete, more forgivable and human. It wants real things.

First the Bait, Then the Hook – a Sober Meditation on Temptation
Satan, it would seem, does not act in an arbitrary manner when trying to tempt us. Rather, he is more of a master hunter carefully setting traps, or a skilled fisherman who carefully studies behavior in order to choose the most effective bait. Satan is calculating and clever.

Sadly, most of us are far less calculating and clever in seeking to avoid temptation and sin.

How Do I Set Up a Home Altar?
Dear Dan, I have heard you speak and mention the importance of having a home altar or dedicated space to pray. I must admit that this is a completely foreign idea to me but it is also intriguing and I believe can help me in my prayer life and maybe my family too. Can you give me some detail about how one would go about setting up a home altar?

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: How Can We Know It’s True?
That’s the theme of the talk I gave last Wednesday. You can see the whole talk here (I’ve also embedded the video, in four parts, below). Here’s a copy of the materials that I handed out: it’ll be easier to follow the talk if you watch (or listen to) the video while reading along:

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.

How A Scientist Sees God in Nature
St. Bonaventure described in his essay “The Mind’s Road to God,” a proto-scientific process for the acquisition of knowledge about the natural world. He explained how we can know God from creation. A child playing outside, for instance, can pick up a leaf and study it, and by doing so, he takes in the “macrocosm” of the world into the “microcosm” of his soul through his senses. This activity is akin to science class for elementary-aged children. They study objects with their senses.

You Know How They Say The Divorce Rate In The Church Is 50%? Prepare To Be Shocked…
It is commonly thought that the rate of divorce in the church is the same as the rate of divorce among those outside the church, supposedly a whopping 50 percent. According to Harvard-trained researcher Shaunti Feldhahn, though, the rate of divorce among church attenders is “maybe 15 percent, maybe 20 percent for all marriages.”

The Man Behind the World’s Largest Catholic Super-Site
In April 2014, published its 11th annual listing of the Top 300 Christian Blogs for Ministry. Included on the list were blogs by Catholics, by evangelicals, by Reformed Christians, and by virtually every branch of Christendom.

And topping that list was New Advent, the Catholic supersite founded and maintained by Denver native Kevin Knight. New Advent captured first place with an Alexa score—a ranking based on factors including traffic and in-bound links—exceeding 41,000.

Overcome Catholic Boredom in Six Easy Steps
On a recent Saturday morning my 13-year-old son said: “Dad, I’m bored. What are we going to do for fun today?” Knowing my youngest son well, I translated this to mean that he was looking for something new and exciting and I was supposed to provide it. This all too frequent discussion with my children has been the cause of considerable reflection of late. As adults, do we also seek frequent engagement and entertainment? Does this desire for fun and excitement ever spill over into how we view our Catholic faith?

I Hated the Idea of Becoming Catholic
It was the day after Ash Wednesday in 2012 when I called my mom from my dorm room at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and told her I thought I was going to become Catholic.

“You’re not going to become Catholic, you just know you’re not Southern Baptist,” she said.

“No, I don’t think so.”

A pause. “Oh boy,” she sighed.

I started crying.

“Fr. Robert Barron on Bill Maher and Biblical Interpretation”
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Pastoral Sharings: "Body & Blood of Christ"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Body & Blood of Christ
June 22, 2014 

John 6:51-58
Two soldier friends served together in Iraq. One was a 
dull fellow. The other was sharp. Yet, there was a
chemistry that made them inseparable. The slow one was 
wounded. His friend gave his blood. When the wounded fellow learned whose blood had saved his life, he said to his companion, “I feel like a new man.”

Something similar should take place each time we receive the Eucharist. We drag ourselves into the Liturgy looking for a spiritual transfusion, a pick-me-up, a refueling. We need an adrenaline rocket that will jump start us and get us through the next six days.

Does any mother’s child here still wonder why the Church urges us to receive the Eucharist daily? It tells us, “Meet Jesus in the AM Eucharist and walk with Him throughout the day.” Like the soldier who began this homily, we should feel like a new person. Receive the Eucharist well and the chances are good that you take on yourself characteristics of Jesus. That is going first class.

A clever 3rd century Egyptian, Clement of Alexandria, compares the union of ourselves with Jesus in the Eucharist to two pieces of wax being fused together. If we were not blood relations with Him before Communion, we should be after it.
He and we should become family. If we really give the process a second effort, we can just about put Him down in our wallet IDs as next of kin. “In case of accident, call Jesus. He is immediate family.” Talk about thoroughbred bloodlines!

The Eucharist is the Gospel made Sacrament; Christ is both baker and bread. Not by any accident does He use the oldest known and most nourishing food to give us Himself. (Unknown)

The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ goes back to 1261 which was a good year for us. Why? Thomas Aquinas was a professor at the University of Paris. Pope Urban IV had a sharp eye for superstars. He asked the master Dominican theologian to write a Mass for the feast. Some good things happily do not disappear into dusty library shelves. We are still using that Mass formula 700 years after its birth. This was one professor of theology who was able to pen lyrical prose.

Fra Thomas of Aquin saluted the Eucharist as “tantum sacramentum,” which translates comfortably into “so awesome a sacrament.” This professor addresses Jesus with these lush words, “In this sacrament, you are both shepherd and pasture.” Another man, who knew Paris well, was the 20th century Nobel prize laureate Francois Mauriac. He wrote, “The Eucharist is what is most real in the world.” Just think of it God in a bit of bread comes to bring morning into the darkness of our bellies. (Hilda Prescott)
Do notice how clever the Church is. It situates today’s feast immediately after the celebration of last Sunday’s Feast of the Trinity and the Pentecost the week before that. No matter how you approach these feasts, the Pentecost and the Trinity both honor an invisible God. Not so the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ! The Nazarene is eminently seeable and embraceable. He is warmth personified.

To paraphrase Ignatius of Antioch, in the Eucharist we not only put our arms around Jesus but more importantly He squeezes us. He takes our breath away. You cannot get any closer than that. A boy was critically ill. Only his nine year old brother had his blood type. He volunteered. As he watched the blood leaving his body, he asked the doctor, “How soon before I die?” He was reassured he would live. No one gave that assurance to Christ when He gave His rare blood type to us. Yet, He gave it willingly.
The best use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it. (William James) A woman showed her biography to friends. It had only three pages. The first page was black. That she said represented her sins. The second page was red and it signified the blood Christ shed for her sins. The third was white. This last page was herself after being cleansed by the Eucharist. (William Barclay)  

Each of us has the first two pages of that biography. The third only is added when we receive Jesus as our personal Saviour. Today at this Liturgy is as good a time as any to add that third page. Think about it. Introduce others to the Eucharist. The world thirsts for grace in ways it does not recognize. (Philip Yancey) Little wonder that in a recent year, 150,000 Americans were baptized as Catholics or received into the full communion of the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil alone. Increase that number.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 22, 2014

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Year A  June 22, 2014
Gospel (Read Jn 6:51-58)

Our Easter lectionary readings moved us through Christ’s Resurrection, Ascension, and the Descent of the Holy Spirit. Last Sunday, we celebrated the Most Holy Trinity, because we understood, from all that history, that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; from the beginning, all Three Persons have lovingly worked to restore us to the life for which we were designed. We might, therefore, conclude that the history is now liturgically complete. Yet today, the Church calls us to another solemnity. In our readings, we are pondering the mystery of the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord in the Eucharist. This meal raises a question: If we now have the Holy Spirit to put God’s life in us, why do we need to “eat the Body” and “drink the Blood” of Christ? What does that accomplish that the gift of the Holy Spirit doesn’t?

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi: Beyond the Carousel
A few weeks ago I came upon a beautiful carousel.  Instant reflections of early childhood hit me as I remember the merry-go-rounds I would go on at Seaside Heights back in the day when the term “Jersey Shore” had no connotations of immorality.  I don’t know if modern carousels still do this, they probably don’t because of safety issues, but back when I was little, everyone would try to be on a horse or animal on the outside of the circle.  That was so they could reach for the ring. 

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
John 6: 51 – 58

This Gospel is part of a larger portion of John known as the Bread of life Discourse. It begins with the multiplication of the loaves and ends with many disciples leaving Jesus, followed by Peter’s beautiful profession of Faith, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy one of God.” There is a lot happening in this chapter of John’s Gospel, and for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ we hear the center piece of the chapter when Jesus teaches that He is the Bread of Life.

Eucharist: Body and Blood of Christ
The Catholic Church teaches that in the Eucharist, the communion wafer and the altar wine are transformed and really become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  Have you ever met anyone who has found this Catholic doctrine to be a bit hard to take?

How to Listen When God is Speaking to You
God speaks to us constantly through ordinary events and signs, but we aren’t always listening. We need to open our ears to hear his supernatural suggestions. As Jesus said, “let him who has ears to hear, hear.” How do we fulfill this desire of Jesus?

How to Receive Christ With Love
In Holy Communion, we touch and taste our Lord and our God. A very significant sentence of St. Augustine, in which he records Christ’s words to him, defines the chief effect of eating the Bread of Angels: “Thou shalt not change me into thine own substance, as thou changest the food of thy flesh, but thou shalt be changed into mine.” There is not, and there never can be, a closer union. The reality of Christ’s Presence is a fact founded on His infallible word and almighty power.

Thomas Aquinas on Natural Law in 5 Points
It’s imperative. You must understand the teaching of Thomas Aquinas on Natural Law. It’s absolutely essential in a culture and era that misunderstands the nature of human marriage, conception, life, and natural death. So what do you need to know?

When the Joy of Faith is Gone
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of (your) faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:6-9

Ten Ways To Grow in Prayer
Prayer is the key to salvation.  St. Augustine says that he who prays well lives well; he who lives well dies well; and to he who dies well all is well. St. Alphonsus reiterates the same principle:  “He who prays much will be saved; he who does not pray will be damned; he who prays little places in jeopardy his eternal salvation.  The same saint asserted that there are neither strong people nor weak people in the world, but those who know how to pray and those who do not. In other words prayer is our strength in all times and places.

The Church is a Family Formed by God, Pope Says
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis stressed the familial nature of the Church at his Wednesday General Audience, emphasizing God’s desire to form a people through fatherly love.

“To speak of the Church is to speak of our mother, of our family,” he said to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square June 18.

He said the Church is not a private association or an NGO, and neither is the Church restricted to bishops, priests, and the Vatican.

“We are all the Church,” he declared.

Why is it more rationale to believe the universe created itself than to believe God created the universe?
Radical atheists love to ridicule believers. They mock our “talking snake” in Genesis but really show their own lack of sophistication in understanding the nature of allegory or symbol in human language. But since I do understand allegory I will let them off the hook when it comes to their own “God particle” and the language of “blind evolution” (as if a process could have eyes and see or not see).” For unlike some (not all) of them, I attended high school grammar class and understand the nature of allegory, symbol, hyperbole, and metaphor when it comes to human parlance.

Seven Proofs for the Natural Immortality of the Human Soul
The late Dr. Antony Flew—perhaps the greatest atheist thinker of the last hundred 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.

One Simple Fact to Prove the Power of the Rosary

The rosary may be the most beloved devotion of the Catholic faith. It is quintessentially Catholic and the beads upon which the prayers are tracked are themselves a symbol of the Church. A Bible, a rosary, the medal of a saint, these are the material hallmarks of a Catholic. Combined with faith, prayer and action, the rosary lies at the heart of who we are.

Myth, Magic and Miracles
A friend of mine told me a miracle story last evening. 

He was driving along the road in the right lane. Two cars were beside him in the left lane. The road was in a suburban area. Ahead on the right he spotted a mother walking a dog coming in the direction facing him. Beside her was a young child jumping and playing. As he approached them, with the two cars still in the left lane beside him, the child suddenly jumped from the sidewalk directly into his path. He swerved left to avoid the child, knowing that he would collide with both cars to his left. He realized instantly that he would probably be injured or killed.

What Does Jesus Mean by Hypocrisy? It’s More than You Might Think
In the Gospel from Ash Wednesday’s  Mass, Jesus gives an extended teaching on the problem of hypocrisy. You can read it here: Matthew 6 – On Hypocrisy. In the modern age we have tended to reduce the idea of hypocrisy to duplicity. The modern notion is that a hypocrite is someone who says one thing but does another, a person who is two-faced, inconsistent, or phony. Jesus’ teaching on hypocrisy does not exclude this definition, but it is far richer.

7 Ways to Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus
At the very center of Christianity is love. Love is the whole message, the whole law. Now, I don’t mean love in the sense of quickly passing infatuation or sexual attraction, two mistaken definitions of our confused culture, but rather sacrificial self-giving. In its essence, love is nothing more than laying down your life for the good of another.

The deeper we grow in the Catholic and Apostolic faith, the more we realize that the gospel is centered not so much in our love for God, but in God’s love for us. Holy Church has dedicated the month of June to a devotion that is designed to remind us of the depth of God’s passionate love for his creatures: devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Pope Francis: Devil Is Working Hard on Securing End Times
To most of the world, Pope Francis is the pope of the poor, foe of unrestrained free-market capitalism, reformer engaged in shaking up the Roman Curia, ecclesiological innovator committed to consultation, collegiality and decentralization in the governance of the Church.

Francis is all that, but he’s also more — something his image as a social activist and agent of structural change might not lead you to expect.

Are We Living in the End Times?
In the fundamentalist Bible church I attended as a child we would regularly have long sermons about the “end times”. These were based on an interpretative system of the Bible called “Dispensationalism”.

Greed: A Brief Meditation on One of the More Underreported Sins
One of the more underreported sins is greed. Too easily do we conclude that greed is always about “that other person over there,” who appears to have a little more than I do. Yes, that rich guy over there, the one who earns a dollar more per hour than I do; he is greedy, but I’m not.

Was Moses a Myth?
I received several recent e-mails from people asking for help answering the claim that Moses never existed but was simply copied from Babylonian mythology. Let’s take a look at the story of Moses’ birth so that we can better compare it to the ancient tale that critics say is the story’s true origin.

In This Age of Nice, Mercy is a Dead Letter
We’ve all seen those sharp spikes on buildings meant to keep birds from nesting on ledges. They’re put there because birds are messy and a nuisance. I’ve always felt a little bad for the birds seeing those but it’s perfectly understandable why building owners would have them there. I’ve even seen them on churches.

But I’ve got to say, the thought of buildings erecting spikes in alcoves to keep homeless people away is absolutely abhorrent. One building in London is doing exactly that though. And they’re not alone.

Conn. Event Marks the Birth of Pro-Life Movement
WATERBURY, Conn. — On June 11, 1939, all 20 of the Catholic pastors in Waterbury, Conn., called for the closing of the city’s new, illegal contraceptive dispensary. A week later, authorities closed the dispensary, and they soon shuttered the other seven dispensaries in the state.

Waterbury Catholics hold the story up as a model for the way Catholics can and should be shaping their communities today.

Why You Don’t Believe in the Holy Spirit
You probably don’t believe in the Holy Spirit.

Sure, you say the Creed every Sunday and if someone asked you’d say “well of course I believe in the Holy Spirit.”

But do you really?

I know I don’t. At least not as much as I should.

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? Do you really? Let’s see…

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Pastoral Sharings: "Trinity Sunday"


Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Trinity Sunday
June 15, 2014

Trinity Sunday – A Cycle – John 3:16-18

At Confirmation, the archbishop asked the children for a 
definition of the Holy Trinity. A girl answered very softly, 
“The Holy Trinity is three Persons in one God.” The 
archbishop, who was almost deaf, replied, “I didn’t understand what you said.” And the young theologian before him replied, “You are not supposed to. The Trinity is a mystery.”
With the Sign of the Cross, we trace the Trinity on ourselves. We bring God into our minds first. Then we bring the Trinity down to our hearts. And, with our hearts filled with compassion, we move the Trinity across our bodies to our shoulders and arms to better bear the burdens of our family and friends. (David Walker) 

The Trinity feast goes back to 12th century England and St Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Historians say the great Thomas celebrated a Liturgy in honor of the Trinity in his cathedral. So was born the observance. In the 14th century, the feast came to be observed by the universal Church. 

The belief in the Trinity goes back to the New Testament. There it is mentioned about forty times. Even if so wishing, we would not be able to lock the Trinity in a closet. The Trinity will not go away. 

We open each Liturgy invoking the Trinity. We close it by calling upon those same Persons. Throughout the Christian world today, infants, who were quick enough to avoid abortion, will be received into our community through Baptism in the name of the Trinity. Into the arms of the mysterious Trinity, we will be sent by the officiating priest at our already scheduled funerals. 

But the most wondrous thing in the world is the mysterious. (Albert Einstein) Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery. (Annie Dillard) 

The Trinity is the Mozart of mysteries. Not even Agatha Christie could solve it. 

Our world is filled with mysteries. We live with them very comfortably. Scientists estimate 90% of the cosmos is mystery.
For openers, who of us here understands himself? We are still trying to figure out how water rises from the earth through the trunk and finds its way out to the leaves of a tree? The why and how of homing pigeons still mystify us. How about the infamous common cold? Many “cures” notwithstanding, that mystery is not solved. (Joseph Donders) 

The New York Times wonders whether we will ever understand how the brain works. (If the Times admits to ignorance, the subject has to be a mystery.) Why do good things happen to bad people? And of course why do bad things happen to good people? How about cancer? Had enough? 

Mystery and reality, wrote Walt Whitman, are two halves of the same sphere. 

What Isaac Newton opined in the 18th century is as true in the 21st. “What we know is a drop. What we don’t know is an ocean.”
From the earliest days of the Christian era, geniuses have been wrestling with the Trinity. Most have struck out. Sometimes though, some get a Texas League single into short center field. 

Rich material poured out of the busy and golden pen of the 5th century St Augustine. His conception of the Trinity is lyrical. The Father is the lover. The Son is the loved one. And the Holy Spirit is the love they send forth. 

The 4th century St Patrick, with a brilliance that we Irish are justly celebrated for, found in the three leaf shamrock rising from the one stem an image of the Trinity. After telling this point to the Irish, they were never the same again. That is good or bad depending on your viewpoint of us Celts. 

It is difficult for us to realize today, but questions such as the Trinity were debated in centuries past with the same intensity as we debate whether a current star is the best basketball player ever or whether a certain movie deserves an Oscar or whether Elvis is still alive. You can decide whether our civilization has progressed or regressed. 

But someone has cleverly noted that, unlike other Christian doctrines, the Trinity is not a truth that leads to action. But rather, like a painting by Monet or a poem by Keats or a symphony by Beethoven, it should point us to prayer or just wonderment. Perhaps it will help us to become the prayers we recite. (Joan Chittister) 

Whoever can no longer wonder or no longer marvel is as good as dead. (Einstein) 

Our goal today is not to get us into the Trinity but to get the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit into us.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 15, 2014

Trinity Sunday, Year A—June 15, 2014
Gospel (Read Jn 3:16-18)
Today’s Gospel is different from any we have seen during the long seasons of Lent and Easter. On Sunday after Sunday, the Gospels have reported actions of Jesus. They have been passages full of conversations and events that moved His story along, culminating in His Ascension into Heaven and His promise to send the Holy Spirit. Today, however, St. John gives us a kind of summary of this. It is simple, but what a sweep it has! Read the first verse carefully so as not to miss its impact through familiarity: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” If we understand the scope of this statement, we will know why it is perfectly fitting that today is Trinity Sunday.

Solemnity of the Holy Trinity: Claimed in the Name of the Trinity
A few years ago, I took my Mom on a trip to two nearby cities with historical  significance, St. Augustine, Florida and Savannah, Georgia.  Each was a place where explorers landed and claimed the land for their King.  

On September 8th, 1565, Don Pedro Menendez de Avila landed on the northeast coast of Florida and established the first colony in the new world, St. Augustine.  With banners flying and in full regalia, Menendez planted the Spanish flag and claimed the land in the name of Philip II, the King of Spain.

Reflections for Sunday, June 15, 2014
Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship. (Exodus 34:6, 8) The Holy Trinity. Three persons in one God. Really, it’s too much for our minds to handle. The greatest theologians and philosophers in history have had to acknowledge their inadequacy in the face of such an awesome mystery. And maybe that’s the point. God isn’t some thing to be dissected and understood; he is some One to be worshipped and adored.

Here’s Why the Doctrine of the Trinity Matters
Many are ready to give a polite nod of some sort to Jesus of Nazareth. Most honor him as a great moral teacher.  Many even confess him as Savior. But the Incarnation of the Eternal God?  Second person of the Holy Trinity? God can’t be one and three at the same time.  Such a notion is at worst illogical, at best meaningless. “This was all invented by the Roman Emperor Constantine in 313 AD,” scoffs a motley crew ranging from the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the DaVinci Code.

Of course this charge has no historical leg to stand on. St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote seven brief letters around 110AD in which he called Jesus “God” 16 times.

Ten Ways to Open Up to the Holy Spirit
The Gift of Gifts, the Paraclete, the Counselor and Consoler, Friend, Sanctifier, Third Person of the Blessed Trinity—all of these are different titles given to the Person of the Holy Spirit. In an earlier article we explained the power of the Holy Spirit to transform sinners into great saints—as we saw in the Apostles, and especially Simon Peter. Saint John XXIII actually said:  “The saints are the masterpieces of the Holy Spirit.”   A future saint can be you and me.

The Sacrifice of the Mass = Eternity X Time
How often do we go to Mass? Some of us go daily, others weekly. Still others show up for Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals. I propose that if we truly knew what was happening in the Sacrifice of the Mass, we would not only go daily (if our duties allow); but, we would be trying to get everyone else to do the same. Why shouldn’t we? We all want to go to Heaven, right?   Thanks be to God we can-at every Mass. Bear with me as I attempt to condense an eternal truth to a couple of pages.

Churching the ‘Unchurched’
Depending on who you ask, America is considered one of the more religious countries in the world today. But a 2012 Gallup survey found that, as it is in the rest of the world, secularization in America is on the rise.

This is particularly so in the Northeast. That same survey found that Vermont was the most “unchurched” state in the union, with only 19% of residents indicating that they were “very religious.”

The God-incidences of Life
The difference between a coincidence and a God-incidence is the difference between chance and Providence. The agnostic believes that everything comes about by chance. He should be more skeptical about such a belief since it does not have a very firm basis. Nonetheless, he feels he is open-minded, though his open-mindedness never provides him with any nourishment for his mind. Those who believe that God is working in our world are able to see beyond the material facts and acknowledge a Hand that not only produced the facts, but set them in a Providential order. I offer an extraordinary sequence of events from my own experience, and invite the reader to judge for himself as to whether they are a product of chance or the work of a Divine Architect.

Being Sent Like Jesus
When I went shopping for a new cell phone some months ago, a sales agent tried selling me a particular phone. With great excitement, he said to me, “Father, this phone is hot in the market and I completely recommend it. With this phone, you can block the numbers of those who you do not want to disturb you. Their calls to you will never get through and their text messages will go right into your spam box.” Though I decided to pass on his offer, I must confess that he got my attention with that advertising pitch. He almost got me to buy a phone whose most attractive feature was blocking out unwanted callers.

The Powerful Persistence of Heaven and Hell
Quickly bored with beach vacations, I ventured off last summer to Belize not only to snorkel with the fishes and down a few rum punches, but also to explore Mayan ruins. The Mayans built their great pyramids in that part of Central America because below the jungle were extensive cave systems. Their ziggurat-like temples topped with altars were clearly an attempt by the primitive people to ascend as high as possible to the sky gods while the archeological remains in the caves indicate that they also went down to encounter and appease the gods of the underworld.

Without Gloss: Francis of Assisi and Western Catholicism
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).

A Clean Heart
My father was the least prudish man I’ve ever known, taking the ordinary goodness of the body completely for granted. That meant, of course, that he turned away from prurient things with sheer indifference, or bemused contempt.

One day I was watching on television the BBC’s production of The Tempest, a silly affair featuring an androgynous soft-bellied Ariel and other brown-skinned spirits wearing the tiniest of loincloths for the front end, and nothing for the back.

Be Not Afraid! St. John Paul II’s Key to Building a Culture of Life
The recent canonization of Saint John Paul II offers an impetus to reflect on both his life and his papacy. The Pope’s leadership of the Catholic Church was exemplified by his signature phrase “Be not afraid!” Yet, what exactly was he exhorting the faithful to face without fear?

Pope Francis: The Beatitudes are a Program for Holiness
During his homily at Monday morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, the Pope focused on the Beatitudes; on the day following the historic meeting for peace in the Vatican, he called for the courage of meekness to defeat hatred.

Wonder and Awe File: On the Magnificence and “Minificence” of Creation
I know, I made the word up: “minificence.” I’ll define it in a moment. But first, I want to ponder with you the awesome mystery of size and numbers as we look out and as we look in.

Outer Space: As we look out on God’s Universe we cannot even fathom how huge, how magnificent is the size of the universe. We cannot comprehend such immensity. If we were to make a scale model of the Milky Way galaxy and reduce each star to the size of a grain of sugar, it would be two thousand miles wide and a thousand miles high. And that’s just one galaxy!

The importance of the Sign of the Cross must not be lost
I have been reading a small book, The Sign of the Cross, by St Francis de Sales, published by the American publishing company, Sophia Institute Press. Written in 1600 it was a response by the saint, who became Bishop of Geneva in 1602, to the leading Geneva Calvinist theologians who had rejected what they saw as a Catholic gesture. According to the foreword of the book, crucifixes and bare crosses are still today largely absent in American Evangelical churches “and the act of making the Sign of the Cross is regarded by many non-Catholics as superstition at best.”

Catholic Church grows at a faster rate than the global population
According to the latest statistics from the Vatican, there are now 1.229 billion baptized people in the world, a ten percent increase since 2005. The Church has grown the fastest in Africa, where the number of Catholics increased by 29 percent. Meanwhile, Europe was the only region with a decrease in growth.

The figures, gathered in December 2012 and released recently, show that the number of priests changed from 406,000 in 2005, to 414,000. Bishops showed a similar growth rate, reaching 5,000 today, while seminarians topped 120,000.

How (Not) to be Secular
Secularism is a bit like the weather: everyone complains, but no one ever does anything about it. Even though secularism walks among us as never before in human history.

The reality, however, is more complicated than you’d guess just looking around. There is a growing number of “nones” in developed societies – people with no formal religious affiliation. Not at all the same thing, though, as people with no religious (or “spiritual”) sense. The media collapse them into an anti-religious bloc hoping that, together with the government and courts, they could help push faith out of public life.

Beautiful Model Gives Up Flourishing Career To Become Nun
At the top of her flourishing career, a beautiful Spanish model has given it all up to become a nun.

Olalla Oliveros, a beautiful and well known Spanish model who did advertisements, television commercials, and worked as an actress has given up her career and decided to become a nun. Last month, Oliveros entered the semi-cloistered Order of Saint Michael.

Finding Myself in the Prayers of the Divine Office
Back when I saw him regularly, Carl seemed like he never was going to age. Even well into his 60s, he was skinny with little gray in his brown hair and skin like that of a much younger man. He regularly played pickup basketball with men many years his junior.

He was one of the wittiest men I’ve known, always pinning goofy nicknames on people and finding the humor in mundane situations. And he impressed me as one of the most committed Christian men I have met, a family man, a man I admired more than most.

Just Food Is Not Enough!
Before my baby was born in April, I had carefully been reading and rereading Gina Ford’s The Contented Little Baby Book. It consists of several routines for feeding and sleeping from newborn to one year. I made little “cheat sheets” of printed out routines, ready to go and ready to follow. However, I started becoming so obsessed when I couldn’t get my baby anywhere close to following the routines in the first month that I had to stop reading the book.

Amazing Story About a WWII Catholic Priest Told By Actor David Niven.
I was reading William F. Buckley’s Nearer, My God: An Autobiography of Faith and came upon this story relayed by the late actor David Niven about a disaster at sea and the sacrifice of a priest.

“David Niven told the engrossing story (I had never heard it) of a single episode in the chaotic flight from France after Dunkirk in 1940.

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