“The right hand of the Lord is exalted. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” — Psalm 118:16-17
April 16, The Resurrection of the Lord
1) Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
2) Colossians 3:1-4
Gospel: John 20:1-9
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
I’ve long wondered why “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad,” was the responsorial psalm chosen for Easter, the most important celebration of the year for Christians.
Not that there’s anything inappropriate in it, but I’ve always taken it to mean each day is a gift from God, so appreciate it. The verse just never seems momentous enough.
However, considered in the context of the incredible event of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, these simple words in Psalm 118 speak the powerful truth: This is The Day. This is it — the ultimate outcome of God’s plan.
Indeed, we use that phrase, “This is it!” to signify a culmination, a moment of truth.
I remember once driving home from work on an interstate highway, going the 65 mph speed limit, and being hit from behind (!) by another vehicle. As I struggled in vain to gain control of my car, that vehicle actually hit me again! Sure enough, my life flashed before my eyes and confused thoughts flew through my mind as I began careening and spinning off the road, but I distinctly recall saying to myself, “I guess this is it.”
I knew intrinsically what “it” was: the end of my life, something I fully understood and always knew would come. (Amazingly, that wasn’t “it.” I was unhurt.)
In today’s reading from Acts, Peter excitedly recalls for his fellow witnesses “what has happened” since Jesus arrived: He was baptized, anointed by God with his Spirit and went among the people ministering and teaching; he was put to death and now he has been resurrected.
In effect, this is it!
As we celebrate Easter, Christ’s life flashes before our eyes and we see as a single “event” his message, ministry, example, death and resurrection — something we always knew would come.
This is The day the Lord has made, the eternal day that fulfills God’s desire for his beloved.
By believing in Jesus Christ the savior, we are drawn into this day and it becomes our truth.
Let us rejoice and be glad.
How would you summarize the meaning and significance for your own life of Jesus’ life, death and (Read More)
Creator Mundi wants your Mother’s Day celebration to be full of moments to remember, which is why we offer thoughtful, inspirational Mother’s Day gifts for the special mothers in your life.
Spiritual Gifts from the Heart
Mother’s Day is a special opportunity to thank your mom for all she has done and sacrificed. What better way to honor her than to acknowledge her faith and devotion with one of our Christian Mother’s Day gifts? Choose a gift that will be a delightful reminder of the love, courage, and inspiration she brings to your life, now and forever. Our beautiful collection of spiritual gifts for Mother’s Day will speak right to her heart and let her know exactly how much she means to you.
Whether it is the warmth of her smile, the comfort of her hugs, or the way she cooks your favorite dinner, every mother’s love is special, which is why we offer unique gifts for mom. At Creator Mundi, we believe your mom deserves more than a trinket; she deserves the very best. By using the finest materials, our handcrafted gifts for Mother’s Day are not something you will find on just any store shelf – they’re one-of-a-kind, just like her love. When you shop with us, you can feel confident that your gift will stand out from the rest.
Where Inspiration & Faith Collide
We want you to trust Creator Mundi as your “go to” retailer for Catholic Mother’s Day gifts. If you have been struggling to come up with original gift ideas, look no further: we have crosses, figurines, rosaries, pendants, icons, and so much more. We have even created a special collection of items that celebrate mothers, especially the bond between mother and child. With a variety of colors, styles, and creative options, you will be able to find a gift that inspires your mother’s Catholic faith.
Beautiful Gifts – For Every Budget
Our selection of Christian gifts offers a variety of beautiful choices, no matter what your budget might be. We want you to be able to offer your mother the very best, so we have listed a few of our favorites to help you decide:
- With All My Love Figurine
- Mother of Pearl Bracelet with Hearts and Cross
- Amazing Grace Pendant
- Mary and Child Plaque
- Rosary of the Word, Amethyst Beads
- Mother of Goodness Statuette
Shop Online For Mother’s Day Today
Browse our exclusive collection of Mother’s Day religious gift ideas to choose the perfect gift. We’ve selected each item with care, to reflect the tender heart and gentle spirit of motherhood. We have easy check out options and fast shipping. Mother’s Day is only a month away, so give yourself peace of mind by shopping with us today!
(CNS photo/Barbara J. Fraser)
Photos and story by Barbara J. Fraser
HUARAZ, Peru — How does an artist depict the tension, emotion and drama of the Passion when crafting images of the Stations of the Cross?
To fashion the statues ordered by Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Las Vegas, Peruvian stone carver Antonio Tafur began with prayer.
He put himself in the place of the people in each scene — the scowling Pilate, who knew he was condemning an innocent man; the heartsick Veronica easing Jesus’ pain; the irate soldier driving nails into the cross as if Jesus were a criminal. Then he chose the precise moment that he wanted to capture, “the way a photographer does.”
“I want people to understand what Jesus was like,” he said. “And I want them to understand that there is a group of young people (the Don Bosco artisans) living in community, in peace and tranquility. (By following Jesus) you’re going to live differently.”
Station 1 (CNS photo/Barbara J. Fraser)
First station: “Pilate is judging Jesus, and the moment when he says, ‘Take him and do what you want with him,’ is the moment I wanted to show,” Tafur said. “Jesus says nothing — he accepts.” Pilate, his brow furrowed, grimly stares straight ahead. “He doesn’t want to be responsible for Jesus’ death.”
Stations 2 and 3 (CNS photo/Barbara Fraser)
Second and third stations, carrying the cross and first fall: “His father doesn’t answer — he feels alone.”
Station 4 (CNS photo/Barbara J. Fraser)
Fourth station, Jesus meets his mother: “I put Mary behind him, because Jesus has made his decision. ‘This is the path I must follow.’ She puts his hand on his arm (as if to say) ‘Don’t do it,’ but with his gaze and with his hand he says, ‘I must go.’”
Station 5 (CNS photo/Barbara J. Fraser)
Fifth station, with Simon of Cyrene: “Their eyes meet, as if to give him a bit of respite.”
Station 6 (CNS photo/Barbara Fraser)
Sixth station: “Veronica has the courage to step up and wash his face. Nothing matters to her except him.”
Station 7 (CNS photo/Barbara J. Fraser)
Seventh station, second fall: “The soldiers are there, and they’re aggressive. (The soldier is saying to Jesus) ‘It’s your fault that I’m doing this.’ I wonder what I would have been like if I had been a soldier.”
Station 8 (CNS photo/Barbara Fraser)
Eighth station, Jesus meets the women: “I couldn’t put all the women (in the sculpture), so I put (Read More)
April 9, Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Cycle A. Readings:
Gospel at the Procession With Palms:
1) Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24
2) Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: Matthew 26:14-27:66
By Deacon Mike Ellerbrock
Catholic News Service
What is the difference between Peter and Judas, both of whom denied Jesus? One becomes the rock upon which the church is founded, our first pope and a great saint. The other becomes synonymous with personal betrayal by a kiss and famous as history’s ultimate traitor.
When someone is mad at me, I don’t like it. Why? Truth be told: I don’t like the guilt of being “guilty” … busted, exposed, vulnerable, sinful.
For me to practice unconditional love, I must delve deeper for the grace and courage to empty my conscience of ego, to get to “It’s not about me!”
Simon Peter, Jesus’ close friend and confidant, boldly declares to Jesus that “though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be” and, “even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.” Yet, Peter cowers three times when confronted by two girls and some bystanders: “I do not know the man.” The cock crows, signaling his betrayal.
Among the Twelve, Judas apparently held some rank, as he was appointed treasurer by Jesus.
After betraying Jesus, both Judas and Peter deeply regret their actions. Peter “weeps bitterly.”
“Flinging the money into the temple,” Judas attempts to return the “blood” bribe to the chief priests and elders and then commits suicide. What’s the difference?
In our own relationships today, when we speak those sacred words, “I am sorry,” to someone we have hurt, what is our motivation?
Judas is sorry because he knows that he is in trouble with God. The consequences are terrifying.
Peter is sorry because he knows he has hurt his dear friend’s feelings. The regret is genuine.
The difference is that Peter trusted in Jesus’ forgiveness, while Judas lost all hope and fell to despair.
When we gossip or bad mouth others, do we owe them a private or public apology, and likewise when we have been hurt? Private apologies are often easier and less embarrassing, but do not fully repair the harm done.
True reconciliation requires “kenosis” or “emptying” ourselves, “taking the form (Read More)
By Julie Asher
On this day 100 years ago the United States entered World War I. The declaration of war by the U.S. Congress followed by four days an address President Woodrow Wilson gave at a special joint session of Congress, urging lawmakers to make that declaration.
“There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance,” Wilson said. “But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts — for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.
U.S. soldiers with the 1st Division of the 6th Field Artillery Regiment are seen in an undated photo in World War I. (CNS photo/U.S. Signal Corps, courtesy National World War I Museum and Memorial)
The war had already been officially underway since July 28, 1914. That the American Doughboys found horror of an unprecedented scale in the Great War, aka World War I, is well-documented.
A Tuesday story in The Washington Post gives a glimpse: “At night when things were quiet in the ‘jaw ward,’” wounded soldiers “would take out their small trench mirrors and survey the damage to their faces. Noses had been shot off. … Chins were destroyed. … Mouths had been torn apart.”
Chemical warfare also was a major component of this first global war of the 20th century from disabling chemicals, such as tear gas, to lethal agents like phosgene, chlorine and mustard gas. A distant relative of mine was one of the young men Nebraska gave up to the war. He was blinded by mustard gas, his life changed forever.
As CNS notes in this story, the Great War also brought Catholics, including the hierarchy, into the mainstream of U.S. society. CNS also has produced two videos about the war, found here and here.
The Catholic University of America in Washington has just created an extensive
I will be leading a Vespers and giving a talk at the chapel of Newman Hall on the UC Berkeley campus on April 24th at 7pm. There will be an explanation beforehand that will help all who attend to join in the singing of the psalms and for those who are really interested, there will be a practice session on the previous Monday, April 17th at the same time and place. No one need be daunted by this. Anyone who is capable of singing in the shower without being frightened by the sound of their own voice (which means you!) has the necessary singing ability! The Church tells us that the purpose of the Divine Office and the singing of the psalms is to ‘sanctify the day’. This is a chanted vespers based on the ancient traditions of both the Christian East and West in a format especially created for lay people. Afterwards, I give a talk in which I will explain on how comfortably to incorporate the Divine Office into a busy routine and to take it back into your home to create a domestic Church – whether your home is with your family, or a shared student house or even a dorm room! I will also talk about why this is so worth doing! This is the prayer, the Church tells us, that according to Christian mysticism opens us up most powerfully to inspiration and guidance during the day in all we do – including work and personal study – and offers us the chance of supernatural transformation, divine wisdom and a joyful life in Christ.
By Carol Glatz
CNS photo/Paul Haring
By Drew Dillingham
Catholic News Service
(Tenth in a series)
ROME — This week at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, my class learned about the ethical issues related to the sexual abuse of minors. One question we discussed was, “To what extent, ethically speaking, are sexual offenders responsible for their actions?”
Sexual abuse is listed in the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as a mental disorder. It is true that offenders who commit abuse have mental disorders and this plays a role in their crimes. For this reason, dioceses offer psychological and spiritual care both to those who have been abused, as well as to offenders.
However, sexual abuse of minors is also an abuse of power, trust and sexuality. Despite their disorders, offenders must be held accountable for their actions. In justice there is mercy and in mercy there is justice.
Especially when it comes to abuse of minors by those close to them, such as relatives, caretakers or priests, abuse is not spontaneous. It takes a long period of premeditated, logical and patient “grooming” before abuse occurs. According to the acquaintance model of abuse, the following behaviors are most commonly carried out by an offender:
Identify preferred or acceptable child target. The offender actively searches for a “suitable” victim.
Gather information about the child’s interests and vulnerabilities. The offender learns more about the victim with the intent of exploiting him or her.
Gain access to the child. The offender misuses the trust of those close to the child to gain private time with the child.
Lower the inhibitions of the child and oneself. The offender uses drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc. to decrease the natural resistance of the victim and himself.
Seek to fulfill one’s own physical and emotional desires. The offender abuses his power, the trust of the victim and his or her caretakers, and the sexuality of the victim in pursuit of his own self-centered desires.
Gain and maintain control of the child. The offender forces or manipulates the victim into remaining in the abusive relationship.
In each of those steps, the offender freely carries out an improper use of power and trust to abuse the child. Ethically speaking, these premeditated abuses of power and trust, as well as the sexual abuse itself, are further proof that those who abuse children must be held accountable and no longer have access (Read More)
There is lots of discussion today about the loss of community and how the parishes, even those that seem well attended, don’t seem to be the center or the community any more.
A common response is to look to the monastic model as an antidote. My sense is that the current interest in the much vaunted Benedict Option, in which hope for the West is placed in a Benedictine led spiritual revival is as much about fulfilling a desire for Christian community as it is for the transformation of the culture. Others have painted a picture of the medieval village with its houses clustered around the monastery as the families walk to Vespers in the gothic abbey church.
The disadvantage for such an arrangement can be that the spiritual heart is a religious community which, by its nature, is separated from the rest of the world and therefore also from the lay people who identify themselves as part of the lay extension of that community. This is not an insurmountable problem and there is nothing wrong with this if those involved don’t mind this and if the fruits of it are positive, but given the low number and often the remoteness of monastic communities, even if we put aside the difficulties, it isn’t a realistic option for most until they can retire to rural France…or Oklahoma..or wherever it may be.
I have seen people try to create lay communities of working people and their families by trying to encourage those who join to live a compound of homes where all subscribe to some modified Benedictine rule. The drawback here is that it is difficult to overcome the conflict between the demands of community and of family life – there is often a tension between the two. Some seem to manage it, but others in extreme cases can have a cultish feel to them. Such communities are by necessity strongly heirarchial if they are to avoid falling into anarchy – ultimately someone or a small group of people are in charge over decisions in daily living that effect others – this immediately creates conflict because that community authority or influence will tend interfere with, or even undermine, the natural authority of parents in the family.
Such a conflict rarely arises in parish life because beyond attendance, the parish itself does not impose rules at all beyond what the Church as a whole requires. There is (Read More)
For any who are interested and are within striking distance of Lousiville, I am will be speaking at the Immaculata Classical Academy this coming Saturday evening at 7pm as part of their speaker series. Details can be found on the poster below. Hope to see some of you there.
“I will open your graves and have you rise from them.” — Ezekiel 37:12
April 2, Fifth Sunday of Lent
Cycle A. Readings:
1) Ezekiel 37:12-14
2) Romans 8:8-11
Gospel: John 11:1-45
By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service
When it became clear that my mother was not going to survive her cancer, along with the devastation of this news and the heartache I felt, I also realized that I had never been to a funeral.
I was 25 years old and, thankfully, I had not lost anyone extremely close to me up to that point in my life. I did not want my mother’s funeral to be my first, so I started to attend funeral Masses for people from my parish, even if I did not know them well.
At first, these ceremonies seemed to be familiar and strange at the same time. The Mass was the same, but there were new parts I did not totally understand, and there was the whole thing about the deceased’s body being present — definitely a new experience for me.
After a few funerals I got a better sense of all the rituals that had been new to me and I felt as prepared as I could be for the looming funeral of my mother.
That day came and went like a blur, but because I had become somewhat comfortable with the Mass of Christian Burial I was at least able to get through it fully aware of what was going on.
As the years have progressed, I have been to many funerals and I now find them to be comforting and, in a particular way, a fulfillment of all that I believe.
At the beginning of the funeral, the casket is draped with a white pall and the covered casket is sprinkled with holy water. Each of these ceremonial actions serves as bookends to our spiritual life on earth. We begin in a white garment sprinkled with water at our baptism and this is repeated as we head heavenward.
This week’s readings speak of the promise of resurrection. Ezekiel says, “I will open your graves and have you rise from them,” prefiguring what actually happens to Lazarus, which is brought to fulfillment in Jesus and, hopefully, awaits us all.
What has your experience of funerals (Read More)
I recently heard a lecture as part of his Pontifex Univeristy class entitled The Bible and the Liturgy, given by Fr Sebastian Carnazzo, in which he explains how the Bible is primarily a liturgical document. This is an inspiring class that, for me, connects the whole educational ethos of Pontifex in the bible and the liturgy – in accord with the Catholic understanding of education ultimately the role of our teachers is to direct all of us to the Teacher who offers divine wisdom.
The study of Scripture in the classroom is valuable, of course, but as the lecture explains, primarily it is to the degree that it deepens our reception of the Word in a liturgical setting. Through the readings and chants of the words of Scripture in the Mass, Divine Liturgy and Divine Office, we are evangelized and catechized most powerfully. We are formed for supernatural transformation through Christ, and as evangelists who carry the word out to the unevangelized and uncatechized in the world.
The sources Fr Carnazzo uses to support this idea are the writings of the Church Fathers, the descriptions of the historical and current practices of the Church, especially in Her worship, and Scripture itself, as well as two recent books, The Bible and the Liturgy, by Jean Danielou, and Baptismal Imagery in Early Christianity by Robin Jensen.
There has been so much in this course that was worth highlighting, but I want focus particularly one aspect which I found enlightening, namely, the Biblical descriptions of evangelization. This is done through the description of salvation history as the part of the ongoing story of humanity in which we are protagonists right now.
Fr Sebastian described to us how at various times, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles and Saints of the early Church addressed the gathered people and told them their story. It would be modified according the assumed knowledge of those listening, sometimes starting with a description of the Creation, at others with Abraham. So, for example, we might think of Joshua talking to the Israelites before crossing the Jordan, or the martyr St Stephen addressing the Jews before he was stoned to death. The point was to make those listening, Jew or Gentile, understand that this is their story too, just as it is our story. The consummation of this story is in the reconciliation between God and man, through the Church, by the death of (Read More)
CNS photo/Paul Haring
By Drew Dillingham
Catholic News Service
(Ninth in a series)
ROME — One of the most joyful people I know is one of my wife’s relatives who I will call Anne. Anne is almost always happy and immediately lights up a room when she enters it. On major holidays, my wife and I venture up to Long Island, New York, from Washington, D.C., to visit family. Every time we arrive, I can count on being warmly welcomed and embraced by Anne as soon as we walk through the door. Anne’s joy is truly contagious — her happiness brings happiness to others. To me, she epitomizes the spirit of St. Mother Teresa’s life and teachings: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
What I have not mentioned is that Anne is developmentally disabled. It is apparent that this condition has not kept her from bringing a bit of God’s kingdom to Earth; rather, it has provided her with a unique ability to do so.
Volunteers and participants at retreat for adults with cognitive disabilities take time for prayer at a parish in Kaukauna, Wis., in 2014. (CNS photo/Sam Lucero, The Compass)
Earlier this week, I was dismayed to learn about the extent of abuse perpetrated against people like Anne. According to the National Research Council, the rates of abuse against disabled children range between 22 and 70 percent. Other studies found that “individuals with intellectual disabilities are 4 to 10 more times as likely to be victims of crime than others without disabilities (Sobsey, et al., 1995). One study also found that children with intellectual disabilities were at twice the risk of physical and sexual abuse compared to children without disabilities (Crosse et. al., 1993).” This is truly disturbing.
People can abuse disabled children undetected for a prolonged period because of society’s tendency to attribute any negative behavioral changes in a child to his or her disability, rather than the abuse. It is important to recognize that all children, including those with disabilities, do not experience prolonged and unexpected negative behavioral changes at random — these changes are almost always a reaction to negative event they have experienced.
Another reason for the vulnerability of disabled children is lack of communication. It is very difficult for those with intellectual disabilities to voice their suffering to their caretakers — (Read More)
Make this Easter a holiday to remember for the young ones with specially chosen religious Easter gifts for children from Creator Mundi. We carry something special to delight every little person on your list. Our online collection is rich with the sacred echoes of all that is held in reverence for a variety of Christian and Catholic faiths at Easter time.
Meaningful Easter Basket Ideas
Celebrate this Easter with thoughtful baskets made for the special children in your life. We can help you discover a host of spiritual gifts to symbolize the importance of the ultimate sacrifice to both Christians and Catholics. Some examples of kid’s Easter basket ideas include:
- The Original Catholic Prayer Cube
- Rainbow Rosary for Children
- Hand-Burnt Wood Cross Pendant
- Children & Rainbow Cross
- Paschal Lamb Pendant
Faith Centered Easter Gifts
Our popular Murano glass Cross of Hope pendant is handcrafted in Italy and hangs from a sturdy black nylon cord. This stylish, bold green cross symbolizes the hope of new life in Christ and the possibility of new beginnings every day. The Original Catholic Prayer Cube is a delight to hold and a wonderful way to teach comforting practices of prayer and gratitude.
Our Rainbow Rosary for children is made from non-toxic knotted cord and is ideal for little ones learning their prayers. Our hand-burnt wood cross pendants are a simple reminder of the beauty of leading a Christian lifestyle. Our Children and Rainbow Cross is another pendant option offering a joyful image of spring on a solid bronze cross. These gifts are the perfect way to impart a comforting Easter message of hope, optimism, and new beginnings.
Bring The Sacred Back To Easter
Help every generation remember what is sacred about Easter. At Creator Mundi, we hope our attention to the sacred is well-loved in your family’s home for years to come. We invite you to explore our vast array of gifts for this season’s Easter celebrations. You are sure to find the perfect item among our religious Easter gifts for children.
“We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.” — John 9:4
March 26, Fourth Sunday of Lent
Cycle A. Readings:
1) 1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
2) Ephesians 5:8-14
Gospel: John 9:1-41
By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service
In the U.S. there is an eight-month period called daylight saving time. Each fall, we move our clocks back one hour and in the spring we move the clock an hour ahead (“spring forward, fall back”).
Aside from confusing my body’s sleep cycle and causing people to be an hour late for Mass one Sunday out of the year, the manipulation of the clock serves a useful purpose. Taking advantage of the longer and later daylight hours during those eight months presumably allows us to use less electricity in lighting our homes and thus conserve energy.
The downside for me, however, is that my mind and body shut down an hour earlier in the wintertime, making me much less productive than I’d like to be. Because it’s already dark by the time I get home from work, I’m less inclined to take that pre-dinner walk or work in the yard like I did during the summer. I have to make new rules to make the clock work for me during the months of November through March.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus also changes the Sabbath rules — by using spittle, kneading clay and healing a blind man. But he’s not simply flouting convention for the sake of it. Rather, he is making a point that the covenant between God and human beings — which the strict observance of the Sabbath venerates — is fulfilled in Jesus’ merciful act of bringing sight to human beings, both physically and spiritually. The bystanders, whose well-meaning religious zeal led them to object so strenuously to the healing, missed the entire point.
Jesus came to the world to bring judgment, “that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” Simply put, his light comes to those who admit their blindness and acknowledge their need for healing. And nothing — not our past transgressions, nor our current narrow-mindedness, nor our inevitable future failings — can prevent his radiance from piercing our (Read More)
By Carol Glatz
CNS photo/Paul Haring
By Drew Dillingham
Catholic News Service
(Eighth in a series)
ROME — Everyone knows the story of the prophet Jonah. He is commanded by God to prophesy to Nineveh, home of one of Israel’s greatest enemies. Despite receiving God’s commission to save 120,000 people from destruction, he instead chooses to flee on a ship, is thrown overboard by its sailors and ends up in the mouth of a great fish or whale.
“The Story of Jonah” by artist Fritz Eichenberg. (CNS photo/courtesy of Jundt Art Museum in Spokane, Wash.)
Many fears could have caused Jonah to flee — for example, fear of persecution from his fellow countrymen for helping an enemy or his own fear of helping a nation he despised. Some commentators also remark about his fear of undertaking such a monumental and generally undesirable task — imagine being appointed to confront your nation’s greatest enemy and asking them to repent or face destruction!
Nevertheless, the threat of dying in the belly of a fish at the bottom of the sea changes Jonah’s mind, and after praying for God’s help, Jonah ends up on the shores of Nineveh anyway. God again commands Jonah to prophesy to the people and this time Jonah accepts. After only “a single day’s walk announcing, ‘Forty days more and Nineveh shall be overthrown,’ the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth” (Jonah 3:4-5). Thus, the entire city was saved from destruction.
To me, this story has two central themes. First, we must always be attentive to true warning signs and be willing to react to them. Though they were sinful, the people of Nineveh recognized the sign of God’s mercy and they repented, ultimately preventing the destruction of their city. Second, we cannot allow our fears to prevent us from doing what is right. Out of fear, Jonah tried to hide from his responsibilities. Thankfully God intervened, but if he had not, Jonah’s fear would have led to the destruction of the Ninevites.
These two themes are why this story came to my mind as we discussed in class, this week at the Gregorian, the potential warning signs and “grooming behaviors” of sexual offenders. Research shows there are certain behaviors, if exhibited by adults such as teachers, priests, coaches or relatives, that could be warning signs or grooming (Read More)
By Carol Glatz
Panel of Our Lady as Advocate from 1150s by unknown artist. National Gallery of Ancient Art in Rome.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis told a story today about a legend in southern Italy to illustrate how Mary is always nearby, watching, waiting and ready to jump in and lend a hand.
While Jesus is every person’s best advocate in heaven, Mary plays an important role in many traditions and miracles.
Speaking to hundreds of priests and seminarians attending a course at the Vatican on confession, the pope said he heard about a legend that thieves would often pray to Our Lady of the Tangerines.
Every time Our Lady would notice one of the “pious” thieves waiting in the long line outside the gates of heaven, she would give him a sign to go and hide while St. Peter let in all the others, one by one. When St. Peter was done, locked the gate and left, that’s when Mary would call out and let the good thief come through a window she had opened.
“But don’t go and say that robbers go to heaven. Don’t say that!” Pope Francis told his audience to laughter.
The point of the story, he said, is that Mary is always by everyone’s side — the priest and the penitent, and especially the sinner. When a sinner goes to confession, he said, “he has a mother in heaven who will open the door and help him in that moment” to take the right step in order to make into to heaven. She has a knack for showing up at just the right time in people’s lives, and helping them make it right, he said.
Terracotta figures made by Paolo Sandulli of Our Lady of the Tangerines and two women. (Photo courtesy of Massimo Capodanno)
The story of “Our Lady of the Tangerines” is actually a Neapolitan poem, written by Ferdinando Russo in the 19th or early 20th century.
The gist is the same, only this time it’s an angel who’s misbehaved and didn’t do what God asked. God locks him in a dark cell and tells St. Peter to bring the angel bread and water, but not to let him out for 24 hours.
St. Peter hears the angel cry and feels pity, so he asks God to just let it slide this one time. God puts his foot down and says, “No,” otherwise everyone get (Read More)
“We have heard for ourselves.” — John 4:42
March 19, Third Sunday of Lent
Cycle A. Readings:
1) Exodus 17:3-7
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
2) Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
Gospel: John 4:5-42
By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service
Why are you a Christian? What is it that has causes you to follow a man who walked the earth about 2,000 years ago, never traveled too far from his home and died a criminal’s death? Why do you go to church on Sundays and, for that matter, why are you reading this column?
My guess is that a big part of the answer to those questions is connected to a number of people in your life. Maybe the main people who influenced your faith are your parents. Maybe it was one of your relatives, a friend, a priest or youth minister. I do not think there are many disciples of Jesus who got to that faith totally on their own.
In my own case, I can point to my parents, many priests, my youth minister and a number of friends. Each of them in some way witnessed to me about what Jesus had done for them. Their stories had such an effect on me that I decided to surrender my heart to him as well.
Soon after this surrender, I began to encounter Jesus in a more personal way and before I knew it, my faith in Jesus was not based on the words of others but on my own experience of the living God.
This same story plays out in this week’s Gospel. The woman at the well encountered Jesus in such a powerful way that she went back home and told about her experience. Not long afterward, the people of the town say this: “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
This is how the Christian faith spreads. We first hear about God from others, but for faith to have its deepest impact we must believe based on our own experience of the God who, as St. Paul puts it, “proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners, (he) died for us.”
It is one thing to stand on the shoulders of (Read More)
Moving Mountains – A Socratic Challenge to the Theory and Practice of Population Medicine, by Dr Michel Accad
(available from Amazon.com)
This small book is an accessible and readible account of the philosophical basis of public policy relating to medicine, which has dominated government health policy for the last 30 years at least. It arises from a branch of medicine called epidemiology, which studies the possible control of disease by statistical analysis of human behaviour and the frequency of the occurance of symptoms and disease in population groups and any population as a whole.
The writer, Dr Michel Accad is a medical doctor who regularly publishes peer-reviewed articles on the philosophical aspects of healthcare and medicine and a Catholic who is concerned especially about the de-personalization of healthcare in the US. In this book, by reference to real policies and their effects, and with analysis backed up by scientific research, he explains why, in his opinion, it has gone so wrong. He does so through the vehicle of a conversation in the style of a dialogue that one might read in Plato’s works. It is an imagined conversation between the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates and Geoffrey Rose, an Englishman who died in 1993 and who was one of the intellectual founders of population health medicine.
I would urge all doctors and anyone involved in the formulation of public health policy to read this book and consider its implications.
The starting point for our consideration is the bell curve showing the links between particular behaviour and risk of a particular in the population. In the examples given, which one assumes are typical, they appear to indicate that a certain proportion of the population is always at risk. So far so good.
The public policy that is implemented as a result of this analysis is based on an assumption that if the overal pattern of the symptoms or behaviours of risk in the population can be controlled so that a smaller proportion of the population appear to be at risk, the rate occurance of the disease of individuals will go down too and therefore, the general health of the population will go up. So for example, blood pressure can lead to heart disease so, the argument runs, if you reduce the average blood pressure of the whole population, you reduce the rate of heart disease in the population as a whole because fewer people are (Read More)
CNS photo/Paul Haring
By Drew Dillingham
Catholic News Service
(Seventh in a series)
ROME — If you think the problems facing families today are new, just open your Bible; the common themes remain. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments are stories of the sins, sicknesses and difficulties that have affected families since the beginning of time.
In fact, in Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis titles one of his chapters “A Path of Suffering and Blood” (p. 15-17) to describe Scriptural accounts of the “presence of pain, evil and violence that break up families and their communion of life and love.” He then lists the numerous stories of biblical families and their struggles, from Adam and Eve in Genesis to the Holy Family in the Gospels.
The Holy Family on their flight into Egypt from a stained-glass window in St. Edward’s Church in Seattle. (CNS photo/Crosiers)
In one of this week’s seminars at the Pontifical Gregorian University, my class discussed the risk factors and protective factors related to the sexual abuse of minors. Risk factors are those characteristics of a child, family or society correlated to a statistically higher rate of abuse, while protective factors are those characteristics correlated to a lower rate.
Many of the familial problems, particularly in the Old Testament, that are quite common today have been identified as risk factors of abuse. They include: ongoing marital conflicts, alcohol or drug problems, criminal backgrounds, women with “early” or “unwanted” pregnancies, separation or divorce, and social isolation of the family. These characteristics can lead to conditions that make children more vulnerable to offenders both within and outside of the family. The list of protective factors is much shorter and more straightforward: warm, predictive and supportive parent/child relationships and sibling relationships, created and nurtured by a loving and stable mother and father. Children living under these conditions are less likely to suffer abuse and more likely to report abuse if it does occur.
Playing football near the Arabian Sea coast of Mumbai, India, March 15, 2017. (CNS photo/EPA)
“The sexual abuse of children is all the more scandalous,” Pope Francis says in Amoris Laetitia, “when it occurs in places where they ought to be most safe, particularly in families, schools, communities and Christian institutions.” It is true that children ought to be the most safe in these places. Despite the constant problems that seem to face all families, (Read More)
Here is a reflection written by the vice president of mission for Catholic Extension, a national Catholic fundraising organization based in Chicago that builds churches and aids the Catholic Church in America’s poorest places. Looking ahead to two important feast days this month, he looks at five timely lessons from our nation’s immigration history.
By Joe Boland
CHICAGO — St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day are fast approaching. These two feast days continue to be big celebrations for two Catholic ethnic groups that flocked to our American shores as immigrants in large numbers over the last two centuries: the Irish and the Italians. When the Irish mark St. Paddy’s Day and the Italians honor St. Joe, they celebrate not only their Catholic faith but also their national heritage.
This year especially, before we unthinkingly put on our green shirts for the Irish March 17 or our red sweaters for the Italians March 19 or 20, we should pause to remember the past and the lessons it teaches us.
St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus by Guido Reni.
While it seems cliche to say that “history repeats itself,” these two feasts evoke very real and very unkind memories of what our immigrant ancestors endured. Their tenuous status in a new land was strikingly similar to what immigrants experience today.
The Catholic Church in America has always been and continues to be a largely immigrant church. The organization I work for, Catholic Extension, has an enormous stake and interest in this important conversation. Just as we built churches and provided support for Irish immigrant mining communities in the 1910s, we are today doing the same for Latino immigrant farmworkers in the 2010s.
On this year’s feast days of St. Patrick and St. Joseph, let us take a stroll down a less-than-rosy memory lane to see how some of yesterday’s immigrant groups were greeted as they fled their countries. Perhaps this historical remembrance can shed new light on our current national discussions and attitudes about immigrants and immigration.
Lesson No. 1 — Do not forget that St. Joseph, Mary and Jesus were a refugee family
We start this history lesson by going back to the very beginning of our story as a Christian people, by looking at the life of St. Joseph and the family entrusted to his care.
St. Joseph was a dreamer who listened to the angel’s warning in his dreams to take the child Jesus to (Read More)