National Catholic Reporter
A lay Catholic weekly, bi-weekly during the summer, that contains global up-to-date coverage of news of interest to thinking Catholics.
Bread for the World
A national faith based organization founded to lobby Congress on behalf of the hungry throughout the world.
Road to Recovery, Inc
Road to Recovery, Inc is the initiative of advocates for victims of sexual abuse. Advocacy is two-fold: 1. To provide a path for the healing of victims; 2. To confront perpetrators and those who cover up the sexual assault of minors and vulnerable adult.
A timely Catholic weekly published by the Jesuits. American keeps us up to date on both news and opinion relevant to timely issues and events.
This link will keep 'parishioners-at-large' in touch with current creative liturgy sources and resources that respect a variety of 'traditions' within the Church.
Voice of the Faithful
A 'movement' of lay Catholics 'inspired' by the abuse scandal calling for greater accountability of bishops to 'Catholics in the Pew.'
Survivos' Network for those Abused by Priests or Religious
A National Network of self-help support groups for people abused by clergy or religious.
Vital information about the disclosure of sexual abuse and related issues affecting Catholics in the pew and the manner in which Bishops continue to exempt themselves from accountability
A 'lay' Catholic weekly publication with an accent on an intelligent analysis and commentary on curent issues, trends and concerns of interest to Catholics.
Bill Moyers and Company
A must link for all who desire to be kept informed of the truth about 'truths' communicated by the commercial media and the political pundists who hsve another agenda that makes truth a precious commodity.
+ First Week of Advent
“There’ll be some changes made, for sure.”
Readings: Isaiah 30:19-21m 23-26 Psalm 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6 Matthew 9:35-38, 10:1, 5a-6-8
The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst. [Isaiah 30:20]
At the sight of the crowds his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. [Matthew 9:36]
As a ‘pastor-at-large’ I have the opportunity to minister to a wide variety of people of different religious traditions and of no religious tradition. However, most of the folks who seek me out are Catholics, many of whom are on the margins – hanging in but suffering the pain of disillusionment with a Church that seems distant from them. Some have moved into a Diaspora or desert hoping that in time, they will be able to find a place at the table. Others ‘shop’ for a parish in which they may feel more “at home.” These folks are not bad people looking for an easy way to heaven. They are good people who identify strongly with their rich Christian heritage but whose experience with the ecclesiastical institution has become more and more legalistic and in some cases, antithetical to the message of the Gospel.
The well-known canonist and author, Father Ladislaus Orsy, SJ once wrote : “We live as long as we hope; we live as much as we hope. Loss of hope is a loss of life.”
Hope is not based on what we can see but on the utter conviction that the God Jesus has not and will not leave us orphans, wandering in the desert, lost at sea, as it were. The sun does not stop shining when clouds cover the earth.
The Vatican Council redefined the Church “the people of God” – a pilgrim people on a journey. When Jesus came upon people who felt excluded from the kingdom, he found a way to include them. Jesus insisted that everyone have a place at table. So must we.
Pope Francis has taken up this theme in his conversations and in his most recent eloquent papal exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel.” He proposes a Church that is not isolated from the mess of life; a Church that indeed that renders itself vulnerable to the mess and the message of welcome and inclusion; a Church that stretches beyond the convenient and safe dogmas and doctrines that are sometimes used to separate rather than to unify.
We are all partners with Christ in the work of creation that continues to evolve into the future with the hope that somehow, somewhere, unity may take place based not on my truth or your truth but on God’s truth.Daily Scripture Archive»
Hold on to the Vision!
Fire produces light and heat but it also destroys homes and despoils forests. Thanks to more sophisticated fire protection devices and fire prevention programs, the danger of untold destruction has diminished significantly over the last several decades. Fire can be insidious. It only takes a spark from a short circuit in an electrical outlet or appliance to ignite a house or the careless action of a camper hiker to destroy a forest.
Several years ago, fanned by strong winds, the New Jersey pinelands were ravaged by a persistent fire that left thousands of acres barren, bereft of any life. One could drive for miles on the Garden State Parkway through areas of charred stumps of trees, remnants of once flourishing evergreens. Strange as it may sound, there is a stark beauty in the bleak and black remnants of a burned out forest. Perhaps it’s the silent promise that it holds for the emergence of new life over the quiet passage of time.
Last year Sandy devastated the coastland with terrorizing wind and floods. There are still too many remnants of that storm but there are also thousands of lights pointing to revival. The pinelands were destined to bloom and blossom again and so they did and so they do! The coastlands will recover in time and life will flourish again.
The Book of Isaiah has been called the “Book of Promise” because it speaks not only of failing forests and dying dynasties, but also of desert wastelands and fallen kingdoms coming to life. In metaphorical language, the poetic prophet pointed to another kind of kingdom “not of this world.”It will be a time of hope when God’s intervention will yield of new kind of world in which harmony will reign and peace will prevail. He envisioned a new kind of ‘shepherd-king’ for Judah and Israel, indeed, a shepherd for all humanity. The language of Isaiah is rich with simile and allegory. It is more than probable that he was anticipating the imminent arrival of a royal king, quite likely, Hezekiah, but Christians recognize the fulfillment of Isaiah’s hope in Jesus born of David’s royal line, but in the form of a humble servant—a divine shepherd born among lowly shepherds; gifted not with the shield and scepter of royal power but with the gifts we have come to identify as the ‘gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding—gifts of the intellect; the spirit of counsel and might—gifts of practical know-how; knowledge
St. Paul names the qualities that characterize people living in the new ‘kingdom:’ steadfastness, harmony, hospitality and service, all of which flow from worship “in spirit and in truth” that comes from the heart not just from the lips.
Paul expresses a vision consistent with the promise of Isaiah, but Paul was not naïve. Although he wrote as if he were living in the time of fulfillment, he was well aware that the ‘now-time’ was still tentative and contingent on many factors, not the least of which was the sincere confession of faith and the inner determination to live by the rule of faith preached by Jesus and exemplified in the life of his disciples.
The message of John the Baptist recorded by Matthew is both a threat and a promise. He is a preacher of reform. He lived in the desert and was familiar with desert wildfires, which, fed by the dry grass and thorn bushes, forced snakes and vipers from their nests, sending them scurrying for safety. But he was also convinced that this same fire could also ignite new life and serve as a baptism of repentance, conversion, and transformation. The Pharisees and Sadducees were going through the motions pursuing the path of political safety, which today might be called political correctness, but they were not intent on real conversion.
How many times have we been down this Advent highway? It’s so easy to slip into a ‘ho-hum’ attitude. Been there, done that. Let’s get on with it; only fifteen shopping days left! There are parties to attend, meals to prepare, cookies to bake. But the scriptures are urging us to the awareness of the nearness God’s presence in the world and to the consciousness of God’s presence already within us moving us to personal conversion and reform versus playing the political game and going through the motions.
In our preoccupation with the fear of terrorism, we can easily become diverted from the challenge of true reform. Justice begins in the heart with the conviction that unless we are right with God, we cannot be right with our neighbor. Conversely, unless we are right with our neighbor, we cannot be right with God.
The fire that was ignited at our Baptism was re-enkindled at our Confirmation. The gifts of the Holy Spirit spoken of by Isaiah were also imparted to us and they empower us not only to internal renewal but also to external reform reflected in our attitudes at our family table as well as at the table of humanity.
The war against worldwide terrorism will not ultimately be won only in combat. Even the generals on the ground have come to this conclusion. Ultimately it will be won by a reinvestment in virtue in our hearts and at our family table—literally, at the table in our home.
Truth, honesty, forbearance, generosity, humility, these are the ‘weapons’ that bring peace and empower us to justice. This is the reason we are reminded over and over again to keep our family table connected to the Eucharist table. It is our faithfulness to these tables that enables us to reach out to the table of humanity and which will eventually convert our attitudes to those of Christ.
Is this a vision too esoteric to be real?
Think of the pinelands and the energizing power of the Holy Spirit. Fire can destroy but fire can re-enkindle the life of God’s spirit within us. The vision is clear the choice is yours and mine. Miracles do not happen without the intervention of God (divine grace) but neither do they happen without our direct involvement in the affairs of humanity (proven virtue).
Hold on to the vision, persevere in hope and act with courage and integrity.