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“For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” — Matthew 1:20
Dec. 11, Fourth Sunday of Advent
Cycle A. Readings:
1) Isaiah 7:10-14
2) Romans 1:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24
By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service
On more than one occasion, I’ve heard the Holy Spirit described as the “forgotten” member of the Trinity — and I can understand why. As a cradle Catholic, I think the only time I heard anyone preach or teach about the Holy Spirit was on Pentecost Sunday and at my confirmation, although in every sign of the cross the Holy Spirit is certainly mentioned. But in today’s readings, the Spirit of God is front and center.
Reminiscent of the Genesis account of creation and the Spirit “sweeping over the waters,” today’s responsorial psalm describes the earth and its fullness as being “founded … upon the seas.” In the great tradition of the prophets of Israel, Isaiah prophesies in the power of the Spirit that a “virgin shall conceive, and bear a son.”
But most striking is the role of the Holy Spirit in the pivotal event of human history: the incarnation of the Son of God in the womb of Mary. Twice, Matthew’s Gospel states that this happened “through the Holy Spirit,” and this claim is borne out in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel and also professed in the Nicene Creed.
We’re not talking about some anonymous, shadowy “force” that is the stuff of science fiction. In fact, Scripture describes a divine being so intensely personal that Mary has been identified as the “spouse” of the Holy Spirit in an ongoing, eternal relationship. In other words, it is the unique union of Mary and the Holy Spirit that made Jesus’ incarnation and birth possible — not only as a past historical event but continually and eternally (wrap your mind around that one!).
When we’re not overwhelmed with holiday hype, we Catholics tend to think of Advent as simply a religious preparation for Christmas, a one-time occurrence until Dec. 25 rolls around again. In truth, Advent is an anticipatory celebration of the unceasing entry of Emmanuel, “God … with us,” into our hearts and lives. It’s the Holy Spirit that accomplishes this, and when it occurs (Read More)
“Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord.” — James 5:7
Dec. 11, Third Sunday of Advent
Cycle A. Readings:
1) Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
2) James 5:7-10
Gospel) Matthew 11:2-11
By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service
While I was studying for my degree in theology, a professor told us: “The secret to joy is waiting.” I had never considered waiting as criteria for joy. I had always thought of joy as something experienced in the moment at some event or in a person or thing. But as he expounded on this concept, I was reminded of my grandmother and finally understood the connection between joy and waiting.
There were four children in my family for 12 years and then Matthew came along. I was 15 when this happened. Growing up, I was not blessed to live in the same city as my grandmother so anytime we got to see her was a big deal. When Matthew was born, we found out that Grandma was coming to stay with us for a few months to help around the house. The excitement and anticipation was overwhelming for all of us.
You see, Grandma coming meant homemade bread, cookies, jam and on and on. I am sure my mother was excited for other reasons, but to a 15-year-old, food was pretty important. Not only did Grandma make homemade bread, but she always “accidentally” made too much dough and would use the leftovers for cinnamon rolls.
As this expectancy swirled in my mind, the days, hours and minutes of waiting for Grandma to come seemed merciless. But finally she arrived and oh, the joy that filled my heart (and stomach).
This week’s readings tell of the preeminent experience of waiting and joy. In Isaiah we hear the prophecy about the good things that will occur when the Messiah comes. The Letter of James exhorts us to have patience, and the Gospel reveals that Jesus is the long awaited fulfillment of the prophecy.
The Israelites had waited centuries for the promised Messiah and he came. Now, we, the pilgrim church, await the second coming of Jesus. We are in the days between the promise and the fulfillment, but even as we wait, we encounter moments of joy as we each (Read More)
Especially the young!
Why has church attendance dropped off so dramatically in the last 50 years? There are a whole range of reasons, I am sure, and nearly every article in this blog is addressing the issue in one form or another, but if you ask me one of the main contributory factors is the music that is generally heard at Mass. And the degree that the music is influential, I would say that the influence of the style of music that is epitomozed by that offered by the most common pew misalettes is contributing to that decline.
I am talking about a style of music that seems to have started to develop around the late 1960s and sounds to me like a sort of fusion of American folk, Disney and Rodgers and Hammerstein musical and a hint of Victorian hymnody. Whatever you call the genre, it is responsible, I suggest for many to flee the pews.
Before anyone writes to me to say how much they like the music they hear each Sunday, or tell me how high quality the painist or band that plays and how heartily those in the congregation that do attend join in, I want to say one thing. My argument, as you will see, is not based upon the assertion that it is bad music. I do have strong opinions on that, but my personal taste has no bearing on the conclusion that I draw. My argument is that the whole philosophy that has contributed to the composition of such music is fataly flawed.
Even if we assume that the music we hear in Mass is of the highest quality within its genre, it would still have the same effect, which is to tend to drive most people away from Mass. (This is despite the fact that its proponents usually claim that it does the opposite.) Furthermore, if the standard of the musicianship is of the highest order, and the choir consisting of the best trained professional singers it would not chage my argument one iota.
The problem in my opinion lies in the whole ethos that underlies the creation of music for the missals. The goal, it seems is to connect with people by giving them music that derived from popular secular forms. The problem with this approach is that it can only connect to those people who actually listen to enjoy that style of music (Read More)
By Julie Asher
Even 75 years later, the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Dec. 7, 1941, continues to rivet the attention of Americans because it is “such a powerful event,” a priest-historian told Catholic News Service in an interview in advance of tomorrow’s anniversary of the attack.
“Before that, we were debating whether to get involved with World War II or not. We were basically a neutral country, trying not to get engaged in it. It (the attack) changed the tenor, and the president’s resolve,” Father Daniel Mode said in a telephone interview from the Pentagon, where he where he works for the chief of chaplains. “It brought our country together to fight a common threat.”
A ship is seen sinking during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. (CNS photo/Pearl Harbor Museum)
In a video interview with CNS, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services reflects on the “incredible heroism” that day by members of the military that day, including Father Aloysius Schmitt, a chaplain aboard the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor.
The priest pushed a dozen men out a narrow porthole to safety during the attack at the cost of his own life as the ship was sinking. He was the first U.S. chaplain to die in World War II. It was only recently that his remains had been positively identified and returned to his home Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, for burial.
The Hawaii Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Honolulu, in its Dec. 1 issue recalled some of the paper’s coverage of the time. ” The Herald’s 1941 war edition, published four days after the bombing, expressed the faith and patriotism of island Catholics.
These reflections on the Pearl Harbor attack and the more than 2,000 American lives lost prompted us at CNS to look back into our own news archives:
NOTABLE REVIVAL OF FAITH ACCOMPANIES OUTBREAK OF WAR
(Special Correspondence, N.C.W.C. News Service)
Honolulu, Dec. 29 — With war come to Hawaii; with Catholics carrying on in the way that has marked their loyalty in every national emergency; with priests, religious and members of the laity giving edifying examples of their courage, a notable revival of the faith has also come to these islands.
Confessions have been heard in record number and the Communion rails have welcomed many a strange face. Catholic churches were packed more than ever the (Read More)
Here is a both a request and proposal for the Anglican Ordinariate, if I may be so bold.
Can you produce a version that can be reduced to a short booklet that contains the psalter and the unchanging prayers? If in addition to that we can find a way for the changing parts to be supplied by smart phone then I think that you will have something that will really catch on. It will be simple to use and cheap.
If the Ordinariate would produce something like this, then I for one would use it and promote it tirelessly. I know of several others who would be just as enthusiastic to see such a thing. Furthermore, I am ready to create online courses at Pontifex University that teach the singing of the Office in the home, and this would be my prefered option to recommend to families and lay people.
The Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham is wonderful but complicated to use and I’m never quite sure if I am getting those parts proper to the day right – and I am reasonable adept at breviary navigation. I have spoken to a number of lay people who bought it and gave up. This would work well for religious and those especially devoted to the Office who are likely to take the time to work out what
I am a great fan of the Divine Office as given to us by the Ordinariate because I think that it creates the possibility of greater take up of the praying of the Office by lay people. It offers the chance of praying the full psalter (ie no missing cursing psalms) in English in a translation that is both poetic and accessible. I have written about this in previous articles, such as this one here: The Anglican Ordinariate Divine Office – A Wonderful Gift for Lay People and a Source of Hope for the Transformation of Western Culture. (And incidentally, if you think I was resorting to hyperbole in the title of that article, I wasn’t. I really to do believe that it has this potential.)
Looking at the general guide for Morning and Evening Prayer for the Personal Ordinariates (which consitutes a recitation of the full Office), and drawing on its application in the Customary, I think that I can get the psalms for the day and all that is specified in the table below from (Read More)
“Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” — Isaiah 11:5
Dec. 4, Second Sunday of Advent
Cycle A. Readings:
1) Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72: 1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
2) Romans 15:4-9
Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
“Going to church” in the Protestant American South holds a certain amusing lore through which I fondly recall the small Louisiana congregation of my girlhood, although at the time I was embarrassed by some of its quirky traditions at worship services.
One was the singing of a favorite hymn, “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus,” in which congregants would eagerly remain on the edge of their seats during the organ’s introductory notes then suddenly (with great rustling of arms, legs and hymnals) rise up as one and belt out, “Stand up! Stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross!”
Another was “Roll Call Sunday,” when the preacher called the roll of church members and each family would stand and be counted as their name was called. That annual service unfailingly opened with an enthusiastic (by the pastor, at least) rendition of “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder (I’ll Be There).”
The Scriptures for this Second Sunday of Advent refer to a similar call to accountability at the coming of Christ. But they emphasize a deeper requirement of faithfulness than symbolic acts of loyalty. Isaiah notes, “Not by appearance shall he judge.”
I would never question the true committed faith of the people of my childhood church. After all, they are the ones who first introduced me to Jesus. Today’s Gospel points out what they knew and modeled for me: Producing “good fruit” is the telling proof of one’s relationship and commitment to Jesus. (I’m just glad there wasn’t a hymn about every tree not bearing good fruit being thrown into the fire.)
Jesus came to us in his day, and comes to us now, to re-create the peaceful world the Father intended. Isaiah declares the promise of Christ bearing the gifts of the Spirit — wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, knowledge and awe before God — gifts he offers us to serve God’s purposes well.
His overriding purposes are justice and peace brought about through compassion.
As we prepare the way of the Lord this (Read More)
Pontifex faculty member, Fr Sebastian Carnazzo, pastor of St Elias Melkite Catholic Church, Los Gatos, CA has instituted an ‘Outreach Divine Liturgy on the campus of University of California, Berkeley. Celebrating with Fr Carnazzo will be Fr Christopher Hadley. It is taking place at the Gesu Chapel at the Jesuit School of Theology, 1735 Le roay Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709.
An Outreach Divine Liturgy is the first stage to the establishment of a weekly mission. Please pray for this endeavor and if you are able to, make plans to attend. Dinner will be provided afterwards.
I shall be attending myself, singing the drone (eison) for the liturgy. We would love to see you there, especially any UC Berkeley students and professors!
Aside from teaching theology for Pontifex University on the Masters of Sacred Arts program, Fr Carnazzo is offering our Advent and Christmas meditation, which is offered free. You can sign up anytime and join in what is a wonderful to deepen your participation in this great season in sacred time.
The year was 1994, but I remember it like it was yesterday.
I had been in Anaheim, California, covering the National Catholic Educational Association’s annual convention for CNS. Since I was so close to Hollywood, management thought I could stay some extra days to snag interviews with some emerging stars like Nick Turturro, then on “NYPD Blue,” David Hyde Pierce of “Fraser,” Jay Leno, who was settling in comfortably on “The Tonight Show,” and a pre-“Everybody Loves Raymond” Ray Romano. I also got to interview some more established types, like Robert Wise, who directed “The Sound of Music,” and everybody’s favorite blended-family mom, Florence Henderson, ex of “The Brady Bunch.”
Florence Henderson (1934-2016). (CNS photo/Fred Prouser, Reuters)
For the Henderson interview, I got to meet her on a Monday evening at a restaurant near her home in Santa Monica, California, where she was a member of St. Monica Parish. We talked about her life and career, with the conversation invariably rebounding back to “The Brady Bunch.” The series still has a home in the 500-channel universe; Me-TV plays four episodes in a row every Sunday, calling it a “Brady Brunch.”
It’s not a surprise, since despite her ample acting and singing skills — she was the original Maria on Broadway in “The Sound of Music” — Henderson helped make the Bradys a family that the ratings just couldn’t kill.
Even after the original sitcom was canceled after five seasons, “The Brady Bunch Variety Hour” soon followed, as did “The Brady Girls Get Married,” “The Brady Brides,” “A Very Brady Christmas,” “The Bradys,” and playing Grandma Brady in “The Brady Bunch Movie” in 1995. She even did a turn as Carol Brady in a 1987 episode of “The Love Boat.”
The unmistakable impression I got once the interview was over was how unfailingly polite Henderson had been. Not that at her age — which is my age now — she needed to go traipsing out of her house to do interviews on her free time. But she did, and she was a great interview subject.
Henderson talked about how she chose her confirmation name of Gemma after a Benedictine sister who taught her in grade school, and with whom she still corresponded 50 years later. She also spoke of doing a fundraiser for Ursuline-run Brescia College in Kentucky, not far from her Indiana birthplace. She even talked about prayer, which isn’t the typical subject actors talk about. (Read More)
Pontifex University is now offering a free short course, An Advent and Christmas Seasonal Meditation as a promotion for its new Masters in Sacred Arts. It is a meditation in art and scripture for these seasons through to Epiphany It is taught by Fr Sebastian Carnazzo and myself using a method that we have developed for the scripture classes in the MSA program.
Each day, Fr Carnazzo, an experienced scripture scholar who, for example, spent several years teaching FSSP seminarians in their seminary in Nebraska, gives a short meditation on the gospel account of the nativity.
Fr Carnazzo, who is also pastor at the Melkite Church of St Elias, in Los Gatos, also has a deep knowledge of the icons of the Church. So he connects the scripture with the icons of the church. I offer additional ‘artistic sidebars’ on certain feast days during this season and on major feast days we discuss the art together. As a result, this is simultaneously a scripture class that uses beautiful art to communicate truths beyond words and so increase our grasp of the Word; and an art class that explains the scriptural roots of the icons of the Church.
Most importantly, we connect all of this to the worship of God in the sacred liturgy where, one hopes it will deepen our encounter with Him during this wonderful time in the Church year. It includes an encouragement to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in your domestic church and even offers suggestions on how families can sing the psalms as they do so.
Question: why would we be considering the Baptism of the Lord during this seasonal meditation? And who are these figures on fish in the Jordan? And the significance of the rock that Christ is standing on? Answers can be found for free…if you sign up for the course! To go to the MSA catalog page and sign up for the free course: An Advent and Christmas Seasonal Meditation
Gerrit van Honthorst, 17th century, Dutch. The Adoration of the Shepherds.
By Rhina Guidos
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Quoting from the Book of Ecclesiastes and referencing judgment, Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, of Miami issued a statement on the Nov. 25 death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
“Now he awaits the judgment of God who is merciful but also just,” wrote Archbishop Wenski in a brief statement posted on the archdiocese’s website Nov. 26. “His death provokes many emotions — both in and outside the island. Nevertheless, beyond all possible emotions, the passing of this figure should lead us to invoke the patroness of Cuba, the Virgin of Charity, asking for peace for Cuba and its people.”
Pope Francis and former Cuban President Fidel Castro in Havana in Sept. 20, 2015. (CNS photo/Reuters)
Castro was 90 and ruled Cuba from 1959 — when his regime overthrew the government of Fulgencio Batista — until 2009 when he handed power over to his brother Raul.
Pope Francis sent a telegram in Spanish to Cuba expressing condolences for the “sad news” of “the death of your dear brother” to Raul Castro, who currently rules the island. He also expressed condolences to the government and to its people, and said he was offering prayers and entrusting the nation through intercession of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, the patron saint of Cuba.
Granma, the official newspaper of the Communist party in Cuba, said the formal public mourning period and homages to Fidel Castro will begin today and go through Dec. 4. On Nov. 30 the transport of his ashes to the province of Santiago will begin, concluding Dec. 3 at the cemetery of St. Ifigenia in Santiago de Cuba, where the Cuban national leader Jose Marti is buried.
Archishop Wenski concluded his message asking that “Our Lady of Charity, hear her people’s prayers and hasten for Cuba the hour of its reconciliation in truth, accompanied by freedom and justice.”
Through the intercession of the Mary, may “the Cuban people know how to traverse that narrow road between fear which gives in to evil and violence, which under the illusion of fighting evil only makes it worse,” he added.
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“They shall beat their swords into plowshares.” — Isaiah 2:4
Nov. 27, First Sunday of Advent
Cycle A. Readings:
1) Isaiah 2:1-5
2) Romans 13:11-14
Gospel: Matthew 24:37-44
By Deacon Mike Ellerbrock
Catholic News Service
Noah’s neighbors were so engrossed in celebrating their good fortune that they were caught unprepared for the calamity of the Flood. Had they invited the less-fortunate villagers, perhaps the party may have ended in joy.
Historically, lack of economic opportunity has led to civil wars and international conflicts, including terrorism. Hence, our economic choices involve ethical dimensions, moral issues and global challenges. Let us beware: Poverty remains a scourge invoking God’s wrath.
Today, 3 billion people (about one-third of humanity) live in “poverty,” on less than $2.50 per person per day. Half of those people are perpetually stuck in “extreme poverty,” living on less than $1.25 per person per day. The dollar distinction reflects the desperate reality that extremely poor people cannot save any money at all and thus are unable to invest in their children’s future.
The amount of money necessary to lift those 1.5 billion people out of extreme poverty equals only 0.7 percent of world gross domestic product, an amount equivalent to only four days of military spending by all nations!
To build peace on earth, converting a few swords into plowshares appears to be a no-brainer.
For another frame of reference, consider the Millennium Development Goals established by the United Nations in September 2000. Signed by the U.S. and 190 other nations, the goals commit each nation to allocate 0.7 percent of their annual income for official development aid to the poorest countries. Note that’s 0.7 percent — not 70 percent or 7 percent of our nation’s annual wealth. It is only seven-tenths of 1 percent!
So, is America a generous country? Yes and no.
In absolute dollars, we donate more money in development aid than any other nation, yet we are also the biggest laggard in meeting our millennium goals commitment. In 2015, the U.S. has contributed only 0.17 percent of our national income in development aid. That is about one-fourth of our official pledge. Though generous, we could do a lot better.
Advent is a time of spiritual reckoning. If the Christ child was welcomed by Magi from the East with gifts (Read More)
By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY — After the bells tolled for the noon Angelus today, the melodies and drone of Scottish bagpipes could be heard near St. Peter’s Square.
Pipe Sergeant Mauro Nenci of Rome helped catch the attention of passersby and media as part of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews & Edinburgh’s announcement of the development of “The Catholic App.”
The new GPS-powered app is meant to help people find the nearest church offering Mass and confession in the way most people today find things: with their smart phone or tablet, Archbishop Leo Cushley said.
Mauro Nenci on bagpipes and Archbishop Leo Cushley of St. Andrews & Edinburgh presenting a new app Nov. 22 that uses GPS to help people find church Mass and confession times. (Photo courtesy of the Scottish Catholic Media Office)
“Websites are losing popularity. What is needed to engage with the mobile generation is an app that is smart and personal, an app that is like a companion, a friend that takes the initiative to inspire you — that’s the vision behind the Catholic App,” said Maciej Zurawski, founder and CEO of Musemantik, the Scottish tech company designing the app.
Inspirational messages, news and parish information will also be among some of the app features.
The archdiocese hopes to release the app early next year, but it also needs as many dioceses as possible across the world to take part, offering needed data (Mass and Confession times, location etc…) to make the app even more effective, said David Kerr, the archdiocese’s director of communications.
Check out the interactive mock up here: https://marvelapp.com/9faa1d/screen/10012695
Dioceses, parishes and individuals interested in finding out more can contact the developer at email@example.com or David Kerr.
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“Today you will be with me in Paradise.” — Luke 23:43
Nov. 20, Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Cycle C. Readings:
1) 2 Samuel 5:1-3
2) Colossians 1:12-20
Gospel: Luke 23:35-43
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
It’s not easy to get your head around the concept of the kingdom of God and its meaning for your own life. Then, just when you think you understand, it eludes you again.
No surprise. After all, it’s beyond us, right?
Wrong. It’s not beyond us. God desires us to be drawn into God’s kingdom, and he sent his Son, as king, to bring us there.
This week’s Scriptures describe Christ’s place in the kingdom and his unrelenting, sacrificial effort to keep God’s beloved children with him there forever.
Paul’s Letter to the Colossians reminds us that Christ’s life didn’t begin with his earthly birth. No, he “is before all things.” All things were created through him, for him, and in him all things hold together. Mind-blowing.
With such knowledge, it’s surprising that we don’t feel smaller and less self-determined. But we often forget who lives in whose kingdom.
I’ll never forget hearing that confusion laid to rest by a casual comment of the late Bishop Joseph Delaney of Fort Worth, Texas. Lamenting oft-told stories of faithful people running into burning churches to rescue the Eucharist, he said, “They’re going to save Jesus.” He raised his eyebrows, “Save Jesus — from what?”
Another time, I heard Steve Colecchi, now director of the U.S. bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace, tell a gathering of parish social justice ministers not to get too stressed over their efforts to “save the world.”
“Remember,” he smiled, “that’s already been accomplished.”
In Luke’s Gospel this week, onlookers at Jesus’ resurrection, as well as one of the criminals hanging beside him, mockingly challenged him to prove his power by saving himself. Of course, there was no need. He was fully alive in the world that mattered: the kingdom of God.
But as savior of humanity, he would willingly give up his earthly life to ransom the lives of his Father’s faithful children who suffer in weakness and sinfulness.
Christ the King powerfully “reconciles all things” for the sake of the kingdom of God. We are indeed drawn into his kingdom (Read More)
By Julie Asher
A marathon reading of the Bible is well underway in St. Martinville in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana. The “Jubilee of the Word” marathon in the town square is one of its events to close out the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which ends Sunday.
For the “Jubilee of the Word” marathon in St. Martinville, the Bible is being read publicly cover to cover without pause. It began yesterday at 6 a.m. (local time) and will ending on Sunday, the feast of Christ the King at 8 p.m. (local time). Over 250 lectors from the Lafayette Diocese, joined by members of other faith communities, were scheduled to read for 20-minute intervals.
“This celebration of the Word will bring together Catholics, Baptists, nondenominational Christians and members of the Jewish faith for the purpose of proclaiming, reflecting on and marinating in the holy word of God,” said Father Michael Champagne, superior of the Community of Jesus Crucified.
The religious community, based in the Lafayette Diocese, is a prime sponsor of the event.
“People everywhere love to exercise. It’s important to stay in physical shape, which is why many people participate in Iron Man races, triathlons and marathons. And we wanted to provide a way for people to spiritually exercise,” said Father Champagne, who also is director of Fete-Dieu du Teche, an annual eucharistic procession along the Bayou Teche in Louisiana.
“We, as Catholics, are getting ready to close out the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and we wanted to do something to commemorate the closing of the floodgate of mercy and grace in an extraordinary way,” he continued. “Every page of the sacred Scriptures recounts God’s burning and fatherly love for us, and this will be a reminder of that love.”
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“He will rule the world with justice and the peoples with equity.” — Psalm 98:9
Nov. 13, Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Malachi 3:19-20a
2) 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Gospel: Luke 21:5-19
By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service
During my childhood, long before the days of downloadable music and satellite radio, there was vinyl (which, curiously, is making a comeback!). In our home, there was quite a collection of record albums, and my mother exposed us to the music of Schubert, Beethoven, Chopin and all the great composers.
My favorites were the symphonies, and I learned to pick out the various instruments — oboe, flute, trumpet, harp and tympani — that retained their distinct voices while combining in a beautiful, harmonious composition.
Indeed, the word “symphony” literally comes from the Greek words meaning “sounding together,” or a combination of different elements in harmony with one another.
Today’s psalm depicts the kind of symphony that resonates throughout all of creation as a result of the Lord’s coming to “rule the earth with justice.” Harp, trumpets and horns are complemented by the sounds of rivers clapping their hands and mountains shouting for joy.
But what does that symphony look like in terms of everyday living? St. Paul gives us a clue in his letter to the church at Thessalonica, when he contrasts “disorderliness” with the harmony of community life when its members perform their daily occupations conscientiously and peacefully.
When performing a musical score, the orchestra is responsible for conveying the composer’s vision while closely following the lead of the conductor through the various symphonic movements. Jesus cautions us about the importance of remaining faithful despite changing or alarming circumstances — not following deceptive counsel but focusing on his leadership.
We each have our own unique part to play in the Father’s vision of peace and justice. Let’s “keep calm and play on.”
Describe your experience of living in a community that is disorderly or disharmonious. What insights do today’s readings offer for the healing of such a community?
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Archbishop Silvano Tomasi (CNS/Paul Haring)
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi preferred that the focus wasn’t on him.
The real attention should be on the difficult work needed to protect poor people in developing nations in African, Asia and Latin America from predatory lending practices that deprive them of life’s necessities, he told a Capitol Hill dinner hosted by the Jubilee USA Network the evening of Nov. 10.
The archbishop accepted being named a Jubilee Champion by the Jubilee USA Network by saying people of faith must unite in solidarity with the world’s most vulnerable people by seeing their suffering.
He recalled how he learned what it means to help with development of a country when he served as apostolic nuncio to Ethiopia and Eritrea and later Djibouti.
“You can study it in school. There are courses on development. There are long debates (about development) in parliaments or the Congress of the U.S., but you need to go and see what a village is like,” he said, describing his work in bringing clean water to poor communities.
“Unless you participate in the actual life of the people you have a hard time to understand the needs and the aspirations of these communities,” said the archbishop, who retired in February as the Vatican observer to the U.N. agencies in Geneva and is credited for securing a key agreement on debt relief, tax policy changes and trade reform for developing countries.
Such experiential learning will bring greater understanding among people, he said.
“So all the efforts that people in Congress are making to build bridges instead of building walls becomes the real main road in which it is possible to build peace,” he continued. “Instead of enforcing with force concepts of public life, I think this kind of dialogue of reality is going to really transform society.”
Archbishop Tomasi was one of four Jubilee Champions honored for their work on debt relief efforts at the dinner. Others were Spencer Bachus, a former Republican member of Congress from Alabama who ushered legislation through Congress that led to more than $130 billion in debt relief; Kent Spriggs, a Florida attorney who was the lead author of “amicus curiae” brief spearheaded by Jubilee USA, signed by 80 faith-based organizations and filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in a 2014 case that helped Argentina block the predatory debt collection practices of a so-called “vulture fund”; and Ruth Messinger, (Read More)
By Barb Fraze
Cubans pick up the pieces following the damage and havoc caused by Hurricane Matthew in Baracoa, Cuba, Oct. 6. (CNS photo/Alejandro Ernesto/EPA)
What’s a bishop to do?
Even as the death toll from Hurricane Matthew in Haiti was climbing toward 800 in early October, the storm was hitting eastern Cuba as a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.
Days after the hurricane hit, Bishop Wilfredo Pino Estevez of Guantanamo-Baracoa spoke of the damage he saw: chaos, trees without leaves, houses without roofs. “All this horror was experienced in few hours, in the night of Oct. 4,” he said.
In a translation just obtained by Catholic News Service, the bishop spoke of what he asked his priests and nuns to do in the days after the hurricane:
A woman stands in a street near damaged homes Oct. 5 after Hurricane Matthew swept through Baracoa, Cuba. (CNS photo/Alejandro Ernesto, EPA)
— Be there with the people right where they are. To wipe away their tears. Raise their spirits. Give them some hope. Do what the apostles did and said: “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you.” (Acts 3:6)
— Give food to those who are hungry. By the way, yesterday, we picked up a man who was walking along the road looking for his family, and he confessed that he had not eaten anything or slept for two days. Fortunately, Caritas-Guantanamo staffers … are taking care of this case.
— The coordinators of every community had to make a list with the names of the persons that need help. There is a truck from the diocese transporting … all the donations: crackers, rice, beans, cooking oil, sardines, sausages, soaps, candles, detergent, matches, etc.
— Invite everyone to pray, like Moses did …. You can suggest any initiative about it. To say the rosary to the Virgin, consolation of the upset people, it could comfort in all these days.
— Don’t stop celebrating the Sunday Mass, especially in those places where the churches collapsed. I recommended to put away the rubble and use a table as a temporary altar and invite the faithful to bring an umbrella or something to cover their head for the sun or if it rains. We have to be clear on something that you all know: The building was destroyed but not the church.
He also spoke of things that gave him hope: Catholics and Protestants praying (Read More)
“The King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.” — 2 Maccabees 7:9
Nov. 6, Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15
2) 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
Gospel: Luke 20:27-38
By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service
While reading this week’s Scriptures a song from the 2005 David Crowder Band album, “A Collision,” came to mind. One line in the song says, “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.” The reading from 2 Maccabees describes how many members of the Maccabee family were tortured and martyred by the occupying Greek army. To a person, they all welcomed death rather than violating their faith because they knew they would see God upon their death.
To be sure, this is an extreme situation and few of us will ever be required to choose faithfulness to Jesus over death, but the question all of us can ponder is: “How real to us is the prospect of eternal life?”
Years ago at a Bible study, my pastor asked for a show of hands of those in attendance who were ready to go to heaven that night. Of the 50 or so people in the room only a few people raised their hands.
Believing in the Resurrection is one thing, but the process of taking part in it can be less than appealing because, of course, it involves our death.
Last year at a young adult retreat, I listened as one of the participants was explaining how fearful she was about a particular situation. I said, “Worst case scenario is that you will die and get to see Jesus.” There was some laughter, but then the truth of my snarky comment began to settle in along with the realization that no matter what happens in this life, there is a greater, holier life that awaits us all.
A woman I worked with at my parish embodied this attitude and outlook on life. She was terminally ill and had the good fortune to be in her home as she passed to the next life. She had always said she wanted to die sitting up with her feet on the ground as though she had someplace to go, and that is exactly (Read More)
Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
PITTSBURGH (CNS) — Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh has asked every church in his diocese to be open for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament all day Nov. 7, so that people of faith can pray for the nation and the Nov 8 election.
“Let us pray that all people will vote in good conscience, seeking the common good and the dignity of all human persons, even when the choices before them seem neither good nor dignified. We must pray that, no matter what the results of the election, our people will work to build a civilization of love, hope and peace,” he wrote in an Oct. 27 letter to all pastors.
“Encourage your people to come before the Lord present in the Eucharist and ask for God to guide our nation and shape the consciences of its citizens. Pray for all of our political leaders, present and future, to support laws and promote programs that respect human life at every stage, promote peace among people and nations, care for God’s creation, preserve religious freedom and protect those who are the most poor and vulnerable,” Bishop Zubik wrote.
In his column in today’s issue of the Pittsburgh Catholic, he urges Catholics to “pray before you enter that voting booth.”
“A conscience rooted in true and open prayer will never let you down,” he writes. “Then vote as that Catholic conscience tells you. Vote in faith, hope and prayer this Tuesday. Vote as a faithful citizen.”
In the column he also talks about the flood of political ads this election season that he thinks “have helped to create an unprecedented level of distrust and division as Election Day approaches.”
“One side calls the other criminal; the other side declares many of the other’s supporters deplorable,” Bishop Zubik says. “We are going to need to go a long way to bring back any sense of unity, decency and harmony in our culture after Tuesday’s election, no matter the result.
As a bishop, he says, in this presidential year more than any other, he has heard on a daily basis that he should speak out, “telling the faithful why they cannot vote for Donald Trump, or why they cannot vote for Hillary Clinton.”
“The church never — this bishop never — will tell you which candidate to embrace or which lever to pull or which button to press (Read More)