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
We need a dream and a vision to keep us going.
Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10 Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17 Luke 10:21-24
On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a Spirit of counsel and of strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of awe of the Lord. [Isaiah 11:1-2]
Justice shall flourish in his time and fullness of peace forever. [Psalm 72]
Turning to the disciples he said: “blessed are the eyes that see what you see.” [Luke 10:23]
Isaiah was presenting a vision that originated in the right side of God’s brain, the source of poetry, music, and all things beautiful, the source of love. Isaiah’s vision connected with the right side of the brain of the Jewish people. It was intended to assure them that in time, in God’s time, all would be well because God would send a messianic figure to set things right.
Did you recognize in this reading the gifts of the Holy Spirit—wisdom, knowledge, understanding, piety, etc.?
We need a vision to keep us going as individuals, as a faith community and as a nation. A vision is a dream of what could be, indeed, it is a conviction of what will be if we put our mind to it, if we believe with all our heart that God will sustain the vision and provide the energy to make it happen.
When I used to engage a parish in a pastoral planning process to develop achievable goals, we would begin the process not with needs but with what we called a ‘dream trip,’ for example, “What would this parish be like if….” and then we would newsprint all the responses from those assembled for the exercise. What would our parish be life if everyone felt a strong sense of belonging? If our pastor listened to our hearts as well as to our lips? If our worship were more prayerful? If all our beliefs were rooted in the Gospel?
We could also apply this to our nation and to our global village.
When people of good will come together to engage in problem solving, the word collaboration keeps coming up at every turn as well as vigorous discussion and debate.
Yes, we need a vision of what could be to keep us going to make it happen.Daily Scripture Archive»
It’s a Hard-Knock Life!
It has been said that there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who exclaim on waking, “I thought sure I would have a headache today!” and those who say: “It’s great to be alive!” Do you know the difference between a nightclub entertainer and a nun? The nun wakes up at dawn and says, “God morning God. The nightclub entertainer wakes up and exclaims< “Good God, morning?”
One author frames the question this way: “What is it that determines whether I shall face this day as simply another page in the daily grind or the moment wherein I discover the very ground of my meaning and the purpose of my existence?”
I came across this little story about the great Italian violinist and composer Niccolo Paganini in a preaching resource entitled ‘Celebration’ [Pat Sanchez, published by the National Catholic Reporter, original source: R. Kent Hughes (1001 Great Stories, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Ill, 1998]:
Niccolo Paganini often performed before a full house and with a small orchestra, playing even the most difficult composition with ease. One evening, as the audience was rapt with attention, one of his violin strings snapped. Paganini improvised and played on three strings. Suddenly, a second string broke; now two strings were dangling from his violin, but he played on the other two without missing a beat. Incredible as it seems, a third string also snapped. Undaunted, the maestro finished the concert on one string.
In tribute, the audience stood and applauded for several minutes. No one thought to ask for an encore, given the condition of his violin, but Paganini held his instrument high in the air and announced, “Paganini and one string!” Then he proceeded to play an encore with the full orchestra, coaxing more music out of one string than many other violinists could produce with all four. Despite what seemed to be overwhelming obstacles his superb positive attitude and enabled him to turn a troublesome circumstance into a triumph.
Of course the story has many applications, not the least of which is doing more with less during harsh economic times.
We are stretched in many directions and our struggles come in many forms: personal or family dysfunction; chronic illness, addiction, emotional problems. These are usually associated with first world afflictions. Hunger grinding poverty; exploitation, oppression and lack of economic and educational opportunity afflict people of developing nations but are even beginning to appear in first and second world nations. Violence, intolerance and distrust touch all of us in some way during hard times.
We can block out the pain of life blinding ourselves to the reality occurring before us. Some people escape into the bottle; others into sexual excess. Some folks cry themselves to sleep and others mesmerize themselves into thinking that it is not happening — a form of denial.
The Book of Job is a literary masterpiece but not a true story. It is a dramatic poem named after its protagonist. It deals with the problem of suffering of the innocent. Job faced it all but in the face of it all he discovered that God never abandoned him.
Becoming all things to all people, Paul stretched for everyone for the sake of the gospel. He found solace in his relationship with Christ who was faithful unto death. His trials never defeated him.
No one has come up with an adequate explanation for why life does not pass smoothly. Rich or poor, educated or uneducated, young or old, life has its share of pain. But when we embrace the struggles of life and the reality of pain, we gain insight and receive the strength not only to cope but also to grow through the experience. But we also discover that we can’t be a lone ranger. We can’t do life alone.
This little anecdote reinforces the point that we cannot pass through hard times alone without the help of an understanding companion:
“Once upon a time, there was blind man and a man who could not walk. They were working together. The blind man carried the crippled man on his back. One had feet; the other had eyes. One day, they met a lion. The blind man just threw the crippled man and ran away. The lion killed the crippled man because he could not run. He killed the blind man because he could not see. Both men died because both had lost sight of the fact that their lives in this world were necessarily bound up with each other. Only together would they be able to discern and live the mystery of their lives. Only together would they be able to move beyond the bumps of life’s daily grind to the ultimate ground of their being and meaning.
But the Gospel says more: Jesus “helped Peter’s mother-in-law up,” i.e., raised her up. Our relationship with Jesus can help us not only to deal with hardship but also to rise above it.
Our initial reaction to hardship may be to question God for not being there or to blame ourselves, holding ourselves worthy of punishment by God. Perhaps our definition of God needs an update. Georgetown theology professor, John Haught, in his book After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution, in his exploration and exposition of the theology of evolution, praises God not as master designer but as a God of process whose love is humble enough not to control or manipulate and whose love is not dependent on our merit or our worthiness. There is in fact nothing that we can do to ‘merit’ God’s disdain.
Loving parents do the best for their children but they refrain from control or manipulation. We always want to be one with our children but surely would not meld their identity into our own as if to clone them. Thus God does not want us to be clones but loving reflections of his love.
Jesus is the paradigm of God’s love, combining human freedom with unconditional love that equals ultimate in faithfulness.
Jesus experienced hard times and did not suffer and die because God willed it. God is not a sadist and Jesus was not a masochist. No, God asked faithfulness of his Son and Jesus was faithful to life unto death. The world finds it difficult to accept such unconditional love and loyalty.
So it is within this context that we struggle with the mystery of life, pain, and even death always with an eye toward resurrection which, according to John’s Gospel, begins in the here and now as we incorporate the mystery of Christ’s life into our own. In the words of St. Paul, “I live now, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.”
God of love, whose compassion never fails; we bring before you the troubles and perils of people and nations, the sighing of prisoners and captives, the sorrows of the bereaved, the necessities of strangers, the helplessness of the weak, the despondency of the weary, the failing powers of the aged. O Lord, draw near to each; for the sake of Jesus Christ the Lord. [Anselm, 1033-1109, The Complete Book of Christian Prayer, Continuum Publishing Company, NY, 1996]