Thursday, August 23, 2018

Thoughts on responding to scandal

Responding to Scandal in the Church

Like many of you, we were deeply disturbed to read news reports about the grand jury report out of Pennsylvania last week and the evil that has been running rampant throughout the Church.
Does this report mean that we give up hope or stop evangelizing? Does it mean that we have been abandoned by leadership in the Church? No.
Scandals will be with us until that Second Coming.
As evangelists we can:
1. Pray for healing for the victims, fast, offer reparation for the sins of the perpetrators, seek justice, and work towards our own holiness.
2. When we speak to someone about the scandal, we can agree that what took place was horrifically evil and there is no excuse for it. It is terrible and it makes us angry. Matthew 18:6-7 reminds us to beware the millstone.
3. We can explain that we shouldn't leave Jesus because of Judas. There are good priests and bishops who are just as angry as we are. We need to make sure that righteous anger does not devolve into unrighteous anger, but is directed towards positive change in the Church.
4. We can explain that it is not people who are following the teachings of Jesus who perpetrate these offenses but those who do not follow Jesus as His disciple who do are committing these acts. Just as Judas, who was counted among the twelve, betrayed Jesus so too have some of our Catholic leaders betrayed Him.
5. We can explain that we still need to forgive those who sin against us. "It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession. Christian prayer extends to the forgiveness of enemies...Forgiveness is a high-point of Christian prayer." (CCC 2843-44) We can ask for the intercession of St. Maria Goretti, St. John Vianney, Our Lady, and St. Michael.
We don't stop evangelizing and bringing people to Jesus and the Sacraments because the church is filled with weeds and wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). As Jesus said, both will grow up together. In the end, the wheat goes into the barn an the weeds into the fire. Let's keep working towards the conversion of the whole world.

St. Paul Street Evangelization

St. Paul Street Evangelization is a grassroots, non-profit Catholic evangelization organization, dedicated to responding to the mandate of Jesus to preach the Gospel to all nations by taking our Catholic Faith to the streets. We do this in a non-confrontational way, allowing the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of those who witness our public Catholic presence. St. Paul Street Evangelization provides an avenue for you to share the Person of Jesus Christ and the truth and beauty of the Catholic Faith with a hungry culture.
In order to build a civilization of love, we must first create a culture of evangelization.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Thoughts on omniscience

An idea that we now take for granted used to be the stuff of science fiction. Technology now allows us to track the movements of cars, phones, and people with digital devices. We can pull up maps to that effect on our computer screens. This is not actually omniscience since there are limits.

 True omniscience is one of God’s attributes; because He is love, His exhaustive knowledge is used for our benefit. The psalmist David wrote eloquently about God’s all-knowing awareness of his life (Psalm 139:2-11). The phrase “misery loves company” comes to mind: When we are suffering, the knowledge that God knows about our pain is comforting. He is with us (Hebrews 13:5) and, even before we tell or ask Him, He knows what we need (Matthew 6:8). Whether in good times or bad, God is with us, never more than a prayer away.

Dr. David Jeremiah

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Thoughts on death

Dying is returning home. But even though we have been told this many times by many people, we seldom desire to return home. We prefer to stay where we are. We know what we have; we do not know what we will get. Even the most appealing images of the afterlife cannot take away the fear of dying. We cling to life, even when our relationships are difficult, our economic circumstances harsh, and our health quite poor.

Still, Jesus came to take the sting out of death and to help us gradually realise that we don't have to be afraid of death, since death leads us to the place where the deepest desires of our hearts will be satisfied. It is not easy for us to truly believe that, but every little gesture of trust will bring us closer to this truth.
Henri Nouwen

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Thoughts on the Bread of Life discourse

The Gospel of John 6:51-58

Jesus said to the crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."

Friends, today’s Gospel passage is one of the most shocking in the New Testament. Those who heard it were not only repulsed intellectually; they were disgusted, viscerally. For a Jewish man to be insinuating that you should eat his own flesh and drink his blood was about as nauseating and religiously objectionable as you could get.

So what does Jesus do? Does he soften his rhetoric? Does he offer a metaphorical or symbolic interpretation? Does he back off? On the contrary, he intensifies what he just said: "Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you." As all the scholars point out to us, the verb used here in Greek is trogein, which indicates the way an animal eats.

So what do we do? If we stand in the great Catholic tradition, we honor these mysterious and wonderful words of Jesus. We resist all attempts to soften them or explain them away or make them easier to swallow. We affirm, with all of our hearts, the doctrine of the Real Presence.

Bishop Robert Barron

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Thoughts on the scandal in the church

The Church and the Clergy in Crisis

We are all enduring unspeakable sorrow, indignation, and horror at what has been revealed in the grand jury report of six dioceses in Pennsylvania, and the McCarrick scandal. What is worse, is that we all know now that this isn't going to go away. So how do we go forward? Each of us and all of us together?

There is no easy answer. No one answer. The sex scandals have revealed an American church which is, in many ways, compromised and corrupt. This is not just a sex problem, nor is it simply a homosexual problem. Neither is it just the problem of incompetent or corrupt bishops and priests.

The problem is, in the words of Fr Dwight Longenecker, rooted in a profound departure from the simple, saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and his cross and resurrection, and it will only be solved by a return and renewal of the faith. 

In an article in 2010, Bishop Barron noted that Pope Benedict used a profound and powerful image to the Roman Curia that year. “The Pope drew attention to an arresting vision experienced by the 12th century German mystic, Hildegard of Bingen. Hildegard saw an incomparably beautiful woman, stretching from earth to heaven, and clothed in luminous vestments. But the woman’s radiant face was covered in dust, her vesture was ripped on one side, and her shoes were blackened. Then the mystic heard a voice from heaven announcing that this was an image of the church, beautiful but compromised. The Pope appropriated this image and interpreted it in light of our present struggles, commenting, ‘the face of the Church is stained with dust, and this is how we have seen it. Her garment is torn—by the sins of priests. The way she (Hildegard) saw and expressed it is the way we have experienced it this year.” ...The Church must pose some serious questions about its own life if it is to understand the conditions that made the sex abuse crisis possible. Strikingly, the Pope observed, ‘We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen.’”

If you and I are alive at this time, it is not a mistake. You and I have something to offer and for each of us it will be a unique expression of God's healing mercy: justice, action, reparation, understanding, sorrow, encouragement, hidden prayer, blog writing, prophecy, good example, speaking, penance.... We need this many-pronged approach carried forward in dignity and courage together.

So my encouragement to you is to be furious, to weep and to grieve, for this is good, but then let us turn the energy of our indignation into healing for the victims, reparation and purification in holiness, and a renewal in faith for ourselves and for others.
Daughters of St. Paul
 © Daughters of St. Paul. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Thoughts on loneliness

Our Ultimate Friend
One of the great fears most of us suffer from is the fear of loneliness, alienation and isolation from others, feeling that we are cut off and don't belong, abandoned. Maybe that's why our cellphones have become so important to so many of us or why we spend so much time on facebook and other forms of social media. Maybe that's why some of us remain in relationships that have become toxic, manipulative and destructive. We can't bear to feel rejected and alone.
In Sunday's gospel from John we have the third section of Jesus' teaching on the Eucharist. His Jewish audience is shocked and scandalized at Jesus' words; it sounds like cannibalism to them. They don't yet understand the signs of bread and wine as flesh and blood. Then he concludes with the great promise, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him." A Catholic who partakes of the Eucharist can never be alone, never be rejected or abandoned. The Lord is constantly living within us, loving us just as we are and supporting us in all we do. He Is our best and ultimate friend.
Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Thoughts on the Assumption of Mary

The Story of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary to be a dogma of faith: “We pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that the immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory.” The pope proclaimed this dogma only after a broad consultation of bishops, theologians and laity. There were few dissenting voices. What the pope solemnly declared was already a common belief in the Catholic Church.
We find homilies on the Assumption going back to the sixth century. In following centuries, the Eastern Churches held steadily to the doctrine, but some authors in the West were hesitant. However by the 13th century there was universal agreement. The feast was celebrated under various names—Commemoration, Dormition, Passing, Assumption—from at least the fifth or sixth century. Today it is celebrated as a solemnity.
Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s Assumption into heaven. Nevertheless, Revelation 12 speaks of a woman who is caught up in the battle between good and evil. Many see this woman as God’s people. Since Mary best embodies the people of both Old and New Testaments, her Assumption can be seen as an exemplification of the woman’s victory.
Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 15:20, Paul speaks of Christ’s resurrection as the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Since Mary is closely associated with all the mysteries of Jesus’ life, it is not surprising that the Holy Spirit has led the Church to believe in Mary’s share in his glorification. So close was she to Jesus on earth, she must be with him body and soul in heaven.

For more on the Assumption of Mary, click here!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Thoughts on Saint Maximilian Kolbe

Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe

Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

Friends, today we celebrate the feast of Maximilian Kolbe, the great saint of Auschwitz. A prisoner from Fr. Kolbe’s barracks escaped, and in retaliation, the Nazi guards picked out ten other prisoners at random for execution. When one of those chosen broke down in tears, protesting that he was the father of a family, Kolbe stepped forward and said, “I am a Catholic priest; take me and spare this man.”

Priests are called “father” because they are life-givers in the spiritual order. Spiritual fathers protect their children; they teach them; they are there for them; and at the limit, they even give their lives for them. And that’s what we see in today’s great saint.

Jesus gathered around himself a band of Apostles whom he shaped according to his own mind and heart and whom he subsequently sent on mission. Priests, down through the centuries—from Augustine and Aquinas to Francis Xavier and John Henry Newman to John Paul II and your own pastor—are the descendants of those first friends and apprentices of the Lord. They have been needed in every age, and they are needed today, for the kingdom of heaven must be proclaimed, the poor must be served, God must be worshipped, and the sacraments must be administered. 
Bishop Robert Barren

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Thoughts on fruitfulness

We belong to a generation that wants to see the results of our work. We want to be productive and see with our own eyes what we have made. But that is not the way of God's Kingdom. Often our witness for God does not lead to tangible results. Jesus himself died as a failure on a cross. There was no success there to be proud of. Still, the fruitfulness of Jesus' life is beyond any human measure. As faithful witnesses of Jesus we have to trust that our lives too will be fruitful, even though we cannot see their fruit. The fruit of our lives may be visible only to those who live after us.

What is important is how well we love. God will make our love fruitful, whether we see that fruitfulness or not.
Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Thoughts on eternal life

The death and resurrection of Jesus are God's way to open for all people the door to eternal life. Jesus said: "When I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all people to myself" (John 12:32). Indeed, all people, from all times and places, are lifted up with Jesus on the cross and into the new life of the resurrection. Thus, Jesus' death is a death for all humanity, and Jesus' resurrection is a resurrection for all humanity.

Not one person from the past, present, or future is excluded from the great passage of Jesus from slavery to freedom, from the land of captivity to the promised land, from death to eternal life.
Henri Nouwen