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»
We are witnesses of all these things.
It’s interesting how some life experiences and incidents can be expanded into small vignettes — anecdotal references ingrained in the memory for life. They keep us humble but also confident that the deepest truths are forever and that the truth can indeed make us free.
It was during my junior or senior year at Bayley Ellard during which it was customary for students to participate in what was called “a vocation rally.” Priests, sisters and brothers visited the school to give witness to their religious vocation with the hope that some of us might be awakened to an inner call to pursue a similar religious “career”. Even in those days, the thought of a religious vocation was not something a teenager would broadcast to the world and in many cases, not even to family members or to closest friends.
The thought of a religious vocations notwithstanding, we were not exactly angels, and were sent to detention to atone for misdemeanors and minor infringements of the school disciplinary code and now and then a to the principal’s office for a major breach of school etiquette.
On a particular occasion, the school chaplain happened to interrupt a short disciplinary class lecture by the principal with the request that the boys be released for the annual vocation rally. Sister principal exclaimed without a pause, “Vocation rally? These students are in the process of conversion!” Not only had we failed the test of a vocation but had failed the test of faith!
Another vignette stored in my memory comes from our family table where we used to comment on the latest scandals, published and unpublished, some of which dealt with the “sins” of politicians or other prominent folks in the news. The religious connection would inevitably be made by my mother who would inject the rhetorical question, “Was he Catholic?” to which she would answer immediately, “I don’t think so. A Catholic wouldn’t do such a thing.” Yeah, right!
In truth, we are all in the process of conversion. We never really get it completely right despite our honest efforts and best intentions.
In words we might find harsh Peter challenged his own people to acknowledge their sins but quickly took them off the hook by assigning their sins to ignorance. Luke uses the same word for “rejection” here that he used in his gospel to describe Peter’s denial of Jesus after his arrest. Notice too, the similarity between his description of Peter’s absolution, “you acted out of ignorance…” and Jesus forgiveness on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Writing almost seventy years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, Luke acknowledges the reality of sin despite the redemption making it clear to the ‘know-it-alls’ of his time, that we cannot be saved on our own but only by the grace of God gained by Jesus’ faithfulness. Take note that it was Jesus’ faithfulness that “won” our salvation, not his death. God did not want Jesus “dead.” God is not a sadist and Jesus was not a masochist — he wanted him to be faithful, It was indeed, his faithfulness that cost him his life.
Luke’s gospel assures us that although his appearance is different, his presence was real. It was the same Jesus of history who appeared as the Christ of faith living within the community of believers. Once again, forgiveness is the doorway to faith or is it not rather the other way around? Faith is the doorway to forgiveness.
I continue to be astounded by the way the Spirit continues to move within the community of faith we call the Church despite its institutional failures and the sins of its members. I have witnessed it in the catechumenate – the Rite of Christian Initiation into the Church. Seated around the table of God’s word, Christ’s presence becomes real as catechists, candidates and sponsors continue to gain new insights into the ancient testimonies of prophets and apostles. It’s a never-ending process.
I have seen the impact of Jesus’ resurrection in young Confirmation candidates gradually awakening to the faith through their exploration of the ancient writings filtered through their own personal experiences and the experiences of their mentors and sponsor-catechists.
I see it in adult Cornerstone retreatants as they reawaken again to their faith and move into the mainstream of Church life.
I experience it each Sunday as we gather at this table of God’s word and sacrament. We are making connections and God’s presence is experienced in a very real way in the proclamation of the word and in the breaking of the bread.
In an essay entitled, “Waiting for Judas” author Madelieine L’Engle cites this old legendary tale about Judas, the traitor:
“After his death, Judas found himself at the bottom of a slimy pit. For thousands of years he wept his repentance and when his tears were spent, he looked up and saw, way, way up, a tiny glimmer of light. After contemplating on the little shaft of light for another thousand years or so, he began to climb toward it. Because the walls of the pit were wet and slimy, he slipped back again and again. Only after many, many more years did he try to climb again. After many more tears and many more tries, he managed to drag himself out of the pit. Suddenly, he found himself in an upper room with 12 people seated around a table. ‘We’ve been waiting for you, Judas,’ said Jesus. ‘We couldn’t begin until you came.’”
There is hope for the sinner and help for the sojourner. You and I are witnesses of all of these things.
Lord , give us grace to hold to you
when all is weariness and fear
and sin abounds within, without
when love itself is tested by the doubt…
that love is false, or dead within the soul,
when every act brings new confusion, new distress,
new opportunities, new misunderstandings,
and every thought new accusation.
Lord, give us grace that we may know
that in the darkness pressing round
it is the mist of sin that hides your face,
that you are there
and you do know we love you still
and our dependence and endurance in your will
is still our gift of love.
[Gilbert Shaw, 1886-1967 – Published in The Complete Book of Christian Prayer, The Continuum Publishing Company, 1996, New York]