My brothers and sisters in Christ,
As you are likely aware, the United States Supreme Court
issued its decision upholding the provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires individuals to purchase a health plan – the so-called “individual mandate.” The Conference of Bishops has issued a press release at http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-119.cfm with a renewed plea to Congress and the Administration to fix the moral problems that prompted the Conference of Bishops to oppose the ACA.
These problems include, among others, the lack of adequate conscience protection, which has found expression in HHS’s mandate to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortion-inducing drugs. Because this mandate remains in place after the court’s ruling, our struggle against it continues unabated.
That means, among other things, that the various lawsuits against the mandate will continue and indeed, take on even greater importance.
It is also all the more important that we all become engaged to the greatest extent possible in this cause. To this end, the Conference of Bishops recently began a text message campaign. Supporters of religious liberty can text “Freedom” (for English) or “Libertad” (for Spanish) to 377377 on their cell phones to receive updates on religious liberty. I encourage you to make use of this vehicle and continue your prayer and action
for religious liberty.
With every best wish, I am sincerely yours in Christ,
Michael R. Cote, Bishop of Norwich
A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
July 29, 2012
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, John 6:1-15
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”
After the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, by which our Savior fed some five thousand men, the Lord instructed his disciples to gather up all of that which was left over. These “fragments”, as Jesus calls them, fill twelve wicker baskets – a sign of the fullness of time, and that the Savior is come twelve tribes of Israel.
However, recalling that our Lord gave the Bread of Life Discourse shortly after the miracle of the loaves, we may well recognize that this gathering of the “fragments” was an illustration of the presence of Christ under each and every part of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Jesus is teaching his disciples that the Eucharistic particles must be cared for, even after the conclusion of the Mass.
Seventeenth Sunday: Sharing the Presence of the Lord
During the next five Sundays, the gospel readings will be taken from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, the great discourse on the Bread of Life. The readings begin with the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.
The sixth chapter of John begins with the feeding of the crowds. We usually refer to this as the multiplication of the loaves, but I want you to hold that thought for a second, because there is a lot more to this miracle than food for dinner.
On a deeper scale, the miracle is sharing in the Lord of all that He is. It is a miracle of being filled with the food the Lord gives, himself.
The Prophet Who Feeds the New Israel: The 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time
God could have made us with solar cells in our skin, so all we would have to do is lie in the sun to get the energy we need for life.
But he didn’t. In his divine plan, God created us as creature that need to eat. The first command he ever gave us concerned food: what to eat and what not to eat. We turned away from him by an act of eating. And now, since the coming of Christ, we can turn back to him by an act of eating.
Our need to eat reminds us that we are dependent on something or someone outside ourselves—ultimately God—to stay alive.
The Eucharist vs. Junk Food – You Are What You Eat!
The only miracle recorded in all four gospels was the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Could this be to emphasize the central importance of the spiritual nutrition that Jesus, the Bread of Life, provides for us through the Eucharist? And could it be that a diet of junk food rather than the eucharistic banquet might just be a factor in the spiritual decline we see in the Western World?
A few years back George Gallup conducted a poll called “Religion in America.” He studied two groups of Americans, regular churchgoers from various Christian churches on the one hand, and totally unchurched people on the other. He quizzed both groups on issues ranging from the divinity of Jesus, to cheating on income tax, infidelity in marriage, and abortion.
What are you really afraid of? An answer from the Bible
What is it that really hold us in bondage? What is it that is truly the source of our problem, our sins, our selfishness, our anger, our lust and pride? Original Sin? Yes but where does the wound of sin really set up shop in us and stay open for business? What does it tap into for its strength? Scripture has an interesting answer to this question:
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Heb 2:14-15)
Why Does God Allow Misfortune to Fall on Us?
Once when St Teresa of Avila was traveling, her cart tipped, spilling her into a muddy stream. Soaked and irritated, Teresa looked to heaven and cried, “God, if this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them!”
How often we feel this way? We try to serve God and difficulties arise.
Choosing Your Religion and Other Silly Tales
Recently, I have been in conversation with people who are “exploring their spiritual options”. They are weighing the pros and cons of each denomination and religion to see which one fits. The big question for them is “Which religion will fit with my lifestyle” or “Which religion to me feels the most comfortable”. In reflecting on this, I was reminded of what our Blessed Lord said,
“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you…” – (John 15:16).
Throughout Salvation History, this theme is quite clear – you don’t choose to follow God by your own steam alone, but it is God Himself who calls you and grants you the grace to follow Him. This grace is also known as “prevenient grace”.
Probing a Mystery of the Fourth Gospel
In the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke specifically treat the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Of their combined 46 verses on the Last Supper, 10 are specifically about the institution of the Eucharist.
Scholars over the centuries have wondered why John the Evangelist never mentions the institution of the Eucharist, even though his Last Supper account totals five chapters and seven verses. He spends much of Chapter 6 previewing the Eucharist.
Who Was the Most Influential Saint of His Time?
Reread that headline carefully. The question is not who is the most influential saint of all time, but rather of his or her time. The answer to the former is probably easy. I imagine many of us would tick of one of the following—St. Francis, St. Catherine, St. Patrick, St. Anthony, St. Joseph, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Dominic, to name just a few—it’s a long list. But the second question—who was most influential in his lifetime?—is a bit of a head-scratcher.
Think of your own answer to this question and e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) your thoughts before reading further. (Please, in addition to listing your nominee, give a reason. I may post the runners-up in a follow-up, but I’ll keep your names out of it!) I imagine that few of us, including yours truly, would have come up with the answer that noted Catholic historian Warren Carroll does:
Answer: St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
Meditations on the Rosary: The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven
Finally, we come to the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven. This honorific, like many others, is an expression of common piety that emerges from the heart of the common man. It’s also, I was surprised to discover, rooted in Scripture.
For just as there was the office of King in the Old Testament, so there was the office of Queen Mother. As noted biblical scholar Dr. Scott Hahn points out:
What does the Holy Name of Mary Mean? Saints Jerome and Bonaventure tell us
According to tradition, God Himself named the infant girl who would become the Mother of God. The Archangel Gabriel appeared to Saint Joachim and instructed him to name the girl “Mary.” The Greek Mariam is usually thought to derive from the Hebrew Miriam, which means “bitterness.”
Saint Bonaventure observes that Mary’s name in in Hebrew is “bitter sea” (mara = bitter; yam = sea), in Latin it means “seas” and in Aramaic (the domestic language of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph) it means “Lady” or “Sovereign.”
What Is Eternal Life?
I often think we haven’t done a very good job in setting forth the doctrine of Eternal Life. For most people the concept seems a rather flat one, namely, that we shall live for ever and ever and ever…. And frankly for many such a concept seems rather unappealing even if the place of it is heaven. Heaven too is often poorly understood. It is reduced to a rather egocentric notion of a place where I will be happy. I’ll have a mansion, I’ll see my mother again, I won’t suffer…. But most moderns in their description never get around to mentioning God. If God is mentioned at all he’s down on the list somewhere, not at the top where he belongs. This is sad for the heart of heaven is to be with God!
Getting Rid of Excess Baggage
I have been thinking a great deal about my experience at Reconciliation a few weekends ago. I felt an intense and unexplainable urge to go and confess my sins when I woke up that Saturday 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. For possibly the first time in the six years since I joined the Church, 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.
The Heaviest Oppression
On Saturday, August 17, 1751, in The Rambler, Samuel Johnson wrote: “Politicians remark that no oppression is so heavy or lasting as that which is inflicted by the perversion and the exorbitance of legal authority.” We might wonder: “Why is this?” Surely crooks and tyrants are more dangerous than legal authority?
No: “the robber may be seized and the invader repelled whenever they are found; they who pretend no right but that of force, may by force be punished or suppressed,” Johnson continued. “But when plunder bears the name of impost, and murder perpetrated by judicial sentence, fortitude is intimidated and wisdom confounded; resistance shrinks from alliance with rebellion; the villain remains secure in the robes of the magistrate.”
American exorcist-in-training shares his experience
“I never thought I’d end up doing this, no,” admits the middle-aged priest whose unexpected path to becoming an exorcist began while saying one of his first Masses after he was ordained 15 years ago.
“At the moment of consecration of the precious blood I asked the Lord to shower his blood upon the youth and to help any young men who may have a vocation to the priesthood.”
The instant reaction of one 13-year old boy shocked the young priest, “he fell backwards and started growling. And I thought, ‘I wasn’t expecting this!’”