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Francis decries ‘pagan Christians,’ who go to church, but don’t put God first

November 7th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — People who go to church on Sundays, but spend the rest of the week cultivating their attachment to money, power and pride are “pagan Christians,” Pope Francis said.

When St. Paul wrote his Letter to the Philippians, the Christian community was composed of two groups, real Christians and those who were “enemies of the cross of Christ,” the pope said Nov. 7 during his homily at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta where he lives.

“Both groups were in the church together, they went to Sunday Mass, praised the Lord and called themselves Christians,” he said, according to Vatican Radio. But some of them were “worldly Christians, Christians in name only, with two or three Christian characteristics, but nothing more. Pagan Christians!”

Today, the pope said, “there are many of these. And we, too, must be careful not to slip” into being Christians in name only. Being half-hearted Christians, “accustomed to mediocrity” is a danger for all, he said.

In the day’s first reading, Philippians 3:17-4:1, St. Paul speaks of true Christians having their “citizenship” in heaven, the pope said, while “pagan Christians” are full citizens of the world.

The way for someone to check their spiritual nationality, he said, is to ask some questions: “Do I like to brag? Do I like money? Do I like pride?”

Or, he said, “Do you try to love God and serve others? If you are meek, if you are humble, if you are a servant of others, then you are on the right path. Your citizenship papers are in order and they are from heaven.”

 

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Pope Francis urges religious to wage war on ‘terrorism of gossip’

November 7th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Religious orders and communities must combat “the terrorism of gossip,” which is even worse than an occasional physical confrontation, said Pope Francis, a former Jesuit provincial in Argentina.

Meeting Nov. 7 with Italy’s superiors of men’s orders, which combined have a total of nearly 19,000 members, the pope said the way members of religious orders live should attract people to Christ and the church, and should be a model for other Catholics of creating harmony among a varied group of people thrown together by a common call.

“Please,” he told the superiors, “don’t let the terrorism of gossip exist among you. Throw it out. Let there be fraternity. And if you have something against your brother, tell him to his face. Sometimes it might end in fisticuffs,” he said, causing the superiors to laugh. “That’s not a problem. It’s always better than the terrorism of gossip.”

In a modern culture dominated by individualism, the assertion of individual rights and “a culture that corrodes society beginning with its primary unit, which is the family,” he said, the healthy fraternal life of religious orders demonstrates to the world that it is possible for people to live together as brothers and sisters, helping each other even when it means setting aside their own interests.

“This is important,” the pope said. The communities of religious orders mirror what civil communities often are: a group of people of different ages, abilities and interests called to cooperation and mutual respect.

But in a religious community, “we try to live as brothers,” he said. “Certainly, we don’t always succeed, we make mistakes because we are all sinners, but we recognize we have erred, we ask forgiveness and we offer pardon.”

Such an example, he said, “is good for the church. It makes fraternity circulate in the body of Christ. And it’s good for society, too.”

The way religious men and women live their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience also is meant to help the church grow, he said, because it attracts attention and causes people to ask themselves why a man or woman today would choose to live that way.

The reason religious live their vows must be Jesus Christ, he said. The particular identity or approach of a specific order, its charism, must never be such a focus of members’ attention that the centrality of Christ is lost.

 

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Book reviews: Revealing the lives of early church fathers, and mothers

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“When the Church Was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers” by Marcellino D’Ambrosio. Servant Books (Cincinnati, 2014). 320 pp., $19.99.

“Accidental Theologians: Four Women Who Shaped Christianity” by Elizabeth A. Dreyer. Franciscan Media (Cincinnati, 2014). 160 pp., $15.99.

These two books, about very different historical figures in church history, share certain characteristics.

Covers of two books that explore lives of early church fathers -- and mothersThe authors have impressive academic and professional accomplishments but write in a manner that is accessible to the general reader. Both books provide excellent introductions to the writings and the theological and historical context of significant Christian thinkers.

They suggest ways for how we can appropriate the insights (D’Ambrosio) and methods (Dreyer) of doing theology. And both books model respect and gratitude for tradition.

Dreyer studies four women doctors of the church — Sts. Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila and Therese of Lisieux. “Without formal theological education, these four women relied more heavily on the promptings of the Holy Spirit, their innate intelligence, and their individual and communal experience,” she writes.

Although they lived in radically different times, Dreyer finds striking similarities in the theological themes of these four women. They offer us an incarnational, prophetic spirituality that has deep resonance with our contemporary Christian anthropology. In exploring their teachings on sin, suffering and self-knowledge she suggests ways we can channel our own theological reflection.

“Accidental Theologians” is a work that can be studied, but it also glitters with insight and quotes that make it suitable spiritual reading. “Catherine loves to repeat that God is madly in love, even drunk, with love for creation. … Her language about the intimate closeness of God is as extreme as that about God’s awesome otherness.”

And there is Teresa’s growth in understanding her sinfulness: “Teresa seems to have discovered her sinfulness as a direct consequence of God’s love for her. Her experience of unmerited, gratuitous love opened her eyes to the ways she devalued, manipulated and diminished herself and others. She became attuned to the subtle ways in which her desire for goodness and reform could be tainted by selfishness.”

These women left a legacy that is particularly valuable today, when the work of theology, particularly by women theologians, is called into question by some members of the hierarchy. “Their incredibly strong wills and perseverance in spite of difficulty are based on their theology of God as magnanimous lover and giver of grace, and on their positive Christian anthropology,” Dreyer writes.

“When the Church Was Young” is an engaging introduction to the early church fathers. D’Ambrosio has an extraordinary command of the history he writes about, the period from A.D. 100 to 800.

He defines the church fathers as “those great Christian writers who passed on and clarified the teaching of the apostles. … The era of the church fathers begins where the original eyewitnesses leave off and carries us through the period of the first even great universal or ecumenical councils that hammered out the two most central issues in the Christian faith — how one God could be conceived of as three distinct persons and how Jesus could be both God and man.”

In D’Ambrosio’s skilled hands we watch the development of doctrine, not through abstract thought, but in the heat of theological, political and regional conflicts. Orthodoxy was defined against the excesses of heresy, but so was a theology of liturgy, structures of authority, and the selection of what to include in the scriptural canon. They were passionate men, not a few prone to anger and impatience but, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they crafted a theology and church polity of wise moderation.

Throughout the book he offers us compelling excerpts from the writings of the fathers, but nothing approaches the poignancy of the narratives of those gifted with the grace of martyrdom. “It cannot be something one presumptuously volunteers for, since it is impossible to accomplish by the power of natural zeal.”

These writings are part of the shared patrimony of both Eastern and Western Christianity and D’Ambrosio’s book is appropriate for this time, when ecumenical relationships are characterized by respect rather than enmity.

But above all it is a hopeful reminder that ours is not the only century to face theological conflict and division or the opposition of society.

Moreover, we can address these challenges with the gift of tradition, the lives, witness, and teachings of the holy men and women we meet in these two books.

— Reviews by Rachel Linner, a freelance writer and reviewer, has a master’s degree in theology from Weston Jesuit School of Theology.

 

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Church protests beating deaths of Christian couple accused of blasphemy

November 6th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized

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THRISSUR, India (CNS) — Catholic leaders in Pakistan protested the Nov. 4 beatings and burning of a young Christian couple accused of desecrating the Quran.

“The government has absolutely failed to protect its citizens’ right to life,” said the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Pakistan in a statement Nov. 5. Read more »

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Viewpoint: Our obligation to the homeless

November 6th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized

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Just imagine for a moment that you have no home.

What will you do for meals today? Where will you shower? Where will you sleep? If you have children, how will you provide for them?

And how will you cope with being homeless tomorrow, next week, next month?

Such imaginations are distressing. Aren’t they? Read more »

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Abortion, minimum wage, pot among issues facing voters on Election Day

November 6th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: ,

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WASHINGTON (CNS) — In midterm elections Nov. 4, voters in Tennessee approved an amendment to the state constitution that will give the Legislature the authority to pass laws regulating the abortion industry.

Voters rejected ballot initiatives on abortion in two other states — a “personhood” measure to add “unborn human beings” to the Colorado criminal code one and a proposed constitutional amendment in North Dakota to recognize and protect “the inalienable right to life of every human being at every stage of development.” Read more »

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Pope Francis says annulments should be cheaper, more efficient

November 6th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said the church’s marriage annulment process should be more efficient and perhaps even free of charge, and he decried any attempts to exploit it for profit.

“Some procedures are so long and so burdensome, they don’t favor (justice), and people give up,” the pope said. “Mother church should do justice and say: ‘Yes, it’s true, your marriage is null. No, your marriage is valid.’ But justice means saying so. That way, they can move on without this doubt, this darkness in their soul.” Read more »

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Maryland Election Information 2014

October 30th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized

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‘Eight Great Dates’ brings romantic dinners to MBS School cafeteria

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For The Dialog

 

OCEAN PINES, Md. — When Shawna McCormick learned about a new program for married couples called “Eight Great Dates” sponsored by St. John Neumann Parish, she decided it would be good for her and her husband.

She and her husband are both involved in religious education at the parish and she wanted to see the new ministry succeed. “I figured the best way to do that was to participate.” In addition, “we knew we were getting a great dinner” catered by DeNovo’s Trattoria. Read more »

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Bishop honors 83 with Medal of Merit

October 30th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , ,

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Eighty-three people were awarded the diocesan Medal of Merit at a ceremony on Oct. 26 at St. John the Beloved Church in Wilmington. Bishop Malooly congratulated the recipients, who were nominated by their pastors for their dedication and service to their parishes. Each parish may nominate an individual or couple — more than one if the parish has a mission church.

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2014 Diocesan Merit Award Recipients

 

Margaret Consiglio, Cathedral of St. Peter; Andrea Starr, Christ Our King; Terri Yackley, Church of the Good

David and Rose Greytak from Our Mother of Sorrows Parish receive the Medal of Merit from Bishop Malooly at the Diocesan Merit Awards at St. John the Beloved, Sunday, October 26, 2014. wwwDonBlakePhotography.com ttp://tiny.cc/ld2jox

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Shepherd; Sister Margaret Cunniffe, OSF, Church of the Holy Child; Rita Nally, Corpus Christi; James Baaden, Holy Cross; Vivian Duffy, Holy Family; Nancy Clair, Holy Name of Jesus; Paul & Donna Santoni, Holy Savior Mission. Joseph Kendra, Holy Spirit. James & Sharon Levadnuk, Holy Redeemer Mission; Timothy Gallagher, Holy Rosary; Robert Suppe, Immaculate Conception, Elkton; Clyde Hinebaugh, Immaculate Conception, Marydel; Rosemary Boughton, Immaculate Heart of Mary;

Elsa Rodriguez-Trejo, Mary Mother of Peace Mission; Anthony Marchegiani, Our Lady of Fatima; Edward Hessler, Our Lady of Good Counsel. Ricardo Jimenez, Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission; Robert Gay, Our Lady of Lourdes; David & Rose Greytak, Our Mother of Sorrows; John Ward, Parish of the Resurrection; Barbara Kelly, Sacred Heart, Chestertown;

Josephine Jugler, St. Agnes Mission; Robert Howard, St. Andrew Mission; Lois Rubinsohn, St. Ann, Bethany Beach; Paul Smith, St. Ann, Wilmington. Jean Scalessa, St. Anthony of Padua; Kenneth & Jill King, St. Benedict; Michael & Caroline Gumrot, St. Bernadette Mission; Nancy Ludlam, St. Catherine of Siena; Joseph Zimmerman, St. Christopher; Connie Benko, St. Edmond; Alice Betley, Marie Duzynski, St. Elizabeth, Wilmington; Deacon William Nickum, St. Elizabeth Mission, Denton. Lupita Olivares, St. Elizabeth Mission, Westover;

Harry & Evelyn Olszweski, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton; Richard & Sandra Kadera, St. Francis de Sales; Izabela Toner, St. Hedwig; Robert Conte, St. Helena; Thomas & Grace Greenlee, St. John the Apostle; Thomas Seelig, St. John the Beloved; Donald Hudgins Sr., Marie Thomas, St. John/Holy Angels; Theodore & Joyce Redman, St. John Mission, Rock Hall. Mark Record, St. John Neumann; Karen Headley, St. Joseph, Middletown; Eugene M. Julian, St. Joseph on the Brandywine; Denise Scales, St. Joseph, Wilmington; Frank & Eileen Walder, St. Jude the Apostle; Patricia D’Annunzio, St. Jude Mission; Joanne Bishop, St. Luke; Michael Robinson, St. Margaret of Scotland; Valerie Townsend, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception. Richard Tabinowski, St. Mary of the Assumption;

Madeline Rice, St. Mary Magdalen; Robert Hammerton, St. Mary Refuge of Sinners; Edward Airley Sr., St. Mary Star of the Sea, Church Creek; Patricia McArdle, St. Mary Star of the Sea, Ocean City; Jack Witzman, St. Matthew; Barbara DeBastiani, St. Michael the Archangel; Richard Bockrath, St. Patrick; Linda Michel, St. Paul, Delaware City. Marie Negron, St. Paul, Wilmington; Carol Miller, Ss. Peter & Paul; Jose Hector Garcia, Ss. Peter & Paul Hispanic Community; Vincent Gambacorta, St. Peter the Apostle; Joseph & Grace Wagner, St. Polycarp; Joan Lupinetti (posthumously), St. Teresa of Avila Mission; James King, St. Thomas the Apostle; Joyce Tannian, St. Thomas More Oratory.

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