Now available on Amazon and iTunes
Here is a series of documentaries which were a real eye-opener for me. I have often wondered why some countries have economies that seemingly have explosive growth and others remain in a state of permanent stagnation. Sometimes the answer is obvious. I can see that a region which is in a state brutal civil war is unlikely to develop economically. But what of those countries that are peaceful, why do some remain poor – is it simply a case that we in the developed world need to dig deeper and give more? The answer, it seems is no. Poverty, Inc gives an alternative viewpoint.
If ever there was field in which people have been measured by their intentions rather than results, it seems, it is in the efforts to eradicate poverty in the developing world. The intentions of people who give development aid are often noble, but the effects have been mixed at best, and in some cases disastrous.
Some of the problem is corruption and the fact that there are unscrupulous people around who pocket the money so that much of it never gets to where it is intended for. But it runs much deeper than that. It seems that problems are intrinsic to the whole system of aid that the West has created and there are terrible unintended consequences for the very people whom we want to help. Even if all involved are honest and diligent, the nature of the projects that the money is actually spent on is such that when you examine the effectiveness, they actually keep people in poverty. Whether it is intended or not, the people who really benefit most are those who are involved in the multi-billion dollar development business. As a result, leaders in the developing world are growing increasingly vocal in calling for change.
Here is a video, now available on Amazon and iTunes, which examines this problems and comes up with answers. Drawing from over 200 interviews filmed in 20 countries, Poverty, Inc. unearths an uncomfortable side of charity we can no longer ignore.
From TOMs Shoes to international adoptions, from solar panels to U.S. agricultural subsidies, the film is challenging and certainly made me wonder if I am part of the problem too? The evidence seems to suggest that the most effective answers are rooted in the cultural backdrop of faith and family from which the entrepreneurial drive (Read More)
“Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.” — Psalm 103:8
Feb. 28, Third Sunday of Lent
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15
Psalm 103:1-4, 6-8, 11
2) 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12
Gospel: Luke 13:1-9
By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service
In the reading from Exodus, God speaks of his intention to come down and rescue his people from the tyranny of the Egyptians, revealing that his mercy is not merely felt, but results in action.
The psalm response, too, speaks repeatedly of the mercy of God toward us, his people. We are to remember that he pardons our sins and redeems our lives from destruction. God is slow to anger and abounding in kindness toward those who fear him, the psalmist tells us.
In the Gospel, Jesus gets to the core of our response to God’s mercy in his reference to the barren fig tree. The owner comes and finds it without fruit for the third year in a row and instructs the gardener to cut it down. No, the gardener contends, “leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.”
Lent is a special time for us to consider how we can respond to God’s generosity by showing mercy and performing acts of charity and justice toward others.
Thinking about my friends who were already showing the mercy of God in their actions, I came up with too many to list. They varied in age, race, gender and social status. Some were collectively engaged in mission work extending from Latin America to Russia, from Africa to Indonesia. Others were kind and good to their neighbors and families — to those close to them.
All shared joy and a sense of purpose and mission in what they did. They knew that their connection to God, their obligation to live out the love of God poured into their hearts was what kept them going.
My lesson for Lent will be to see how I can imitate their acts of goodness in my own life and in my own contacts with others, so that when the gardener checks on me, he might find me fruitful right (Read More)
Full details are now available online for the conference about sanctity, beauty and catholic artistic expression taking place at St Rita’s Catholic Church in Dallas, Texas; May 19-21.
It has been organized to showcase the world premiere of a specially commissioned Oratorio about St Rita. The oratorio, A Rose in Winter – the Life of St Rita of Cascia has been composed by Frank LaRocca and librettist Matthew Lickona. The performance will be conducted by Dr Alfred Calabrese.
Scheduled speakers are the composer, librettist and conductor; as well as Dr Ron Rombs and Dr Kathryn Rombs of the University of Dallas, Fr Michael Digrigoria OSA, Fr Joshua Whitfield of St Rita’s Church and myself. Titles and abstracts of the talks are on the website.
For more information and register go to stritaconference.com.
My hope is that they might commission a piece of art work to go with it! Judging from the selection on Google images when you put her name into the search engine, there aren’t many high quality holy images of her around! I like this one, which I found on the internet, but with no mention of who the artist is.
Archivist for Dorothy Day papers guilty of trespassing at drone base
Phil Runkel, left, walks with others Aug. 25 toward Volk Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin to voice concern with U.S. drone policy. (Courtesy Voices for Creative Nonviolence)
Phil Runkel, archivist for the papers of Dorothy Day at Marquette University’s Raynor Memorial Libraries, is among the most recent people found guilty of a crime for protesting the United States’ use of military drones.
The conviction on a trespassing charge came Feb.19 during a brief trial in Juneau County Circuit Court. Runkel was arrested Aug. 25 at an entrance of Volk Field Air National Guard Base in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, where he joined a group of Catholic Workers and other activists concerned that the use of drones for extrajudicial killings constitutes a war crime.
Runkel attempted to tell the court during his trial that he entered the air base grounds under the belief that citizens have the legal privilege under international law to act in a nonviolent manner to halt the commission of a war crime. However, District Attorney Mike Solovey objected, saying there was nothing about intent in the law, according to courtroom observers.
Judge Paul Curran upheld the objection, quickly found Runkel guilty and issued a $232 fine.
Runkel was the most recent of the 14 people arrested for trespassing at Volk in August to be found guilty in a trial. The last trial is set for Feb. 25.
Similar nonviolent actions by Catholic Workers and others have been occurring at air bases around the country in an effort to call attention to drone warfare.
Lenten fast for climate justice
Catholics around the world again are fasting during Lent for climate justice in response to Pope Francis’ call to care for creation during the month of February.
Coordinated by the Global Catholic Climate Movement, the fast finds people in 57 countries taking a day to fast from food or perhaps even from expending nonrenewable energy and to pray in a special way for the environment.
The climate movement’s website has posted Pope Francis’ video message in which he calls on all people to “take good care of creation — a gift freely given — cultivating and protecting it for future generations.”
“The relationship between poverty and the fragility of the planet requires another way of managing the economy and measuring progress, conceiving a new way of living. Because we (Read More)
The Way of Beauty Book Will Be a Text Book for the Course.
The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, which is part of the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley University in California is offering an exciting new Certificate in Theological Studies which is intended for working artists. This is a Masters level, four-course (12-unit) Certificate which is recommended for those who already have a working knowledge of a specific art medium (visual arts, music, architecture etc.) and wish to augment their expertise with a specialized focus in the relationship of the fine arts to Catholic worship and culture.
The approach to this certificate program assumes the “cross-disciplinary approach” between philosophy and theology that uniquely characterizes all DSPT curricula. Furthermore, in this particular program there will be a focus on the integration of theory with praxis, particularly as it applies to Catholic worship and culture. An emphasis on the outcomes of this course is on the evangelization of the culture through a well discerned engagement with contemporary cultures so that the creativity of the artist is directed towards the engagement of contemporary man, without any compromise of the core principles of a traditional Christian culture.
The Certificate program of studies is organized by the Academic Dean of the DSPT, Fr Chris Renz (some readers may remember that I highlighted his excellent article on liturgy and culture published in Antiphon recently). Also involved will be Fr Michael Morris, art historian and professor of religion and the arts at DSPT, who is also well known as a writer on Christian art and culture. . He and Fr Renz are both leading lights in the research institute for religion and the arts called the Santa Fe Institute which has over 12,000 volumes in its library. This resource will be available to students on this certificate.
Anyone who has read any of my writings over the years will see why I am enthusiastic about this – these themes of inculturation, worship and fresh creativity are at the heart of my own ideas about the evangelization of the culture. I am thrilled, as you can imagine, when Fr Renz told me that he intends to use my book the Way of Beauty as one of the texts for the opening course of the Certificate program.
The first course of the four to be offered, in the coming Fall, is called the Foundational Principles of Catholic Liturgy and (Read More)
“Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” — Philippians 3:20
Feb. 21, Second Sunday of Lent
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
Psalm 27:1, 7-9, 13-14
2) Philippians 3:17-4:1 or Philippians 3:20-4:1
Gospel: Luke 9:28b-36
By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service
I have a 2-year-old nephew who currently lives in Shanghai with his parents. He was born in China, but because my brother and his wife are U.S. citizens, their son received the full privileges and benefits of American citizenship even before his first glimpse of the United States; he only needed to obtain the necessary documentation.
When his parents’ residence in China ends, little Mateo, already the proud owner of a U.S. passport, will be welcomed into his “new” homeland and bound by its laws and obligations.
There’s a different kind of citizenship described in today’s readings, and we’re given a preview of it, beginning in Genesis. Abram, a sojourner and a foreigner, is promised more descendants than he can count and the possession of a land that is not his birthright.
Although no documents are signed, there is the solemn enactment of a covenant by which God binds himself to fulfill his promises. Before he even sees the land that God has given to him, Abram becomes its citizen.
In the Gospel, Peter, James and John saw the two great figures of their past, Moses and Elijah, on the mount of the Transfiguration. But Jesus also showed them a glimpse of their future citizenship. It was as if a curtain was pulled back and they were able to see a realm so glorious that they were overwhelmed, captivated, enthralled and frightened all at the same time.
St. Paul reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven” and that “he will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body.” Although we haven’t earned its rights and privileges, our citizenship has already been accomplished by Jesus’ “exodus” in Jerusalem — his suffering and death on a cross.
We are invited to inhabit a promised realm we have yet to see, living under its obligations while we “wait for the Lord with courage.” Like the psalmist, we can assert, “I believe that I shall see the (Read More)
Here is an inspiration for artists in the West!
The latest edition of the Orthodox Arts Journal has a feature on the recently dedicated Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God at Yasenevo, which overlooks Moscow. It is was dedicated by Patriarch Kirill and appropriately (given his recent meeting with Pope Francis) the mosaics especially draw inspiration from traditional Western iconographic forms. As the article explains, they looked to the Romanesque churches of Sicily built in the Byzantine influenced Romanesque style in the 12th century under the patronage of the Norman king, Roger II. In doing this, the art conforms fully to the principles that define the iconographic tradition, but in an exciting way that is unusual in Russia.
Below, the interior mosaics and the (very Russian) exterior of the cathedral:
Compare and contrast those with the interior and exterior of the Cappella Palatina in Palermo, Sicily
I have only seen the photographs that are included in the article, but based upon these I would say that this is a model lesson in how to draw into your own tradition outside influences without compromising core principles. It is fresh and exciting and this is the mark of a truly living tradition.
Furthermore, there is plenty of more conventional, Eastern style iconography here too, and the external appearance of the Church clearly that of an Eastern church.
I suggest that Catholics in the West should look at the way in which the Eastern Church so successfully reestablished its iconographic tradition of art in the mid-20th century. (The leader figures were Russian ex-patriots, theorists and painters living in Paris, the leading figures were Vladimir Lossky, P. D. Ouspensky and Gregory Kroug – we will be talking more about them and style of Russian icons in coming weeks!).
The new iconography is so much more than an unthinking recreation of the past – which would be pastiche. The best of the icon painters of of today who work in this tradition are producing work that bears the mark of its time and place; and can stand alongside the great artists of the past.
This is what I hope to see applied to our distinctly Western traditions of liturgical art in the future. If any of you are interested in knowing more about icons and also my ideas on how we might re-establish a culture of beauty in the West you can read (Read More)
By Tony Spence
The Chronicle of Philanthropy this month focus on the most generous donors in American with short descriptions of the top 50 givers. The total the Philanthropy 50 gave in 2015 was an impressive $7 billion with the median gift being $91.1 million. That’s pretty generous.
In comparison, the annual budget last year for the state of Oklahoma was $7. 2 billion. With a few more shekels, these guys could have funded the entire state last year.
The largest gift — $758.9 million — came from the estate of Richard Mellon Scaife, the Mellon oil and banking heir, principally to his two family foundations.
Gonzaga University’s main building and statue of St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash. The university received $55 million from Myrtle Woldson, a Spokane businesswoman who died in 2014. (Gonzaga University photo)
But others, such as the second largest — $605 million from the estate of Texan John Santikos, owner of a large theater chain — was one of the “big bets” for social change, in his case to the San Antonio Area Foundation.
Donor recipients included medical and engineering research to improve lives. A Seattle self-made businessman, Donald Sirkin, left a $125 million bequest to the San Francisco-based Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an organization that had never raised more than $2 million in any year. Mr. Sirkin was losing his sight, and he wanted to make a big impact in one place. The gift will help Lighthouse finish its new headquarters and partner with tech companies to create products the blind can easily use.
Journalism got a boost from donors Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest. They gave $20 million to the non-profit he created, the Institute for Journalism in New Media. Lenfest started the organization when he turned the holding company for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com over to it a while back. According to the Chronicle the gift will support the three media and award grants to others.
Universities and education were big beneficiaries. They received $2.1 billion in 2015. And Catholic institutions got windfalls. New York financier Stephen Schwarzman and wife Christine have the eighth largest gift — $40 million – to the Inner-City Scholarship Fund to pay for disadvantaged students to attend Catholic school in the city.
Businesswoman and savvy investor Myrtle Woldson, who died in 2014, gifted $55 million to Gonzaga University for a performing arts center and threw in (Read More)
By David Agren
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — In anticipation of Pope Francis’ Feb. 17 visit to this border city, an unlikely hashtag appeared: #PopeInJuarez.
The hashtag refers to Ciudad Juarez and the pope’s arrival in a city once considered “murder capital of the world.” It has seen a 92 percent drop in the homicide rate since the depth of its drug-related violence in 2010.
A painting of former President Benito Juarez of Mexico is seen in this 2004 file photo. (CNS photo/Mario Guzman, EPA)
However, the city’s namesake, former President Benito Juarez, once feuded with the Catholic Church and authored the 1850s reform laws that stripped the church of its properties, power in legal matters and even prohibited priests and nuns from wearing their habits in public.
Pope Francis’ visit to the country and Ciudad Juarez demonstrate the distance church-state relations have moved in Mexico, which only established relations with the Vatican in 1992. Already in the papal trip, politicians in the states the pope has visited have been eager to appear in public with him and published photos of their encounters on social media and state-subsidized media outlets. That the hashtag would appear in its Spanish form, #PapaEnJuarez, would appear to show a lessening of the anti-clerical attitudes, too — though some of it could be attributed to ignorance. The English-language hashtag appeared to emanate from neighboring El Paso, Texas.
Juarez is one of modern Mexico’s most celebrated figures. His image appears on the 20-peso note, while streets across the country are named after him, along with the Mexico City international airport and even the presidential airplane. He is revered in Mexico for leading it through the French intervention of the 1860s, heading the factions of liberals battling conservative forces in the country and becoming the first indigenous president, although his track record on indigenous land issues is considered unfriendly to indigenous peoples, said Ilan Semo, political historian at the Jesuit-run Iberoamerican University.
The phrase, “Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace,” is attributed to Juarez and commonly quoted.
A less-flattering phrase also attributed to Juarez, “For my friends, grace and justice, for my enemies, the law,” has come to sum up Mexico’s powerful presidency and lack of the rule of law.
Juarez was born into poverty in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca state, was orphaned at a young age, moved to Oaxaca City, was taken in by a lay Franciscan and (Read More)
“Jesus … was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.” — Luke 4:1-2
Feb. 14, First Sunday of Lent
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Deuteronomy 26:4-10
Psalm 91:1-2, 10-15
2) Romans 10:8-13
Gospel: Luke 4:1-13
By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service
The most frequently asked question of Catholics at this time of year is, “What are you giving up for Lent?” Giving things up and doing extra things is definitely a big part of the Lenten season. I suppose another big question is how long will we keep firm in these intentions before totally failing at Lent.
I think one of the best reasons to give something up or do something extra in Lent is that it helps us grow in discipline. We are a culture that lets our emotions and feelings dictate our action or inaction.
Discipline can act as a balancing factor in our life. If we do what we do when we want to do it because we want to do it with no thought of self-control, we fall into the sin of gluttony or sloth. But if we can tame our passions with a little discipline, we can achieve greater heights of spiritual joy.
Strange as it may seem, there is more joy in discipline than in indulgence. One would think that giving in to temptation and enjoying the creature comforts would bring more satisfaction than denying ourselves or employing restraint, but this is not the case.
This week’s Gospel makes this abundantly clear when Jesus, in the middle of a 40-day fast, is tempted by the devil to give in to the moment and indulge his emotions. Yet, in the face of such temptation, Jesus reveals the truth that standing firm brings us closer to the will of God.
The word “disciple,” not coincidentally, has the same root as “discipline.” A disciple is one who follows the teachings of another person. When we discipline ourselves, we allow another’s teaching to guide and direct our paths. To be sure, disciplining ourselves is not easy. It takes, well, discipline.
So, when week two of Lent comes and we are tempted to abandon our resolve — eat the piece of cake or skip that daily Mass — let us be disciples of Jesus (Read More)
I am a great enthusiast for the Liturgy of the Hours. It holds a key, I believe, to the evangelization of the culture (if you want to know my arguments, I have included them in both books, the Little Oratory and the Way of Beauty).
Whatever our thoughts on the appropriateness of the vernacular in the Mass, I do think that the availability of the Liturgy of the Hours in the vernacular is one great gift of the Council. I am not a Latin scholar and generally, and certainly in my personal reading in order to pray the psalms properly I need to be able to understand the text as I read it. Reading or singing Latin while looking across the page at a translation on a regular daily basis does not work for me. The Mass is Latin does not present the same difficulty for me – the bulk of it is repeated and so with relatively little reference to additional texts I can participate.
I have often wondered if this question of language is why some traditionalists are not enthusiastic about the Liturgy of the Hours – tending to promote a piety that excludes it. Certainly, some I have met are reluctant to acknowledge any legitimate case for a value for the the vernacular in the liturgy for fear that it would undermine the argument for an exclusively Latin Mass. A piety focused on he Mass and the Rosary is wonderful of course, but one oriented to the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours is even better I suggest, and for me that means going to the English for the latter.
Ever since Pope Emeritus Benedict created the Anglican Ordinariates, I have felt that it has given the move for greater dignity and beauty in the liturgy in the English a huge boost. I wrote about the general principle of this when Pope Francis strengthened the mission of the Ordinariate in an article called Has Pope Francis Saved Western Culture?
It has taken time, quite reasonably for the approved and final versions for the texts to come forth. Now that the texts have been set for the Mass, I am hoping that we will see a final version of the Office soon in the US very soon. As a preview I use the version produced for England and Wales, which is in the Customary of Our Lady of (Read More)
I just attended a talk by the exorcist for diocese of San Jose dioceses Fr Gary Thomas. He is the subject of a book and a film The Rite starring Anthony Hopkins. (The talk was organized by a group called Catholics at Work.)
First, he was a great speaker. He described how almost by accident and after 20 years as a parish priest he found himself sent to Rome to learn how to celebrate the Rite of Exorcism. He was very clear in saying how, in his opinion, the rise in interest in New Age paganism in recent times has opened the door to adherents to the occult in greater numbers than before, which in turn opens the way to diabolical possession. He has always been inundated with requests (even before the publicity).
The fact that he described these things pretty much in the same straightforward, matter of fact way that one might describe what goes on in a marriage or baptism in a parish RCIA class only served to reinforce the truth of it all for me. If anything is to increase your faith in Christ and the Church and the power of good and the sacramental life, it is in listening to accounts of how they overpower the effects of possession by the devil and demons and the suffering of those poor people who are affected by them.
I wanted to pass on one little comment that he made almost in passing. I do not know where he stands liturgically in regard to the Mass – there was nothing in what he said that led me to believe that he celebrates the Latin Mass for example. However, he did explain that the Rite of Exorcism is only said in Latin. One reason is practical – there is no approved translation in English as yet. He gave another reason why he was so strongly in favor of the use of Latin in the Rite of Exorcism: ‘The Devil hates Latin, it is the universal language of the Church’. I asked him about this afterwards and he repeated it saying that his personal experiences as an exorcist who has performed many, many exorcisms have convinced him of this. He told me he had heard from exorcists who did exorcisms in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese (the only approved vernaculars for this Rite) that Latin was the most effective language.
I found an interview with (Read More)
Father Gerry Souza, right, Catholic chaplain at the Suffolk County House of Correction in Massachusetts, speaks at a Massachusetts Communities Action Network rally in September. (Photos courtesy of Massachusetts Communities Action Network)
Leaders from Brockton Interfaith Community hold boxes of signed petitions for minimum wage and earned sick time campaigns in 2014.
Iolanda Silva de Miranda believes the Gospel calls people to act when injustice is present.
Massachusetts Communities Action Network, a congregation-based community organization, came to her parish, St. Edith Stein in Brockton, to talk about the need to raise the state’s minimum wage, Silva de Miranda knew she had to step up.
After hearing how some people work two or three jobs to make ends meet and feed their families, she got involved.
“That’s what God calls us to,” the native of Cape Verde said. “Mary was about to have Jesus and all the doors were closed. Nobody wanted to let her in to have a baby. Sometimes we don’t see those (people). We close the door to the people. We close the door to the more needy and we exclude people.”
It has been a few years since Silva de Miranda, 52, joined the Brockton Interfaith Community, a member of MCAN. She now is co-president of BIC and serves on the MCAN board.
MCAN, an affiliate of the PICO National Network founded in 1972 by Jesuit Father John Baumann, spearheaded the statewide initiative to raise Massachusetts’ minimum wage. It took time to organize, educate, seek signatures on petitions and seek endorsements, like the one from the Massachusetts Catholic Conference representing the state’s bishops.
But Miranda de Silva said the work was worthwhile, especially when voters approved the minimum wage ballot measure in November 2014. By January Massachusetts will have the highest minimum wage in the country at $11 an hour.
For its minimum wage campaign and efforts to gain medical leave for low-income workers, MCAN received the Sister Margaret Cafferty Development of People Award from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development during the recent snowbound Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington.
MCAN, a recipient of CCHD national level grants, has worked for more than 30 years to better the lives of low-income people in Massachusetts through congregational organizing and education, said Lew Finfer, the organization’s director.
Early in its history MCAN focused on affordable housing, gang violence and improving conditions in schools. As the economy faltered, especially during the Great (Read More)
And why the success of Alcoholics Anonymous is based on the fact that it does!
In my last blog posting I described the recorded lecture series from Audible.com, which is also a book, called the Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. I enjoyed it and much of what I heard I found interesting and, as I described in the last posting, very helpful in many ways.
Whatever her personal beliefs on spiritual matters are, she approaches this subject in these lectures as a pure scientist who observes what influences human behavior in order to help people have greater self-control. I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of her observations of general human behavior or her methods for controlling personal behavior based upon those observations. As I mentioned last time, much was consistent with traditional methods for controlling behavior. There were some insights that were new to me and when I tried them out myself they were very helpful in my self control.
However it was when she started to describe why we had these difficulties in the first place that I found myself less convinced.
If you remember, her assessment of the sort of problems in self control arose from an inner conflict. Part of us knows what is good for us in the long term but some people have a problem because they don’t have sufficient self control to live in accordance with what we know is good in the long term. This is because we are drawn to what will give us pleasure in the short term. So even thought the dieter knows he should eat healthily, he still can’t resist the cream cake when it is put in front of him.
All pretty reasonable so far.
But then she starts to give her reasons as to why she thinks that this conflict exists. She accounts for it in terms of evolution. She begins by assuming that in prehistoric man, all instincts would be in perfect harmony with each other, and with external circumstances. Because man had evolved to deal with his natural environment, she assumes, our emotions and instincts would work well for the sort of situation that prehistoric, precivilization man would have to deal with. When food is in short supply for example, it is important to eat as much as you can when it is available, she says. That instinct remains with us even though the situation has changed. Nowadays (Read More)
“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” — Luke 5:10
Feb. 7, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8
Psalm 138:1-5, 7-8
2) 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, 11
Gospel: Luke 5:1-11
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls his first disciples to follow him and join his mission to bring all people to God’s way of life.
His offer is convincing: Having the audacity to teach experienced fishermen how to fish, he demonstrates that if they follow his direction they’ll achieve a greater haul than they could attain themselves.
Jesus’ message is to all of us: Trust that by following his way you will draw people into his fold.
By contrast, a refrain we often hear in our social enterprises today, “Build it, and they will come,” is based on a belief in the pre-eminent power of our own will — through marketing.
However, any city planner will tell you: Build it in the wrong place and “they” won’t come, no matter how slick your marketing.
I learned how wise planning creates healthy, vibrant communities from my friend Joel, a longtime city planner in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Indeed, communities hire planners to direct development and growth to best serve the people’s needs. Build to enhance their lives and they will not only come but they’ll participate.
No wonder Joel, also a devoted Christian, understands how to respond to the call to build and develop Jesus’ community. He knows that Jesus’ instruction to “put out into deep water” means to go where God is most needed.
Joel and his wife chose for their faith community not a well-established congregation but a small church in a struggling low-income neighborhood where the people were open to God’s grace and just waiting to be “caught.”
Indeed, Jesus’ way brought in a large haul there.
Joel showed me a small neighborhood park that he and fellow church members developed, with the city’s blessing, on city property across the street from the church.
A local landscape architect volunteered to design the park. Then at-risk teens from the neighborhood joined with the church youth group to do the landscaping with plants and materials donated by local suppliers. Children from the nearby grade school created and installed small outdoor (Read More)
And how it can reinforce the Christian understanding of human behaviour.
I recently listened to a recorded lecture series which was intended to help people increase their self-control in order to have better lives. It was called the Willpower Instinct and was by Kelly McGonigal. It is available as a book or recorded lectures.
As I listened to this I had a number of thoughts. First, there is plenty here to help Christians to become more moral – I will describe these later on in this blog article.
Second, she approaches this subject as a pure scientist who observes the influences on human behavior in order to help people have great self-control. While I wouldn’t quarrel with her observations as a scientist or her methods for controlling personal behavior based upon those observations; I would say that her explanations as to why they work were, for the most part, unproven hypothesis. In fact, it sounded to me as though a Christian understanding of the human person could add even more to what she was offering. I will discuss how in a separate article. Here I want to consider how it struck me that her presentation might help Christians.
These recorded lectures were based upon talks and workshops that she offers that use modern psychological research to help people to gain self control. From the sound of it a lot of her clients are addicts and failed dieters. Through her workshops, she helps people to assert their will power over their own behavior. She defines will power as the capacity to do what part of you really wants to do when another part of you really doesn’t want to do it.
What it seems to boil down to in these lectures is trying to order our lives so that they are generally governed by our long term goals rather than short term responses. In order to do this we need to be able to do two things:
1. Do things that part of us doesn’t want to do.
2. Resist the desire to do things that part of does want to do.
So, for the addict the need is to learn how to resist that part of us that desires the pleasure of taking whatever substance or indulging in whatever behavior we are addicted to. For those who are procrastinating over doing something that we know gives long term benefits, it is about learning to overcome that (Read More)
By Tyler Orsburn
WASHINGTON — Today Catholic News Service launched its Catholic Home Missions Project, a project inspired by the canonization of St. Junipero Serra back in September.
More than 20,000 people attended the Sept. 23, 2015, canonization Mass celebrated by Pope Francis for the Spanish Franciscan at the Basilica of National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The Franciscan Monastery in Washington had a Mass of celebration the following day.
A painting of St. Junipero Serra hangs in the Santa Barbara Mission Archives-Library in Santa Barbara, Calif. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
St. Junipero Serra is credited with founding nine missions in California, and one in Baja California, Mexico. Friars under his tutelage founded many others across California, in a territory that was then part of New Spain.
Steven Hackel, a history professor at the University of California at Riverside who has written a biography, “Junipero Serra: California’s Founding Father,” told CNS he thinks St. Junipero Serra as one of the little-heralded “‘founding fathers’ of the United States,” because he helped settle areas beyond the East Coast and was a contemporary of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Last spring we did a series of video stories on the life and ministry of St. Junipero and his evangelizing mission, and we included the views of some critical of the friar over his treatment of native peoples and their culture.
But what is a modern-day mission in the United States? Is it still just about evangelizing and baptizing? And how does the mission experience differ from St. Junipero Serra’s day in 1769 when he walked from Baja California, Mexico, and into what would become San Diego?
One difference is population density. No longer is west of the Mississippi River considered the Wild, Wild West. Another difference is cultural diversity. Native Americans no longer populate the landscape as they did in the 18th century. What would become the United States is now a mosaic of cultures that represents all continents.
Now, 247 years after St. Junipero Serra’s first mission was established in Southern California, the Catholic Church is firmly interwoven into the fabric of the land of the free and home of the brave.
Starting today — with stories, videos and photos — our reports on Catholic Home Missions take us to North Carolina, Texas, Idaho and Puerto Rico — four of the U.S. Catholic churches mission dioceses. The (Read More)
A girl receives Communion during a children’s first Communion Mass at the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines, Jan. 30. The Mass included about 400 extremely poor children, some living on the streets. (CNS photo/Simone Orendain)
By Simone Orendain
CEBU, Philippines — Row after row of fidgety children, mostly flanked by their parents, filled the track infield of the Cebu Sports Complex. A few children were eating snacks, some were walking quickly with their parents, perhaps to find the nearest bathroom. Others sang hymns, and many chattered away.
The children’s first Communion Mass at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress included about 400 extremely poor children, some of whom live on the streets.
I don’t know what I was thinking when I expected children at the Mass to quiet down and take on some sort of serene quality once they received the Eucharist.
They received Communion alongside their parents, and many did all the kid things that they had been doing beforehand. One girl bypassed the kneeler and the eucharistic minister altogether and was led back into place. Another boy darted back to his row, chomping on the host.
But as I looked around this low-level chaos, I noticed one tiny girl with her hands together in prayer, kneeling on the dry brown grass in her white tights. She was praying intently. Then she crossed herself and sat back on her plastic chair with a very serious, solemn expression on her face.
“They are from Tacloban,” said Jocelyn Ala, a church lector at St. Joseph Parish, sitting behind her. “They survived the typhoon.”
First communicants carry flowers during a children’s first Communion Mass at the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines, Jan. 30. (CNS photo/Katarzyna Artymiak)
Ala, her sister and one other parishioner were taking care of the 10 children who all came to Cebu without their parents. She said the parents could not afford to make the trip. The children traveled to Cebu with the help of Dilaab, a Catholic foundation that seeks to catechize children, especially those from poor backgrounds.
Ala said all of these children’s families were intact after the Typhoon Haiyan ravaged its way across the central Philippines, killing or leaving missing some 7,300 people, mostly from the Tacloban area.
The little girl, 8-year old Joelle Marie Vito, told me she was “happy” after taking Communion because she had “Jesus with me.”
I pointed at her heart and I said, “Where, here?”
So then I asked what she liked (Read More)
The Catholic Artists’ Society series of talks entitled, the Art of the Beautiful continues this Saturday in New York Saturday with a presentation from architectural historian, Denis McNamara entitled, Incarnation and Transfiguration: Rediscovering the Iconic Nature of Church Buildings.
Anyone who has attended one of Denis’s lectures or seen the series of talks produced by the Liturgical Institute in Mundelein, where he works, will know that this promises to be a stimulating and enjoyable evening. As usual with the CAS events the talk is followed by a reception and Compline.
Just in case you can’t make out the detail on the poster above, the talk is at the Catholic Center, NYU, 238 Thompson Street. (Read More)
Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, the Catholic peace organization, has been named a Public Peace Prize laureate.
The Washington resident learned of the honor last week from the Quebec-based organization sponsoring the honor.
Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)
“For me the most delightful part of it is that it acknowledges the fact that there are so many peacemakers all over the world who don’t get a lot of notice who are nevertheless doing worthwhile work,” she told Catholic News Service.
Dennis was named an awardee in the Global Peace and Reconciliation Internationally Reputed Peacemaker category. She shared the prize in that category with the Rev. Michael Lapsley, an Anglican priest from South Africa, who founded the Institute for Healing of Memories to help in reconciliation efforts in the former apartheid-ridden country.
Public Peace Prize laureates are chosen by the public. Individuals can nominate people for consideration and winners are chosen based on letters of support that arrive for each nominee.
“I’m really touched by it especially because of the way that they gather the comments of people from all over the world,” Dennis said.
The Public Peace Prize fosters greater recognition of the work of peacemakers and peace initiatives locally, nationally and internationally. It evolved from the online 24 Hours for Peace in 2013-2014 to celebrate Jan. 1, the World Day of Peace.
Among its partners are L’Arche International, Global Network of Religions for Children, Faith and Light International, International Youth Advocacy Foundation, Pax Christi International, Organization for Peace and Social Cohesion in Ivory Coast and several Quebec-based organizations.
“The goal of it is to be very grass roots, very engaging with people all over the world,” Dennis said. “Not only are there a lot of people doing peacemaking, but we need a lot more.”
Other 2016 recipients include:
— Suzanne Loiselle, a peace and justice activist in Quebec. She is being awarded in the Justice and Solidarity Activist and Peacemaker category.
— Antoinette Layoun of Quebec province, a former child soldier in Lebanon who today teaches people how to achieve inner peace through constructive, loving lives. She is being awarded in the Personal Peacemaker and Social Peacemaker category.
— Narine Dat Sookram, a native of Guyana now living in Canada, has demonstrated how immigrants can provide rich social and economic contributions to society. He is being (Read More)