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Democratic filibuster looms as senators quiz Gorsuch about abortion, religious liberty

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON— As the confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, moved into the March 23 testimony phase with those for and against his nomination taking the floor, the Democrats announced plans to filibuster his nomination.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-New York, announced on the Senate floor he would oppose Gorsuch’s nomination by joining other Democrats in a filibuster. This means Gorsuch will need 60 votes to be confirmed by the Senate, and with only 52 Republicans, this would be unlikely.

Schumer said that during the hearings Gorsuch was “unable to sufficiently convince me that he’d be an independent check” on the presidency.

One way around the filibuster is if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, makes a rule change, allowing Gorsuch to be confirmed with 51 votes. A vote to confirm the judge for the high court is scheduled for April 3.

The third day of confirmation hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee for Judge Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee failed to spark high drama. Read more »

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Sunday Scripture readings, March 26, 2017

March 23rd, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:

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Fourth Sunday of Lent

            1) 1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a

            Psalm 23:1-6

            2) Ephesians 5:8-14

            Gospel: John 9:1-41

 

In the U.S. there is an eight-month period called daylight saving time. Each fall, we move our clocks back one hour and in the spring we move the clock an hour ahead (“spring forward, fall back”).

Aside from confusing my body’s sleep cycle and causing people to be an hour late for Mass one Sunday out of the year, the manipulation of the clock serves a useful purpose. Taking advantage of the longer and later daylight hours during those eight months presumably allows us to use less electricity in lighting our homes and thus conserve energy. Read more »

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Saint of the Week – Margaret Clitherow

March 23rd, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:

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St. Margaret Clitherow

St. Margaret Clitherow

Saint Margaret Clitherow

Feast Day: March 25

 

Born into a prosperous York Protestant family when Catholicism was forbidden, Margaret married wealthy Protestant John Clitherow, whose brother became a Catholic priest. Margaret soon became a Catholic and set up Mass centers in her home and a nearby inn. She was imprisoned three times for failing to attend Protestant services. When officials confirmed the secret Masses, Margaret was sentenced to death for treason. She died a martyr, pressed to death by a heavy load.

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Pope Francis to visit Egypt in April

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Accepting an invitation from Egypt’s president and top religious leaders, Pope Francis will visit Cairo April 28-29.

In response to an invitation from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the Catholic bishops in Egypt, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar University, “Pope Francis will make an apostolic trip to the Arab Republic of Egypt,” the Vatican announced March 18.

Pope Francis accepts an icon of Mary and the Christ Child from Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan Bishoy of Damiette, Kafr El-Sheikh, and Bararya, all in Egypt, before a session of the Synod of Bishops on the family in 2015 at the Vatican. Accepting an invitation from Egypt's president and top religious leaders, Pope Francis will visit Cairo April 28-29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis accepts an icon of Mary and the Christ Child from Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan Bishoy of Damiette, Kafr El-Sheikh, and Bararya, all in Egypt, before a session of the Synod of Bishops on the family in 2015 at the Vatican. Accepting an invitation from Egypt’s president and top religious leaders, Pope Francis will visit Cairo April 28-29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

While saying details of the trip would be published soon, the announcement said the two-day trip would be focused on Cairo, the capital city.

It will be the pope’s 18th trip abroad in his four years as pope and the seventh time he visits a Muslim-majority nation. He will be the second pope to visit Egypt after St. John Paul II went to Cairo and Mount Sinai in 2000.

The invitation came amid increasingly closer relations between the Vatican and al-Azhar, which is considered the most authoritative theological-academic institution of Sunni Islam.

El-Tayeb visited the pope at the Vatican in May 2016, the first time the grand imam of al-Azhar was received by the pope in a private meeting at the Vatican.

The pope later told reporters that in his 30-minute discussion with the grand imam, it was clear that “they are looking for peace, for encounter.”

“I do not think it is right to identify Islam with violence,” the pope told reporters. “This is not right and it is not true.”

Pope Francis also has upheld the importance of strengthened cooperation between Catholics and Coptic Orthodox Christians. In the face of so many challenges, he has said, “Copts and Catholics are called to offer a common response founded upon the Gospel” and give a shared witness to the sanctity of human life, family life and creation.

Given the increased persecution against Christians, the pope has told Coptic Pope Tawadros, “Today more than ever we are united by the ecumenism of blood, which further encourages us on the path toward peace and reconciliation.”

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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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New ways to give alms

March 20th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

The word “almsgiving” has an old-fashioned ring to it. It calls to mind a Charles Dickens novel, a street urchin begging from the upper classes.

How many of us write a check to our local food bank and think of it as “giving alms”? It’s not really a 21st-century term. Read more »

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Almsgiving as an act of mercy

March 20th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

We all recognize Lent as a time of sacrifice, a time to prepare ourselves for the commemoration of Jesus Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. Traditionally, there are three pillars of this intensely spiritual and ascetic period that can help us grow in charity and perfect penitence: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Prayer and fasting are the most widely understood of these three pillars, as is their connection to the 40 days of Lent. In these 40 days, we unite ourselves with Christ in the desert, as he prepared for his ministry. He fasted; he fervently prayed. But did he give alms? Read more »

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Living Our Faith: Almsgiving

March 20th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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A passerby gives money to a homeless man sitting outside St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City. Throughout Scripture, we find ample evidence of God calling us to give alms to the poor -- a reminder that almsgiving extends even beyond Lent. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

A passerby gives money to a homeless man sitting outside St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City. Throughout Scripture, we find ample evidence of God calling us to give alms to the poor — a reminder that almsgiving extends even beyond Lent. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

How can we think of almsgiving in new ways during this penitential season?

How can almsgiving bring about a change of heart, the conversion called for during Lent?

Almsgiving calls for a great examination.

When we give alms, we give not only money but our time and talents. We sacrifice our own comfort and desires for the good of others.

 

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Pope Francis to visit Egypt in April

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Accepting an invitation from Egypt’s president and top religious leaders, Pope Francis will visit Cairo April 28-29.

In response to an invitation from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the Catholic bishops in Egypt, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar University, “Pope Francis will make an apostolic trip to the Arab Republic of Egypt,” the Vatican announced March 18. Read more »

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Sunday Scripture readings, March 19, 2017

March 16th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:

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Third Sunday of Lent

            Cycle A. Readings:

            1) Exodus 17:3-7

            Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9

            2) Romans 5:1-2, 5-8

            Gospel: John 4:5-42

 

Why are you a Christian? What is it that has causes you to follow a man who walked the earth about 2,000 years ago, never traveled too far from his home and died a criminal’s death? Why do you go to church on Sundays and, for that matter, why are you reading this column? Read more »

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