Pastoral Sharings: Sixth Sunday of Easter



Fr. Michael Phillippino

May 5, 2013
Sixth Sunday in Easter
Dear Parishioners,  

This Thursday is Ascension Thursday.  It is a holy day of obligation.  Masses will be held on Wednesday evening, May 8 th , at 7:00 PM, and Thursday, May 9 th , at 8:00 AM and 12:10 PM.  There will be NO MASS on Thursday evening.   

This time from the Ascension until Pentecost is an important time for us to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit.  It was the original novena and you would, I am sure, experience a great spiritual benefit if you are able to pray a novena for the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Someone once said, ‘we need to constantly pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit because we leak.’  Pope John Paul II prayed for the coming of the Holy Spirit every day before he even got out of bed.  It was a promise he made to his father and which he said he never broke.   
We see the work of the Holy Spirit in today’s readings.  This was the promise of Christ, that the Spirit would guide and instruct the Church and remind us of the words of our Lord.  St. Paul, although he is convinced that he is right regarding accepting the Gentiles, does not rely on his own inspiration but relies on a  decision from the Church.  It is important for us as well to recognize that even though it is important for us to be listening and discerning God’s will for us, we must always be willing to test our decisions against the teachings of the Church.  If our decision is moving us away from the church, then it is not the voice of the Holy Spirit that is moving us.

The Holy Spirit will always lead us to greater unity, not division.  The Holy Spirit continues to work in a special way through the teaching office of the Church.    The Holy Spirit is also about bringing us into a restored and renewed relationship with God.  In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of this, saying: “whoever loves me will keep my word, and my father will love him, and we will make our dwelling with him” (John 14:23).  Jesus speaks here of the indwelling of the Holy Trinity within our souls by grace.  This is a grace given to us in Baptism and confirmed in us with Confirmation.  The fullness of the grace given to us in the Sacrament of Confirmation empowers us to profess our faith in close union with the witness and the truths given us by Christ.  Confirmation, when properly received; gives us the grace to proclaim the truth of Christ in love.   

As the catechism says: The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed T rinity (Jn. 17:21 -2 3).  But even now we are c alled to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity: “If a man loves me,” says the Lord, “he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him” (John 14:23), (CCC. 260).  

 O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to establish myself in you, immovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity.  May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into your mystery!  Grant my soul peace.  Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling and the place of your rest.  May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action.  (Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity)

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
May 5, 2013

6th Sunday of Easter: The Peace of the Lord
It was the last course I took before being ordained a priest, ages ago.  The course wasn’t in the seminary, it was at Ohio State University, excuse me, The Ohio State University.  The course was called something like Inter-professional Dynamics in Crises Management in Health Care.  It was really quite interesting.  Only 49 people were allowed to be in the course, each one was about to complete preparation for their particular careers.  There were 7 about to be nurses, 7 med students, 7 law students, 7 going into hospital administration, 7 going into social work, 7 completing psychology, and 7 preparing for ministry in the Church or Synagogue.  Each class was two and a half hours long.  It would begin

The Holy Spirit and The Catholic Church
The Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 brings up a very interesting point — in discerning the proper interpretation of the Scriptures and of the will of God, where do we turn for guidance, the teaching authority of the Church, or to the Holy Spirit?   Some have painted these two as alternatives.  But are they really?

The Old Testament contains over seventy books, chock full of teaching.  Included are not only the Ten Commandments, but also abundant instruction on how to apply them to everyday life.  But there was a crucial limitation inherent in this wonderful but provisional gift of God.

Sixth Sunday of Easter
Gospel Summary

When Jesus says, in today’s gospel, “Whoever loves me will keep my word,” he wishes to remind us that, though it is easy to say that we love him, it is far more difficult to obey him by offering our love to our fellow humans. Such concern for others will be the indispensable proof of our authentic love of Jesus, for to love Jesus means ultimately to commit oneself to imitate his unconditional love of others.

Having come down from Heaven, Jesus knew the lives of children are endowed from Heaven
Liturgical readings in the Easter season often couple the Book of the Acts of the Apostles with the Book of Revelation. They are so different that at first you might think it is like putting a history of Dutch New Amsterdam alongside a science fiction novel. The Acts seem so human, with charming details, such as the fine needlework done by Dorcas (Acts 9:36-42). There is none of that in the Revelation of St. John. But think again: Dorcas the seamstress was raised from the dead. That is as astonishing as St. John’s descriptions of Heaven, which, since they are being filtered from eternity into time, seem almost like hallucinations

From Tolerance to Coercion
I’m not a conspiracy theorist. What I mean by that is that I generally don’t go for complicated explanations when often the simplest ones will suffice. I don’t see hidden cabals controlling society – frankly, who needs hidden cabals when most plots to transform society are wide out in the open for most to see. Yet, there is a slow and subtle transformation taking place in society that has me terribly concerned that our right to free expression is slowly being eroded. Bit by bit, not only is intolerance of homosexual lifestyles no longer tolerated, even indifference is being seen as homophobic.

Honoring Mary in the Month of May
1.  Pray the rosary with your family daily or at least on Saturdays.

2.  Wear baby blue clothing.

3.  Place fresh flowers in a vase in front of the blessed Mother’s statue
     or  picture.

4.  Hold or attend a May Crowning.

St. Pius V., Pope
A DOMINICAN friar from his fifteenth year, Michael Ghislieri, as a simple religious, as bishop, and as cardinal, was famous for his intrepid defense of the Church’s faith and discipline, and for the spotless purity of his own life. His first care as Pope was to reform the Roman court and capital by the strict example of his household and the severe punishment of all offenders. He next endeavored to obtain from the Catholic powers the recognition of the Tridentine decrees, two of which he urgently enforced—the residence of bishops, and the establishment of diocesan seminaries. He revised the Missal and Breviary, and reformed the ecclesiastical music.

What is this Thing Called Virtue?
Believe it or not, in at least one specific area public discourse in the United States is a bit better than it was a few decades ago.  How so? Today we occasionally hear the word “virtue” used—and not always in sarcasm.  This is good news because the return of the word “virtue” to the lexicon means we can at least talk about what it means to act with moral excellence, conforming to a standard of right conduct, to “be good” in a meaningful way.  And this makes it less difficult for us to talk about what we are supposed to be like as human beings, for what we ought to strive, and how.

Whatever Happened to Mortal Sin?
During the 1970s, psychologist Karl Menninger published Whatever Became of Sin?, a reflection on the largely unnoticed but quite definite slippage of attitudes towards morality in the mid-twentieth-century.  Tracing the disappearance of “sin,” he focused on one area that used to be of concern, but was gradually erased from consciousness, with extraordinarily wide ramifications: the “disorder” or “sin” of masturbation:

Which Is to Be Master
Even if you never read Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass (you should, by the way; G. K. Chesterton insisted it is adults and not children who should read Carroll), you probably at least have heard of Alice’s exchange with Humpty Dumpty about the meaning of words—or, more accurately, about control of the meaning of words. In this case, the word glory.

The Church, the Bible, and the Trinity of Divine Persons
Did you know that the word “person” comes to us through Catholic philosophy and theology?
It’s true, although the word existed before Christianity in a different context. Etymologically, the word “person” originally comes from a Latin word meaning “sounding through” (personare), which referred to actors speaking through a mask in the theater. In other words, the character in the play was a “person.” “Persons,” in the theatrical sense, weren’t just extras, but characters with speaking parts. From this, the word came to denote an individual of rank or dignity (a connotation still preserved in the word “personage”).

The Primitive Cruelty of Modern “Love”
Several weeks ago, Saint Valentine’s Day at my school came and went. There was no dance. There was no concert. There was no ice cream social. There was no party for trading little gifts. There was no showing of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon or Marty or Goodbye, Mr. Chips or Casablanca. There were no foolish and innocent flirtations on the way to class.

This is Our Time
Graduation from college is a transition from working towards a goal to accomplishing it. Some are ready to save the world while others simply want to make their mark in it, but either way, it is the threshold of new possibilities.

Putting a Bird on It
My grandfather was in the habit of casually using God’s name in vain.  This bugged my mother no end, especially when my grandfather came to live with her.  Finally, one day, he used the Holy Name one time too often, and my mother yelled, “You know, Dad, if you keep calling Him, He is going to show up!”  Ha, and what do you know:  not long after that, my grandfather was baptised.  I guess He showed up.

Most Catholics know better than to literally use God’s name in vain; but we may have fallen into the habit of using the idea of God in vain — especially if you happen to make a living in some field that has to do with religion.  When you are supposed to come up with edifying, illluminating ideas about the Faith regularly, no matter what is going on in your personal spiritual life, it’s awfully tempting to do something I call “putting a bird on it.”  Here’s the origin of that phrase:

Four Ways To Evangelize at Work Without Being Churchy
So here you are: Catholic, on top of the world, and loving everything about life. You naturally want to share the Good News with those you know, like your colleagues in the workplace. After all, having abundant life in Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church is pretty much the best thing ever!

But often times we hear from the culture that Catholics and other Christians come off as pushy, annoying, and extremist.

What’s Killing American Catholicism – 1
Reading Sherry Weddell’s excellent Forming Intentional Disciples is making me think about the American church and what ails her. Can anybody deny that there is a sickness in the body ecclesia? When 50% of Catholics vote for a man who stoutly defends same sex marriage and partial birth abortion can we say that Catholics in America are okay?

I don’t think so.

Little Everyday Good Things
From the theoretical horrors of “In vitro eugenics,” to the real horrors of Kermit Gosnell’s abortuary and the bombings at the Boston Marathon, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the evil in the world. To fight this despair, I have been bringing to mind all of the good things that are in my life. This morning I saw this on Facebook from the Generation Life page:

Total Brain Death:Valid Criterion of Death
Total brain death—the complete and irreversible cessation of functioning of all parts of the brain—has been widely accepted in ethics and law as a valid criterion for pronouncing the death of a human being. But in the last fifteen years, some philosophers and neurologists have advanced arguments that challenge this criterion. D. Alan Shewmon, a neurologist from UCLA, has advanced the strongest case so far. In our judgment, Shewmon has shown the unsoundness of the usual argument for the total brain death criterion, but we think—on different grounds than the standard rationale—that the criterion is a valid one for death.

A Bible Verse For All Fathers Of Teenagers To Memorize…
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
You know, for when your kids roll their eyes when it’s time for you to hone them.

Yes, the verse is for real.

Remember who you are, and what your vocation entails.

Sometimes, Holiness is Boring
I was complaining to my husband the other day that there aren’t any prominent married saints – at least none who actually lived the sacrament of marriage. It seems like the only way to be a married saint is to be a 14-year-old girl who, having taken a vow of virginity, is forced to marry a big, gross, abusive pagan man. What about us regular spouses who chose to marry each other and who get along pretty well? Don’t we get someone to look up to?

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