Gospel Living: Focusing Presence



Fr. Michael Phillipppino
Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 22, 2012


Throughout history, God has made his presence known to those willing to see and hear him. Jesus promised that the Spirit would still be with us to help us. Still, it is hard at times to believe that God is truly with us. We get caught up in the daily concerns of life and struggle to remember what we are supposed to be doing, never mind thinking about God. There are times when we do things we are not proud of and console ourselves with the thought that “no one will know,” forgetting that God knows!

When things are not going well and we don’t know what to do, we ask God to fix it for us and expect God to help us pass a test we didn’t study for or pay the bills when we spent the money on something else. We want God to make everything nice and easy for us, and when that doesn’t happen, we wonder if God cares and even if he is really there at all. God is there all the time. Our problem is that we don’t know how to listen and see his presence. We are waiting for him to speak to us but ignore his messengers because they come in the form of a stranger on a bus or a coworker we dislike. We want signs to point us in the right direction, but we fail to look at the world around us and see the signs of his love for us.

For most of us, it will take practice, and we need to create reminders for ourselves. In years past, you could usually identify a Catholic home because there would be a crucifix in the living room and a holy water font beside t e door. Little reminders that God is with us in our comings and goings. Talk with your family about what helps you to remember God throughout the day. Try to say a little prayer as you begin each day asking the Spirit to help you see and hear God’s message for you today.

(The previous was an article printed in Parish Secretary pamphlet, Vol. 11, Issue 6.)


A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
July 15, 2012

Hungry Sheep, Weary Shepherds
Lots of perks come with being the boss, whether it be of a church, company, or nation. You get to call the shots, for starters. Then there is good food, good drink. Travel. Parties. Expense accounts. Pomp and circumstance. Bodyguards.

Technology has changed a lot, but people haven’t. In ancient times as in modern, those in authority did whatever they could to make their importance felt. Kings lived in sumptuous palaces, had harems of beautiful women, and compelled people to fight for them and build monuments to them. Unfortunately, many religious leaders did much the same thing, such as the sons of Eli (I Samuel 2:12-17).

Sixteenth Sunday: Leadership
We human beings have a strong tendency to seeks groups for support and protection. In some ways we are gregarious, although we each have enough individuality to stand apart from the group. Still, because we tend to stay in groups, we recognize the importance of strong leaders for the group. We are attracted by a strong leader just as the people of today’s gospel were attracted by Jesus. When we don’t have strong leaders, we feel we are floundering, just as the people that Jeremiah was addressing in today’s first reading felt they were floundering since their leaders were weak and corrupt.

How Many Souls will be Saved?
I once heard a comment from a friend who was preparing a homily. He was finding it difficult to preach on the “fact” that there will be so few in heaven. He has no problem on preaching about death, judgment, Heaven and Hell; but, he is sad that there will be so few saved.
He is not alone in his belief. Some of the great theologians and saints of the Church have written the same opinion regarding the population of Heaven. But is it a fact? And whether it is a fact or speculation, how can we benefit from considering the question?

Saints Are Sinners, Too
In the 1970s Billy Joel wrote a hit song, “Only the Good Die Young.” The lyrics go like this (but I won’t sing them): “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints;/ the sinners are much more fun.”
Sinners can be saints, and saints are sinners. A saint is not a superhero, isn’t faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. They do not possess superhuman powers. But these spiritual titans often receive superior abilities from God to carry out his plan in our church.

Why One Should Gaze Upon the Crucifix Often…
Growing up as a Seventh-Day Adventist, the crucifix was an entirely Catholic thing – over there somewhere, buried amongst the many evils and frightening aspects of the Babylonian aggressor that was viewed as the “Roman Catholic Church”. For me, the cross was empty, if it was ever even seen. In fact, curiously enough, Adventist churches were generally cross-free. If there was a cross, it was usually a kind of modernized looking thing (like it was done with a paintbrush) or just an empty piece of wood. They would speak of victory in Christ, but forget where that victory comes from.

Why call it a “scapular”? How is it different from a blessed medal?
“Take, beloved son, this scapular of thy order as a badge of my confraternity and for thee and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire. It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant.” (From the apparition of the Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock, 16 July 1251)
While there are many scapulars, the brown scapular of the Carmelite Order is certainly the most popular among the devotion of the people. We need not mention the many miracles and graces which have been bestowed upon the Christian faithful through this most precious gift of the Mother of God. Through the brown scapular, countless souls have been converted, families reconciled, and whole nations restored to the dominion of Christ.

A Christian Alternative to Health Insurance
In 2006, Ray Carman’s health insurance jumped from $600 to $1,000 a month. The reason? His first daughter was born five weeks premature. Though there were no complications during her birth, his daughter was dubbed “high risk” by his insurance company.

Carman, who is a real estate agent and auctioneer in Lafayette, TN, said the costs were simply too high. He began looking for alternatives.

World Day of Peace Message 2013: Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Pope Benedict XVI has chosen “Blessed are the peacemakers” as the theme for the 46th World Day of Peace, 1 January 2013, the Vatican announced today.

In a statement, the Vatican said that the message will embrace “the fullness and diversity of the concept of peace” including religious freedom and an ethical reflection on how the world is to handle crises affecting the economy, education, and democracy. The aim of the message, it said, is to “encourage everyone to take responsibility with regard to peacebuilding.”

Three Arguments Against Atheism from Pope Benedict
According to Dr. Mark Gray at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA),an astonishing 70% of those raised as atheists won’t be atheists as adults. Some will leave for organized religion, others for agnosticism, and still others for a vague theism detached from any church. Of those who continue to identify as atheists, over a fifth say that they believe in the existence of God or a universal Spirit. And Dr. Gray does a good job of showing that atheists, agnostics, and those with no affiliation really are three very different groups.

What I found even more interesting was a link in the article to a 2007 meeting with Pope Benedict, in which the Holy Father made three very strong points against atheism:

A Meditation on the Virtue of Acceptance
One of the great virtues to cultivate in life is acceptance. And while it is true that not everything ought to be accepted, it is often a virtue and a step toward serenity to understand that not everything can be changed, and that unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentments.
Acceptance, which is not the same as approval, is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, wherein we come to recognize a situation (often a negative or uncomfortable) for what it is, without attempting to change it, protest, or leave it. The word is derived from the Latin roots ac (to) + ceptus (take or receive). The concept is also close in meaning to ‘acquiescence’, which is derived from the Latin ‘acquiēscere‘ (to find rest in). [1]

I am struggling with my Rosary prayer. Where should my attention be during the Rosary?
Q: Dear Dan, I used to pray the Rosary daily, but lately I have become frustrated with it and am confused about where my attention should be focused while praying it. One Hail Mary, I find myself meditating on how painful it must have been for Jesus to be scourged at the pillar, and what great love it took for him to tolerate that for our sake. However, during that prayer, I was not paying attention to the actual words of the Hail Mary or asking her to “pray for us sinners.” Another Hail Mary, I find myself paying attention to the words of the prayer, but not at all meditating on the mystery. Where is the “right” place for our attention to be focused when we pray the rosary? It doesn’t seem right to neglect the mystery. It also doesn’t seem right to cheaply say the words to the Hail Mary while thinking about something totally different, like the Scourging at the Pillar. Thank you.

Are the Gospels Historical?
Anyone who wishes to engage in a thoughtful and intelligent exploration of the Christian faith will have to ask whether the gospels are historically reliable. Can we believe that the stories in the gospels are a true and accurate account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth?

The Uniqueness of Christianity
Ronald Knox once quipped that “the study of comparative religions is the best way to become comparatively religious.” The reason, as G. K. Chesterton says, is that, according to most “scholars” of comparative religion, “Christianity and Buddhism are very much alike, especially Buddhism.”

But any Christian who does apologetics must think about comparative religions because the most popular of all objections against the claims of Christianity today comes from this field. The objection is not that Christianity is not true but that it is not the truth; not that it is a false religion but that it is only a religion. The world is a big place, the objector reasons; “different strokes for different folks”. How insufferably narrow-minded to claim that Christianity is the one true religion! God just has to be more open-minded than that.

I cannot feel God’s presence, am I a bad person?
Q: I am a Catholic or try to be one, and I am having problems feeling the Power of my religion. I have been so hurt throughout my life and I’ve tried to forgive the people, but it does no good. I feel like I get far more satisfaction out of my work than my faith. It’s so hard for me to get the concept that when I go to communion, its Jesus’ Body and Blood that I’m receiving. That is so deep to me that I can’t grasp it. Why have I lost my grip on how I use to feel about going to Church, how I feel after confession and when I pray.

4 Biblical Reasons Mary Is The New Ark of the Covenant
Listers, as with all Marian doctrine, a better understanding of Mary only serves to illuminate Christ Our Lord, because every grace she received and every role she held within salvation history is rooted in Christ. Her role as the New Ark of the Covenant serves to reveal the true nature of Jesus Christ – one person with two natures: divine and human – and illuminate the purpose of the Incarnation within salvation history. The Old Testament is perfected by the New, and Mother Mary is the perfection of the old Ark of the Covenant.

Burke’s Wise Counsel on Religious Liberty and Freedom
Edmund Burke, the eighteenth-century British statesman, has long been a popular figure for political conservatives to cite. But his views on religion get relatively little attention. This is a shame, because Burke has a lot to offer those concerned about matters of religion, morality, and politics in contemporary American life.


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