Pastoral Sharings



Fr. John Cusick
22nd Sunday In Ordinary Time
September 2, 2012

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“Empty is the reverence they do me because they teach as dogmas mere human precepts.” (Mk 7: 7)

Outrage over animal experimentation and silence in the face of the human holocaust of abortion. Proliferation of the sexist and abortifacient Depo Provera, Norplant and pill as millions languish in ignorance of the methods of natural birth regulation, the most effective and healthiest means of spacing or delaying births. Though more Americans go to church services each week than go to sports events in an entire year such reverence is empty while mere human precepts are taught as dogmas and the eternal laws of God are spurned and ignored.

The false gospel of “niceness” condemns those who speak out against the glorification of fornication, whether homosexual or heterosexual. A human precept, that of never offending anyone under any circumstances to seek human respect, has been transformed into a commandment, while God’s law of chastity is ignored. The false gospel of the culture of death enshrines the evil “choice” of one human being to murder another in the womb, while God’s eternal commandment “thou shalt not kill” is forgotten.

There will be no forgetting on the day of judgment, for then the secrets of all hearts will be revealed. On that day there will be no concealing the “wicked designs that come from the deep recesses of the heart: acts of fornication, theft, murder, adulterous conduct, greed, maliciousness, deceit, sensuality, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, an obtuse spirit.” (Mk 7: 21-22) It is such actions as these of which Christ says: “This people pays me lip service but their heart is far from me.” (Mk 7:6) Their cry of rebellion is like that of the devil: “I will not serve.”

The Jewish people and their spiritual leaders viewed Jesus as a rabbi. (Cf. Jn 11:28; 3:2; Mt 22:23-24, 34-36) He often argued within the framework of rabbinical interpretation of the law. (Cf. Mt 12:5; 9:12; Mk 2: 23-27; Lk 6: 6-9; Jn 7: 22-23) Yet Jesus could not help but offend the teachers of the Law, for he was not content to propose his interpretation alongside theirs but taught the people “as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” (Mt. 7:28-29) In Jesus, the same Word of God, that had resounded on Mount Sinai to give the written law to Moses, made itself heard anew on the Mount of the Beatitudes. (Cf. Mt 5:1) Jesus did not abolish the Law but fulfilled it by giving its ultimate interpretation in a divine way: “You have heard it was said to the men of old…But I say to you…”(Mt 5: 33-34) With this same divine authority, he disavowed certain human traditions of the Pharisees that were “making void the word of God.” (Mk 7:13; cf. 3:8) (CCC 581) 

Christ commanded the Apostles “go teach all nations”. (Mt 28:19-20) They do so today in the Church and in her teaching authority, the Magisterium. To turn a deaf ear to the teaching Church is to turn a deaf ear to Jesus Christ the Lord for he said to the Apostles and to their successors, the pope and his brother bishops in union with him, “He who hears you, hears me.”

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we “meet Christ in the liturgy” -Fr. Cusick

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
September 2, 2012

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 
A priest, writes Arthur Tonne, was called out for an emergency in the early morning hours. On his return, he was accosted by a mugger, “Your money or your life!” Then, when the thief saw the priest’s Roman collar, he told him to put his wallet away. The relieved priest lit a cigarette and offered his would-be mugger one. The latter proudly said, “No thanks, Father. I’ve given up cigarettes for Lent.”  

Like the thief, many Catholics lose sight of the forest because of the trees. We give attention to minutiae and turn our backs on the essentials. Unhappily for us, we are living our lives in an epoch which downplays sin.

Tradition, Tradition 
What does the term Tradition really mean? Is it opposed to the Bible? The sola scriptura principle of the Protestant Reformation assumed it was — here we examine this assumption in the light of a few key scriptures.
One of the great battle cries of the Protestant Reformation was “sola scriptura!” Many thought that the Catholic Church had cluttered up the simple Christian faith by adding all sorts of practices, customs and doctrines over the centuries. They thought the Church in their day was guilty of exactly the same Pharisaical obsession with traditions condemned by Jesus in this Sunday’s gospel (Mark 7:1-23). The solution, it seemed, was simple. Let’s purify the Church by ditching all these traditions and keeping the Bible alone.

In Seeking wisdom,  find someone who has suffered 
Over 23 years ago as I was finishing seminary and about to be ordained my spiritual director gave me some advice on seeking a new spiritual director in my diocese. “Look for some one who has suffered,” He said. At the time I wondered about this but have come to find that it was true.
Suffering brings a profound wisdom if it is endured with faith. I have also discovered this in my own life. As much as I have hated any suffering I have endured I have to admit it has brought gifts in strange packages. Through it I discovered gifts and strengths I did not know I had. Through it I experienced things I would have avoided.

What Do You Know About Your Guardian Angels? 
When you were a kid you were told that you have a mysterious spirit that supposedly floats around wherever you go. You learned that this mysterious spirit was good and that he would keep you safe. You probably even learned that famous prayer. In short, you and I learned that we have a lifelong companion whom we still know very little about. What do you know about your guardian angel?

“Judas…Would Have Left if He Were Honest”
As Catholics, we’re called to a love of souls. We support our brothers and sisters in faith through prayer and fellowship, and every one of us has a vocation to evangelize, to whatever degree we are able. We are meant to bring the light of Christ into the darkness of the world.

Prayer Takes Two 
We know we need to do it; to put our busy lives on hold for just a bit, turn off the phone and computer and spend time in prayer. We want to do it. We know we’ll be better for it. But life churns at an incredible pace that keeps us racing from one thing to another. We procrastinate. Time passes.
What to do? What we really need is to retreat!

BREAKING: New Vatican Initiative for the New Evangelization in the United States
In Fall 2012, the Vatican will launch a major global evangelization initiative for the digital world.     

Called aleteia – Seekers of the Truth!, the project has been developed by the Foundation for Evangelization in the Media, under the patronage of both the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.

 Top Fifteen Female Saints Who Were Mystics 
The Catholic Church has such a rich tradition from which to draw upon when it comes to her female mystics.  In fact, there are so many women who had mystical experiences of God that it is indeed extremely difficult to narrow them all down into a top ten creme de la creme list – and yet here, I have endeavored to do just this, only I could not narrow it down to less than fifteen!

St. John the Baptist Reminds the Faithful to Stand Up for Truth in World Hostile to God
Pope Benedict XVI says the heroic sanctity of St. John the Baptist proves that a solid life of prayer is the best source of courage for Christians facing a modern world that is hostile to God and those who love him.
“The martyrdom of St. John the Baptist reminds us, Christians of our time, that we cannot stoop to compromises with the love of Christ, his word, the Truth. The truth is the truth, and there is no compromise,” the Pope stated in his Aug. 29 general audience address at Castel Gandolfo.

What is man? 
The divinely inspired psalmist says: “When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place – what is man that you are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4) The Church takes up this paean to humanity, although poorly because so many clergy and laity do not use the anthropology found in divine revelation as their operational definition of what it means to be human.

What’s the Best Way to Say the Rosary? 
People say the Rosary in a variety of ways. Some say a simple version without any “add-ons.” Others use the Fatima Prayer. Many add the Hail, Holy Queen or other prayers at the end. Some add Scripture verses for meditation.
This raises some questions: Is there one right way to say the Rosary? Are some ways better than others?

Our Neurotic Fear of Suffering 
Never in human history has suffering been more readily relieved than today. And yet, paradoxically, we have never been more afraid of suffering.  

Our forebears would find this very odd. For them, horrendous suffering was ubiquitous, the bane of rich and poor alike. For example, before anesthesia, the agony of surgery may have killed more patients than surgical procedures helped. As Thomas Dormandy put it in his splendid medical history, The Worst of Evils: The Fight Against Pain, “the searing pain of knife and saw” almost always caused patients to fall “into a state of shock on the operating table . . . Speed was essential.

An Abortion Survivor Wants to Ask You a Question…
“Many children, more than you might think, actually survive failed abortions and are born alive. I know because I’m one of them.”
Those are the opening words of a powerful new pro-life ad from Susan B. Anthony List.
Melissa Ohden is an abortion survivor whose life was saved by a nurse who heard her crying. She’s now a mother with a daughter of her own.

How Do We Know Jesus Wasn’t Married?
An LDS couple I’m friends with asked me recently about the so-called Gospel of Philip, and specifically, about its claim that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.  Let’s address the reliability of the “Gospel of Philip” first, and then the broader question: how do we know that Jesus wasn’t married?

The So-Called Gospel of Philip 

Strangely, the “Gospel of Philip” doesn’t even claim to be written by St. Philip.  Neither does it claim to be a Gospel, in the sense of being either a biography of Christ, or even a Book of Sayings by Christ. The name “Gospel of Philip” came much later, and is misleading. Put another way, the Gospel of Philip is neither a Gospel, nor written by Philip.

Relics: Pious Devotion, Healing Power, or Something Else? 
Last year, attending the diaconate convocation for the Archdiocese of Detroit, I wrote about how my husband and I were privileged to pray before a first-class relic of St. Teresa of Avila. 

And What, Exactly, Is a Relic? 

First, let’s clear up what it’s not.  Catholics do not, under any circumstances, “worship” relics. 

St. Jerome wrote, “We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore him whose martyrs they are.”

 Does God Really Speak to Us? 
There are many who believe that God does not speak to us and that prayer is nothing more than an imaginary conversation with ourselves that makes us feel better about things.  Such a belief may well be supported by the fact that many people who say they are praying are actually engaged in just such a delusion.  Yet such explanations of prayer, as sophisticated as they appear, do not adequately account for what both great saints and repentant sinners discover in the silence of their hearts.
 Why God Sometimes Says “No”
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. (Psalm 34:17)

We’ve all experienced those occasions when our prayers seem to have gone “unanswered”. Given the many comments in the Bible regarding the Lord hearing our prayers, could there really be such a thing as “unanswered prayer”? While the obvious answer is “no”, why is it that we sometimes ask but don’t receive?

Why the Internet Will Lead to Mass Conversions to Christianity 
Greetings from Dallas! I’m here at the Catholic New Media Conference along with tons of great folks involved in Catholic new media. The whole place is abuzz with excitement and ideas about the future of new media, and as I walk around I keep thinking the limitless possibilities that are on the horizon thanks to all our modern forms of communication. I believe that all Catholic media, including traditional forms like television and radio, are indispensable to the New Evangelization. But the new media (which I’m using as a lump term to include blogging, social media, and all other types of online networked content) has three specific characteristics that differentiate it from other kids of media to make it particularly powerful for the Church:

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