April 28, 2013
Fifth Sunday in Easter
For Catholics, spring seems to have come early with the election of Pope Francis on March 13th. There is a general sense of newness, of renewed hope and excitement about having a Latin American Pontiff. The media, both Catholic and secular, is following his every step and noticing his symbolic gestures with great interest.
What are we noticing? He lived in a small apartment in a poor section of the city, having sold the Archbishop’s residence in Buenos Aires. He rode the bus to work every day. He served the homeless; he knew the homeless. He took the name Francis in honor of the poor man of Assisi. He wears his simple white cassock, eschewing any other fancy clothes. His shoes are the old black ones he wore to Rome. He rode the van with the other Cardinals and left the limo sitting there. He bowed his head for a blessing from the people before he blessed them.
He stepped out of the jeep which was touring the crowds in St. Peter’s Square to cradle a handicapped man. Now people are handing him the disabled and babies to hold and bless. He celebrated his Holy Thursday in a juvenile detention center washing the feet of young men and women…He prays the liturgy and draws everyone into the holiness of the sacrament. He returned to the hotel where he stayed to pay his own bill and carry his bags. He asked his friends and family to stay in Argentina and give travel money they may have spent on a trip to Rome to the poor. His family and friends honored his wishes, but they did, however, send to Rome a homeless man whom the Pope had befriended. When he met the Pope, the man asked what he should call him. Pope Francis answered, “Just call me Jorge.”
It will take time for Pope Francis to make his mark in terms of management and vision for the Church. Clearly his first impressions are overwhelmingly attractive. But what of us, the people of God? Have we not the ability to do exactly what we have been drawn to in these past few weeks? Can we not abandon wealth and excessive consumerism? Can we not befriend the homeless and defend them? Can we live simply in our own lives and be happy with what we have? Can we keep our old shoes and not bend to the expectations of others about attire?
What is to keep us from taking the bus to work or living in a poor neighborhood? What keeps us from reverently participating in Mass? Are we free to bow our heads to receive the blessings of each other and to give them ours? Do we seek out the neediest in society? Can we not hold them with the same tenderness as Pope Francis does? Who is to stop us from reaching out to the wounded teenagers in our midst? Whose feet are we called to wash? What babies are we called to hold?
It is impossible not to see Christ in the actions of Pope Francis, and it is compellingly attractive, enticing the whole world to desire to reach out and be touched by his sheer human decency and genuine holiness. Imagine a world where all Christians lived in the simplicity of love and tenderness? The few words that we have heard from him reiterate the same themes of humility, compassion, tenderness, and care for the poor. He preaches the gospel in word and in deed. We do not need to be Pope to do the same.
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
April 28, 2013
See how those Christians love!
There is a story about the renowned artist Paul Gustave Doré who lost his passport while traveling in Europe. When he came to a border crossing, he explained his predicament to one of the guards. Giving his name to the official, Doré hoped he would be recognized and allowed to pass. The guard, however, said that many people attempted to cross the border by claiming to be persons they were not. But, Doré, of course, insisted that he was the man he claimed to be. “All right,” said the official, “we’ll give you a test, and if you pass it we’ll allow you to go through.” Handing him a pencil and a sheet of paper, he told the artist to sketch several peasants standing nearby. Doré did it so quickly and skillfully that the guard was convinced he was indeed who he claimed to be. His actions confirmed his identity.
Divine Providence and Murphy’s Law
If God provides, then why is Murphy’s Law a law that seems to apply even to devout Christians? Why to bad things happen to good people? This article seeks to answer these questions and show how trials and tribulations fits into Divine Providence.
5th Easter: The New Jerusalem
While on vacation a few summers ago I met a wonderful Moslem man who asked me about Jerusalem. His question shocked me. I don’t know if his question represented a popular thought in Islam, but what he asked was, “Do Christians support the Jews because they believe that someday Israel will rule the world from Jerusalem?” His question was based on the second reading for this Sunday from the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelations. This chapter speaks about the New Jerusalem.
What Is Social Justice?
When last we met, we looked at Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical which inaugurated modern Catholic social thought. We now continue our magical mystery tour by turning our attention to Pope Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno of 1931. Before we explore the major themes of this incredibly important document, however, it would serve us well to examine a term that Pope Pius formally introduced into the Church’s social doctrine, but which is the source of much confusion, particularly in the United States. What, exactly, is “social justice?”
What year was Jesus born? The answer may surprise you
You might think that Jesus was born in the Year Zero–between 1 B.C. and A.D. 1.
You often hear that Jesus was born around 6-7 B.C.
The evidence from the Bible and the Church Fathers, however, support a different year.
Here’s what the evidence says . . .
Being Christian Means Risking Following Jesus, Pope Teaches
Lukewarm Christians try to build a Church that conforms to their own common sense and see too much risk in following Jesus, Pope Francis said.
“They are Christians of good sense only: They keep their distance. Christians, so to speak, who are ‘satellites,’ that have a Church small in size. To quote the words of Jesus in Revelation, (they are) ‘lukewarm Christians,’” the Pope said at the April 20 morning Mass in the chapel of St. Martha’s residence.
Key at Final Judgment Will be Love
Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of his Wednesday general audience to three Gospel texts that help us to enter into the mystery of one of the truths professed in the Creed: that Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead”. The three texts are: the parable of the ten virgins; the parable of the talents; and the final judgment. They all form part of Jesus’ teaching on the end of time in the Gospel of St. Matthew.
On Christ’s Second Coming
Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s weekly General Audience address in St. Peter’s Square where he continued the cycle of catechesis dedicated to the Year of Faith.
Dear brothers and sisters,
In the Creed we profess that Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Human history begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and ends with the final judgment of Christ. Often these two poles of history are forgotten, and, above all, faith in the return of Christ and the last judgment sometimes is not so clear and steadfast in the hearts of Christians. Jesus, during his public life, often focused on the reality of his last coming. Today I would like to reflect on three Evangelical texts that help us enter this mystery: that of the ten virgins, the talents and the final judgment. All three are part of the Jesus’ discourse on the end of times, in the Gospel of St. Matthew.
Pope Leo and Saint Michael the Archangel
In 1947 Father Domenico Pechenino related what he had witnessed over six decades before.
“I do not remember the exact year. One morning the great Pope Leo XIII had celebrated a Mass and, as usual, was attending a Mass of thanksgiving. Suddenly, we saw him raise his head and stare at something above the celebrant’s head. He was staring motionlessly, without batting an eye. His expression was one of horror and awe; the colour and look on his face changing rapidly. Something unusual and grave was happening in him.
8 things to know and share about St. Mark and his gospel
April 25 is the feast of St. Mark, one of the companions of the apostles and the author of one of the gospels.
Who was he, and what do the Bible and the Church Fathers record about him?
Here are 8 things to know and share . . .
Good is not the Enemy of the Better, it is its Foundation. As Seen in an Animated Video
Back when I was in seminary (24+ years ago), I was an organist, and Music Director of the Seminary. And in those years I learned an important, albeit, frustrating reality, namely that many did not always appreciate what I considered to be the finer things of Church Music.
Oh What A Tangled Web They Weave
In last month’s article, we read how the legal system condemned an innocent, disabled woman to suffer a cruel and tortuous death. But when one looks at all the players involved in Terri Schiavo’s case, it’s crystal clear that she was merely a pawn in a much larger agenda, one intently focused on the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in America. The plan was simple: sell the idea that no one should have to live with disabilities; sugarcoat the organization’s name and intent; secure funding; and last but not least, infiltrate the legislature, the healthcare network and even the Catholic Church to the point that Margaret Sanger would have been proud.
Dear Graduates: You Are Going To Die
Congratulations graduates on your achievement. You managed to finish four years of expensive babysitting, ostensibly designed to prepare you for life, even though it bears absolutely no resemblance to it. Well, except for the fact that most of you have racked up inordinate amounts of debt with very little of value to show for it. That part resembles life quite well, actually.
The Church Is Not Backward, But Forward
It is as inevitable as the passing of time. Once there is a new pope, the world begins to wonder when the Catholic Church is going to leave its “medieval thinking” behind and join the “modern” age. It is the 21st century after all, and the Church needs to stop being so “backward.”
Gaining Your Temper(ance)
Jim runs a small business. He helps other businesses setup computer networks and troubleshoots other business needs. Lately, business has been growing faster than normal. As the pace quickens, he has become more stressed and spending more time in the office. What he never anticipated was the retention of his employees beginning to fade. His employees have been paid well, provided benefits, and given a modest vacation package. One day he saw a recent employee, Sally, at an industry convention and offered to buy her lunch.
The Time I Almost Stopped Praying… And Then God Showed Off
“I don’t even know why I’m praying for this anymore,” I told my spiritual director between sobs on a cold winter morning. “It seems like every time I pray for something really big, God says ‘Thank you for your prayers, but that’s not My will; please accept this.’” I sat there perplexed, not angry or hurt, just perplexed, wanting to understand what was so difficult to grasp.
Would You Say That to My Face?
In recent decades, America has made many wonderful advances in protecting the rights of people with disabilities and including them in society. Gone are the days of forced sterilization and institutionalization. Now we have laws making disability discrimination illegal and most public places handicap accessible. Children with special needs are able to get an education in most public school districts and, when one isn’t available or doesn’t meet a child’s specific needs, some states, like Oklahoma, even offer scholarships for those children to attend a private school that will. On top of all that, advancements in medicine and technology are also helping us live longer, more independent lives.
I Come to Heal, Not Accuse
One of the greatest obstacles to presenting the Sacrament of Confession is exposing perfectly good Catholics to a worldview they are completely unfamiliar with. When evangelizing on the Sacrament, we should always remember this fact: Many of the people we are reaching out to are good holy Catholics doing their best to live their life for Jesus Christ.
Fifty Years Later–Vatican II’s Unfinished Business
Today, 50 years after the opening of Vatican II, the misinterpretation of one of its most salient documents, Lumen Gentium, continues to drive a number of Catholics in the United States into one of two camps, the “right” or the “left.”
Fifty years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the Church in the United States is in the throes of a struggle. Loyal Catholics are showing renewed vigor and vitality, and are helping the Church to move forward in unity. At the same time, the Church is also being exhausted and drained from within by a vocal movement of other Catholics who continue to dissent from Church teachings, particularly the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.
NYTimes Puzzled Why Religious People Live Longer
The New York Times published a piece that wondered exactly why religious people live longer by a professor from the University of Stanford:
ONE of the most striking scientific discoveries about religion in recent years is that going to church weekly is good for you. Religious attendance — at least, religiosity — boosts the immune system and decreases blood pressure. It may add as much as two to three years to your life. The reason for this is not entirely clear.
She posits that it could be the built in social supports, it could just be a healthier lifestyle as Church attendees drink less, take less drugs, and are less promiscuous, and finally she posits that religious people clearly have better imaginations because they imagine God so they must be good at it.
What Is Your Epistemology?
Epistemology is one of those words in philosophy that confuses a lot of people, but it means how do you get your knowledge. The word comes from the Greek logos which means “a kind of study or science” and the episteme which means “knowledge” so it is a reflection about the sources and the process of knowledge. Among the ancient Greeks there were different views.* Which one are you?