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.
+ Thursday before Epiphany
Readings: I John 2:22-28 Psalm 98:1-4 John 1:19-28
Who are you… for Jesus?
This is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” he admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” [John 1:19]
When engaging in spiritual direction, I always begin the process by asking the question, “Who is Jesus for you?” Counselees often respond with the usual catechetical answer, “The Son of God… Redeemer, Savior of the world.” Some have arrived at the point at which they refer to Jesus as their best friend.
It’s a question I ask myself at this time of the year. It’s the right time to ask the question during this interim period between Christmas and Epiphany.
Jesus is everything to me. For a start, he is my best friend, my soul companion, my animator and the ground of my being. As I continue to battle trauma associated with advocacy for the abused, I don’t know what my life would be like without his presence especially when life seems to lose its luster and the going gets rough.
It also occurred to me that Jesus is also my neighbor next door; the beggar on the corner, the returning soldier from Iraq or Afghanistan, the handicapped child, the young woman dying of dreaded cancer… the list is endless.
It’s so easy to keep Jesus in the crèche but already he is waling in the shadow of the cross.
The second question is more difficult to answer: “Who are you for Jesus?”
Everything! After all, we were made in the image and likeness of God! God can’t do what God does best unless we do what we do best.Daily Scripture Archive»
A Time of Grace and Opportunity
Can you remember a time in your life to which you might refer now as a time of blessing? A time of grace? Perhaps it was during your childhood years, if they were happy times, when you felt loved by mom and dad and by all who called you sister, brother or friend. Or perhaps it was in your late adolescent years, when you were breaking out and away from what you may have considered a repressed childhood.
For some, it might have been the first love or the lasting love to which you committed yourself in a mutual exchange of eternal promises, an enduring covenant never to be broken.
Of course, the good ole’ days are good in part only because our memories tend to hold on to the good times. Our lives have moved beyond them but the memory of these ‘original blessings’ sustains us in the challenges that sometimes cloud these memories of ‘paradise lost;’ temptations that weaken our resolve to remain faithful to original blessings when everything seemed right. But happy memories remind us of what is still possible not because we can ever go back but because the combination of the qualities that made life worthwhile in the past can occur again in the future. This is the substance of our hope.
The authors of the Book of Genesis were not scientists or historians, but wise sages with creative minds and rich imaginations who were able to combine ancient stories from other mythic tales of the origin of the human race before the invasion of sin and human warfare; to explain, in part, the chaos that tainted humanity constituted by sin and punished by death. Biblical scholars refer to these stories as ‘midrash’ or ‘sacred myths,’ that is, stories designed to explain hidden truths or mysteries that stretch the imagination beyond their purely rational and scientific explanation.
The doctrine of Original Sin is a theological ‘construct’ based on this story of disobedience toward God in which Adam and Eve, standing for all humanity were tempted by the talking serpent, borrowed from prevailing pagans myths, cunning creature of the earth, who deceived two originally beautiful people into thinking that God was their jealous rival, not their undying friend and partner in the work of creation.
Their offense of course was not the eating of fruit from a forbidden tree or their desire to be like God but the failure of humanity to recognize that we were already like God, created equal in God’s image and likeness, male and female. It was about suffocating the breath of God thinking that they could breath on their own.
The ‘garden,’ symbolic of all creation, did not belong to Adam and Eve. It was created by God to be shared by all of humanity to be used to enrich and enhance life, not to be abused and exploited for selfish interests.
Their shame was not about sexual attraction or their embarrassment about nakedness. These were rather a simile or an description of human pride in the face of uncreated love is doomed to humiliation.
But original sin did not completely destroy the original blessing. The wise sages did not leave their audience without hope or promise. God could not or would not abandon what he had set in motion but instead would remove their blindness and restore the original blessing, and not only that, but would make it possible for every man and every woman to overcome sin, to be born again; to co-create with the Creator and renew the face of the earth.
In the words of St. Paul, “Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us all into trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many people in the right.” Paul’s accent is on the positive—on the impact of God’s saving grace through Christ.
Jesus is the one who set things right but he didn’t do it as an outside agent as one unfamiliar with the way things are in humanity, with you and me. Instead he did it by assuming the very human nature that moved Adam and Eve to listen to the serpent. And so the God-man was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted as we are tempted not only as individuals but as a church, as a nation and a global race.
His hunger disposed him for the test and the devil was ready to administer it. The temptation was not just about bread but also about spiritual sustenance, and so Jesus responds by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. “We must break open the bread of God’s word as God’s revelation continues to unfold.
But one temptation was not enough; it never is, and so Jesus was given a second opportunity to fail. “Since you are God’s Son, jump. The angels will catch you…” but Jesus countered with another quote from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.” God is not a magician or a fool..
And then a third encounter to test his thirst for political power: “Look around you, all the earth’s kingdoms, they’re all yours—lock, stock and barrel. Just kneel down and bow before me and they will be yours.
And Jesus responded: “Beat it, Satan.” And again in the words of Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only God. Partner with God with an undivided heart,” and you will have all you need to be happy. Jesus authority is rooted in service not political power. God doesn’t use force but invites.
These scripture readings remind us that we were not created for sin and death but for goodness and Godness. God is not our rival but our partner and friend.
Lent is a time for us to be reminded of our original blessings; that we are called to revival by the breath of God’s Spirit which still pervades the universe and is available to us whenever we pray and is in fact within us.
Lent is a time of remembering the power of God’s love manifested in the Holy One of Israel, who clothed himself in our humanity that we might be clothed in his divinity.
Lent is a time to recall that the earth is not ours to possess or exploit, but ours to enjoy and shape in such a way that all people may enjoy its fruits.
Lent is an opportunity to go into the desert not to be tortured by temptation or punished by the memory of past failures but to be uplifted by the holy angels of God who are always at our side and to know the forgiveness of God’s endless compassion and love.
We fast from food and little pleasures not to punish ourselves but to free up time and talent and resources for those whose hunger knows no end.
We are called to remember our original blessings and celebrate the goodness that Jesus came to proclaim. We do this in solidarity with one another within the family of the Church. So let us continue to hunger for the Word of God that we might satisfy the hungers of the world.
Let us know ourselves as we are known by God and trust more fully in God’s tender mercies so that we might extend that mercy to others. And let us open ourselves the abundant graces of this season so that we might become a channel of grace for all those who are searching for a God with skin. There are many such people, and some of them may be among us.
It is a season of grace and opportunity.