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Give in a way ‘that is pleasing to God’

March 20th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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“Giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity,” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “It is also a work of justice pleasing to God” (No. 2447).

Throughout Scripture, we find ample evidence of God calling us to give alms to the poor, beginning with the book of Leviticus (25:35): “When one of your kindred is reduced to poverty and becomes indebted to you, you shall support that person like a resident alien; let your kindred live with you.”

And who are our “kindred”?

“Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother,” declares Jesus (Mt 12:50).

Or, as the Book of Proverbs makes clear (19:17): “Whoever cares for the poor lends to the Lord, who will pay back the sum in full.”

None of this should be news to those of us who desire to follow Jesus. Of course, desiring and doing are not the same thing.

Recall the rich young man, who told Jesus he had kept and followed all of the commandments in hopes of attaining eternal life. But when Jesus further instructed him to “go, sell what you have and give to the poor,” so that he may have “treasure in heaven” (Mt 19:21), the young man decided, sadly, he couldn’t do it.

Contrast this with the woman who put “two small coins worth a few cents” into the treasuy (Mk 12:41-44) — and Jesus’ ensuing admonition to his disciples:

“This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

Few of us, in all honesty, can sell off “our whole livelihood” and give the proceeds to the poor. But we can certainly share what we have, as we learn from the Acts of the Apostles (2:44-45):

“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.”

The catechism has a choice reminder for us as we consider what we can give:

“How can we fail to hear Jesus: ‘As you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me’?” (No. 2463).

In this Lenten season, when almsgiving is one of the three pillars we are invited to practice (along with prayer and fasting), we are, at the very least, called to be more mindful of the poor in our midst and to respond as generously as possible.

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,” says the Letter to the Hebrews (13:16), since “God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind.”

For remember what God gave us: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

(Catholic journalist Mike Nelson writes from Southern California.)

 

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“Almsgiving must carry with it all the richness of mercy,” since the word “alms” derives from the Greek word meaning “mercy,” Pope Francis said at a jubilee audience on April 9, 2016.

The Bible repeatedly shows the responsibility of God’s people to give attention to “the needy, the widow, the stranger, the sojourner, the orphan.”

God wants his children to “watch over these brothers and sisters,” the pope said, as they are “at the very center of the message: to praise God through sacrifice and to praise God through almsgiving.” Giving alms, then, becomes a joyful form of worship.

Pope Francis also reminded his audience not to judge others when giving alms. “How many people justify their not giving alms by saying: ‘What kind of person is this? If I give him something perhaps he will go buy wine to get drunk.'”

Do not just give money and hurry away, the pope said, but look at the face of the person asking for help. “At the same time” the pope added, “we must distinguish between the poor and various forms of begging that do not render a good service to the truly poor.”

Above all, almsgiving “is a gesture of love that is directed at those we meet.”

 

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Prayer, faith and good health: They absolutely go together

February 13th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

 

Can prayer, faith and belief in God make you healthy — physically, as well as spiritually and emotionally? Yes, according to dozens of studies over the past 20 years.

In fact, Duke University’s Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health reported in 2015 that an analysis of more than 1,500 reputable medical studies “indicates people who are more religious and pray more have better mental and physical health,” according to Dr. Harold G. Koenig, center director and among the country’s leading authorities on faith and healing. Read more »

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Parishes: Called to welcome ‘as Christ has welcomed you’

January 23rd, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

It may be his first parish leadership assignment after 30 years in Catholic education as a teacher and administrator, but Father Tom Elewaut has needed no instructional manual to determine the most important element of a Christ-centered parish community: welcome.

For the six years he has headed Mission San Buenaventura in Ventura, California, Father Elewaut takes time after each Sunday Mass to greet everyone and anyone, parishioner or not, with a handshake, a smile and a hearty hello. Read more »

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Mentally ill persons: Is the Catholic Church a source of support?

January 9th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

  “I remember sitting in the hospital,” said Kay Hughes, “huddled in a little group of about six, when one of us received a visit from her pastor. The rest of us sat there and related things like, ‘My pastor never visits me, no one from the church visits me. I’ve never even received a card from my church, let alone visits or flowers.'”

 This story, told by a woman who struggled with mental illness — and her church’s lack of awareness or action to address it — begins “Welcomed and Valued: Building Faith Communities of Support and Hope with People with Mental Illness and Their Families,” a 2009 publication of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability and its Council on Mental Illness.

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Seeking the light of Jesus

December 29th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

As a community of faith, we are a people who not only seek light, but who crave and welcome light — the light of hope, joy and love present in our risen Lord who declares, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12). Read more »

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Living Our Faith — Look it up: Are we listening servants?

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Catholic News Service

“For nothing will be impossible for God.”

The words of the angel Gabriel, spoken to Mary in the Gospel of Luke (1:37), precede the most faith-filled response in all of Scripture: “May it be done to me according to your word.”

It is a response echoed by Jesus himself, praying in the garden of Gethsemane, the night before he was crucified: “Not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42). Read more »

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Living our faith in Advent: Are we ready to receive Jesus?

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Catholic News Service

Advent is a time for serious reflection on our lives as disciples of Jesus, whose return we are called not simply to expect but to prepare for with great care as well as great joy. Read more »

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Advent focus: A season of promise and hope, not repentance

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Catholic News Service

Since its fourth-century origins in Western Europe, the season of Advent has undergone various configurations, purposes and focuses depending on who was celebrating it, where, how and why. Read more »

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The ‘Joy of Love’ is an affirmation worth the read

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Catholic News Service

It probably shouldn’t be necessary to have pastoral letters or papal encyclicals or apostolic exhortations (or any other official church document) to tell us what we should already know: that marriage and the family life it creates are holy and sacred. Read more »

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Sisters in health care: A work of mercy and comfort

October 24th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

As a young member of the Sisters Servants of Mary in Mexico, Sister Silvia Rodriguez cared for a patient who was in pain constantly and very much in need of pain medication in a country where access to such medication is far more limited than in the United States.

“So it was hard to stay with that person all day and all night,” she recalls. “And yet, it was so rewarding to see that this person’s faith was so much greater than the pain.

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