Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Jesuit Dominic Robinson believes

Crucial to our understanding of what we are invited to do in this year [of Faith] is what the last two popes have called the ‘new evangelisation’.

Fr. Robinson touches on several things in his post at ThinkingFaith: the term, new evangelization; its use by Popes Benedict and John Paul; how the term developed from the Second Vatican Council.

Writing from the British Catholic experience, his insights may hold true for all developed countries and for others. “The concept of the new evangelisation is rich, encompassing a variety of themes, but the key to them all is surely dialogue.” Dialogue is important across borders, classes and socioeconomic groupings.
Wiki-image of Coventry cross was released into the public domain.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Praying for All. . .

. . .affected by Sandy and for those being affected by that storm.

Bees on Drugs

Beekeepers use antibiotics. Antibiotics can be hazardous, and a Yale researcher finds it interesting that a switch to a new antibiotic coincided with current problems for bees that began six years ago.

“No one pathogen or parasite is responsible for the mass die-offs, and many factors seem to be involved,” said Nancy Moran, senior author of the paper and the Regents’ Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale and the Microbial Diversity Institute at West Campus. “But it is interesting that major problems with these colonies began at the same time as the introduction of a new antibiotic in 2006.”

Context of quote.
Wiki-image by Merdal at tr.wikimedia of honey comb by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Faith and Films

Thinking Faith recalled that Colin Firth, as guest-director of a BBC program, chose to explore the “sometimes complex relationship between faith and film.” Novelist and screenwriter, Frank Cottrell Boyce, shares his perspective.

My Church – I’m a Catholic – has a long love affair with cinema.  ...And yet, the people I work with do tend to be surprised when I say I’m a Catholic.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday word, 28 Oct 2012

Through a Lifetime
30th Sunday of the Year B (28 Oct 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Mark’s is the shortest gospel-portrait of Jesus. Its brevity prompts us to dismiss its details. One detail is this: Jesus’ disciples, including the apostles he called to follow him, were slow to grasp the identity of Jesus and slow to appreciate what Jesus taught. That detail describing the disciples, doesn’t it describe us, too? We’re not quicker than the disciples. We are like them even with our advantage of seeing the entire story of Jesus, something his disciples could not.

Today’s gospel selection reminds us that Mark remembered Jesus healed two blind men with different effects. The first blind man, unnamed, Jesus healed gradually. Mark recalled it this way:

Putting spittle on his eyes [Jesus] laid his hands on him and asked, “Do you see any-thing?” Looking up he replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.” Then [Jesus] laid hands on his eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly. Then [Jesus] sent him home.1 

In today’s gospel Jesus healed Bartimaeus instantly:

Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him..., “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed [Jesus] on the way.

Details confuse people about Mark’s lesson then and now. Some people are stymied by Jesus’ gradual healing of the first blind man. Others miss that Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak. Still others forget many discouraged Bartimaeus, which surely is evidence enough that many were slow to grasp and get Jesus’ mission.

Both men and Jesus’ response to them are icons for us. The blindness of the first man was from no faith to faith. Jesus sent him home to protect and cultivate his faith until he was ready. Faith, in visual language, allowed him to see everything distinctly, which even the disciples could not do! Yet, new faith needs protection, and it needs to grow strong.

Bartimaeus had strong faith: the disciples’ could not quiet it in him. Jesus grasped his faith, and he recognized a new disciple, as we heard:

“Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately [Bartimaeus] received his sight and followed [Jesus] on the way.

We share significant features with Bartimaeus. Let me suggest three. We are named and our names have been sealed by baptism. Second, our baptism consecrated us on mission with Jesus: we follow Jesus on his way. We may put it like this: when we give ourselves to our baptism we make Jesus’ way our way. Three, our baptism gave us faith, and the eucharist sustains the faith our baptisms began.

We know from experience our faith gets shrouded. At times we allow it to be invisible. More often, whatever cloaks our faith doesn’t allow others to recognize our true features as Jesus’ contemporary disciples. Baptized into faith and faith sustained by the eucharist, we all have our cloaks to which we cling or which cling to us. We recognize Jesus heals us; his healing empowers us to live the pattern of his life when we throw aside our cloaks and live with faith’s freedom to replicate the pattern of Jesus’ dying and rising day to day. Dying and rising is how Jesus is our priest.

Baptism makes us sharers in the priesthood of Jesus. Some live it as lay people, some as ordained. Either way, to share his priesthood means to be icons of Jesus’ paschal mystery. We can’t escaping the fact that our High Priest was a suffering messiah, and to replicate his pattern of living, suffering, dying and rising is to learn Jesus through a lifetime.2

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Ask the Trinity to enlighten you and bless your vision.
  • Ask Bartimaeus to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus: thank him for your faith; then
  • Ask Jesus to help you identify your cloak and give your strength to throw it aside for the freedom of faith to imitate the pattern of Jesus’ dying and rising.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It is both example and power: Jesus’ example of living freely and faithfully; and our power to do the same as we follow him on his way.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. Mark 8.23-26.
  2. This is what the Greek of Hebrews 5.8 means: to learn is to suffer; to suffer for the sake of an education. This was a wisdom saying in the common domain of the Greek culture of the Mediterranean world into which Jesus was born: μαθειν, παθειν [MAh-thane, PAh-thane].
Wiki-images by Haffitt of Jesus healing Bartimaeus and by Joe Mabel of baptismal font are used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day by Day

Bearing the logo of the Catholic News Service is a blog entitled, “Vatican II: 50 years ago today.” It describes itself as a “step back in time to the daily activities of the Second Vatican Council.” Anyone interested in learning—or recalling—how the Council proceeded may do so there.
Wiki-image of original artwork by Franklin McMahon used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Guilty for Not Predicting

After the 2009 tragic earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy, a court there and science disagreed. Dan Murphy of the CSM noted that seven members of the “‘National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks’” were convicted of manslaughter. During the trial the court allowed “testimony of people who had lost loved ones.” The convicted will appeal.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

“On the Wings of Martyrs and the Mentally Handicapped”

Thinking he “was taking a break from the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization,” Mr. John L. Allen Jr. visited Lviv, Ukraine. He returned to Rome “believing instead that I had seen the New Evangelization in action.” Find out what he discovered and his “remember you heard it here first” portent.

Wiki-image by Jost2211 of ambo in Dominican Church, Lviv, used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Looking Forward from 1966

Jesuit Karl Rahner, a key theologian of the 20th Century, was at the Second Vatican Council. After it concluded he offered thoughts on its implementation. U.S. Catholic reposted his thoughts as part of its anniversary coverage of the Council.

Image of view from Big Bend in Warren County, PA, by Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday word, 21 Oct 2012

Not To Keep
29th Sunday of the Year B (21 Oct 2012) 
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Consider what is common to these phrases: guest service; sanitary engineer; personal trainer; flight attendant; downsizing; collateral damage; ethnic cleansing?

Prettied up language is what’s common. To what end? I never feel I’m a guest of Top’s, Target or Kohl’s. I’m a customer, sometimes bewildered and usually satisfied. Language beautification also masks the menial aspects of work, which the words janitor, coach, steward and stewardess do not mask.

Language beautification may be dirty and deceive: reducing debt by sacking employees doesn’t address managing poorly or understand that work is essential to human dignity. Collateral
damage is correct on one hand—civilians die along side military personnel—but the phrase masks human suffering on the other. To call human extermination “cleansing” is blasphemy.

I won’t deceive you when it comes to the good news of Jesus. Jesus was clear: persecutions are part of life, and of the Christian life in particular. The Christian life is bittersweet like yours and mine. Each of us has disappointments, setbacks, struggles. We are routinely tempted. Sometimes life’s bitter turns singe us with intense suffering. Living with and for Jesus recognizes that; it also invites us and all disciples to live a new way. Our scriptures described a few aspects of this new way to deepen discipleship.

First, we grow to realize position, prominence and prestige do not guarantee greatness; serving others’ needs makes one great. Second, serving is no impossible task: think of all the spouses, parents, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and neighbors who model selfless love to youth and elders. Our Creator and Redeemer Jesus crowns all our serving efforts because he sympathized fully with us and what challenges our daily living. It is easy to forget he was fully human and was tested in every way all humans are tested in life. What does his empathy do for us?

Jesus’ humanity enables us to live as leaven in the mass of society. We affect it by being signs of contradiction of the world’s way of operating for gain and for self rather than for sharing more equitably the gifts of creation entrusted to our care and safeguarding each one’s dignity. To live as this transforming leaven in society means our vocation is to revolutionize the world with no other arms save the gospel of our Messiah Jesus and his way of living.

His gospel is not divorced from the world or opposed to it. Pope Benedict recognizes that. Six years ago he said, “[F]aith in God and scientific research cooperate to the same end, which can best be expressed with the words of Jesus himself: that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”1 Commenting on Jesus’ words, the pope spoke on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Home for the Relief of Suffering, an initiative of St. Padre Pio. This year, another 50th anniversary, the pope recalled the same words in opening the Year of Faith: Let us run to Jesus, “‘towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.’”2

We run to Jesus to receive his abundant life. We receive his life not to keep but to share. Our annual Mission Sunday allows us to join saints and “Catholics worldwide to recommit [our]selves to the Church’s missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice.”3 Mission Sunday also reminds us we are a community of blessed people. We are blessed with wealth of all varieties. Many share that wealth generously at home, in school, at work, even abroad. I am most grateful; you inspire me more than you know. I desire that you never lose heart as you respond generously to Jesus personally inviting to you share his baptism.

Focused on his baptism to serve, Jesus refocused James and John and refocuses us, who want to escape suffering and inconvenience. In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, invite Jesus to sharpen the focus on our baptism.

  • Become aware of the Divine Persons embracing you in love. 
  • Ask James and John to present you to Jesus.
  • Praise Jesus for modeling being baptized and living it well. Speak with him about the cup he drank; or converse with him about one baptismal symbol and how it shapes you: cross; water; oil of chrism; fire; white garment.
  • Ask him for the grace you need to live your baptism more candidly, then resolve how you can do so one way that day. 
  • Close, slowly saying the Lord’s Prayer. You won’t deceive yourself. Jesus’ words help us grow more mature as his disciples and help us put our faith in action.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. His address of 14 October 2006.
  2. His Apostolic Letter announcing the Year of Faith, “Door of Faith,” 2.
  3. Statement at the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States website.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Document on Revelation Turns 50

Dei verbum [Word of God] are the first words of the Second Vatican Council’s document on revelation. Jesuit James Corkery notes:
But for the personal intervention of Pope John XXIII, our understanding of revelation might still be that promulgated by the First Vatican Council (1869-1870). So how did Vatican II change the way we think about revelation?
Read his answer and more on the “character of revelation” and how it “flavoured the entire Council.”

Friday, October 19, 2012

As Paul VI Envisioned

The Synod of Bishops—still continuing in Rome—named a delegation which will visit Syria next week. Mr. John L. Allen Jr. lists four reasons why the visit by the delegation is “actually important.” 

In his review of synod activity this week, Mr. Allen noted a brief comment about Islam in the secretary’s official summary “doesn’t come close to capturing the flavor of what’s been said.” Find and read Mr. Allen’s synod review here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Talking a Home-Run

Yes, the word is talking not walking. Jesuit Sam Sawyer posted this today:

If you told me a few months ago that I’d be recommending a video of a sixteen-minute-long homily, I wouldn’t have believed you. Nevertheless, watch this [video] (and if you need more convincing, read the rest of the post first).
Make that decision here.
Wiki-image by Bernard Gagnon of Fenway Park used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Monday, October 15, 2012

"Strange Thing"

Recently ordained Jesuit Paul Lickteig wrote, “Vocation is a strange thing.” His reflection on his vocation leaves out no one while he shares his particular circumstances at HuffPost.

Wiki-image by Hash Milhan of landscape in Peradeniya used by CC BY 2.0.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday word, 14 Oct 2012

Hard Blessing
28th Sunday of the Year B (14 Oct 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
As he made his way with his disciples to Jerusalem and his cross, Jesus met a man who had many possessions. He eagerly sought Jesus’ counsel and was disappointed. His disappointment provoked the disciples to ask Jesus, “Who can be saved?” As was his custom, Jesus made the occasion a lesson for his disciples—and us.

The question of the man, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” may seem to search for a formula for living. His question touched convictions about God, convictions Jesus laid bare in his reply to the man: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” Jesus’ answer confuses us because we confuse doing good with the Source of all that is good. God’s goodness exceeds and even excludes human boasting we are good. God’s goodness excludes human needs to impress on others our real or artificial goodness. To the man and to us today, Jesus began his answer that God is the source of goodness.

By doing whatever is good we ally and join ourselves with the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus. By doing good we put ourselves on God’s side; we don’t manipulate God to our sides. We place ourselves on God’s side when we respond to the commands God gave us to inherit God’s life. Jesus reply to the man’s question rehearsed the commandments having to do with human relations with each another. You and I inherit God’s life by how we live with and for one another!

I think we get that like the man did. It’s the rest of Jesus’ answer that comes less easily: ex-change treasure of earth for treasure of heaven. The matter is not simply one of having nothing; rather it is drawing closer and closer to the Source of goodness, life, love and generosity. Our Source, of course, is God. Our tradition considers God so alive and powerful that God speaks and creation comes into existence. Unlike us who exert efforts of all kinds, God’s word has power beyond our imaging: God spoke and things became, things happened.1 The Letter to the Hebrews refreshed our memory of our tradition: the word of God is living and effective. Scripture announces God is the living God several times.2 Scripture also allows us to hear God’s voice announce, “As I live, says the Lord,” through Moses,3 prophets and the Psalmist.4 Our living God is faithful to all creation and desires us to share in God’s life. This good news the entire Letter to the Hebrews offers.

God’s word is creative power and prophetic, spirited message. God’s word became for us in our time the person, Messiah Jesus. Divine power became present in his human person, and he abides by his Holy Spirit. Many recognized God present in Jesus. The man in the gospel noticed and ran to him. Because Jesus abides with us by his Spirit, Pope Benedict invited us to enter this Year of Faith so we may run to Jesus, “‘towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.’”5

Activities for the Year of Faith will help us do that. Yet daily each of us comes closer to Jesus when we practice goodness, respect, love and generosity. Doing them brings us nearer to him and forms us as his disciples. Yet, to follow Jesus, to be his disciples, does not make us good. Oh, that it were that easy; but it’s not. In practice possessions are risks to promoting goodness, respect, love and generosity. How? When possessions grip us and manage us. Jesus said we are to manage possessions not be managed by them. To the man Jesus put it this way: “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

His lesson to surrender wealth is a hard blessing for us. Surrender of wealth does not mean throwing our wealth on the junk heap. Surrender of wealth by giving first place to respect, love, generosity, concern for others and care for them gradually yet really discloses God’s power: all things, including our entering God’s realm of life, are possible with God!  One verse early and one late in this gospel selection make that point. Read together they make sharing God’s life nothing short of miraculous. Read together they tame human ambition so we can hear Jesus encourage us. The verses are: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? ...For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God!” Keeping them together in our minds and hearts helps us not overreach ourselves or substitute our ambition for God’s compassionate power. Instead, they help us release the gospel into our lives and the world and not tame it or try to fashion it to our liking.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in the Trinity who creates you and gives you creation to make a return of love to our God more easily.
  • Ask the disciples, who listened often to Jesus, to present you to him.
  • In your words: praise and thank Jesus for drawing you into his friendship.
  • Ask Jesus to help you continue to be his disciple more in fact than in name.
  • Close by saying slowly the prayer Jesus taught us. It teaches us to show to others the compassion Jesus works in us.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. See Genesis 1.
  2. A search of the RSV.
  3. Numbers 14.21, 28.
  4. A search of the KJV; it appears to follow closely the Greek translation the writers of the NT used.
  5. His Apostolic Letter announcing the Year of Faith, “Door of Faith,” 2.
Wiki-image by Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum of the man going away sad is in the public domain in the U.S. Wiki-image of Works of Mercy Building is in the public domain (see individual reliefs here).

Saturday, October 13, 2012

From a Distance

Jesuit Oliver Rafferty wonders about the effects of the Second Vatican Council. Fr. Rafferty asked:

“What were the implications for the council of contemporary global events, and where are we now in relation to Vatican II?”
His contribution to the Council’s anniversary is at ThinkingFaith.
Wiki-image by Ned Trifle of Church of St Joseph used by CC BY-SA 2.0.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Humility, Cheeseburgers and Original Sin

Mr. John L. Allen Jr. offers today his “report from the Oct. 7-28 Synod of Bishops in Rome on the new evangelization.” He closes with a “couple of nuggets,” one sobering, one not without humor.

“Profoundly Edifying”

In declaring how the Catholic Church was related to other religions, Nostrae Aetate of the Second Vatican Council noted “other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing ‘ways,’ comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites” [article 2]. The declaration had just mentioned by name Hinduism and Buddhism. Christians in Asia live in close contact with both religions.

Early in its history of the Society of Jesus met people of other religions. In our time Pope John Paul II more than once re-invited the Jesuits to the “deeper study of the relations with non-Christian religions, and the dialogue of the Church with cultures.” Recently,  in Japan Jesuits considered links between their founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and the Buddha. This inter-religious event was “profoundly edifying.”

A summary of it at the Province Express includes the beginning of one Jesuit’s reflection of a Buddhist retreat in Thailand and links to the rest of his reflection.
Wiki-image of Buddhist flag used by CC 0 1.0.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Venerable John XXIII

October 11 is also the Memorial of the pope who convoked the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago on this date. From 1931 the date celebrated the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After the Council it continues to be remembered on January 1, the Solemnity Mary Mother, of God. Reading Pope John’s address at the opening of the council is a good way to mark the anniversary.

“A Splendid Day”

Pope Benedict used that phrase in the opening sentence of his preface to a collection of his earlier writings. The day was 50 years ago today, when the Second Vatican Council opened in Rome. Read his preface at the Vatican Radio site.

Jesuit Damian Howard wrote for ThinkingFaith about the Year of Faith. It commences on this golden anniversary of the Council. He recalls that the year is “dedicated to a renewal of the Church’s joy and enthusiasm for the encounter with her Lord.”


Wiki-image of the Council opening is in the public domain.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ironic Timing

In the United States 1 in 5 people have no belief, according to this Pew Forum study. The study calls them “nones,” and that moniker is already a Twitter hashtag: #nones. The study indicated “one in three U.S. adults under 30 are now considered nones.”

     The studys timing is ironic in light of the current General Synod of Bishops with its theme of the new evangelization. “Fraternal delegates” (non-Catholics) are making interventions along with the bishops. Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas blogged what one fraternal delegate said yesterday:
One fraternal delegate from the Lutheran church indicated that the synod is crucial to all Christian churches. All are eager to recover the joy of believing. He expressed concern that so many were not bringing their children to be baptized  He rejoiced that we no longer have to condemn one another but we have learned to respect one another and strive together for deep internal renewal. We need an ongoing renewal for all Christians.
Evangelizers will need renewal to make the good news good enough for nones and others to consider seriously.

P.S. For readers wondering what a synod is, what it can accomplish and what is the new evangelization: here’s a Q&A by Mr. John L. Allen Jr. for the NCR.
User:Yellowblood released into the public domain Wiki-image Atheist.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Down to Business

In Rome on Monday morning the 260-plus delegates of this year’s General Synod of Bishops began to address the business for which they prepared. Vatican Radio website described their goal as “re-energizing a hackneyed faithful and reaching out to those who have yet to believe in Jesus Christ.” Among the most tested faithful currently are the Christians in the Middle East.

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai and his Patriarchal Vicar General, Archbishop Paul Sayah, are attending the Synod. Ahead of the Synod Tracey McClure asked Archbishop Sayah what the Patriarch will be bringing to the synod. After an extract of the interview on the Vatican Radio site a link to listen follows.
Wiki-image by Faris knight of Gospel book in Arabic used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Monday, October 08, 2012

“Aims and Hopes”

This General Synod of Bishops is number thirteen. Its topic is the New Evangeliza-tion. Croatian Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod, presented the aims and hopes of this 13th ordinary general assembly last Friday. Later, Philippa Hitchen spoke to him to learn more. Listeners may enjoy the interview at Vatican Radio.

Readers may follow the council through the blog posts of one of the U.S. delegates to the Synod, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona. Catholic News Service made available yesterday his first post. It covers many things, including the opening mass.
Wiki-image of Evangelium is in the public domain in the U.S.