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.
+ 1st Week in Advent
Seeing is believing, or better, believing is seeing.
Readings: Isaiah 29:17-24 Psalm 27:1-4, 13-14 Matthew 9:27-31
The Lord says this: “In a short time, a very short time, shall not Lebanon become fertile land and fertile land turn into forest? The deaf, that day, will hear the words of a book and after shadow and darkness, the eyes of the blind will see.” [Isaiah 29:17-18]
From my childhood until the present, I have never ceased to be in awe at the work of the ‘Seeing Eye’ here in Morristown. Trainers walk the streets with dogs of a variety of breeds that will become in time the eyes of their physically blind owners.
At a certain point, they are introduced to their new owners with whom they will spend the rest of their lives.
I have heard it said that people who lose the gift of one of their senses are compensated by a heightened sensitivity in one of their other senses. I think this is true. The physically blind are often more insightful about life than we who have the gift of physical sight.
Earlier this wee week on one of the PBS stations, there was a documentary on a young man who lost his sight as a teen or young adult. He experienced the usual traumatic effects of such a loss. But over time, he received the grace and the courage to resume a normal life. With his walking stick as his ‘guide’ he made his way around the neighborhood and then on to the super market and other services to take care of the basic necessities of life and yes, he even learned to prepare meals for himself. Then at some point he got the notion to travel – not by car, train or plane but on foot. He waked the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. I believe it took almost six months but he did it. He hooked up with other hikers but spend many nights on his own in the lonely cabins provided for hikers along the trail. I was and remain in awe of this young man. His vision of life carried him and gave new meaning to sight and insight.
The gift of sight precious but the gift of faith is even more precious and enables believers to see far more than the human eye can see. People of faith are visionary and tend to view life as a mystery to be embraced rather than a problem to be solved. People of vision search for creative solutions to human differences and do not resort to violence or warfare. They are pro-life in every respect. They value creation and reverence the presence of God in all living creatures.
Advent provides many lenses which enable us to see a Jesus saw and to walk with greater confidence that life is more than what the human eye can see.Daily Scripture Archive»
The Good ‘Ole’ Days
At family weddings or funerals, it’s not unusual for ‘seniors’ to reminisce about the good old days, sometimes called the ‘days of the giants.’ The slightly embellished stories are sometimes tales of legendary quality but are more often simple homespun yarn that places our loved ones in the best light. They’re not exactly fables but exaggerations of the truth if truth be told. Of course, there are always challengers among the listeners some of whom remember or think they recall in documentary fashion all the details of the story the way they really unfolded. And yes, there are also those ‘doubting Thomases’ — outsiders of sorts who remain unimpressed by heroes of the past. They believe only half of what they see and none of what they can’t see!
The need to place our ancestors in the best light is not unwarranted or even unfair. Indeed, it’s unfortunate but inevitable that we wait until our loved ones have left us to send bouquets or praise them for their accomplishments.
In any event stories are an important part of our family repertoire because they keep us connected to our heritage. Depending on our age and life circumstances, they contain different lessons and applications. They motivate us to hold on to core values that have been passed from one generation to another. Insightful people also testify to positive learnings from negative experiences.
What is true of family history is also true of the faith history recorded in the Scriptures. They too are ‘family stories’ of a sort and as with family stories, they may be slightly exaggerated but they are true at the core.
The Acts of the Apostles gives us a somewhat embellished picture of the life of early Christianity. St. Luke was describing not so much the way it was but the way it was intended to be, i.e., what Christian community looks like when its members put their faith into action or to put it another way, when they “practice what they preach.”
To that extent, he is describing what we might call an intentional community — that which their new found faith in Jesus Christ demanded of them or rather, that which the risen life of Jesus could produce within them — a community living consciously and conscientiously what they believed their relationship with one another could be like. They were more than a biological family. They were a family bonded in the body and blood of Christ. They had become in effect, the body of Christ, his blood surging through their veins. To be sure, there were communities of which Luke’s description was ‘on target.’
Nevertheless, this was not a dreamy or feel-good Christianity. In many ways it was a disciplined life but one that was not dependent on human effort alone. They were a people living in grace, confident that their faith in Jesus made a difference; that he was alive within them or rather in him “they lived and moved and had their whole being.”
The Gospel of John describes the apostles gathered in fear eight days after the resurrection of Jesus. This is John’s interpretation of another aspect of the post resurrection experience of those who were closest to Jesus during his earthly life — leaders gathered in fear, disciples struggling with their belief, believers at different stages of belief—a slice of a different church.
Notice that the first words out of Jesus’ mouth were these, “Peace be with you!” Do not be anxious; do not be afraid followed by the authorization to forgive. Jesus came not to instill fear but to forgive sin and to be an instrument of reconciliation for all people. The Church is charged with that mission and became the instrument of reconciliation at Pentecost. Easter and Pentecost are two aspects of one mystery, the reversal of Babel.
In essence the Scriptures this weekend encourage us but they also challenge us. They assure us that Jesus is truly risen and that his grace has been given to us in ample measure; it can’t be earned or merited. They challenge us however because there is a discipline to living this life of grace. It’s not automatic.
Young people who have made an Antioch or Search weekend; adults who have experienced a Cursillo or Cornerstone retreat may be able to relate to this description but they also know the reality of the fourth day. The spiritual high at the conclusion of a retreat fades very quickly in the face of the challenges of daily life.
Our early Christian ancestors lived their lives authentically and even joyfully, but they were disciplined; they were comfortable but not complacent. They understood that their lives were not their own possession and in fact some were even willing to die for the Lord, but more importantly, they were willing to live for the Lord as they lived for one another.
These are the qualities of a community living in grace:
1.A spirit of welcome and hospitality;
2.The absence of prejudice and stereotypical behaviors that foster fear and petty competition and that respect complementarity
3.A consciousness of the needs of others and the willingness to share resources;
4.The resolution of conflict in which justice and mercy are honored;
5.Life-giving celebrations at worship;
6.A sense of safety and security without being isolated from the world;
7.A sense of empowerment combined with the willingness to challenge both religious and political leaders to justice and the pursuit of peace.
“The community of believers was of one heart and one mind. They never claimed anything as their own. Rather everything was held in common. With power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great respect was paid to them all. And no one was needy among them, for all who owned property or houses sold them and donated the proceeds. They used to lay them at the feet of the apostles to be distributed to everyone according to the need,” [Acts 2:32-35]—a vision devoutly to be pursued by you and me as we continue to work through hard economic times.
“Almighty God, who has ordained that we should serve you in serving one another by our labors: have regard, we pray, to this nation oppressed at this time by many burdens. Grant to its citizens grace to work together with honest and faithful hearts, each caring for the good of all; that seeking first your kingdom and its righteousness, we may have added to us all things needful for our daily sustenance and the common good.” Amen. [Adapted from a prayer by Geoffrey F. Fisher, 1887 – 1972 The Complete Book of Christian Prayer, The Continuum Publishing Company, 1996, New York.