Rolheiser.pdf

The Christ-Child of the year

Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:00 am

Every year Time magazine recognizes someone as “Person of the Year.” The recognition isn’t necessarily an honor; it’s given to the person whom Time judges to have been the newsmaker of the year for good or for bad. This year, instead of choosing an individual to recognize as newsmaker of the year, it recognized instead a category of persons, the Silence Breakers, namely, women who have spoken out about having experienced sexual harassment and sexual violence.  

Part of the challenge of Christmas is to recognize where Christ is being born in our world today, where 2,000 years after the birth of Jesus we can again visit the stable in Bethlehem, see the new-born child, and have our hearts moved by the power of divine innocence and powerlessness.  

For

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    Carville.pdf

    Why did two evangelists give us Christmas?

    St. Mark, who was the first disciple of Jesus to write a Gospel in the late 60s of the first century, chose to begin with St. John the Baptist calling his fellow Jews to prepare for the coming of the kingdom of God by being baptized as a sign of repenting their sins. The Messiah, John said, whom God through the prophets had promised in the Old Testament, would soon appear and baptize them with the Spirit of God himself.

    St. John

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    Doyle.pdf

    Burial of unbaptized/ Role of deacon

    Q My son passed away recently at the age of 35. We held a memorial service for him since we could not have a funeral Mass. (He was not baptized as an infant, which was my decision, of course, not his.) 

    I have been a Catholic all my life, have followed Christian principles and have raised my children with those same values. My parish priest is saying that since my son was never baptized, he cannot be buried in our church’s Catholic cemetery

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    Carville.pdf

    A season of what kind of correctness?

    At this time of year we begin receiving cards that say, “Season’s Greetings.” What season? Department stores are so hard up for customers that they won’t risk losing any by wishing a Jewish person Merry Christmas or a Christian person Happy Hanukkah, or an atheist who belongs to the ACLU any feast that has a biblical or spiritual association. I don’t understand why it is such a big problem. I have Jewish friends who wish me Merry Christmas, and I reply Happy Hanukkah. Even Muslims recognize the Old

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    Hearing God in the silence

    Silence.

    Quite the novel concept in a technology-driven society, where a few minutes away from our electronic devices can create a tsunami of anxiety.

    Through a confluence of events and the stars apparently aligning with the Age of Aquarius, I was presented with that ghastly scenario. Shortly before leaving work on a recent afternoon, the battery on my laptop, which I never leave home or anywhere else without, expressed its desire to be charged.

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    Doyle.pdf

    Fasting and holy Communion/ Preference for death penalty

    Q I’ve heard several different takes on the rules with regard to fasting before receiving Communion. On the one hand, I’ve been told that we are not to ingest any food or drink within one half-hour of a service. But I’ve also heard that water or even coffee are not included in this prohibition.  

    Someone had mentioned to me also that this fasting doesn’t apply if there are health issues involved. It seems to me that older parishioners take a stricter view on

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Playing loose with the truth

    It can be quite disheartening to watch the news these days. Our world is full of hatred, bigotry, racism and over-stimulated greed and ego. The gap between the rich and poor is widening and random, senseless violence is an everyday occurrence. One lives with hope, but without much optimism. 

    Among all of this, perhaps the most distressing thing of all is the erosion of our capacity to recognize and acknowledge the truth. From the highest government offices, to the major media outlets, to

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    Youth Briefs

    Six members of the St. Joseph’s Academy volleyball team have been named to the District 3-5A All-District Team. They are Fran Okpalobi, who was named Outstanding Offensive Player, Tess Hiller, Caroline Starns, Julia Welsh and Amber Haynes. Honorable mention went to Abigail Haynes and Sivi Miller was named Coach of the Year.

    St. Alphonsus School in Greenwell Springs has named Lily May, fifth grade, and Grace Toler, eighth grade, Students of the Year for 2017-2018.

    Paralysis, exasperation, and helplessness as prayer

    Several years ago I received an email that literally stopped my breath. A man who had been for many years an intellectual and faith mentor to me, a man whom I thoroughly trusted, and a man with whom I had developed a life-giving friendship, had killed both his wife and himself in a murder-suicide. The news left me gasping for air, paralyzed in terms of how to understand and accept this as well as how to pray in the face of this. 

    I had neither words of explanation nor

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    Agoraphobia and Mass attendance/ Is sign of peace required?

    Q Togetherness seems to have become such an integral part of Catholicism, and extroverts tend to look disdainfully at those who prefer to sit at the end of the pew, are shy about grasping hands, shudder at the thought of being hugged or have difficulty with extemporaneous small talk. For me, being squashed in the center of a pew is agonizing, and there is no way I can focus on the Mass in that situation. 

    About once every two or three months, I feel compelled to go into our

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    Carville.pdf

    La Misa de Accion de Gracias

    November has been a month of giving thanks. We honored those who have served us in the various branches of the United States military on Veterans’ Day. Now, as The Catholic Commentator hits the news stands on Thanksgiving weekend, we give thanks for our personal and national blessings.

    If you attended the LSU-Arkansas football game (or watched it on TV), you saw a very beautiful half-time show expressing thanks musically and visually to those who have served us in the military. I

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    Doyle.pdf

    Ending of Our Father/ Write off church donations?

    Q Protestants have their own form of the Lord’s Prayer, ending with, “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Amen.” I read in a book by a Catholic author, first published in 1911, that “such an addition was not uttered by Our Lord. Catholics consequently do not use it.” Please comment. (Columbus, Ohio)  

    A The answer is not quite as simple as the 1911 author suggests. True, most biblical scholars agree that the “Protestant ending” (“For thine is the kingdom … etc.”) is not included in the earliest Greek manuscripts

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    Carville.pdf

    Hope for unity after 500 years of separation

    Except for various Halloween observances, Oct. 31 passed quietly in this more Catholic southern half of Louisiana. In other parts of our nation, like Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Woebegone, Minnesota, the Lutheran pastor and his congregation were having a big celebration. Oct. 31 marked the traditional date on which, 500 years ago (Oct. 31, 1517) the Augustinian friar, Martin Luther, fixed his 95 theses on the selling of indulgences and other abuses of the Catholic Church to the doors of the castle

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    A plea for the soul

    It’s hard to find your soulmate in someone who doesn’t believe you have a soul. 

    Recently on The Moth Radio Hour a young woman shared the story of her breakup with her boyfriend, a young man for whom she had deep feelings. The problem was that she, a person with a deep faith, a Mormon, struggled with the radical materialism of her boyfriend. For him, there were no souls; the physical world was real, and nothing else. She kept asking him if he believed he had a soul. He couldn’t make himself believe that.

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    Be thou my vision, but what do I see?

    We cuddle together in the dark after the last book has been read. His 5-year-old limbs squirm as I whisper that it’s time for sleep. 

    “Can you sing me one more song?” he pleads. 

    I can’t resist. I’m a middle child, too. I know that in a family of many, you need to guard a few treasures for yourself. So we start to sing his lullaby, the one I sing only to him. 

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    Will our lowered flag ever be lifted?

    On Oct. 2, Rand Cooper, a writer who contributes to Commonweal Magazine, one of our best lay Catholic publications, was bringing his six-year-old daughter her trumpet, which she had forgotten upon leaving for school. He noted that the school’s American flag was already at half-mast to honor those killed the evening before in Las Vegas. He had a flash back to similar mass killings: 21 first-graders in nearby Sandy Hook, Connecticut, five years ago; nine classmates killed by a student at Umpqua Community College in Oregon exactly two years ago to the day; 16

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Close the distance not the gate

    Nobel-prizing winning author, Toni Morrison, assessing the times, asks this question: “Why should we want to know a stranger when it is easier to estrange another? Why should we want to close the distance when we can close the gate?” Except this isn’t a question, it’s a judgment.

    It’s a negative judgment on both our society and our churches. Where are our hearts really at? Are we trying more to close the distance between us and what’s foreign, or are we into

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    Catoir.pdf

    Tell it like it is

    To some, the devil is nothing more than a silly Halloween costume. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    The Las Vegas massacre cannot be explained as a mental health issue. It was pure evil that manifested itself as demonic madness. Those who deny the existence of Satanic malice have a lot to learn.

    The Vatican has for centuries maintained archival records of diabolical possessions. A special school

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    Doyle.pdf

    Leaving right after Communion/Responsibility to inform

     I am surprised by the number of people who regularly leave church immediately after receiving the Eucharist. In the diary of St. Faustina, Jesus says how sad he is that people treat him as a dead object and busy themselves with other things.  

    It is distracting and disruptive of my own personal prayer when I see these people head directly to the exits. This is the closest and most holy time we have to spend with the Lord. Am I being overly sensitive about the actions of others? (Louisville, Kentucky) 

     St. Philip

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    Carville.pdf

    How to evangelize a ‘None’

    Three weeks ago it was announced in your church parishes and in The Catholic Commentator that your priests would be attending a state-wide convention of priests in New Orleans Sept. 19-21. These are held every four years. The convention theme was “Shepherding Today as Priest, Prophet and King.”

    These titles belong to the ministry of Jesus, and ever since have been used to describe the sacramental, preaching and pastoral ministry of his priests. There were three main addresses from bishops of New

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    Doyle.pdf

    Duties of a pastor/ How often to anoint?

    Q  Can you please explain what a pastor’s duties are and whether he has anyone overseeing him? Does he report directly to the bishop? Does the bishop ever meet or check with the pastor to see how things are going? (Syracuse, New York) 

    A  A pastor, as the word itself signifies, is essentially a “shepherd” entrusted with the care of souls for those in his parish. The pastor’s responsibilities are laid out in Canon 528 of the church’s Code of Canon Law.  

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    A prayer for stillness

    Be still and know that I am God. Scripture assures us that if we are still we will come to know God, but arriving at stillness is easier said than done. As Blaise Pascal once stated, “All the miseries of the human person come from the fact that no one can sit still for one hour.” Achieving stillness seems beyond us and this leaves us with a certain dilemma, we need stillness to find God, but we need God’s help to find stillness. With this in mind, I

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    Doyle.pdf

    Need for annulment?/ Mass without singing?

    Q  I had been away from the Catholic Church for a very long time, but I recently returned and I have a question. I was married in the Catholic Church and got a divorce, but I did not get a church annulment. Later, I married a different man (not a Catholic) and divorced him as well. My question is: What do I need to do now in order to go to confession and receive the Eucharist?  

    I spoke with two priests and received

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    Carville.pdf

    Mass, a ritual prayer with Jesus

    Today (Sept. 9) is the first home game of the LSU football 2017 season. As I prepare to attend the game, I check the schedule on an email from Tiger Sports: 4 p.m.: Gates Open; 4:25 p.m.: Team walks down Victory Hill; 4:40 p.m.: Band marches down Victory Hill; 6:30 p.m.: Kickoff. The game times change, but the ritual, never. It is far more constant and reliable, year after year, than the announcer’s promise of no rain in Tiger Stadium, “NEVER!” That ritual sends a good feeling through me,

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Our struggle with riches

    A number of years ago I attended a funeral. The man to whom we were saying goodbye had enjoyed a full and rich life. He’d reached the age of 90 and was respected for having been both successful and honest. But he’d always been a strong man, a natural leader, a man who took charge of things. He’d had a good marriage, raised a large family, been successful in business and held leadership roles in various civic and church organizations. He was a man who commanded respect although he

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    Carville.pdf

    Life is a God-intended challenge

    Hurricane Harvey flooding Houston and Lake Charles, a crazy North Korean leader lobbing a ballistic missile over Japan, another murder in Baton Rouge, friends diagnosed with cancer. There’s a lot to pray about in what should be an ordinary week. But then, we did celebrate the feast of the Passion of St. John the Baptist on Aug. 29. We all know what happened to him, jailed and beheaded still in his early thirties. As I was reading the Office of Readings on my iPhone breviary on his feast, it

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Achievement versus fruitfulness

    There’s a real difference between our achievements and our fruitfulness, between our successes and the actual good that we bring into the world. 

    What we achieve brings us success, gives us a sense of pride, makes our families and friends proud of us, and gives us a feeling of being worthwhile, singular and important. We’ve done something. We’ve left a mark. We’ve been recognized. And along with those awards, trophies, academic degrees, certificates of distinction, things we’ve built and artifacts we’ve left behind comes public

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    Doyle.pdf

    In heaven for sure?/ Length of dispensation process

    Q  My mother passed away some time ago, and I wonder whether she is now in “God’s eternal embrace.” How can I be sure?  She was a good mother and she dearly loved the church, but we have been taught that everyone has some imperfections and, upon death, must be sent to purgatory before they can enjoy heaven. I would rest more easily if I knew that my mother were not suffering any longer. (Forest, Virginia)  

    A The

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    Carville.pdf

    Being Catholic and Christian in America after Charlottesville

    We live in a world that seeks ever greater division ISIS against the west and anyone else it is convenient to murder (including their fellow Muslims), Russia against Ukraine, Boko Haram against weaker Africans and now white supremacists against African Americans and Jews.Yet, our Catholicism, our common belief with other Christians that Jesus is Lord of all, and the values written into America’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution all demand that we work for the unity of our nation and our world.Charlottesville is a grim reminder that we

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    The power of ritual

    I don’t always find it easy to pray. Often I’m over-tired, distracted, caught-up in tasks, pressured by work, short on time, lacking the appetite for prayer or more strongly drawn to do something else. But I do pray daily; despite the fact that I often don’t want to and despite the fact that many times prayer can be boring and uninteresting. I pray daily because I’m committed to a number of rituals for prayer, the office of the church, lauds and vespers, the Eucharist and daily meditation.  

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