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Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful!

20061031

The Catholic Calendar for Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Ephesians 5:21-33
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
Luke 13:18-21

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

Haven’t you at times wondered what heaven was really going to be like? Sacred Scripture reminds us that we have no natural ability to comprehend all that God has prepared for those who love Him and yet we see Jesus in today’s Gospel trying to help us out a bit.

I don’t know about you, but the story of the mustard seed and the yeast which makes the dough rise might be somewhat descriptive, about how the kingdom of God grows from something very small into something large, inclusive and useful, but it doesn’t engender in me the kind of longing that spurs me to more faithful love and service.

I did however have a brief experience on a very pleasant peaceful day where the weather was beautiful, there was no stress or predominating worries and the overall adjective that I might use to describe both my mood and the environment was, “Lovely.”

While recognizing how unusually lovely every thing seemed to be, I was struck with the awareness that as lovely and peaceful as the day was, how much more lovely and peaceful heaven was bound to be AND it was going to last forever!

This, like mustard seed and yeast stories, is what our souls need to nurture the hungering and longing for heaven that helps direct the path of our hearts, the course of our lives.

“One thing I ask, this alone I seek:
to dwell in the House of the Lord all my days.
O Lord, bring me to Your dwelling place.”
(from “This Alone” a song by Tim Manion based on Psalm 27)

- Donna Nelson,
OCDS
(drn3rd at hughes dot net)

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20061030

The Catholic Calendar for Monday, October 30, 2006
Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Ephesians 4:32–5:8
Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
Luke 13:10-17

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.
(Ephesians 5:1-2)

Today's readings are about transformation—abandoning of our old crippling ways of darkness and joyfully accepting a new life in the light of Christ.

There comes a time in every Christian's life when certain old traits need to be left behind and new ones embraced. Sometimes, this can be easy and simple. But oftentimes, the change that God requires from us is extremely difficult for us to accept—not necessarily because we are struggling to rebel against the Lord's will in our lives, but because the way of living is so much a part of our lives. In those circumstances, there may well come a time when God must break certain areas of our lives in order that we are transformed into much more of the likeness of Jesus Christ.

It is important for us to realise that God does not break us down in order to destroy, but breaks part of our way of life in order that we may be built up in Christ. The promise of the beautiful perfume contained within is only released when the flask is broken. So, too, the principle is that, until areas of our lives are broken by God, the fragrance of Christ will not be able to be fully appreciated by those around us.

- Anne

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20061029

The Catholic Calendar for Sunday, October 29, 2006
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Jeremiah 31:7-9
Psalm 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
Hebrews 5:1-6
Mark 10:46-52

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

How very upbeat all the readings are this Sunday—from God’s promise of bringing everyone to the Kingdom, including the blind, the lame, and mothers with child, to an invitation for all to approach the Throne of Grace, to Jesus’ curing of blind Bartimaeus amid cries of approval from the large crowd!

So often, Jeremiah is seen as the depressing bearer of bad news. Not so today! If ever the Jewish people in exile in Babylon needed a “pick up,” they have it in this most joyful prophecy of God gathering them all, leading them safely home, consoling them as His favored ones. As we listen to this reading, we can realize that God is speaking today to a broken and battered world, so in danger of losing hope. It was always God’s plan for everyone to be saved, so we ourselves need to share the Good News with those of all shades of belief and cultures, and we need to do it better.

In the Jewish tradition, The Messiah was always thought to be both priest and king. Here, Jesus is seen not only as a sinless High Priest, but as one who truly shares our pain. Furthermore, in contrast to the Jewish high priest who entered the “Holy of Holies” once a year, all are invited to approach the Mercy Seat often and with confidence.

Our first two readings lead us to the climactic Gospel story of Jesus who openly and publicly invites the blind Bartimaeus to approach (even as the crowd tries to silence his cries!). There is no further need for silence and privacy, for Jesus is approaching Jerusalem for His priestly Sacrifice. How pleased he must have been to hear Bartimaeus’ plea for mercy, and his request to see, when just a short time ago He had been so disappointed at the blindness of His disciples, especially James and John who wanted the first places in His kingdom.

May the Lord forgive us for all the times we have asked for foolish things, rather than for the grace to see better the road to salvation, and to become a close companion of Jesus as did Bartimaeus.

Msgr. Paul Whitmore

(pwhitmore29 at yahoo dot com)

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20061028

The Catholic Calendar for Saturday, October 28, 2006
Saturday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Ephesians 2:19-22
Psalm 19:2-3, 4-5
Luke 6:12-16

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

"He spent the night in prayer to God."


A simple lesson today from a short gospel. As we see Jesus do, so should we do. And what is it that we see in today's gospel?

Before any major decision, Jesus secures time with His Father. He immerses himself in prayer and spends time there. Not a minute before the action is undertaken, not thirty seconds in the middle of doing something else. Because the days were so full of the mission, the only time available was the night. And because the decision was so important, the entire night was needed as Jesus brought each one of his disciples before the Father and like Jesse parading his sons before Samuel, presented each asking whether or not this one should be anointed.

So we must do. In each major event of our lives, time should be set aside--the entire night if needed, to pray and ask God His will in any given matter. If the decision is of moment, then consultation is necessary, and perhaps lengthy consultation. This job or that one, shall I marry this person, any matter that will change life for good and always.

As we see Jesus do, so devotion demands we do also. He is our Lord, He shows the way.

- JuandelaCruz

(sriddle415 at yahoo dot com)

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20061027

The Catholic Calendar for Friday, October 27, 2006
Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Ephesians 4:1-6
Psalm 24:1-6
Luke 12:54-59

A reflection on today's Scripture . . . .

You interpret the appearance of the earth and sky,
why don't you know how to interpret the present time?
(Luke 12:56)

In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul describes how those baptized into Christ should live. They, and we, are members of His earthly body, called to abide in His Spirit, united as God's children to practice humility, gentleness and patience toward one another. The one great hope of our call is achieving unity of heart, mind and spirit with that of God in Christ and so live bonded in peace with one another on earth and with Him throughout eternity.

Christ in today's Gospel expresses righteous anger at religious leaders who are better at predicting the weather than reading the signs of the times. They, who have been given the responsibility of guiding His people's souls, have rendered themselves spiritually blind, unable to see that sin. Their hearts turned away from God and the "spirit" of His law, is the cause of their nation's misery. Having wandered from the loving authority of God to follow sterile laws, they have left themselves vulnerable to being occupied by the cruel Roman armies. They are awaiting a Messiah whom they believe will free them militarily, failing to see that it is their hearts and minds that need to be reformed, recreated anew in God's holy life, before they can be truly free. Sin is a merciless master and its effects eternal.

Today's Gospel should be read in the context of His earlier statement in which He says that He has come to bring division into the world, since He recognizes that regardless of all the good He may say and do to His people, many will still reject Him. The "fire" that He brings and desires to share with us is His self-giving love. We need, however, to have our hearts strengthened and enlarged to contain it. Many will reject Christ, for the pain wrought by the fire of His love as it attempts to change them from within proves unbearable as it exposes selfish, loveless souls and asks them to die to self in order to live in Him. Such is the reason Christ and His followers can expect to encounter hatred and persecution.

Almighty God, Source of all goodness, give us courage and light to look into the depths of our hearts and minds to see ourselves as we truly are, and so seek Your healing. Amen.

- Marie Bocko,
OCDS
(mlbocko at earthlink dot net)

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20061026

The Catholic Calendar for Thursday, October 26, 2006
Thursday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Ephesians 3:14-21
Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-19
Luke 12:49-53

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

Scripture reveals that Christ, the Son of Man, frequently served as a role model for us. For example, we see Christ speaking with the woman at the well, when men would not normally do so. He was comfortable embracing the sick, listening to the widow, and advocating for children. Today's gospel gives us another look at the behavior of Christ that we might try to follow.

Christ spoke of His enthusiasm, His motivation to move ahead with the mission given Him by our Father in heaven. He states "I have come to set the earth on fire and how I wish that it were already blazing."
(Luke 12:49) How does that phrase compare with our own level of enthusiasm as Christians who cooperate in the building up of the kingdom?

The first reading might give us some motivators. There are some awesome phrases used to describe us, the followers of Christ. Two especially are significant. They are "I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and earth is named . . . rooted and grounded in love."
(see Ephesians 3:14, 17) Would they not serve as some stimulus?

Think about it.

- Joan of Jesus,
OCDS
(jmurphy at utica dot edu)

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20061025

The Catholic Calendar for Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time


Readings from the Liturgy of the Word:
Ephesians 3:2-12
Isaiah 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6
Luke 12:39-48

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

Jesus has trusted us with a great responsibility. This responsibility is taking the great gift He gave to us and sharing it with the entire world. In Matthew’s gospel, His last words were, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” This is what we are charged with doing while He is away.

We do not know when He will return, but when He does will we hear Him ask us to join Him in eternity, or will some other fate be ours? Have we taken all that Jesus taught and told others of Him? Have we shared the complete love we experience? Have we forgiven all those who have offended us just as the Father has unconditionally forgiven us? Or, have we hidden our faith, treated others with hatred and failed to forgive for even minor offenses? The choice is ours, but as Jesus tells us in today’s gospel, eternity hinges on our choices.

- Don Claunch,
SFO
(dlclaunch at bresnan dot net)

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20061024

The Catholic Calendar for Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Tuesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

St. Anthony Mary Claret, bishop

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Ephesians 2:12-22
Psalm 85:9ab-10, 11-12, 13-14
Luke 12:35-38

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

In today’s Gospel Jesus talks to us about the necessity of being prepared for His final coming. It is something we know is important and I'm sure something we all intend to do. But somehow and so often, many things get in the way.

I have frequently thought how devastated I will feel when my time is up and realize I have failed miserably to be the kind of loving person God has called me to be. It’s enough to bring me to momentary tears and then, and then . . . . “What happens?”

Where does my resolve evaporate? Where does my determination and clear sight of what really is important disappear? How can the things of this temporary world lure me away from the more marvelous and eternal things of heaven?

The answer is that sin has so marred us that we are not ourselves; or more correctly, we aren't what the Lord intended us to be.

What then, should we do?

Instead of constantly being saddened by our pitiful efforts while risking being unprepared on the last day, let us beseech the Lord to keep before our eyes the hope of heaven, the prize and pearl of great worth. Pray that we may be as allured by God and the thought of heaven as we are by so many other, but utterly worthless and passing things.

Please Lord, listen to my prayer, all my hope is in Your mercy.

- Donna Nelson,
OCDS
(drn3rd at hughes dot net)

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20061023

The Catholic Calendar for Monday, October 23, 2006
Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

St. John of Capistrano, religious and priest

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Ephesians 2:1-10
Psalm 100:1b-2, 3, 4ab, 4c-5
Luke 12:13-21

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

"Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions."
(Luke 12:15)

This is the message Jesus wishes to convey in today's Gospel. He goes on to tell a parable about a man whose thoughts and focus were on his crops. Because of his earthly riches he worried about nothing else. And yet before he could reap all the benefits of his greatest labors he would die. Hence he would leave behind everything which he held dear. So if we cannot bring things of the world with us when we die, what can we bring? After all, there is no U-Haul trailer behind the hearse.

In St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians he writes "You were dead in your transgressions and sin in which you once lived following the age of this world . . . ."
(Ephesians 2:1) But, as he continues with hope "God who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ . . . ." (see Eph. 2:4-5) It is God's love which is the most precious thing that we can possess. With this, we’ll be rich beyond our dreams. God's wealth, as Jesus explains, is not in material things but in God's will which is always connected with God's love.

Riches are supposed to make us happy. Earthly riches last but a short time and therefore the happiness connected with these things is also short-lived. But God's riches, His many graces, can last for all eternity, enabling us to be eternally happy if we choose to keep and preserve them.

- Danielle

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20061022

The Catholic Calendar for Sunday, October 22, 2006
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Isaiah 53:10-11
Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
Hebrews 4:14-16
Mark 10:35-45

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

Even saints were once young and foolish! Not only foolish but selfish and pushy!

In Mark’s Gospel, the two “sons of thunder,” James and John, make a bid for a power position in Jesus’ new kingdom. They’re overeager and too confident as they ask the Master for the choice seats next to His Throne! But, Jesus doesn’t get angry with them. After assuring them that seating arrangements will be made by God the Father, He quietly asks them if they’re prepared to drink the bitter cup He is about to drink.

James and John must have looked at each other in some embarrassment and confusion before they reply, “We can!” Now the other disciples are angry and resentful at James and John’s attempt to pull something over on them. (Obviously, they’re looking for power and prestige just as much as the two brothers.)

Sadly, Jesus realizes that none of them understand, so He emphatically and clearly sets the rules for Christian discipleship: no lording it over one another! “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Let’s be careful! There’s a tendency for everyone in Church this Sunday to assume that the Lord is talking to the “big shots” in the Church. The truth is, He’s talking to the WHOLE Church. To whatever extent we abuse the authority of our Baptism, either in Church or in our families, to that extent we are untrue to the example Jesus sets for us. The other readings for the day make clear that Jesus, the High Priest, identifies with us NOT in our sinfulness, but in our suffering.

So, if we are to follow Jesus’ rules for discipleship, we must strive to be “suffering servants.”

Msgr. Paul Whitmore

(pwhitmore29 at yahoo dot com)

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20061021

The Catholic Calendar for Saturday, October 21, 2006
Saturday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Ephesians 1:15-23
Psalm 8:2-3ab, 4-5, 6-7
Luke 12:8-12

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

"Do not worry about what your defense will be . . . ."


Evangelism is difficult. It is an awkward concept for Catholics, in large part due to the inertia of history. There was no real need for evangelism in much of the Christianized countries--it went without saying that everyone was a Catholic.

But by our baptism we are called to evangelize, and this passage gives us hope. Although Jesus is speaking here of the much more dire and hazardous situations of those who are imprisoned or otherwise punished for their faith, the same thing holds true for those of us who face the little tortures of speaking out for Him. When we are to testify, we will not need to worry about the words because the Holy Spirit, who knows all things, will give the words we need at the time.

So, the next time you are in a position to say something about Jesus to help another person, don't worry about how to approach it. Inwardly, ask the Holy Spirit's power and blessing on your words and move forward boldly. He will give you the words you need to move hearts that have remained unmoved. All you need to do is trust that it will be so.

- JuandelaCruz

(sriddle415 at yahoo dot com)

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20061020

The Catholic Calendar for Friday, October 20, 2006
The Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

St. Paul of the Cross, priest

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:

Ephesians 1:11-14
Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 12-13
Luke 12:1-7

A reflection on today's Scripture . . . .

"Even the hairs of your head have been counted. Do not be afraid."
(Luke 12:7)

When I was a child, parents seemed to take their responsibilities more seriously than today. As children matured, married and perhaps became geographically separated from their parents, many maintained strong family ties. Now, we have redefined "family" to suit our selfish "wants," often shuttling children between two warring camps or simply abandoning them. Consequently, psychological problems escalate with each successive generation. Social scientists propose causative theories ranging from wars to evolution, but in a world steeped in secular values, they and we remain blind to the root cause--human sin.

Human intelligence falls short when it fails to see that over the millennia we have proven ourselves incapable of creating a truly equitable, just and peaceful world. We have mainly increased our ability to make better weapons, hiding them, and then rationalizing the use of their destructive power. Both East and West accuse Christianity of curtailing freedoms and human progress. Few see that world problems actually stem from ignoring Christ, God's Word of love and truth. St. Paul reminds "believers" that they are to make God visible on this earth by living in His goodness and glory, for they are sealed in the Holy Spirit who is working to lead them to salvation, eternal union in heart, mind and will with our loving God.

Jesus warned His followers of the Pharisees but also assured them not to be afraid; for while believers in Him may be physically harmed, their souls will remain safely in God. In contrast their persecutors will suffer eternal loss. Indeed, those living in Christ will be acknowledged before God by His angels, since our ever-present and loving God is cognizant of even the most seemingly insignificant of His human creatures; to Him every person is precious and occupies "center stage." There are no minor players in life's drama, for we are all created in God's image to fulfill His purpose of making His salvation known to the entire world.

Merciful God, we thank you for guiding us to salvation through Christ. May we, through grace, share Your loving mercy by living in ways that will draw others to You. Amen.

- Marie Bocko,
OCDS
(mlbocko at earthlink dot net)

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20061019

The Catholic Calendar for Thursday, October 19, 2006
Thursday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Sts. John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, priests and martyrs

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Ephesians 1:1-10
Psalm 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6
Luke 11:47-54

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

We live in a very fast paced world in which many of us pack our daily schedules with activities. Sometimes little time is left for reflection until we are really tired in the evening. In the midst of it all we sometimes might question our own significance. For others who are retired and filling their days with their own or neighbor's doctor visits, they might wonder about their own significance.

The readings of today are very reassuring, but also serve as a warning. In Ephesians we have the awesome statement that "God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world began." (see Ephesians 1:3-4) Could we be any more significant than that? That is how special each of us is to God!

Regarding the warning, in today's gospel, Christ speaks of our responsibility to pass our faith-beliefs on to others, that they might appreciate just how important they are in the eyes of God. We have excellent examples in the lives of our patrons of today: May the martyrs St. John de Brébeuf and St. Isaac Jogues pray for us!

- Joan of Jesus,
OCDS
(jmurphy at utica dot edu)

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20061018

The Catholic Calendar for Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Wednesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

St. Luke the Evangelist

Readings from the Liturgy of the Word:
2 Tm 4:10-17b
Psalm 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18
Luke 10:1-9

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

Our Lord Jesus is the perfect model for us. As He was the ultimate sacrifice for us, we also should sacrifice for Him.

The disciples that Jesus sent out were told to “Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals,” and to eat what they were given by those who welcomed them. It was certainly a sacrifice to give up the security of money, extra clothing and shoes, but it was more. Giving up these things required the disciples to trust totally in the Lord and know that He would provide what they needed. Also, money easily becomes an idol and a distraction, so not having it most certainly helped keep the disciples focused.

Jesus also told them, “I am sending you like lambs among wolves.” This points to what may have been the biggest sacrifice for some of the disciples: loss of their very lives. Lambs do not stand a chance among wolves and are quickly killed and devoured in a most violent fashion. The disciples knew this and knew that this could be their fate. They were being asked to make the largest sacrifice.

We must be ready to sacrifice also. As Jesus sacrificed for us, we may be called to do the same for Him, even to the point of making the complete and total sacrifice of our lives.

- Don Claunch,
SFO
(dlclaunch at bresnan dot net)

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20061017

The Catholic Calendar for Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Tuesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Galatians 5:1-6
Psalm 119:41, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48
Luke 11:37-41

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

In both the reading from the Letter to the Galatians and the Gospel, we're reminded that all of our seemingly laudable practices, whether they are religious or otherwise, are meaningless in the eyes of God unless they are motivated by love.

It is so easy to be carried away on the wave of the moment, the pressing task at hand or just our instinctual human desire to be gratified without stopping long enough to examine what it is that we are doing . . . and why!

When we meditate on the Word of God and take it to heart, we're led almost instantly to slow down, to seek the revelation of God’s truth and not our own or conventional wisdom.

May we then avail ourselves of opportunities to let God permeate our lives, to instruct us and lead us on His path, the path that leads to eternal life.

- Donna Nelson,
OCDS
(drn3rd at hughes dot net)

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20061016

The Catholic Calendar for Monday, October 16, 2006
Monday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Galatians 4:22-24, 26-27, 31–5:1
Psalm 113:1b-2, 3-4, 5a and 6-7
Luke 11:29-32

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm
and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

Greater than Jonah! Greater than Solomon! The Son of Man is greater than anything or anyone! Yet, many of us take this for granted. We will make time for all sorts of things that are not important, and we're content to live our lives as mediocre Christians--keeping most of the commandments--a shallow prayer life.

Jonah's message was one of turning away from sin and of conversion. In today's readings, we're called to end our slavery to whatever is incompatible with God's greatness and wholeheartedly devote our lives to the freedom of the Gospel message. How fortunate we are to have been given this wisdom--a wisdom that the restless and discontented world does not have. A wisdom having the words of eternal life--a pathway to wholeness and true holiness.

Jesus offers us more than enough signs for us to believe. Faith is not the result of having seen miracles, but rather the result of the conversion of hearts. Those who look for miracles or signs as conditions of their faith will be disappointed. For those who believe, who willfully accept Jesus Christ with a humble heart, the miracles are already apparent. Rather than seek miracles so that we may believe, we should ask for the faith to see with humble eyes the miracles that are already all around us.

- Anne

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20061015

The Catholic Calendar for Sunday, October 15, 2006
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Wisdom 7:7-11
Psalm 90:12-13, 14-15, 16-17
Hebrews 4:12-13
Mark 10:17-30 or 10:17-27

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

How often you have shopped for hours in store after store for something you really wanted, only to find it in some local shop you should have tried in the first place!

Searching for fulfillment in life is something like that. It’s to be found in the least likely places! Most young people think they’ll find happiness in a job or career that makes “big bucks.” Then, we read about some fabulously wealthy multimillionaire who in despair of finding happiness, ends up attempting suicide. Far happier are the parents who, trusting Providence, raise children in an atmosphere of love and sacrifice. Their carpets may be worn at the edges, but not their hearts. Rather than riches, they have sought and found wisdom (first reading), and so have entered into “the Lord’s rest” (second reading).

One of the characters in the Gospels, with whom we moderns can easily identify, is the “rich young man” who goes away sad. Jesus made him an amazing offer—eternal life—and he turned it down! Why? Because he just couldn’t give up his fancy sports car and his bulging bank account in exchange for a less comfortable life of discipleship. Like so many young and not-so-young people in our society, he couldn’t make a commitment to spiritual wealth—God’s wisdom. It would involve living for others, serving people without power or status. Because he couldn’t make the leap of faith, he chose to remain bound to a life of anxious seeking for what he could see and feel. You can’t take it with you!

If we had to give up something we cherish in order to grow closer to Christ, would we be strong enough to let go? This Sunday’s Word of God is challenging us to seek and accept the gift of Wisdom, and so enter into the joy of living with peace of mind and heart.

Msgr. Paul Whitmore

(pwhitmore29 at yahoo dot com)

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20061014

The Catholic Calendar for Saturday, October 14, 2006
Saturday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
St. Callistus I, pope and martyr

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Galatians 3:22-29
Psalm 105:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Luke 11:27-28

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

"Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it . . . . ”
(Luke 11:28)

A very short gospel reading today that could serve for food for reflection for a great many days.

Mary is blessed not merely because she gave birth to Jesus and nurtured Him. Jesus himself points this out in this passage. The woman in the crowd says to Jesus, "Your mother is most blessed." And that is true--His mother is blessed among women, and we have it affirmed here. Jesus seems to deny this, but what He does is shift the focus to Mary's true virtue and the capability of all of us. Mary was blessed not merely because she was a mother, but because in the face of tremendous fear and tremendous social pressure, she said "Yes" to the word God spoke to her. This is the root of her blessing which blesses all of us.

The womb and the breasts are important because without them there would be no Jesus, but even more important was the "Let it be done unto me as you say." Without that yes, there also would be no Jesus.

The Blessed Mother is blessed by hearing and obeying, and so Jesus points out, we all are blessed by hearing and obeying. We are all brought to God and to holiness by saying "Yes" to His word. So Jesus affirms His mother's great holiness and blessedness by pointing to the actions that would lead, in turn, to our own blessedness.

- JuandelaCruz

(sriddle415 at yahoo dot com)

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20061013

The Catholic Calendar for Friday, October 13, 2006
The Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Galatians 3:7-14
Psalm 111:1-6
Luke 11:15-26

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

"Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste . . . .”
(Luke 11:17)

Through the ages we have built many libraries to house laws designed to create a society governed by justice, equity and peace. We soon learn, however, that setting rules for human behavior isn't enough; for despite these laws, wars and corruption prevail, keeping our jails and cemeteries filled to overflowing. St. Paul tells the Galatians that it is faith and not the law that saves us. Following rules is like slapping a coat of paint on an inwardly rotting structure, whereas faith creates radical changes within human souls, rebuilding them from within to make them holy by imbuing human hearts and minds with God's truth and love.

The latter takes place if we allow God through His Holy Spirit to tear down our old sinful attitudes and behavior and allow Him to transform us in the image of Christ to bear into this world in our flesh His goodness and sacrificial love. This process of sanctification is slow and often painful, since we humans usually fight change, but it is only through our living in obedience to God's Word, Christ, that we can achieve our full humanity. Man is essentially a spiritual being, an eternal soul temporarily housed in flesh whose final resting place is with our loving Creator God. We are made fit to reside in His kingdom by learning to fulfill the demands and responsibilities of genuine love and truth.

Jesus affirms the latter in today's Gospel by saying that life calls us to choose between two contrasting alternatives, life or death. Through grace, we can obediently serve God, ourselves and others, or we can enslave ourselves to Satan, forever seeking without success to satisfy our selfish desires. Jesus warns us that if we reject being filled with God's life, the evil one will gladly fill our vacated premises. Nature does abhor a vacuum!

Blessed Redeemer, fill us with the desire to participate fully in Your blessed life, that we may carry Your message of peace, love and equity into a world poised for self destruction.

Amen

- Marie Bocko,
OCDS
(mlbocko at earthlink dot net)

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20061012

The Catholic Calendar for Thursday, October 12, 2006
Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Galatians 3:1-5
Luke 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75
Luke 11:5-13

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

Periodically we hear from readings and homilies about the gentleness of Christ, of His interest in the very details of our lives. This is so evident in the gospel of today which describes a person attempting to get some bread in the middle of the night for his company. Christ reassures the disciples that the man would probably get the bread due to his persistence, if not from the fact that they were friends.

There are several lessons here that we might consider, the first being the reminder that Christ does care about our everyday situations. By His example of bread, He advises His disciples to approach Him with their every need and concern, not just for the big things in life. We must never think that our concerns are too insignificant to turn into a prayer of petition. We do not need to wait until Sunday at church as God always is hearing us.

Sometimes people complain because they think they practice good Catholic Christian lives, but they still have problems. We were never promised that life would be “a rose garden,” but perhaps part of the problem is that we think we can solve our own problems. Perhaps God has other plans for us if we just ask Him. It is worth a try!

- Joan of Jesus,
OCDS
(jmurphy at utica dot edu)

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20061011

The Catholic Calendar for Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Wednesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time


Readings from the Liturgy of the Word:
Galatians 2:1-2, 7-14
Psalm 117:1bc, 2
Luke 11:1-4

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

Jesus gave His disciples a wonderful prayer that has been handed down to us. What we now call the “Our Father” or “Lord’s Prayer” remains a core prayer of the faithful today. But I find myself running through this prayer in such a hurry that I find I am not really reflecting on the words or hearing what the prayer is actually saying. So, from time to time I pause and spend some time with these few words and my method is rather simple–I just say the prayer and paraphrase as I go, to help extract more from the words and bring me closer to the Lord. It goes like this:

Father, who I can trust completely, loves me unconditionally, protects me and provides all I need . . . Hallowed be Your name, Your Holiness is beyond what I can comprehend, Your name itself is holy beyond measure . . . Your kingdom come, and welcome us into that kingdom where there is no sin or temptation, only Your universal love . . . Give us each day our daily bread, in both the sustenance I need for my body and in the holy body and blood of Your Blessed Son who nourishes my soul in the Holy Eucharist . . . and forgive us our sins, as I am a sinner, weak and in need of Your constant love and forgiveness . . . for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us; Lord teach me how to forgive as You do and love all as You . . . and do not subject us to the final test, but guide me in this world to answer Your call and live as You desire, so when you finally call me my work for You is complete.

Amen.

- Don Claunch,
SFO
(dlclaunch at bresnan dot net)

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20061010

The Catholic Calendar for Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Tuesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Galatians 1:13-24
Psalm 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15
Luke 10:38-42

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

When reading the Word of God we should always be prepared to hear in faith and receive with love what God in His wonderful and personal way intends to communicate. I’m not talking about private interpretation, but the mysterious “knowing” (in union with the Church’s understanding of the Sacred texts) that the Word of God often transmits. At times we get a glimpse of God and the wonder of His transcendent attributes, sometimes it is all a puzzle, while today it was something that made me laugh.

The subject was very serious however. St. Paul remonstrated the Galatians for backsliding. What was funny was how Paul said, in effect, that if he wanted to be popular he certainly would not be a follower or preacher for Christ! The thing that struck me as funny and so authentic was that it brought to mind such a vivid picture. I could almost picture Paul being at his wits’ end and in effect saying, “Are you crazy? Do you think I‘m doing this for fun or to be popular? Not on your life!” And appropriately, the outburst (of sorts) ends with an exclamation mark.

Indeed, popularity is not part of the benefit package of discipleship. Quite the contrary is more true as the blood of the martyrs attests.

So what is so funny and wonderful is that every thing that goes into our comprehension, from word-meanings, sentence structure, even punctuation are all gracious gifts from God and how perfectly they work together to communicate His mind and heart and the teachings of the Sacred Word!

“If I were trying to win man’s approval, I would surely not be serving Christ!”

The question is: “Who is it that we serve?”

- Donna Nelson,
OCDS
(drn3rd at hughes dot net)

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20061009

The Catholic Calendar for Monday, October 9, 2006
Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

St. Denis, bishop and martyr
St. John Leonardi, priest

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Galatians 1:6-12
Psalm 111:1b-2, 7-8, 9 and 10c
Luke 10:25-37

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

In Paul's letter to the Galatians, we come to realize that the people of our time are not very different from those in his preaching days. It appears as though the Galatians have left or thwarted the Gospel of Jesus in order to win favor of friends and family. The fear of being rejected by peers in believing in the true messages of Jesus, have left them confused and cowardly in Paul's presence. They do not even know what is just and good due to their following what everyone else happens to be doing.

Paul reasserts Jesus' teachings as "not of human origin" and challenges them to leave worldly ideas behind them, to truly come to know and understand their place in God's Divine Plan.

Luke parallels Paul's letter in Jesus' parable. Who is the real Christian neighbor, the Levite, or the Samaritan who stopped to lend a helping hand to the beaten victim? Jesus challenges not only the educated, but also the ordinary person by asking a simple question: “Which of these two, in your opinion, was neighbor?”

However, when we think about the meaning behind Jesus' parable, we come to question our own interpretation of the Gospel, and how we really live it out. Do we bend Jesus' rules so they fit our lifestyle and personal principles (so we look good in the eyes of friends, family, employers)? Or do we take a stand and show them what a true Christian is really made of, even knowing we will be laughed at by others?

- Alicia

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20061008

The Catholic Calendar for Sunday, October 8, 2006
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Genesis 2:18-24
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Hebrews 2:9-11
Mark 10:2-16 or 10: 2-12

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

This week’s readings are all about marriage and family. The second reading from Hebrews gives the key to a successful attitude. In this marvelous letter to second-century Christians, the writer says: “He who consecrates and those who are consecrated all have one origin." It’s clear from the context that coming to glory through suffering is what we have in common with Jesus. As His whole purpose was giving glory to the Father through our redemption, so our whole purpose, whether married or not married, is the same as Christ’s. If married, then our purpose is to help our spouse give God glory through the communion of sacrificing love.

So, if a spouse’s self-fulfillment and personal pleasure-seeking have to take a back seat to the good of the other, then so be it! Compromise, openness to his ideas or her ideas, praying together, listening to each other, just being for one another—all make marriage a holy alliance. Incidentally, this kind of communion of spirit as well as communion of flesh makes for faith-filled acceptance and understanding that, at times of family tragedy, God is still loving and caring for us.

If we have this understanding of marriage, then Jesus’ advice to the Pharisees in today’s Gospel is possible and doable. Therefore, what God has put together, let no human being separate! Now when there are deep-seated troubles that go back before a couple married, then the Church’s annulment process is all about discerning whether God in his farseeing providence really willed to join this couple. This is the reason for in-depth preparation for the Sacrament.

Dear Lord, please assist all married couples to join with your Son in communion of heart and mind, that they may sacrifice themselves for the salvation of one another, and come with all their children one day to the joys of heaven. Amen.

Msgr. Paul Whitmore

(pwhitmore29 at yahoo dot com)

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20061007

The Catholic Calendar for Saturday, October 7, 2006
Saturday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Our Lady of the Rosary

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Job 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17
Psalm 119:66, 71, 75, 91, 125, 130
Luke 10:17-24

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

"Rejoice because your names are written in Heaven . . . .”


The Lord gives us the strength and the grace to do what needs to be done. He protects us and even gives us powers over the fallen angels. But today He tells us that this is not to be the cause of our joy. Indeed, rejoicing in such things leads more to pride than to heaven.

Jesus tells us to rejoice because our names are written in heaven. We rejoice because we have come to know the savior of the world and His name alone is enough to save us. But more, we rejoice because we are invited to become His friends, as close to Him as the apostles. The source of our joy is knowledge that we are the children of God.

So, even though we are given many talents, strengths, graces, and consolations, do not rejoice in them, rather choose to rejoice in Him who gave them.

- JuandelaCruz

(sriddle415 at yahoo dot com)

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20061006

The Catholic Calendar for Friday, October 6, 2006
The Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

St. Bruno, priest
Bl. Marie-Rose Durocher, virgin

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Job 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5
Psalm 139:1-3, 7-10, 13-14
Luke 10:13-16

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

"And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me."
(Luke 10:16)

Job's story raises the old question: "If God is love, why does He allow bad things to happen to good people?" On this side of life, the answer remains an enigma, for our finite minds cannot encompass the methods God employs to enable us to accept and work out our salvation. God excludes no one from His saving plan; it is we who exclude ourselves. Love is God's very essence; He created us to participate in His love to form genuine, caring relationships, first with Him and in consequence with one another. Most world suffering is caused by God-starved minds and hearts inflicting pain on one another.

Satan believed Job's devotion to God would vanish if he lost his children, health and possessions. But Job's faith in the face of these devastating losses proved his love for God was pure, not contingent on his blessings. Job's friends saw God as cruel and vengeful and begged him to confess and repent of his "hidden" sin to abate divine anger. Job's despairing wife bitterly advised him to curse God and die.

With wife and friends against him while knowing he was innocent of sin, Job turned to God to ask, "Why?" God's answer to Job was implied in the description of His creation which raises a more basic question: Would the God who made this wondrous world filled with everything necessary to sustain and prosper those He created in His own image do so only to watch them suffer and end wretchedly in the grave?

Today we should ask, would God have sent His sinless Son to die at the hands of sinful people if His basic motivation were not to save us from spiritual death? Christ's reaction toward the unrepentant towns was not anger but deep sadness that they had chosen to lock themselves into a sinful, faithless, loveless and hopeless existence.

O Christ, You are God Who came to us in human flesh to cleanse us of sin and give us new life. Awaken this world to the root cause of human misery and open our hearts to receive Your grace and Your healing. Amen.

- Marie Bocko,
OCDS
(mlbocko at earthlink dot net)

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20061005

The Catholic Calendar for Thursday, October 5, 2006
Thursday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Job 19:21-27
Psalm 27:7-8a, 8b-9abc, 13-14
Luke 10:1-12

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

Today’s newspapers, computers and television networks spend endless time and money with marketing ideas and products. In the readings of today we have laid out in detail for us how Christ planned to spread the Word. We are familiar with the gospel versions of Christ selecting His apostles to organize the Church, and today we hear how Christ sent out seventy-two other disciples to prepare the way before He entered a town. The detail of Christ's directions has always been an indicator to this writer of how interested He is also in the details of our lives.

One might wonder why the reading from Job was selected to go along with the stories of the disciples. Though Job is still suffering a bit from his "pitiful" experiences, his message is one of hope. He states "from my flesh I shall see God." These words indicate a tremendous faith and speak of hope, despite his connecting statement that "my inmost being is consumed with longing." (Job 19:21-27) That too, is a strong statement. One requirement of anyone in sales or public relations is that they really believe in that which they sell or describe. Job's statement epitomizes that reality.

Do we think of ourselves as disciples of Christ in our day-to-day lives? Can we, with Job, proclaim that we believe we’ll see God from our flesh? And can we, like Job, state that our inmost being is consumed with a longing for God? Do we want that depth in our relationship with Christ? If yes, "praise God!" If not, why not?

- Joan of Jesus,
OCDS
(jmurphy at utica dot edu)

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20061004

The Catholic Calendar for Wednesday, October 4, 2006
Wednesday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Francis of Assisi, religious

Readings from the Liturgy of the Word:
Job 9:1-12, 14-16
Psalm 10bc-11, 12-13, 14-15
Luke 9:57-62

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

Who would ever want to follow Jesus after reading today’s gospel? To those who came to Him he did not hold back or mince words. He laid out the bare truth about what it meant to be a disciple and to many it most certainly scared them away.

Being a true follower meant giving all and not just parts of oneself, or just giving part of the time. It meant leaving family behind, having no place to live, and never looking back. Anything short of this was incomplete and meant that one could not be a true disciple. The message was harsh, but honest.

How does this apply to us today? Are we called to give all to our Lord? Are we asked to plunge forward and never look back? Certainly! And we should go forward with it without fear, dread or longing for other things as He is with us to sustain us.

- Don Claunch,
SFO
(dlclaunch at bresnan dot net)

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20061003

The Catholic Calendar for Tuesday, October 3, 2006
Tuesday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23
Psalm 88:2-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8
Luke 9:51-56

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

In today’s reading from the Book of Job, Job is lamenting all the circumstances of his life. There couldn’t, it seems, be anyone unhappier. In all of this, Job utters a very interesting and descriptive phrase about his state of mind and spirit. He says, in effect, that he is like “Men whose path is hidden from them, and whom God has hemmed in.”

Reading these words might conjure up for us our own experiences of being lost and having the right path utterly hidden from us. Being “hemmed in,” by God however, might not be as familiar an experience, or perhaps we have just failed to recognize it. What then might an experience of being “hemmed in” by God resemble?

First of all, being near to the transcendent God or “hemmed in” by Him, shouldn’t be something negative unless perhaps, because of sin and our faulty perception, we can’t recognize that God’s closeness is always a good thing. Secondly, the idea of being “hemmed in” seems to connote that we are restricted and confined and have lost our “sense” of freedom: not a good thing; but remember, it is God who is “hemming us in.”

This might be a strategy of our all-knowing God, whose ways are far beyond our own. Perhaps we really need to feel constricted; otherwise we might flail around, take the wrong path and get hurt. What might seem restrictive may instead be the grace of a good conscience that doesn’t give us the license to do what others--who seem to be having fun and a good time--are doing.

In any case let us pray that we might look more carefully at our life-circumstances to see, perhaps, the hand of our loving and vigilant God. “Hemming in” after all, might be nothing other than a hug.


- Donna Nelson,
OCDS
(drn3rd at hughes dot net)

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20061002

The Catholic Calendar for Monday, October 2, 2006
Monday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

The Guardian Angels

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Job 1:6-22
Psalm 17:1bcd, 2-3, 6-7
Matthew 18:1-5, 10

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

A child is happy to simply be in the presence of his parents. When a parent leaves to go on a trip, the thing the child longs for the most isn't the fact that his parent will come back with a present, but simply the fact that they come back. Job had received many gifts and graces from God, because God loved him and Job in return loved God.

Satan does not understand that it is God's parental love that sustains a person through the good and the bad. Satan's values lie in physical pleasures and material goods. Because of his misunderstanding of love, he believed that if Job would no longer have the physical comforts of life, he would no longer love and be obedient to God. But the devil was wrong. Even after losing everything, Job knew that God still loved him, and it is from this love that Job was able to praise God. "Naked I came forth from my mother's womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
(Job 1:21)

It is His love, which Jesus refers to in today's Gospel. God is our Father and He loves us with a fatherly love. We are His children; if we so choose, we can receive His love, which fulfills us more than any material goods. Just as a child is drawn to love because instinctively they know that love is what is best for them, God our Father is calling us to Himself, so that no matter what happens to us on earth, we may be fulfilled.

- Danielle

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20061001

The Catholic Calendar for Sunday, October 1, 2006
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Numbers 11:25-29
Psalm 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14
James 5:1-6
Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:

So Moses needed help! That’s what we hear in the Book of Numbers. No wonder! The Israelites in the desert constantly grumbled at his leadership. Occasionally there was outright rebellion. So Moses, tired and discouraged, begged the Lord for help. God heard his prayer and poured out the Spirit of prophecy on seventy elders. Two of the elders were not present at the ceremony, but received the Spirit anyway. When they began prophesying on their own, Moses’ young assistant, Joshua, became envious. “Moses, stop them!” he cried. Instead of stopping them, Moses praised the two, and told Joshua he wished everyone had that gift.

Jesus, in today’s Gospel, teaches the same lesson. When some of His disciples complained to Jesus that some, not of their company, were driving out demons, Jesus, like Moses, rebukes his followers for being so exclusive; “Whoever is not against us, is for us” became Jesus’ rule for his Church.

Years ago, pastors often did not welcome help from the laity. They did not see this as necessary, or even desirable. How different is our experience today! We have literally hundreds of commissioned lay ministers in our diocese, to say nothing of many Catholics who take their baptismal consecration seriously, and become trained in various ministries in our parishes. Today’s pastor welcomes these people with open arms, urging even more laypeople to become involved in visiting the sick and shut-ins, teaching religion to children, and becoming youth leaders.

Critics and other pessimists tell us the Catholic Church is dying! Nonsense! The ever-vibrant energy of our youth and young adults, with your encouragement, will become the committed, informed, and courageous leaders of the Church of the 21st century. And the gates of hell will not prevail against it!

Msgr. Paul Whitmore

(pwhitmore29 at yahoo dot com)

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