Tag Archives: Jesus

Story of Jesus perfect for 4-to-8 year olds

May 12, 2014

0 Comments

Jesus coverLittle children run to Jesus on the cover of this Eerdmans Book for Young Readers, a wonderful image to draw the target age group — 4-to-8 years — into the story of Jesus’ life.
Benedictine Anselm Grün’s retelling of Gospel events is true to Catholic teaching, from the visitation through the nativity and more than a half-dozen highlights of New Testament stories up through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The translation by Laura Watkinson keeps the language simple and age-appropriate, and Giuliano Ferri’s colorful artwork adds to the storytelling, bringing to life the calling of the disciples, for example, the stories of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the Prodigal Son, and the Last Supper.
Parents and teachers will find “Jesus” an excellent choice reading to children in a home schooling setting or early faith formation.

Continue reading...

First Friday devotion–a dialogue between two hearts

September 6, 2013

0 Comments

Jesus pours out many blessings on those who have devotion to Him in His Most Sacred Heart. Photo/San Antonio Abad Parish Maybunga, Pasig City.  Licensed under Creative Commons.

Jesus pours out many blessings on those who have devotion to Him in His Most Sacred Heart as part of the First Friday devotion. Photo/San Antonio Abad Parish Maybunga, Pasig City. Licensed under Creative Commons.

The Catholic Church has no lack of devotions. We can choose from dozens of novenas, prayers of thanksgiving and prayers for the intercession of the Blessed Mother or almost any saint. But whether we lack devotion–the whole point of praying the prayers—is another question.

For a long time I bypassed the First Friday devotion. When the first Friday of the month came up–like today–It just seemed like another thing to keep track of when I had enough trouble getting to Mass on time (still do) and making time for prayer.

First Friday devotion, I’ve learned, is about Jesus. He should be the main focus of our love, so a devotion that centers on Him and His Sacred Heart is set apart from other devotions, according to the Sacred Heart Legion. First Friday devotion started in the 1600s when Christ began appearing to a French Visitation nun named Margaret Mary Alacoque.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart

So what exactly is the First Friday devotion? Most simply, it calls for receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist on the First Friday of nine consecutive months in honor of His Sacred Heart. That sounds easy enough, but along with that we should have:

  • A true love of Jesus Christ and His Sacred Heart, the source of His excessive mercy, help, graces and blessings.
  • Special respect for, and veneration of, the Blessed Sacrament.
  • A desire to make Reparation for the neglect, indifference and ingratitude of the majority that results in Jesus Christ being left alone, abandoned and forgotten on our altars, never visited to offer consolation for such neglect, though He has given us the miracle of His Divine Presence in the Blessed Sacrament as a supreme gift to us in His desire to be always with us. (Acts of reparation to pray on First Friday are available to download.)

If necessary to receive communion in a state of grace on First Friday (or any day), we should go to confession before Mass.

Many graces available

The Lord offers many graces to those who have devotion to His Sacred Heart. As Pope Pius XII wrote in his encyclical Haurietis Aquas, (On Devotion to the Sacred Heart):

It is altogether impossible to enumerate the heavenly gifts which devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has poured out on the souls of the faithful, purifying them, offering them heavenly strength, rousing them to the attainment of all virtues.

Among these heavenly gifts, the Lord gave St. Margaret Mary 12 promises for those who are faithful to the First Friday devotion:

1.“I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.”
2. “I will establish peace in their homes.”
3. “I will comfort them in their afflictions.”
4. “I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all in death.”
5. “I will bestow a large blessing upon all their undertakings.”
6. “Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy.”
7. “Tepid souls shall grow fervent.”
8. “Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.”
9. “I will bless every place where a picture of My Heart shall be set up and honored.”
10. “I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.”
11. “Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.”
12. “I promise thee in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.”

Evidence the Lord reaches out to us

The point of First Friday devotion is to show real devotion to Jesus and His Sacred Heart but the promises are an added incentive. They are evidence that the Lord is reaching out to us in our busyness and indifference.

Biographer Rt. Rev. Emile Bougaud wrote about this in his “The Life of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque,”

“Every new evidence of coldness on the part of man causes God to descend a degree in order to touch the heart from which He cannot succeed in detaching Himself.”

Continue reading...

Reflections on the Triduum ~ Good Friday

March 29, 2013

0 Comments

Good Friday always confused me.  Like many people, Catholic and non-

On The Cross Licensed under Creative Commons - Archer10

On The Cross
Licensed under Creative Commons – Archer10

Catholic alike, the question is “Why do we call it good?”

In years past one part of the liturgy has always stood out to me.  The veneration of the cross. I would sit there in awe as I watched members of our parish walk up to kiss the wood of the cross.  One woman struggled with her walker as she made her way to the cross and knelt before it.  Another woman, widowed recently , venerated the cross and wiped a tear away as she returned to her seat.  Yet another person I saw was a man suffering from Cancer and wouldn’t probably see another Good Friday.  I’ve seen these scenes over the years…. And yet we call it “Good.”

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. (Lk. 14:27)

“Embrace the cross!” the priest said from the pulpit, but it wasn’t his words that struck a cord with me, it was his actions.

As the priest enters into this liturgy – he lays down, prostrate on the ground in front of the altar.  It is a humbling action.  As I watched this action a phrase rung in my head.
“Bring us God!”

I pondered as to why this was my reaction to this gesture by the priest. Was it that empty tabernacle again? Or was their something more I was to understand?  I had just read Pope Frances homily from the Chrism Mass so it gave me a little insight as to why this action invoked such a strong  and strange response.  In his homily, Pope Frances instructs his priests to go out.  To go out to the people where they are suffering and to also go out of themselves.  And when they go to the outskirts:

“they [the people] feel that the fragrance of the Anointed One, of Christ, has come to them through us, they feel encouraged to entrust to us everything they want to bring before the Lord: “Pray for me, Father, because I have this problem”, “Bless me Father”, “Pray for me”

Bring us God through the Eucharist, bring us God through reconciliation, bring us God through the word because without God we couldn’t survive the crosses of our lives.

So that is why we call it “Good.”  With this one gesture of Christ dying on the cross for us He gives to us himself so we never have to carry our cross alone.

In fact it would be impossible to.

Continue reading...

Two angels at the tomb of Jesus

March 28, 2013

0 Comments

Resurrection at St. Andrew in Fairfax revised

Resurrection at St. Andrew in Fairfax revised

A Miraculous Encounter.  On Easter Sunday morning when Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and a number of other women from Galilee went to the tomb of Jesus, they encountered “two men in dazzling garments” (Lk 24:4).

A Curious Discrepancy.  Each of the four evangelists mentions the presence of one or two mysterious figures at the tomb.  Matthew explained that “an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.  His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow” (Mt 28:2,3).  Mark reported that the women, upon entering the tomb, “saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe” (Mk 16:5).  In the Fourth Gospel John the evangelist recounted how Mary Magdalene “saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been” (Jn 20:12).  In Matthew and Mark there is one figure, while in Luke and John there are two.  Who are they?  Why is the number different?

Unique Identity.  There are multiple details that reveal the identity of the figures present in the tomb.  Both Matthew and John state explicitly that they were angels.  All four gospels say that the figures were clothed in white or dazzling garments, a sign they came from heaven, the abode of the angels.  Each delivered an announcement from God that Jesus was risen from the dead, and it is the duty of angels to serve as divine messengers.

One or Two Angels.  Modern rationalistic philosophy and the scientific method strive for factual accuracy and precision, while the evangelists use details to convey a symbolic message.  There are several plausible reasons why Luke prefers two angels to one.  Luke uses pairs throughout his gospel:  Zechariah and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna, the cure of a leper and the cure of a paralytic, Martha and Mary, and many others.  When it comes to the angels, it is preferable for them to work together in tandem rather than by themselves, alone.  Furthermore, when it comes to the strength of testimony, in the Mosaic Law a statement given by an individual is considered insufficient or unreliable, while the word of two gives necessary corroboration and verification (see Dt 19:15).

The Two-Figure Symbolism.  There is a strong likelihood that Luke wants the reader to make a connection between the Transfiguration and the Resurrection.  When Jesus was transfigured, two men in glory appeared with him (Lk 9:30,31), and when Jesus was raised two men in dazzling garments appeared (Lk 24:4).  Moses and Elijah came from heaven and the two figures in the tomb also came from heaven.  Moses and Elijah spoke of Jesus’ exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem (Lk 9:31), and men in dazzling garments spoke about the completion of Jesus’ exodus on earth in anticipation of his future and final exodus, his Ascension to heaven.

Continue reading...

Ready for Christmas? How about for Jesus’ coming this Sunday?

December 17, 2012

0 Comments

As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ coming at Christmas, it’s good to remember His coming in every Eucharist. Photo/khrawlings. Licensed under Creative Commons.

As the holiday storm hits me again, I’ve been wondering if I spend more time getting ready for Christmas than I do all year preparing for Jesus’ coming at each Eucharist.

I’m afraid Christmas probably wins.

We know Advent is about preparing to celebrate Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem on Christmas. And in the pre-Advent readings we’ve reflected on His coming again at the end of time.  But the Church also reminds us that the Lord is coming today and tomorrow and next Sunday at Mass.

Thinking about Jesus the baby born in a stable surrounded by angels or Jesus the king coming on a cloud to save us is more exciting than reflecting on Jesus as we’re most used to seeing Him: in the form of a humble piece of bread.

For “so great and so holy a moment”

The Catechism tells us that in order to respond to Christ’s invitation to the Eucharist “we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment.” (CCC1385)  The Church requires preparation for receiving the Lord and there are a number of other ways we can make ourselves ready both before and during Mass.

The most basic preparation for communion is living the Christian life well. In the early Church, St. Justin wrote about the Eucharist, “… no one may take part in it unless he believes that what we teach is true, has received baptism for the forgiveness of sins and new birth, and lives in keeping with what Christ taught.” (CCC1355)

The sacrament of Reconciliation is necessary preparation for communion for anyone who is conscious of having committed grave or mortal sin. Regular confession is also good preparation in general for the Eucharist because it “strengthens us against temptation and sin and helps us cultivate a life of virtue,” the U.S. Bishops state in their 2006 document, “Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper:” On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist.”

Fasting from food and drink (except water) for one hour before receiving the Eucharist is another requirement. Canon law states that the elderly, the sick and their caregivers do not have to observe this fast.

Preparing every day and right before Communion

The Bishops offer guidelines for preparing for the Eucharist before coming to Mass, as well as right before receiving the sacrament.

In daily life we can prepare by:

  • Reading scripture and spending time in prayer;
  • Being faithful to our state in life; and
  • Seeking forgiveness daily for our sins and going regularly to confession.

When we arrive at Mass we should:

  • Be dressed modestly in respect for the dignity of the liturgy and one another;
  • Spend time in silence and prayerful recollection or read the Mass readings;
  • Participate actively in the liturgy; and
  • Approach “the altar with reverence, love, and awe as part of the Eucharistic procession of the faithful.”

Jesus made the Apostles aware of the “simplicity and solemnity” of the Eucharist when He told them to prepare carefully the “large upper room” for the Last Supper, Bl. John Paul II wrote in an encyclical on the Eucharist.

Preparation is thinking of the Lord and making “fervent acts of faith, hope, love and contrition,” according to EWTN television. It’s also important to approach the sacrament each time as devoutly and fervently as if it were our only communion.

I’m sure Christmas wouldn’t be the same this year if we knew it was our last one. How differently would Jesus’ coming in the Eucharist this Sunday be if we considered it the same way?

Continue reading...

Sex, Congress and the Catholic Church

April 14, 2012

3 Comments

WARNING – This may be a PG 13 Blog post.

It seems everybody is talking about contraception these days.   It used to be impolite to speak about sex in public and if you spoke to anyone about contraception, it would be only your most intimate friends. Now it has become the subject of coffee clutches, water coolers, the United States Congress and homilies!

If you haven’t heard about the HHS Mandate click HERE for a primer.

Hurray – it is about time we get this hush-hush topic out in the open and because I love to talk about my faith, I welcome the opportunity to talk about the church’s teachings on just about anything.

The question I get most often from friends, family and strangers is: ” The Bishops are just plain ignorant when it comes to contraception.  Don’t they know that 98% of women in their churches are using contraception? The church should change their thinking on this!”

I first ask them to look into that statistic a little further – how was the information taken?  Does it mean that one time a Catholic woman used contraception once? It certainly doesn’t mean that 98% of the women in the pews are currently contracepting.  – I would maybe need to confirm that with the 80 year old blue haired lady sitting in the front pew – but I am pretty sure she is not.

My reply to the the question is: “Of course the bishops know that a percentage of Catholics are contracepting.  Maybe even 98%.  But 100% of us have gossiped, Probably 99% of us have lied.  How many of us have stolen? Maybe we should change those sins too.  If we are going to change what is considered a sin based on how popular it is – I vote for changing gossip too.  I really like to gossip. It is my favorite sin – lets change it so I can always do it and not have to feel guilty or attempt to change my behavior.”

The thing is – the church knows that we are prone to sin and that is why we have the church’s teachings to rely on to help us hold to doing what is good for us instead of doing what ever feels good at the moment. Yup – The bishops know human nature or rightly Jesus knows it.

But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well. (John 2:24-25)

Even though it feels good – gossiping is not good for me or good for my community. (neither is gluttony but since I write about food sometimes we won’t go into that one just yet)  Likewise, sex without responsibility is not good for us, our community or society as a whole.  The years since the sexual revolution has seen the downfall of marriage, the family and parenting. Sex before marriage has not been a great thing for our society.  Contraception makes it easier to just do what we want without consequences. The church, like a good parent, only wants what is good for us.

What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?

Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? (Luke 11:11-12)

Regardless what congress has to say on this subject – the Catholic church will not be handing us (or more likely paying for) a scorpion.

I have spoken to women who have used contraception before marriage or  are possibly in a difficult marriage situation who say to me that they just can’t use Natural Family Planning.  It takes two to tango you know. NFP requires self control – for both parties.  I ask them to read Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and then ask them to tell me that it is not a beautiful teaching. It is important to know the value of what you are throwing away.  You can’t say it is not beautiful, because it IS a beautiful teaching and in a perfect world we all would be living it ALL of the time.  Instead, people want the church to change it’s thinking from this beautiful teaching and recognize human nature and let us do what we want instead of holding us to a higher standard.

And – maybe like myself and my favorite sins – some people can’t follow this teaching successfully.  Or maybe they can’t YET.

That brings us to the real beauty of our church.  Because Jesus knows human nature – he gave us this beautiful gift.  The sacrament of confession.  As Mother Theresa said “We are not called to be successful, we are called to be faithful.”

So once a month or so – I head into confession and confess many of the same sins over and over again. It occasionally seems futile, but the grace of that sacrament produces a miracle. Little by little – my behavior changes (I hope) to comply more and more to God’s will for me.  And maybe someday – in a perfect world – I will be living it all of the time.

I think they call that place Heaven…

Continue reading...

7 Reasons Why I Like Religion

January 30, 2012

4 Comments

Photo/DrabikPany Licensed through Creative Commons

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about how bad religion is, so bad it seems that some claim Jesus hated it. According to one singer, “All religion ever made of me was just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet.”

Well I’m a sinner but I think Christ has actually helped me untie stones from my feet through the Catholic religion.

If  instead of being helped you’ve been hurt by religion, I am sorry. Maybe it was the members of that religion, not the religion itself.  Religions are made up of people who regularly make mistakes but it doesn’t mean God’s not there.

Here are some reasons why I believe Jesus is not only OK with religion, but is working through it to heal, unite and sanctify His people.

1. Jesus started one.

When Jesus tells St. Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my Church” in Matt. 16:18, He doesn’t sound very anti-religion. He’s starting His own religion as a fulfillment of the one He practiced all His life. He doesn’t call for abolishing any of the Jewish law. (Luke 16:17)

2. It helps many people in need.
Contrary to claims that religion doesn’t help the poor, the Catholic Church is actually the largest non-governmental provider of education, health care, and human services in this country. It helps families and communities to combat hunger and homelessness, overcome poverty and dependency, build housing, resist crime and seek greater justice. It also offers relief and development in more than 80 countries.

3. It is all of us together.
There are times when it’s extremely comforting to know that a lot of people are going through the same things I am. My religion is not a building, although we have some beautiful ones. It’s people who love each other because they love Christ, and want to spend eternity with Him. It’s holy men and women who lived during the past 2,000 years and continue to help me through their prayers and support. And it’s knowing that in every country in the world I will find others who believe as I do. Because of God and my religion, I am never alone.

4.  It does what Jesus told us to do.
At the Last Supper He said, “Do this in memory of Me.” (Luke 22:19) If He’d wanted us carry out His wishes alone, He would have given the Apostles one-on-one instructions instead of calling everyone together. St. Paul reaffirms this in I Cor. 11:24

5.  Through it, Jesus feeds me when I’m hungry and heals me when I’m broken.
The Lord could come directly into my home and give me communion and absolution for my sins but instead He does it through others–men in directly line from the Apostles who had the original assignment.

6. It promotes peace.
I’m sure some wars have been fought because of Christianity, though it’s not always clear if the Church has been directly to blame. What I do know is that people in my religion work tirelessly for peace. At Vatican II, the Council Fathers exhorted “Christians to cooperate with all in securing a peace based on justice and charity and in promoting the means necessary to attain it, under the help of Christ, author of peace. (Pacem in Terris)

Through history, a total of 43 popes have brought peace and settled disputes between warring factions. You don’t hear much about that. One of them was Pope St. Leo I who faced Attila the Hun in 452. Words were exchanged near Mantua, Italy, and afterwards Attila promised to withdraw his forces from Italy and negotiate peace with the Roman emperor.

7. It is about humans searching for God.
I’m searching for God, too, so that makes the Church a good fit for me. Even though Jesus started this religion, He left it for humans to run with the Holy Spirit’s help. I am imperfect and broken and so are all the other members of my religion. But together we are stronger (Ecc. 4:12) and we are doing what the Lord told us to do. (See all four gospels.)

 

 

 

Continue reading...

Who is known as the Immaculate Conception and why?

December 6, 2011

3 Comments

The Virgin in Prayer, Joos van Cleve.

The Virgin in Prayer, Joos van Cleve. Photo/*clairity*. Licensed under Creative Commons.

It’s  logical to conclude that the Immaculate Conception refers to Christ because the Gospel at the Dec. 8 Solemnity Mass is about our Lord’s conception.

But the title and the feast day belong to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her conception isn’t explicitly mentioned in the bible, so it’s also logical to ask on what basis the Church teaches that her conception was immaculate.

Probably the strongest argument for Mary’s Immaculate Conception is that not just anybody could become the mother of God without a lot of grace.

The Vatican II document Lumen Gentium teaches that the Blessed Virgin:

“gave the world the Life that renews all things, and who was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role. It is no wonder then that it was customary for the Fathers to refer to the Mother of God as all holy and free from every stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature.” (LG 56)

In 1854, the long-held Church belief in the Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Conception became Church dogma with foundation in scripture and tradition. Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.”

The Serpent’s Enemy

The first bible passage mentioning the promise of redemption also mentions the Mother of the Redeemer.  After the Fall, God told the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” (Gen. 3:15)

Jesus is the conqueror who comes from the woman’s seed and who crushes the serpent’s head while Mary is the woman who is the enemy of the serpent. Mary’s continual union with grace explains the enmity between her and Satan.

Given from her conception “the splendor of an entirely unique holiness,” the Blessed Virgin is hailed by the Angel Gabriel in Luke 1:28 as “full of grace” (LG 56) The angel’s term (kechairitomene in Greek) is not applied to any other person in scripture. According to Pope Pius, that “showed that the Mother of God is the seat of all divine graces and is adorned with all gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

Through the millenia, Church fathers and theologians have studied the issue of Our Lady’s conception. All insist on her absolute purity and her position as the second Eve. (I Cor. 15:22)

In the fourth century, St Ephraem asserted that Mary was as innocent as Eve before the Falll, a virgin without any stain of sin, holier than the seraphim, the sealed fountain of the Holy Spirit, and the pure seed of God. In mind and body she always was intact and immaculate. During the following century, Maximus of Turin called the Blessed Mother a dwelling fit for Christ, not because of her habit of body, but because of original grace.

In her own words

Another reason to believe Mary is the Immaculate Conception is that she herself has said so more than once in the last couple hundred years.

In 1830 the Blessed Virgin appeared to a French nun named Catherine Laboure and told her to place this prayer on what would become the Miraculous Medal: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Then in 1858, only a few years after Pope Pius IX’s proclamation, she appeared to a young girl named  Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France, and told her, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Apparitions don’t  fit well into a logical argument,  but the idea that God provides what we need for the tasks He gives us makes sense. Giving birth to the Savior and raising Him were not small assignments.

Continue reading...

Archbishop Nienstedt’s remarks at 100th anniversary of the Catholic Bulletin/The Catholic Spirit

January 14, 2011

0 Comments

(Remarks of Archbishop John Nienstedt at The Great Catholic Get-Together of 2011, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Catholic Bulletin/The Catholic Spirit – January 6, 2011.)

As we celebrate 100 years of The Catholic Spirit, we could point to so many achievements. Imagine the number of words that have been written over that time! The moments of great joy and deep sorrow that appeared on the pages. Life changing events for our world and the Church that were captured by a camera. And the discourse of a few archbishops!

While we cannot minimize these human achievements and the manifestation of the creative talents of so many, what is it really that The Catholic Spirit has meant to the hundreds of thousands of Catholics, and others, who have read its pages week after week?

Above all else, The Catholic Spirit has been and continues to be a tool to bring the faithful into closer relationship with Jesus Christ. The Catholic Spirit is at its best when it unpacks the news of the day through the lens of the teachings of the Catholic Church. It helps Catholics really understand how to live out their faith in the workplace, at school, at play, in the public square. It does this by telling stories – the important stories that are present in our parishes, in our Catholic schools and in places great and small throughout this archdiocese. And the hope is that in each story, column or editorial, the reader encounters Jesus, is strengthened by his presence and brings the fruits of this encounter to those around him.

In November, the Pope himself affirmed the irreplaceable role Catholic newspapers play in forming Christian consciences and reflecting the Church’s viewpoint on contemporary issues. Where the secular media often takes a relativistic and skeptical attitude toward truth, Benedict tells us that the Church must bring the truth of Christ to the world and the Catholic newspapers play in encouraging dialogue among readers as a way to form “critical and Christian consciences.”

The Catholic Spirit strives to be this formative influence in the life of this archdiocese. As publisher of The Catholic Spirit, I am grateful for the care the staff takes in ensuring that the truths of our Catholic faith shine through on the pages of the newspaper – and on the website, Facebook and Twitter, for that matter. And as the words written by those who contribute to The Catholic Spirit will most certainly be delivered in very different ways in the future, the purpose of those words – to bring all who encounter them closer to Jesus – will never change.

Continue reading...

Father John Forliti’s new book offers ‘Ten Anchors’ every Catholic — especially teens and young adults — ought to know and cherish

December 8, 2010

0 Comments

New book by Father John Forliti

Father John Forliti wants to make it difficult for teen and young adult Catholics to miss out on the satisfying, hope-filled, “anchoring” gift that Catholic life offers.

The retired pastor who is now a high school chaplain believes that young people will grow personally and both the church and society will benefit if younger folks know more about their church, if they see the good that people of faith have brought to the world, and if they realize that the church values what they value.

Already the author of a double-handful of books, many which deal with values and choices, Father Forliti has put together a compact, 75-page paperback that may just be an answer to keeping younger Catholics from drifting away from their baptismal faith.

At the heart of Catholic life

“Ten Anchors” presents just that, 10 solid values, ideas and elements of Catholic life that are key “for navigating the sea of life,” as Father John puts it.

Each chapter offers the long-time priest-educator’s reflection on a dimension of the church that he considers at the heart of the Roman Catholic experience:

  • Compassion;
  • Social Justice;
  • Moral Tradition;
  • Jesus;
  • The Eucharist;
  • Reverence for Life;
  • Respect for the Mind;
  • Easter People;
  • Roman and Catholic;
  • Mary and the Saints.

Much good news to share

As with most of the writing by this 73-year-old priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, “Ten Anchors” is filled with stories – and they’re “good news” stories. That’s a strength, because as Father Forliti notes, secular sources readily share all that can discourage young people from being connected to religion.

“In its 2,000-year history,” he notes, “the Catholic Church has done it all, both the best and the worst. While others may choose to write about its failures, this book will focus on its successes.”

Readers will learn, for example, about the compassion of the founders of religious communities, about the work of Catholic Charities, the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, the values embedded in the Ten Commandments, the Catholic scientists throughout history who have enlightened humankind, the rationale for Catholic belief on the sacredness of life.

Father Forliti invites his readers to “walk with me through the Mass from beginning to end,” explaining the major parts of the Eucharistic liturgy “and how it might speak to you.”

Textbook-like usefulness

Each chapter concludes with three brief sections that solidify the teaching on that chapter’s topic.

First there are a handful of lines that concisely summarize why that dimension of the church is so important.

Father John follows with suggestions for how to incorporate that dimension into one’s life. These are down-to-earth suggestions: Memorize the Ten Commandments; study Catholic history – don’t be satisfied with hearsay; read a biography of an American saint; choose an agency or cause you can support with prayers and financial help, “no matter how small”; choose a Gospel and “walk” through it, noting the words, actions and feelings of Jesus. “What is it he is saying to you, what is he doing that impresses you, and what is he feeling that inspires you?”

Finally, each chapter concludes with a short prayer.

“Ten Anchors” is a book that will make a great add-on to any faith formation efforts for those in the later years of high school and older teens and young adults. Youth ministers and young adult ministers may want to check it out as a 10-week series. Older adults will find it valuable as well as a refresher course.

It’s a well-written, well-edited capsulation of the dimensions of Catholic life that, from his years on the faculty of the University of St. Thomas, as pastor of St. Olaf in downtown Minneapolis, and now as chaplain at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Father Forliti knows must be handed on to the next generation. — bz

“Ten Anchors” is available from the author for $12.95. Contact Father Forliti at jeforliti@comcast.net. It is also available at http://www.lulu.com.

Continue reading...