Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lady’s Day and Cesar Chavez Day

Cesar Chavez Day “aims to promote service to the community in honor of Chavez’s life and work.” The CSM offered a quiz about him to know better this labor leader and activist for the rights of farm workers.

*     *     *     *

On the day of the week which honors Mary, and at the end of the week in which the Solemnity of the Annunciation to Mary was celebrated, Elizabeth 
Lev noted, “A few weeks ago, the ever-alert editors at ZENIT sent me an interesting idea for a column. … [So] I thought I might propose a list of my five favorite images of the Annunciation in honor of the feast day this week.” Her annotated list contains links to the images mentioned.
Wiki-image of Pietro Cavallini’s Annunciation is in the public domain.

Friday, March 30, 2012


Having nearly completed Lent, a look at its origins may be appreciated. At ThinkingFaith, Jesuit Norman Tanner offered a brief history of Lent.
Wiki-image by Andreas Cappell of 40 used according to CC BY 2.0.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Why They Leave

The bishop of the Diocese of Trenton (New Jersey) wanted to know why Catholics left their church. Here’s a summary of the study that learned why.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Closer to Sainthood

Jesuit Walter Ciszek had been sent to Poland in the 1930s. During World War II he fled to the Soviet Union, where he was arrested in 1941 under the pretext of being a spy and imprisoned.
Read more about his activities while a prisoner and how he is closer to being proclaimed a saint.
Wiki-image of Walter Ciszek’s grave has been released into the public domain.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mexico & Catholicism

The Economist considered the state of Catholicism in Mexico, the first stop of Pope Benedict’s March trip.
Mexico is one of the world’s great Catholic bastions: 83%
of its 112m people are loyal to the Vatican, and Mexico City’s Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe vies with St Peter’s in Rome as the world’s most-visited Catholic church.Yet...the Vatican’s grip is weakening. The share of Mexicans saying they are Catholic fell by five percentage points in the decade to 2010. In 1970 the figure was 96%. 
Read the essay.
Wiki-image by Gib l of Plaza Minera used according to CC BY-SA 2.5.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday word, 25 Mar 2012

In the Gap 
Lent Sunday 5 (B) (25 Mar 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, two groups of people sought to be in Jesus’ presence. The first were Jewish people, who had heard that [Jesus] had done [that] sign. They went to meet Jesus as he entered Jerusalem from nearby Bethany, where Lazarus lived.1 

The second group were some gentiles, who were in the process of converting to Judaism—Greeks, as the Fourth Gospel named them.2 They were in Jerusalem for the Passover feast and surely heard of the sign Jesus had most recently performed. Some of them approached Philip, as we heard, hoping to see Jesus.
Did they want only to look at Jesus, who raised Lazarus, an action that catapulted Jesus to celebrity status? Did they want a face-to-face with Jesus as we mean when we went to see the boss or the doctor or the priest? In the Fourth Gospel’s symbolic language to see also means to believe. In its opening chapter, disciples of the Baptizer heard him call Jesus the Lamb of God and followed Jesus. When they ask Jesus where he lives, Jesus says, Come and see. They wanted to know in a personal way. So the Greeks: they stand for us, inspiring us to deepen our desire to meet Jesus as our Messiah not as an abstract, dead rabbi, unconcerned about us.
In the action of the gospel Jesus was concerned to fulfill his mission, to draw everyone to [him]self and through him to his Father. Andrew and Phillip...told Jesus about the request to see him. Up to then very few responded to Jesus’ words and signs; even the disciples’ trust in him was shaky. Hostile suspicion greeted what Jesus had said and done until then. Jesus could have been tempted by the request: are some at last going to honor God because of what I am doing? Honor, after all, lay at the core of Middle Eastern culture.
If we enter the gap between Andrew and Phillip…[telling] Jesus of the Greeks’ request and Jesus’ response—not apparent in the text: Andrew and Phillip tell and Jesus seemed not to respond to the request—in that gap Jesus resolved to remain true to his mission, which he had received from his Father. Because we know Jesus is the Messiah, we may pass over that gap rather than enter it.  Our mission, as members of risen Jesus’ body, is to draw others closer in his company. We do that by keeping ourselves close to Jesus. 
Jesus’ words about himself, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit, also describe us and our Catholic mission. His words give us courage when we are in the gaps each time we resolve anew to give ourselves to our Catholic mission. To think that everything revolves around us and to behave as if it does are not to live our Catholic mission. Lent renews us in our mission by inviting us to give ourselves to showing mercy, fasting and making prayer personal not merely automatic. “Any time is the right time [to do those],” reminded Pope St. Leo, “but these days of Lent provide a special encouragement.”3

You and I meet Jesus and deepen our relationship with him in showing mercy, fasting, making prayer personal, in word, in sacrament, in serving and in being served, in all human relationships. Meeting Jesus in word, in sacrament, in prayer, in serving and in being served and in other ways begins to change our minds and our hearts. Meeting Jesus is the beginning of conversion.
Conversion is about letting die what keeps us distant from Jesus, from ourselves and others and cultivating the fruit, which offers itself: keeping close to Jesus and being honest with ourselves and others.
We will never know what moved the Greeks in the Fourth Gospel to draw near to Jesus, but they did, and they expressed their request to Jesus’ disciple. We do know what moves us. Allowing to die what keeps us from giving ourselves to meeting and believing Jesus opens us to receive the fruit of a new self. Becoming new, becoming a more courageous disciple, Jesus enfolds us with his true and lasting honor, which we call glory.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Allow yourself to feel the Trinity creating you.
  • Ask the gentiles, who came to worship at the Passover feast, to present you to Jesus.
  • Name turning points in your life and tell Jesus how you have been transformed and continue to live that transformation; tell Jesus the one thing you need to do to continue to transform. 
  • Ask Jesus to give you the grace and strength to do that: to die so to rise anew, to see his challenge as your hope for the honor and glory of new life.
  • Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which helps us grow more in the image of our Messiah, Savior and Lord.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. See John 12.17-18.
  2. This gospel did not use this word in a “national” sense; plus, Greek was the common world language. The disciples seemed to have used the word this way in John 7.35.
  3. His Sermon 10 in Quadragesima; 4th Lenten Tuesday, Office of Readings, Liturgy of the Hours.

Wiki-image by Bernard Gagnon of Apostle Philip used according to CC BY-SA 3.0Wiki-image of teaching Christ, interpreted by some as predicting his death, in the public domain in the U.S.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

About Regrets

A 2011 “study of most common regrets found that romance topped the list, followed by regrets about family, education, career, finances and parenting. But he adds that regrets can have their upside as well.” Learn that “upside” as well as the author of the study and how to move on. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rachel's Story

A nine-year-old on a mission to help 15 people in Africa have clean water decided to raise $300.00. She chose not to receive presents on her birthday and wanted people to give to Charity Water. She died in a car accident weeks later. On hearing about her story, people donated nearly a million dollars to help over two times as many as can fill Madison Square Garden, according to the founder of Charity Water, who indicated that in the youtube video below. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Video Minority

The Ignatian Solidarity Network observed:
If you haven’t watched the “Kony 2012” video that went viral in recent weeks, you are likely becoming part of a minority group.
In addition to linking to that video, the ISN comments and links to several resources to understand better the situation in Central Africa.
         [Update about accuracy of the video.]
Wiki-image by Maphobbyist of Central African states used according to CC BY-SA 3.0.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Great SHOT

Jesuit John Staudenmaier, recipient of the Leonardo da Vinci Medal by the Society for the History of Technology, an

international organization dedicated to the historical study of technology and how it relates to politics, economics, the environment, science and the arts, received a written question over a decade ago.
“Sooner or later you owe it to your secular friends and colleagues to say where and how faith makes a real difference in how we and you think.  Surely it must, or you would in effect be encouraging a trivialization of faith. Isn't there just a faint conspiracy (between you and your secular friends) to glide over that rock bottom distinction?”
Fr. Staudenmaier used his talk last November at his reception of the medal to answer that question. His talk is available as a podcast; access it at this UDMcast page.
Wiki-image of Leonardo DaVinci is in the public domain in the U.S.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Four Themes

In six minutes Jesuit Gregory Konz considers the four themes of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and how Christians experience those themes during Lent.
Listen to the audio by clicking the icon near the lower right of Gregory’s photo at this page.
Wiki-image by LivingShadow of clouds used according to CC BY-SA 3.0.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Two Interviews of Worlds Apart

An outsider’s view of Christian life in Egypt illumines the complex reality of Christianity there. In a ZENIT interview an Italian priest, who has been ministering in Egypt for three years, offers his view.

Another ZENIT interview with the Japanese ambassador to Italy looks at Japan one year after its devastating tsunami.

St. Joseph Day

Today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph. First entrusted with the care of Jesus, the saint has been entrusted with the care of the church and of nations for centuries.

Pope John XXIII invoked Joseph as the Patron of the Second Vatican Council; Pope Benedict entrusted pastors to Joseph’s protection; and a French bishop sees Joseph “as the ‘Father of the New Evangelization’ and ‘the holy patron of the third millennium.’” Find a synopsis of those and other patron-roles of St. Joseph here.

Wiki-image by Wolfgang Sauber of St. Joseph used according to CC0 1.0.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday word, 18 Mar 2012

Too Deep To Understand

Lent Sunday 4 (B) (18 Mar 2012)
2Ch 36. 14-16, 19-23; Ps 137; Eph 2. 4-10; Jn 3. 14-21
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The movement of God in our lives is easily missed unless we are alert to it. Our weekly liturgy together helps us grow more alert; it also shapes our daily, personal praying. Today’s scriptures remind us of one feature of God’s concern for us: mercy; rich in mercy. Mercy is compassionate treatment. God took personal interest in people from the beginning, and God does so today. People did not always welcome God’s compassion. Scripture brims with illustrations of humans rejecting it, even God’s chosen people.

By compassionate treatment, God desired to inspire humans, and especially God’s chosen people, to treat each other and all people that way. The Hebrew word for compassion shares the same root as “womb,” so that compassion is related to a mother’s feeling for her child.1 So the Prophet Isaiah spoke on behalf of God: [Thus says the Lord:] Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.2 Appreciating those words on a human level led God’s people to value and practice three distinguishing marks of being loved by God: showing compassion; being modest; and doing deeds of loving kindness.3 We continue that Jewish tradition.
Being loved is not something we ever totally understand. It’s too deep, so life-giving, too tender and too stirring just to understand. 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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. If being loved by another human is something we cannot totally understand, then we ought not be surprised that those frequently quoted words of the Fourth Gospel overwhelm us when we pause to ponder them.
Lent allows us an annual opportunity, together as God’s chosen ones, to go deeper into the paschal mystery of our Messiah Jesus; to feel anew God’s motherlike love: a love that is life-giving; a love that will never let us go; a power by which God will never let us go no matter what we may do or not do and no matter what may happen.
That, too, is something we cannot get our heads around. Yet, like parents’ love for their children, on which they rely, we rely on God loving us and treating us more gently than we feel we may deserve. That is God’s way.

Because we cannot understand it, liturgy offers us the luxury of being loved by God using all our senses. We hear God speak God’s love of us in Jesus by their Spirit in every sacrament. We sing of God’s love and express our desire to receive it. Our eyes are treated to how God so loved the world each time we see the crucifix. We feel the strong tenderness of God’s care when holy oil reassures us at crucial moments in our lives and, we take in the sweet aroma of God’s care. We taste God’s love given for us in Jesus’ body and blood.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week

  • Bask in the love the Trinity showers on you.
  • Ask Nicodemus to present you to Jesus so you may speak with him.
  • Thank Jesus for loving you. Speak to Jesus about how you welcome love and how you are showing love. Receiving love, often very challenging, shapes us into people who give love well.
  • Ask Jesus to help you welcome his love of you more freely. 
  • Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. The words daily bread include all the ways God loves us. We need it so we can forgive, which is to love as God loves.
Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. raḥamim and reḥem, compassion and womb.
  2. Isaiah 49.15.
  3. Yevamot 79a.
Wiki-image of Afghan mother and child is in the public domain in the U.S. Wiki-image by Billy Hathorn of John 3.16 is used according to CC BY-SA 3.0.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Once Illegal

Urban beekeeping was once illegal in Brooklyn, New York. Today it has “been adopted by the sustainable food movement and embraced by the local community,” so Megan Paska need not fear breaking the law. The Atlantic has posted a video of her passion. It is the third in a series, which is explained at its 09 March video channel post.
Wiki-image by Warden of apiary used according to CC BY-SA 3.0.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Water Forum

Marseille, France, hosts the sixth triennial water forum through Saturday.
Every three years since 1997, the World Water Forum mobilises creativity, innovation, competence and know-how in favour of water. ...The goal of the 6th World Water Forum is to tackle the challenges our world is facing and to bring water high on all political agendas. [From the About page of the Forum website.]
For the 2003 Forum the Vatican prepared a document, “Water, An Essential Element for Life” and updated it for the 2006 Forum. The Vatican is participating again. Another update has yet to be posted in the Vatican’s Latest Publications page. 
Wiki-image by Henningklevjer of water impact used according to CC BY-SA 2.5.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Restless Poison

The affliction, sloth, is dis-spiriting. Thinking Faith continues its series using a film to examine the seven deadly sins. Sloth is the focus of this Fourth Week of Lent. 

Evagrius of Ponticus called it the “noonday devil”; Kathleen Norris described its effect as ‘refusing the gift of each day’; and Lester Burnham (in “American Beauty”) is ‘living just barely.’ Even  Ignatius of Loyola figures in this post by Jesuit Rob Marsh.
Wiki-image by Hamachidori of Red Chateau used according to CC BY-SA 3.0.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On the Move

Migrating people number in the millions this century. Pew researches indicate half are Christian and more than a quarter are Muslim. Their global “research was carried out in the year 2010 and includes comparisons with data based on various studies on immigration.”
The source of the quote is a L’Osservatore Romano article, “Half of migrants are Christian.”
Wiki-image of globe has been released into the public domain.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

“Never Alone”

That is how Edward Rohs described when he was lonely in the orphanages in which he was raised. Raised in the Church is his account of growing up in the Catholic orphanages of Brooklyn, N.Y. The books’ reviewer, David Gibson, describes Rohs’ story as “moving” and “refreshing.” Access the review.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Return to Roots

Pope Gregory the Great sent monks to the land of the Angles. The monk, Augustine, led the mission and became the first Archbishop of Canterbury.

Over the weekend the current archbishop returned to Rome and visited the pope. He gave an address Sunday in Rome at the church of San Gregorio al Celio.  
“One of the hardest yet most important lessons the different Christian communities today must learn is that they cannot live without each other: no single one of them in isolation possesses the entirety of the Gospel” of Christ. That was how the Anglican leader Dr. Rowan Williams introduced his reflection on how the witness of monastic life can offer a key to overcoming the divisions between Christians today.
Read more, as well as his address and listen to him interviewed at the Vatican Radio site.
Wiki-image considered to be St. Augustine of Canterbury is in the public domain.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday word, 11 Mar 2012

The Other Power 
Lent Sunday 3 (B) (11 Mar 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Last Sunday evening I joined several people for Taizé prayer around the cross. The cross rested above the floor in front of the altar. Candles shone at several places around the cross, the heart of the prayer time. We chanted psalms and words inspired by them; listened to scripture; and made intercessory prayer as a community. Generous silences punctuated our voices.

Before we entered, we had been invited to pause in our lives and focus on the divine love manifested in our Messiah’s cross. One of the early refrains welcomed us to give Jesus our burdens and allow Jesus to take them from us. That was powerful: I lost myself as well as my burdens and my sense of time. Nor was I aware of people around me. I was, though, aware of Jesus present to me and receiving me and anything I offered. I felt a deepening of discipleship with Jesus.
People left as they felt moved, going in silence as others continued praying; I do not know what others felt. As I left Jesus’ words echoed reassuringly: where two or three are gatheredin my name, there am I in the midst of them.1 The presence of Jesus I had felt was not manufactured by me. His words confirmed his presence was a gift. That confirmation did something else: it broke the hold the historical and chronological has on me, and I wager on many of us twenty-first Century, first-world, civilized folks.
That hold shapes the way we think of things as past or present, important or negligible, pertinent or insignificant to me. Jesus’ cross is often a historical fact of a time and culture far distant. That historical and chronological hold makes Jesus’ cross a decoration, noble and holy though it may be. When that hold broke last Sunday evening, Jesus’ cross was not only present; it was a lightening rod, absorbing me and my burdens, as well as the love of Jesus, creating me anew. Far from decor, his cross was power. That was St. Paul’s gospel: we proclaim Christ crucified...Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. The reason he was a stumbling block to Jews was a scripture: Cursed is anyone whose corpse hangs on tree.2 St. Paul, himself a Pharisee, realized by becoming a curse that way, God in Jesus ransomed us from the curse of the law.3 
We more easily identify with the Greeks, for whom St. Paul’s gospel was foolishness. Who would give their lives that way? Yet, we give our lives all the time. In our honest moments we give our lives to others in varying degrees. Those moments see us extend selfless, or at least other-centered, love. At times we wonder how we do that. Yet though we freely choose to give ourselves, it is more than our power. As St. Paul admitted, I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.4 Jesus’ cross is present and greatly significant for all Christians. It is true power.

That word had several connotations to St. Paul’s hearers. We may hear strength as well as that which someone exerts. We may hear influence, even excellence of character. The connotation that surprised me—surely because of my twenty-first Century, first-world, civilized ears—was power to perform miracles.5 No wonder many scoffed! To be raised from death still boggles. Yet we savor being raised from our little deaths of being misunderstood, ignored, insulted. 
The crucified and risen Jesus welcomes each person. Last evening Jesus’ loving welcome offered me healing no one could offer. Lent has a new focus: to stay in touch with Jesus’ power for greater balance in my life and to give me energy to witness to Jesus and his cross in this present moment. The cross is no artifact or an idea. It is Jesus loving each person into new ways of being in the world.

In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask St. Paul to present you to Jesus.
  • Praise Jesus for dying and rising for you. Savor Jesus selfless love.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to live from your felt knowledge of his love for you, to live it one moment to the next.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Give us our daily bread includes the nourishment, flowing from being accepted for whom we are and knowing the Trinity faithfully is committed to us: I, the LORD, am your God

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. Matthew 18.20.
  2. Deuteronomy 21.23.
  3. Galatians 3.13.
  4. Galatians 2.19-20.
  5. An outline of usage and Thayer’s Lexicon entry may be found here.
Wiki-image by Herrick of symbol on Gigliato-Coin used by CC BY-SA 2.0. Wiki-image of Ten Commandments is in the public domain in the U.S.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Friendship Between Religions

Mr. John L. Allen Jr. “was in Chicago earlier this week to present the 17th annual Cardinal Joseph Bernardin lecture on Jewish/Catholic the 21st century.” In Friday’s All Things Catholic he summarized his talk, then he
offered some thoughts on Pope Pius XII.

Mr. Allen called his essential points “good news” and “bad news.” 
The good news is that none of this augurs any fundamental rollback on the Catholic commitment to good neighborly relations with Judaism. . . . Now for the bad news. In the 21st century, the relationship with Judaism risks being consigned to a permanent Catholic back-burner—some-thing seen as nice and desirable, but not really a “get out of bed thinking about it” priority. 
Here’s why.
Wiki-image by Alex Tora of Catholic.png is used according to CC BY 3.0.