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April 2010

Each Has A Journey But We Are All On A Mission

Today's Lectionary Readings

Oval_globe Today's readings continue the heroic efforts of the early disciples to spread the good news. While it is not a good idea to make too much of disagreements in the early church, it's no better to gloss them over, so let's look at the simple verse, "But John left them and returned to Jerusalem." Seems like a simple matter, but when he decides to rejoin Paul some time later, Paul is not pleased.  Paul took John's departure as AWOL and won't take him back, leading to a disagreement with Barnabas, who does take John Mark and leaves Paul.
Controversy swirled around them, but did not keep them from their mission. Personality differences became secondary to spreading the good news and establishing the early church.
Stop, sit, eat My Body, drink My Blood. Be at peace, at least for a moment.


New Roman Missal's English Gains Approval After 10 Years of Work!

Bible  Well, finally after many years of difficult work, sincere theological and Scriptural disagreements and no small amount of political posturing, the official English translation of the official Latin Roman Missal (editio typica) gained approval today.

I suppose those too young to remember Vatican II might experience a sea-change with the new English translations of the mass parts, but those of us who lived through first Latin, then English/Latin dialogue masses, then successive re-translations of the Psalms, Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospels, all in succession, might be forgiven for thinking that the huge deal that will be made to "get people ready" for the new translations is already a bit overblown. I figure if the average Catholic used to be able to define "transubstantiation" even if no one can truly comprehend its full meaning, we ought to be able to handle an occasional "ineffable" and "consubstantial" without going off the deep end.

So, once again, get ready for the new translations, any year now, possibly Advent 2011. Check the USCCB's information page for the new translations: Third Edition of the Roman Missal.

The Lord be With You...And With Your Spirit.  (Sound familiar?)

Acts of the Apostles, Missionary Zeal and Modern Times

Today's Lectionary Readings

Preaching and Missionary Zeal in the Early Church  It's exciting to read about the missionary activity of the early Church and the zeal of the disciples fired up with the Holy Spirit. 

Paul VI wrote an encyclical on the need for modern evangelization and in recent years we've heard much about the "New Evangelization" especially by John Paul II. 

Interestingly, Pope Benedict plans to form a Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization to reinvigorate and in some places to reintroduce Catholicism in Europe and developed Western nations. Recall how the Catholic faith was first introduced to Ireland by missionaries where it thrived and then became the source of rekindling the faith in Europe. From where will the fire come this time?

Same place as before - The Holy Spirit.

Early Dissent in the Church and Peter's Intervention

Today's Lectionary Readings


Today we hear in Acts about the early disciples confronting Peter for not observing Jewish dietary practices and associating with Gentiles. Already a controversy arises about the very requirements for Christian discipleship. Jesus left no detailed instructions, but under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the early church, with the leadership of St. Peter was able to discern the path the church should take.

In any controversy which confronts us can be handled with prayer, penance and the guidance of the Holy Spirit: then and now.



Sober, Thoughtful Article on Clerical Child Abuse Scandal

016-St-Peters-Rome-From-The-Tiber-q75-1733x1151  If you are struggling to find some perspective before the flames of moral panic regarding clerical child abuse engulf us all, Joseph Bottum has an interesting piece at the, which really needs to be read in its entirety before making a judgment about his viewpoint. I think it's a good article. 

Anti-Catholicism Again: The Permanent Scandal of the Vatican

Good Shepherd Sunday, World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Witness Awakens Vocations

message of Pope Benedict XVI on World Day of Prayer for Vocations

The fruitfulness of our efforts to promote vocations depends primarily on God’s free action, yet, as pastoral experience confirms, it is also helped by the quality and depth of the personal and communal witness of those who have already answered the Lord’s call to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life, for their witness is then able to awaken in others a desire to respond generously to Christ’s call.

The pope enumerated three characteristics of the witness of a priest:

1.      Friendship with Christ

2.      Complete gift of self to God

3.      A man of communion with God, the Church, the people.


 the Lord makes use of the witness of priests who are faithful to their mission in order to awaken new priestly and religious vocations for the service of the People of God.

Celebrate the Eucharist and Live

Today's Lectionary Readings

Saul, blindness, conversion, scales, eyes, St. Paul  Unless you eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood, you have no life within you, says Jesus. We have been hearing about Saul's persecution of the early Christian community in Acts of the Apostles and this morning's reading recounts his conversion experience from persecutor to proselytizer. The early Christians were being hunted down precisely because they recognized the importance of Jesus' life-giving invitation to gather and be nourished by his body and blood.  

Unless we gather to be nourished by His Body and Blood, we have no life, no real life, regardless of how accomplished or successful we are by the world's standards. Many of our young people are excited to be receiving their First Eucharist in several weeks. Wouldn't it be great if we never lost the excitement and enthusiasm we felt when we first responded to Jesus' invitation? We can pray for such a spiritual renewal as we experience the sacrament through a first communicant's eyes.

May the scales on our eyes that blind us from seeing our need and obligation for weekly worship fall away!

Parents Act to Prevent and Detect Drug and Alcohol Abuse in their Children

alcoholism, youth, drink, red cup, booze, alcohol Last night a group of parents listened to a presentation by Denise Stevens from Prevention First on the dangers of substance abuse in our community and particulary in children and adolescents.

There was a healthy Question and Answer session during which several important issues were raised, specifically to put the problem in context in our community. Prevention First provided many helpful education materials for parents.

A Community Leadership Task Force meeting in two weeks will discuss planning to prevent and treat substance abuse problems in our adolescents and community.

Word of Mouth (WOM) - The Best Way to Spread Good News

Today's Lectionary Readings

Spreading the Gospel Good News of Evangelism We're coming up on the Solemnity of Pentecost, when through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Good News of Jesus' life-saving death and resurrection was spread by word of mouth from one corner of the world to the other. The world was hostile to the message, eventually hateful enough to persecute and execute some of those who preached it. The courage of the Holy Spirit ignited the fire of enthusiasm that was nourished in the early Christian communities.

That same Spirit is available to us today and the need for evangelism has never been greater in recent years. And surely the method - word of mouth - is still the most effective way to spread enthusiasm and endorsement. I think we can count the internet as electronic "word of mouth" and use its message spreading capacity to also spread the Good News.

Nothing works as well as personal witness.  Invite someone to mass with you who typically doesn't attend. Everyone knows a non-Catholic or a "non-practicing Catholic." Already we have had many inquiries about the process of becoming Catholic, our RCIA program. Invite, invite, invite.

Perhaps you're thinking, "Now is not a good time." Sadly, we don't choose "our time." In some ways, it's the perfect time --- surely the coming of Pentecost infuse our spirits with enthusiasm for our faith: death is not the end; there is eternal life in Jesus Christ, who nourishes us now in the Eucharist and invites followers to a heavenly mansion He has prepared for us.




New Webpage to Promote Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life in US

This coming Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday and also World Day of Prayer for Vocations. To commemorate this day, the USCCB will launce a new website designed to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Check it out on Sunday when it goes live and spread the link!

Remember to encourage and pray for vocations.

Vocations Webpage of the USCCB

USCCB's Webpage for Priestly and Religious Vocations

On a similar note, check out some of the characteristics of the Priestly Ordination Class 0f 2010 measured by a survey completed by the ordinandi (soon to be ordained).

Survey of Priestly Ordination Class of 2010

Saint Stephen, Deacon and Protomartyr

Today's Lectionary Readings

Saint-stephen-the-martyr-09 Today's first reading from Acts of the Apostles recounts events leading up to Stephen's martyrdom. Stephen is celebrated as the first martyr and is also sometimes called protodeacon, as he was one of the first of seven deacons chosen by the apostles and the Holy Spirit to assist in the ministry of the early church.

The name means "crown" and the Crown of Martyrdom became a way of speaking about the honor of having martyrdom conferred on oneself. Stephen's joy brought on by the Holy Spirit brimmed over into his preaching and testimony and was evident even to unbelievers, including his persecutors. Let us remember that one of them was Saul, soon to be St. Paul.

As we anticipate the coming of Pentecost, let us pray to be so filled with the Holy Spirit, that our love for God is evident in our lives, even by the serenity on our face. 

Pope Benedict Says We Need to Speak and Pray About Heaven

Angel at the gates of heaven, pearly gates, heavenly gates  The pope in a recent homily, recently warned that true obedience to God depends on truly knowing Him and warned against the danger of using "obedience to God as a pretext for following our own desires." How many times have we heard, "What would Jesus do?" by someone whom we suspect is doing precisely that.

It's also true that contemporary Christians have "a certain fear of speaking about eternal life...We talk of things that are useful to the world...We show that Christianity can help make the world a better place, but we dare not say that the end of the world and goal of the Christian is eternal life - and the criteria of life in this world come from this goal - this we dare not say."

The great hope that there is eternal life gives us courage and joy and from this comes the light the illuminates this world as well.

How do we as Christians, live in this passing world with our hearts set on the world that will never end, as the Eucharistic prayer during Lent reminded us? Not by rejecting the wholesome, life-giving pleasures this world has to offer, but relishing them, realizing at once that they are temporary, and most amazingly of all, only a slight foretaste of the joys of heaven. This way we can at one and the same time, enjoy earthly pleasures as gifts from God, and yet still have a Christian vision focused on eternal life.

This beautiful day in all its glorious splendor, is a tiny taste of heaven. Think of the most peace filled, joyful experience you can remember - a birth of a child, your wedding, an accomplishment you worked hard for, and realize they are insights to heaven.

Our liturgies themselves are foretastes of heaven, especially the Eucharist and the sacraments of Baptism we celebrate today. Prayed with reverence and enthusiasm, they transport us for a while to another place, or should. That is why the way we celebrate liturgy is crucial; good liturgy is prayed not to demonstrate either our creativity on the one hand, or how well we can follow a script on the other. 

Pope Benedict encourages us to think about heaven, not in a literal way - as to its geography or location, nor in simply an abstract way, and surely not as some eternal amusement park of wish fulfillment. Benedict said it quite simply, but in a way which has me thinking anew about heaven: Heaven is God.