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»
It’s all about crossing borders and boundaries.
Several years ago, I toured through Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Czechoslovakia. With the possible exception of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1965, this trip remains one of the most memorable of my life. To think that I would live to see the collapse of Soviet Communism and the destruction of the iron curtain was miraculous.
As we celebrated the Eucharist in Prague, it occurred to me that had we done so ten years earlier, we would have been arrested and imprisoned. Though still in the early stages of social and economic recovery, the spirit of freedom was in the air. The bland, colorless towns and cities were slowly giving way to newly restored plazas surrounded by buildings with crenellated facades overlooking lively sidewalk cafes with the sound of classical and contemporary music that had been muted for decades.
Our visit to the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz and Berkenau was overwhelming. I felt a sense of shame I felt as we walked through the dank prison cells once stuffed with human beings and then to walk through the gas chambers and stand at the door of the huge ovens that disposed of the remains of millions of human beings whose only crime was that they were Jews was numbing.
Our tour ended in Vienna but one last stop in Czechoslovakia just before crossing the Austrian border gave us a final pause to ponder. Though rich landscaped green meadows had replaced the barriers separating the east from the west, the remnants of mine fields and barbed wire and barricades here and there were parting reminders of how precious is our freedom.
Not long after that trip, a woman named Maureen approached me with a request to present to the parishioners of St. Joseph, her case and cause on behalf of an organization called, “Healing the Children.” Similar to other outreach programs such as “Doctors Without Borders,” Healing the Children reaches out to severely handicapped children across the world whose families have no means to alleviate deformities resulting from birth defects or genetic diseases.
Maureen and her cadre of volunteers enlist doctors willing to perform corrective surgery. They also recruit host families to welcome the children and close relatives who accompany them. And of course, they search for generous people who are able to undertake the cost of bringing the children to the United States for the corrective surgery.
Carlos, the recipient of multiple prostheses for his forearms and feet was one of many beneficiaries of “Healing the Children” and visited with the students of St. Joseph School in Mendham to demonstrate how he had mastered soccer with his new arms and legs. It was a moving experience to watch him kick the ball around the sanctuary of the Church into the cheering congregation. What more appropriate setting than the sanctuary to praise God for the wonders God had accomplished through the work of human hands and hearts.
Then there was Sergio who told me about his trip to Peru where he assisted volunteer dentists traveling to villages hidden deep along the great Amazon tending to the dental needs of people who rarely if ever see a dentist. Sergio was also part of the Assumption team of volunteers who traveled last year and the year before to New Orleans to assist in the rebuilding of homes destroyed by Katrina.
And how could I forget the indefatigable Laura Krarup, a Methodist neighbor and part-time parishioner of St. Joseph who at the age of 72 told me she wanted me to introduce her to Mother Theresa and who eventually met her on her own and spent three months every year for three years working alongside Mother Theresa in the streets of Calcutta. She washed the dying so that before they died, they would know that someone loved them. Laura came to our Eucharist table every Sunday at 7:30 AM and then joined her Methodist community at 10:30 AM. She knew she could not live without the Eucharist and knew she could not be deprived of the Eucharist. She subsequently received permission from the bishop of Calcutta.
These are only a few stories about people who followed a star, crossing over borders and boundaries to bring the healing presence of God to the poorest of the poor across the globe.
Epiphany is indeed about following the star that leads to places we’ve never been before. It is about breaking down barriers that separate warring nations and barricades that imprison people physically and emotionally.
Isaiah speaks about the light that was to shine over Jerusalem It was to become a city of the light that would dispel the darkness of fear and hatred, attracting citizens of every race and nation to the ‘City of Peace.’ What will it take for extremists of every kind and kin to see the star and come to the realization that peace can never be won with rockets and other weapons of hate.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks of the stewardship of God’s grace given to him for the service of the gentiles – people beyond the borders and boundaries of Israel who were to be equal beneficiaries of God’s mercy.
In his very dramatic story of the three astrologers, Matthew makes it clear that Jesus is for everyone a servant-king who unlike the rulers of this earth led by divesting himself of status and power becoming like us in all things but sin but taking upon himself the effects of sin.
These dramatic stories about Maureen, Sergio and Laura are only examples of many more stars – people whose faith has moved them to follow the star crossing borders and boundaries, taking seriously their stewardship of God’s grace and themselves becoming living testimonies of God’s relentless desire to gather all humanity into the embrace of divine love.
But there area other stars known to you and me – people who bring the mercy of God through Operation Chill-out and similar programs to the hungry in soup kitchens and in shelters for the homeless and advocates of justice who speak for those who have no voice, many of them victims inside and outside the Church who still bear the scars of sexual abuse—an issue that still has not completely been resolved within the Church with sufficient transparency and this has weakened the credibility of the Church on other matters of moral import.
Matthew’s Gospel is a celebration of the enfleshment of God in Christ in whom there is no difference between Jew or Greek, male or female, gay or straight, black or white, Arab or African, Japanese or Guatemalan. All are one and when we finally come to the realization that our global village is precisely that, then perhaps we will come to terms of peace without weapons of war and open up our storehouse of food, sit down at table and break the bread and share the Godly wisdom that enables us to see one another as brothers and sisters invested in the good of all humanity.
The ‘star’ is there but it is not in the heavens. It is in the concrete words and works of the believer. Each of us may come to the light by different routes and perhaps even by different stars. For some of us, our parents were and remain the stars. For others, it may be a teacher or a spouse; an aunt or uncle; a friend or mentor. Even a child can be the star that leads us to Christ.
The gifts we offer are not gold, frankincense and myrrh but our works of justice and charity.
When we have taken this feast to heart as individuals and as a Church, “wise people” will continue to come from afar in pursuit of the star and we will indeed be recognized as God with us, Emmanuel.