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Welcoming parishes help vacationers keep the faith

July 14th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

Visitors are hardly strangers in the three-blocks-from-the-Pacific parish of Mission San Buenaventura, founded in 1782 by St. Junipero Serra in what is now the city of Ventura, 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

At each of the mission’s six weekend Masses (two in Spanish), first-time visitors and vacationers — whether hailing from neighboring cities, any of the 50 states or from all over the world — are welcomed at the door by ushers bearing smiles and worship aids. Read more »

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Job: Faith amid calamity

June 30th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

Except for the Crucifixion itself, the saying “Bad things happen to good people” was never exemplified more than in dear old Job, whose trials and tribulations forever brought new meaning to “the suffering of the innocent.”

A “blameless and upright” man (Jb 1:1), Job was used by God (and the devil) as sort of a test case for faith. Without warning, his children die, his livelihood vanishes — and yet he refuses to blame God. Read more »

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Embracing (if not understanding) what mystics share with us

June 23rd, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

To the side of the altar at the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome, not far from the Termini train station, is one of the High Baroque era’s most famous sculptures: The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.

Completed by Roman master Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1652 (only 70 years after Teresa’s death and 30 after her canonization), the white marble sculpture depicts a vision of the 16th-century saint from Avila — the reformer of the Discalced Carmelites — in which she is pierced by an angel’s golden spear, a moment she said left her “all on fire with a great love of God.” Read more »

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Visiting, and living with, Our Lady of Fatima

April 24th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

“I get emotional very easily,” admits Marina Yap with a smile, “especially when I’m thinking about Our Lady of Fatima. Like right now.”

A native of the Philippines, Marina has adopted Our Lady of Fatima as her personal patron. In her home chapel in North Hollywood, California, she keeps a 42-inch, beautifully decorated statue of Our Lady of Fatima, alongside an image of the resurrected Christ. Read more »

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Palm Sunday: Discovering real treasure

April 3rd, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

Palm Sunday produces an unsettling wave of emotions like no other day in the liturgical year — from unbridled joy at the arrival of the Messiah in Jerusalem, to unfathomable sorrow at his crucifixion on a cross.

How do we make sense of it all as we head into Holy Week? Read more »

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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.)

 

•••

“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.

Read more »

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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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