Pastoral Sharings: "Sixth Sunday of Easter"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. 
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Posted for May 10, 2015  

John 15: 9–17 

Gospel Summary 

This gospel passage is filled with beautiful statements 
about the ever-popular subject of love. Jesus tells us that the Father loves him, and that he in turn loves us, and that we should love one another. Perhaps we have heard these sentiments expressed so often that we no longer realize how profound and dramatic they really are.
When Jesus says that the Father has loved him, he is correcting a very common concept of God. Many people at that time (and perhaps ever since) pictured God as someone very transcendent and therefore very distant from them. He was surely all-powerful but, like most powerful ones, he seemed to be cruel as well. Is God not in some way responsible for famine and natural disasters? Does he not at least permit the death of young parents and innocent children? 

But Jesus tells us that he knows God much better than we do. As eternal Word, he dwells in the lap of his heavenly Father (John 1: 18). This is body language, which tells us that Jesus hears the very heartbeat of his Father. He assures us that God is a loving Father who wishes only good for us. Most of all, he knows that this loving Father offers us a love that can enliven and nurture and energize us, just as the sun energizes plants and trees. 

Jesus invites us to experience and to trust this life-giving love, to live in the presence of it, and to yearn for it, just as the sunflower follows the sun across the sky in our human gardens. Then we will know how to become sunshine in the lives of others. We will also know how to deal with mysteries in our lives. We will also want to share our treasures with others and thus become part of that divine love that overcomes all darkness and evil. 

Life Implications

The implications of this vision of reality are not hard to see. Most people who do not love, or do not love enough, are usually persons who do not feel that they themselves are loved. It is futile to tell people that they must love others when they have not really been made free to love by experiencing love in their own lives. Too often it is a case of impoverished people trying desperately to give more than they have. 

That is why it is so important to hear and to trust the words of Jesus about the love of the Father for us.  

This love is found in Jesus himself, who gave his life for us, but it is also found everywhere in life: in loving family and friends, in the blessings and successes of life, in every flower and gentle breeze. 

Today’s gospel challenges us to acknowledge the dark evil in life but it asks us to notice especially the luminous good that is also there. And as we pay attention to the good in life, we will be able to let the evil go by or, at least, to keep it in its place, which is never at the center of life. This is exactly what Jesus did and, with him, we too need to feel the warmth of the Father’s love and to share that warmth with all whom we meet in life.

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
May 10, 2015

Sixth Sunday of Easter: Love, A Choice That Demands Sacrifice
Love, love, love, love, love.  It seems that we hear this word over and over.  Bill loves Sue, Sue loves Fred, etc.  Every sitcom is loaded with people who fall in and out of love.  We hear about married people breaking up and we wonder where their love went.  The we come to Church, and again we hear about love.  

But it is not all the same.  True love is a choice that demands sacrifice.  People who fall in and out of love have not made a choice that demands sacrifice, or at least one of them has not. 

Pray Always?
“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

“Seriously? Pray always?”

That is not an uncommon reaction to St. Paul’s admonition to pray always without ceasing. Does he know what we’re up against, the demands on our time and energy, the pace of our modern world, not to mention the fragility and inconsistency of our human nature? He can’t possibly mean always, as in, all the time and everywhere. Impossible!

The Discovery of the Holy Cross
GOD having restored peace to His Church, by exalting Constantine the Great to the imperial throne, that pious prince, who had triumphed over his enemies by the miraculous power of the cross, was very desirous of expressing his veneration for the holy places which had been honored and sanctified by the presence and sufferings of our blessed Redeemer on earth.

The Rulers of Jesus’ Time
Both Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas were important men, respected and feared. Pi­late was the Roman prefect in Judea, Caiaphas the high priest of the Jerusalem Temple. Both were accomplished men who had risen far in their chosen fields. They had to deal often with one another, negotiating a fragile peace and maintaining a difficult order in the land it was their lot to share. Each man seems to have had a measure of respect for the other and his people — oddly mixed with a measure of contempt.

Truth or Consequences
One of our basic beliefs as Catholics is that Mary is, in a curious way, always referred to Jesus. Her own words at the wedding in Cana (John 2) stand as a sort of emblem of all that she has to say to us: “Do whatever he tells you.” She directs us to her Son.

A Mother’s Serenity Prayer
When the heat goes out and the temperature is minus-two degrees outside and I wonder when the oil company will arrive to save us from this dangerous situation,

—Lord, help me to accept hardship as a pathway to peace, to take as Jesus did the sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.

When we are on day three of no working heat and we don’t hear the pipes burst and a child wakes us the next morning to tell us there is water gushing from the wall and pouring all over the living room floor,

—Lord, help me to accept hardship as a pathway to peace, to take as Jesus did the sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.

10 Things That Are Strengthening the Family
It’s impossible to dispute any item on Father Dwight Longenecker’s list of things that are killing the family. To have eyes is to see that we are in deep trouble, for all the reasons he notes.

And yet, I want to say, “And yet, for all that…”

It’s tempting for conservatives to get so appalled by the losses we see all around us that we fail to take note of the good that’s been unfolding too. It’s important to notice the good, not just so that we don’t get depressed, but so that we have a more complete and balanced sense of reality — what God is about in the world, and which of our efforts are most likely to bear fruit.

No boring homilies, pope tells new priests at ordination
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Ordaining 19 men to the priesthood, Pope Francis not only told them to make sure their homilies were not boring, but he offered them advice on how to ensure their preaching would touch people: speak from your heart.

Priests are called to nourish the faithful, he said, so they must ensure “that your homilies are not boring, that your homilies arrive directly in people’s hearts because they flow from your heart, because what you tell them is what you have in your heart.”

5 Things I’ve Learned About Holiness In the Convent
When I entered the convent I had a pretty self-confident, completely unsophisticated idea of what holiness would look like. I expected to be able to identify the holiest sisters because they would have a retinue following them, hanging on their every word and helping them with daily tasks.

Hey, that is what Padre Pio pretty much had right?!

Conspiracies & Catholicism: Saints
What is a saint?

A saint is someone who is recognized as being united with God; a holy one. English is actually a bit odd– we’ve got a lot of ways of saying things, and “saint” is a good example. In most languages, there’s no difference between how you say “holy one” and how you say “saint.” This can result in things that sound very strange to modern ears, like talking about “Saint Jesus.” Jimmy Akin has a great FAQ if you want to know more, but I’m going to steal from it shamelessly for a lot of this article so you might want to wait on that to avoid boredom. (Not that his writing is boring, but because reading something in more detail that you’ve already read is more interesting than reading a little information about something you just absorbed a huge amount on.)

The Gravity of Sin
Every day we wake up and struggle against this ever-present giant.  We strain and groan under the weight produced by this invisible force, yet most days we never give a second thought to this. It literally is dragging us away from heaven, but we continue to fight and counteract this tortuous law of life.  This is really about the gravitational pull of our planet, but couldn’t this also signify sin? Certainly gravity is not sinful, but sin has a gravitational pull of its own accord. Our concupiscence is the driving force that impels us toward the destructive ends that can consume us if we do not exercise our spiritual muscles.  Just as the gravity of a fall can kill, so can the gravity of sin be just as deadly to our eternal souls.

Will the Beauty of Truth Alone Combat the Lies of Satan?
Saint Augustine argued that, even though the beauty of truth is a superior form of beauty, it should be not divorced from material beauty, especially when presenting the truths of the Faith.
First of all, Augustine pointed out that while beauty of the material realm can be beneficial to raise our souls to God who is the source of all beauty, there is another dimension of beauty that was superior and resided in the intellectual realm.

Influenced by Platonism, Augustine saw that the pursuit of truth appeared to be a higher form of beauty. This reality first presented itself in Augustine’s conversion.

10 Ways to Win the Battle for Purity
Flashy billboards, provocative dress and apparel, Hollywood fashions spread far and wide, suggestive innuendos, off-colored jokes, indecent movies, and the ever-present danger of the Internet to visit the numerous and poisonous websites—all of these and a plethora of other alluring and seductive temptations can trap even the best of us into falling into the sin against the virtue of purity. In a certain sense, the world can be depicted as a moral land-mine, where at every turn and corner in the road there is an immoral spiritual bomb that can be stepped on and explode!  Let us be honest and to the point—we live in a society of dangerous and often pernicious images. We live in a pornographic society!

Infallible Me…
Non Catholic Christians often grumble about the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility, but they miss the point that for any religion to be considered reliable somewhere along the line you have to have some sort of infallibility.

To get what I mean we first have to understand what infallibility is.

10 Places to Visit if You Want to See a Miracle
With the recent miracle that occurred with Pope Francis on March 21, 2015, it made me wonder where in the world could we witness other miracles in person.

1. Naples, Italy – St. Janurius blood
Saint Januarius (or San Gennaro) is the patron saint of Naples and is a martyr saint. Three times a year, people will gather in Naples Cathedral to witness the liquefaction of the blood of the saint, which is kept inside a sealed glass ampoule. The three dates to witness this miracle is on September 19th (feast day), December 16th (his patronage of both Naples and the archdiocese) and on the Saturday before the first Sunday of May (to commemorate the reunification of his relics). It has liquefied at other times, but this was the first time to have liquefied before a pope since Pope Pius IX.

Science and Miracles
On June 20th, 2013, Giovanni Giudici, the Bishop of Pavia, pronounced the cure of Danila Castelli to be miraculous, 24 years after her pilgrimage to Lourdes. Her cure, and the 68 other cures proclaimed miraculous, began as simply one more of the more than 7,000 cures that have been reported to the Medical Bureau of the Sanctuary at Lourdes. While all of the cases are marvelous in their own way, only this small fraction survived the many stages of extensive investigation, both medical and ecclesial, so as to eventually be considered “unexplained according to current scientific knowledge” by the Lourdes International Medical Committee and finally pronounced miraculous by the bishop of the cured pilgrim.

5 Simple Lessons about Priests
As a parish secretary for several years, I have had ample time to reflect on the role of priests and the laity’s view toward them. The following are five things I’ve learned:

Why Do Catholics Confess Their Sins toa Priest instead of Directly to God?
Why do Catholics confess their sins to a priest, rather than going directly to God?
Well, the quick answer is because that’s the way God wants us to do it. In James 5:16, God, through Sacred Scripture, commands us to “confess our sins to one another.” Notice, Scripture does not say confess your sins straight to God and only to God — it says confess your sins to one another.

ASK FATHER: Can non-Catholics go to confession?
My mother is a non-Catholic who sometimes attends mass with me (a convert). She has considered entering the Church (her mother–as a side note–became a Catholic in her late 80’s, with me as her sponsor.) A good friend of mine, who regularly interviews priests for television spots, told me that she can go to Confession, as a baptized Christian, as long as she believes in the efficacy of it. Is this true?

Pondering Prudence and Its “Parts” – A Reflection on the Sometimes-Misunderstood Virtue of Prudence
As a follow-on to yesterday’s post on the spiritual work of counseling  the doubtful, I would like to say a little more about prudence.

Prudence is often misunderstood by those who reduce it to mere caution or reluctance to act. It is true that sometimes prudence indicates caution and that hasty action is seldom prudent. However, sometimes it is prudent to act quickly.

To Accord with Catholic Faith – By Pope Leo XIII
The only-begotten Son of the Eternal Father, who came on earth to bring salvation and the light of divine wisdom to men, conferred a great and wonderful blessing on the world when, about to ascend again into heaven, He commanded the Apostles to go and teach all nations, and left the Church which He had founded to be the common and supreme teacher of the peoples. For men whom the truth had set free were to be preserved by the truth; nor would the fruits of heavenly doctrines by which salvation comes to men have long remained had not the Lord Christ appointed an unfailing teaching authority to train the minds to faith.

Reading G. K. Chesterton: A Guide for the New Fan
In the movie Moscow on the Hudson, a Soviet defector walks in to an American supermarket for the first time, is overwhelmed at all the choices, yells, spins around, and passes out. The new reader of G. K. Chesterton may well feel this way. You read an essay, or a Father Brown story, or one of his better-known books, and love it.

The Socially Awkward Person’s Guide to the Sign of Peace
The first time I went to a Catholic Mass, there were a lot of things that seemed crazy to me. The kneeling, the incense, the parts with everyone saying the same prayers at the same time—most of it was baffling. But none of it startled me more than when the priest suddenly said, “Let us offer one another a sign of peace.” With no warning other than that simple phrase, there was eye contact! And hand-shaking! And verbal interaction! People I didn’t even know were looking at me and addressing me!

Carve Out Time for These Few Essentials
Got a new baby? Along with all the joy and fun that comes with welcoming a new child into your home, you will notice some other, unwelcome arrivals: tons and tons of unsolicited advice about how to run your life. Everyone has an opinion about what is really important, and much of this advice conflicts with or contradicts other advice, leaving a new mother feeling confused and overwhelmed.

Be at peace, new mama. There are really only a few essentials to keep in mind, in order to live your life in a happy, healthy, even joyful way.

The ABCs of Catholicism
When I was growing up, there were always times in the long car rides with my family to play different “road games”. I’m sure most everyone has played the license plate game, trying to see how many different state license plates you could find on the cars zooming past. One of my favorite games was always the alphabet game. You try to find an example of something that begins with a certain letter of the alphabet and shout it out before anyone else can. The weird letters like “Q” and “X” were always a little more difficult, but that was part of the challenge. With that in mind, I thought that it would be fun to create a list (by no means exhaustive) of the different things in Catholicism, using the alphabet as my guide. What other things can you think of to add to the list? Add your own in the comments below!

The Haunting Stories of 5 Saints Who Battled Demons
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6.11-12

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5.8

The spiritual world is real, and there is a battle going on.

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