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
“There’ll be some changes made, for sure.”
Readings: Isaiah 30:19-21m 23-26 Psalm 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6 Matthew 9:35-38, 10:1, 5a-6-8
The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst. [Isaiah 30:20]
At the sight of the crowds his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. [Matthew 9:36]
As a ‘pastor-at-large’ I have the opportunity to minister to a wide variety of people of different religious traditions and of no religious tradition. However, most of the folks who seek me out are Catholics, many of whom are on the margins – hanging in but suffering the pain of disillusionment with a Church that seems distant from them. Some have moved into a Diaspora or desert hoping that in time, they will be able to find a place at the table. Others ‘shop’ for a parish in which they may feel more “at home.” These folks are not bad people looking for an easy way to heaven. They are good people who identify strongly with their rich Christian heritage but whose experience with the ecclesiastical institution has become more and more legalistic and in some cases, antithetical to the message of the Gospel.
The well-known canonist and author, Father Ladislaus Orsy, SJ once wrote : “We live as long as we hope; we live as much as we hope. Loss of hope is a loss of life.”
Hope is not based on what we can see but on the utter conviction that the God Jesus has not and will not leave us orphans, wandering in the desert, lost at sea, as it were. The sun does not stop shining when clouds cover the earth.
The Vatican Council redefined the Church “the people of God” – a pilgrim people on a journey. When Jesus came upon people who felt excluded from the kingdom, he found a way to include them. Jesus insisted that everyone have a place at table. So must we.
Pope Francis has taken up this theme in his conversations and in his most recent eloquent papal exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel.” He proposes a Church that is not isolated from the mess of life; a Church that indeed that renders itself vulnerable to the mess and the message of welcome and inclusion; a Church that stretches beyond the convenient and safe dogmas and doctrines that are sometimes used to separate rather than to unify.
We are all partners with Christ in the work of creation that continues to evolve into the future with the hope that somehow, somewhere, unity may take place based not on my truth or your truth but on God’s truth.Daily Scripture Archive»
Where are the shepherds?
Everyone loves the image of the shepherd. Ask your neighbors, “What is your favorite psalm?” I expect that nine out of ten will respond, “The Shepherd Psalm, Psalm 22 or 23, depending on what version of the Bible you read.” It’s an image but one that has endeared itself to the hearts of believers and endured for over two millennia.
And yet, if an authentic shepherd were to come into this assembly from the biblical sheep fields, we would politely distance ourselves one by one from the pungent odor that can overpower even the most fragrant scent of perfume, cologne or room deodorant.
And what if the shepherd decided to bring the sheep from the pasture into our gathering space to protect them from a wandering wolf or fox? If the odor of the shepherd was rank, your sense of smell is in for a real challenge. The fragrance of the sheep would clear the pews if not the neighborhood for sure!
Shepherds of biblical vintage were dirty, smelly and uneducated but they enjoyed a unique relationship with their sheep and a keen instinct for their needs. They knew their sheep and their sheep knew them. And yes, they would leave the herd in search of the lost sheep, even risking their lives for them. But you know all that.
I reckon that the author of the Book of Revelation had something in mind when in the seventh chapter of his apocalyptic book he described Jesus as the lamb that gave his life for the life of the world—for people of every nation, race and rank; people who will never hunger or thirst anymore because the Lamb will be the shepherd leading them to springs of life-giving water and God will wipe every tear from their eyes. In essence Jesus was the shepherd who became the sacrificial lamb – a sacrifice of love manifested in his faithfulness to goodness and Godness.
This is a beautiful metaphor for the universal love of God so beautifully epitomized in the humanity of the Christ. This is the image of the Christ that animated Peter and Paul and Barnabas and Mary and Priscilla and Phoebe and so many others in that early post-resurrection community in Jerusalem. They were filled with the joy of the Spirit and became apostles of light to the gentiles as well as to the Jews to the ends of the then known earth.
Of course we in the twenty-first century need to move beyond the allegories and metaphors to the reality of the true shepherd that in many ways our church institution has abandoned. In recent years in the wake of scandal our bishops have abdicated their shepherding role to attorneys who have constructed barricades of words and legal defenses to keep the sheep away and the wounded at bay.
In an age of rapid cultural decline that has even had a negative impact on Church life, our bishops and we pastors need to become shepherds after the heart of Christ rather than CEOs and middle managers of a large corporate franchise.
I mean no disrespect to CEOs many of whom are shepherds in their own right. Alluding to reforms taking place in a major corporation a friend in the corporate world had this to say: “Do you know what some of the goals were in the total reorganization of the company? Honesty, integrity, and ethical behavior were at the top of the list!” Indeed, in many ways, the corporate world is raising the standard beyond that of church leadership.
One of our primary responsibilities as pastors within the community of faith is to know our people and recognize their call. Already baptized into the priesthood of Christ, they are people whose talents and charisms make them suitable ‘partners’ in mission of the Church.
This is nothing more or less than enabling all the baptized to live their priestly vocation in the world. Through their liturgy of service – at home, at work and yes, even at recreation, men and women of every rank are carrying on the work of the church. In fact, women are carrying much of workload in the Church! Why not as ordained ministers?
Questions have been raised in various quarters about whether or not the priesthood is incompatible with other vocations such as marriage or put another way, whether the demands of marriage preclude the possibility that a married man or woman might not also be able to live out the vocation of a priest. It’s a very good question that deserves a frank and open discussion within the Church at every level. I believe the Holy Spirit is challenging us to think out of the box!
I believe that the Holy Spirit is indeed asking us to consider the possibility that married men and women are being called to ancient biblical ministries including the presbyterate not just to solve a vocation crisis but more so to challenge the closed clerical system that continues to dominate and in some respects, decimate Church life. The clerical system is broken. Indeed, there is a cancer in the clerical system that is affecting the inner life of the Church and every level of church life and it is not going to disappear until all the baptized get serious about our own priestly role as shepherds.
The people of Assumption Parish are blessed with a good shepherd pastor and there are many others but not every parish is so blessed.
The story is told about the gifted pastor who could recite with great eloquence, Psalm 22, ‘The Shepherd’s Psalm.’ On a particular occasion, a parishioner asked him to recite the psalm after his homily. He declined the invitation and then looked out into the congregation and pointed to an elderly woman seated in the last pew. He said, “There is the one who should recite the psalm. Indeed, I know the psalm but she knows the shepherd!”
And what a difference it makes.
We need to reinforce what is of God in the Church institution and what is not of God. We need to divest ourselves of whatever distorts what Christ implanted in the hearts of the apostles and disciples at Pentecost.
We are the Church, a people of God who recognize the true shepherd who speaks the loudest in our hearts. We must heed his voice and follow his lead into safe pastures. Only then can we be sure that our Church not only survive but flourish in the days ahead.