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.
+ 5th Week in Lent
We all need a hero and heroine or two.
Readings: Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95 Response Daniel 3:52-56 John 8:31-34
Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed: ‘Blessed be their God of Shaddrach, Meshack and Abednego: he has sent his angel to rescue his servants who, putting their trust in him, defied the order of the king, and preferred to forfeit their bodies rather than serve or worship any god but their own. [Daniel 3:95]
Who is your hero or heroine? We all have at least one. Perhaps it’s a canonized saint. More likely, it is a relative or friend, alive or dead, who has inspired you to greatness or at least to perseverance in your day-to-day efforts to be faithful to your ideals.
Our heroes and heroines are/were not perfect. Even those who have been canonized were not born saints. Some of them were notorious sinners whose sins and failures became occasions for conversion. And there are no living heroes that do not have an Achilles heal or in the words of St. Paul, “a thorn” to keep them humble.
Martin Luther King was more than a ‘king’ in name. He was a hero and in the mind of many, a saint. But he was not perfect. As he struggled for the freedom, he succumbed to human weakness but in the end he paid the price that comes to martyrs.
There is great sadness when a ‘hero’ falls. The sadness is not that politicians and other prominent leaders including religious leaders have succumbed to moral failure but that they fight so hard to cover up their wrongs.
Jesus is the hero of heroes whose only Achilles heal was his powerlessness in the face of opposition. It was this powerlessness that empowers us to be faithful and not to succumb to the easy way out in deference to titles of honor and monetary rewards that accompany narcissism and idolatry.
Jesus was a true son of Abraham who though tempted in every way possible, remained faithful unto death.
It is only when we are willing to suffer the loss of all in deference to truth and integrity that we in fact gain all.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.