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»
In all things, charity
It continues to astound me how the Scriptures come to life over and over again under different circumstances, age upon age. No matter how familiar I may be with a particular passage or combination of texts, life experiences continue to influence the way I read or hear the text proclaimed at worship. This is particularly true on special occasions such as baptism, weddings, anniversaries, graduations and funerals. This may be attributed to the fact that on these occasions, the congregation is present not so much to fulfill a religious obligation but freely as it were, in order to celebrate or find deeper meaning in life through the lens of special events.
Since Easter, we have been ‘pondering’ Luke’s description of the early post-resurrection communities in and around Jerusalem and as they expanded to Macedonia and eventually to Rome. Although he tells us that the early Church—more likely a movement within Judaism rather than a formal institution —was “at peace,” it was far from peaceful. I suppose he meant that the believers were ‘convicted,’ that is, confident believers.
Nevertheless they experienced some ambiguity in the application of the Christian message to new believers of different cultures and customs. The first believers were Jews who retained their Jewish culture with its rituals and customs. However, the Greek-speaking Jews received the message a little differently than their counter-parts in Jerusalem and the Greek gentiles at Antioch in Pisidia received it still differently than the Jews. For example, the Apostles needed to decide whether or not circumcision should be imposed on gentile converts to Christianity. There was no doubt in Peter’s mind that Cornelius, a Roman centurion and former pagan, and his household had received the gift of the Holy Spirit to which he, Peter, believed he must defer. And so he did not impose circumcision and exempted himself from the customary Jewish dietary law. In today’s Church, the Pope would reprimand him but Peter was the first Pope!
There are other references to circumcision and dietary laws in the Acts of the Apostles and in the writings of St. Paul. Circumcision was a major issue for early believers. The Jews and some of the apostles with them said that circumcision should be imposed on gentile converts while others who were more sympathetic to the Greeks said, “no, it was not necessary for salvation.” (I think one could make the case that this issue was even more controversial than mandatory celibacy. Could it be akin to the issue of women’s ordination?)
So naturally they formed a committee and eventually consulted with the authorities in Jerusalem, which in those days was the center of Christendom. The decision was against mandatory circumcision. Adherence to the Jewish dietary practices was sufficient. In the face of ambiguity, compromise set the pace and kept the peace. Not everyone was happy with the change but eventually all deferred to the will and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
This is just one example of adaptability in the early Church.
Triggered by the scandal of the priest in Florida who was pictured with his ‘date’ on the cover of a tabloid magazine last week, Fox News commentator, Lou Dobbs, invited two priests – one a celibate convert who became a Catholic in protest to the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church. The other priest was noted writer and author, Anthony Padovano, a priest who was dispensed from his vows and no longer functioning canonically as an active priest. The segment was just long enough for a strong case to be made for optional rather than mandatory celibacy. For at least half of the life of the Church, there were married priests and the reasons for the imposition of mandatory celibacy were neither traditional nor deeply theological. Quite frankly, the defense of celibacy offered by the celibate priest was more embarrassing than cogent. Ironically, the married priest made a stronger case for optional celibacy than the celibate. In any case, a married priesthood has existed in the Eastern discipline of the Roman Catholic Church for centuries and there are many good reasons why it could work within the western discipline of the Church. It is curious that there have been fewer clerical scandals in the Eastern Church within married priesthood than in the Western Church bound my mandatory priestly celibacy.
We would do well to take a second look at the way the early Church evolved and functioned as it gradually became acclimated to early believers, both Jews and gentiles and to other cultures as the Church expanded west toward Rome and east toward Asia.
The Church as a human institution is an living organism that can stagnate unless it engages its members and even those who are not yet members in a dialogue of mind and heart about the many ways the Gospel message can be heard and lived. In the words of St. Augustine, “In essentials, unity; in non essentials, diversity; in all things, charity.”
In his gospel and in his first epistle, John stated that faithfulness is rooted in love—not the euphoria of puppy love but tried and true love that comes only when tried and tested by the hard knocks of life. A good marriage is subject to many challenges, some of which demand radical changes in life-style. Children bring to a marriage, new perspectives and wise parents eventually learn from their children, gaining new insights into what makes love long and lasting, what makes love strong enough to endure the test of time.
In the popular marriage inventory, Prepare-Enrich, engaged couples are queried, “Will romance fade in your lives?” Most of them respond with enthusiasm, “Of course not!” Yeah, right! Perhaps the question should be phrased, “Will romance change as love deepens?” Indeed it will and indeed it does!
In his first letter to the Corinthians St Paul wrote, “When all is said and done, there remain these three: faith, hope, and love but the greatest of these is love,” and I would add, “flexibility!”
Many wars have been fought in the name of religion. However, true religion is not characterized by the willingness to go to war but the courage to stand for peace. In the end we will be judged not by our physical power or prowess but by our complicity with evil in the face of our capacity for love.
Mother Theresa remains a model of what unbiased love can achieve. She was not always successful, but ultimately the measure of success is not in the achievement but in the will to be faithful and in the recognition that when love prevails, everything is gift and all is grace.
More recently, in the popular book, Three Cups of Tea – On man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations … One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin [Penguin Publishing Co, New York, 2006] Greg Mortenson demonstrates the kind of gutsy love that comes from climbing mountains, an apt metaphor for the living of a full Christian life.s
It is for this reason that we need to keep our tables connected — this table and your table and the table of humanity too. We need to come here every week to break open the bread of God’s word listening to every word through the lens of our experience; to be astounded by the way the Bible continues to speak to us in season and out of season.
Life is full of ambiguity but we need not be ambivalent about ambiguity. God will continue to speak to us and answers will come and we will be empowered to faithfulness despite the changes in externals and institutional discipline.
“Love consists in this, not that we have loved God but that God has loved us.” and God plays no favorites. God’s love is impartial.
But when all is said and done, in the end there are three things that matter, faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is?
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