Carville.pdf

Some who need your Lenten prayers

Posted March 17, 2017 at 12:00 am

The biblical and traditional way to “keep” Lent is through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Our Catholic Church designates Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as mandatory days of fasting. During Lent many of our parishes use “rice bowls” or take up special collections for the poor. Prayer, however, gets the most attention, and rightly so. The first reading for Lent on Ash Wednesday has the prophet Joel speaking for the Lord and saying, “Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God.” Some church parishes schedule retreats during Lent. Others have Taize musical prayer services. Almost all have extra time set aside for the sacrament of reconciliation, for instance, “The Light is ON for You” for Wednesday night confessions.

I am writing today to suggest that we dedicate special

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    Catoir.pdf

    My farewell column

    As a young college student, I found myself drifting away from the church. I had a thousand questions, and I found institutional religion unappealing. If it were not for a piece of writing that spoke to my heart, by Cardinal John Henry Newman, I don’t know where I’d be today:

    “God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me, which he has not committed to another.

    “I have

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Of virtue and sin

    There’s an axiom which says: Nothing feels better than virtue. There’s a deep truth here, but it has an underside. When we do good things we feel good about ourselves. Virtue is indeed its own reward, and that’s good. However, feeling righteous can soon enough turn into feeling self-righteous. Nothing feels better than virtue; but self-righteousness feels pretty good too.

    We see this famously expressed in Jesus’ parable of the pharisee and the publican. The pharisee is practicing virtue, his actions are

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    Doyle.pdf

    Thanking high donors/Meaning of ‘world without end’/Free to marry?

    Q In my parish, there is an appreciation dinner every year for high-end donors, by invitation only. (I would estimate that anywhere from 5 to 7 percent of parishioners attend.) But among the invitees I have not seen are people who devote a lot of time working for the parish community but can’t afford to contribute enough money to be eligible for the “dinner club.”

    It strikes me that such fundraising techniques might be appropriate for some other charitable organizations but not

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    EDIITORIAL: Diffusing prejudice

    Polarization fueled by hatred that is permeating modern society is perhaps the most serious threat the country is facing today.

    Although it might be trendy to place the entire blame on the Trump administration for this disturbing trend, we did not arrive at a point where even the walls of school buildings are being employed as billboards to broadcast messages of hate and prejudice over night. Rather, those seeds that are spreading their malefic pollen today were planted many years

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    Doyle.pdf

    Distractions during prayer/Crediting parish with diocesan donation/Shopping on Sunday?

    Q I have heard that it is sinful to let oneself be distracted in prayer. This makes sense to me as regards to prayers that are obligatory: e.g., Sunday Mass, the Divine Office for priests and religious or the penance assigned during confession.

    But what if one is not required to say that prayer in the first place: the morning offering, for example, or weekday Mass? Would it be better not to say those prayers at all, because then there would be

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    Carville.pdf

    Lent, a time to let our prayers go up as our eating goes down

    Lent has been an intense spiritual experience for followers of Christ throughout the centuries. Christians of ancient Rome early developed impressive Lenten liturgies. For medieval Europeans, Lent was a time for prolonged prayer, severe bodily discipline and generous alms giving. During the 1900s our parents and grandparents observed Lent with frequent, even daily Mass, public devotional practices and austere fasting. As a boy, I can remember our pastor, Right Rev. Msgr. Leonard Robin, preaching in detail the requirements of fasting: for breakfast – two slices of toast, no

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Welcoming the stranger

    In the Hebrew Scriptures, that part of the Bible we call the Old Testament, we find a strong religious challenge to always welcome the stranger, the foreigner. This was emphasized for two reasons: First, because the Jewish people themselves had once been foreigners and immigrants. Their Scriptures kept reminding them not to forget that. Second, they believed that God’s revelation, most often, comes to us through the stranger, in what’s foreign to us. That belief was integral to their faith.

    The great

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    Doerflinger, Richard.pdf

    Being Catholic first

    This past presidential campaign, one of the most bruising and discouraging on record, left many of us dissatisfied with the electoral system and politics in general. As usual, Catholics voted for the winning candidate – despite internal divisions between churchgoers and nonchurchgoers and between white and Hispanic Catholics.

    And as usual, Catholics’ tendency to pick the winner raises a question: Are we leading the country or following the crowd? Does our faith make us different?

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    Carville.pdf

    Jesus’ inaugural address

    In St. Matthew’s Gospel, after Jesus came out of the desert following his baptism by St. John the Baptist and being tempted by the devil to abandon his God-given mission, he began teaching in the synagogues of Galilee and curing the ill. Quickly he became famous. Great crowds were coming to him from across the Jordan and as far as Jerusalem. Seeing a multitude of people gathering, he went up a mountain and addressed them about a new path of spirituality that would fulfill the purpose of the Old

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    Pratt.pdf

    A funny thing happened on the way to confession

    “Confession is good for the soul,” they say. I agree. I also find that it helps us to live well no matter what our station or situation in life, especially if we make it a time to move fully out of our comfort zone.

    During Lent and Advent, nearby parishes regularly have reconciliation services that allow us to reflect and prepare for these holy seasons. Often, before our regular parish Saturday evening Mass, the sacrament of reconciliation is offered, making it convenient

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Embittered moralizing

    One of the dangers inherent in trying to live out a life of Christian fidelity is that we are prone to become embittered moralizers, older brothers of the prodigal son, angry and jealous at God’s over-generous mercy, bitter because persons who wander and stray can so easily access the heavenly banquet table.

    But this isn’t unique to faithful church-goers. It’s part of the universal struggle to age without bitterness and anger. We spend the first-half of our lives wrestling with the sixth

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    Doyle.pdf

    At Mass if you’re in confessional?/Martin Luther King Jr. ‘feast day’?

    Q Growing up Catholic, I was taught that in order to fulfill your Sunday obligation, you were required to be present for three parts of the Mass: the Gospel, the offertory and Communion. Our parish just started hearing confessions at the very time the Sunday Mass is being celebrated (i.e., not just before or after Mass).

    So my question is this: If you are in the confessional during any of these three parts of the Mass, have you fulfilled your Sunday obligation?

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Taking our wounds to the Eucharist

    Recently a man came to me, asking for help. He carried some deep wounds, not physical wounds, but emotional wounds to his soul. What surprised me initially was that, while he was deeply wounded, he had not been severely traumatized either in childhood or adulthood. He seemed to have just had to absorb the normal bumps and bruises that everyone has to absorb: some belittling, some bullying, never being the favorite, dissatisfaction with his own body, unfairness within his family and siblings, career frustration, unfairness in his workplace,

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    Doyle.pdf

    Reverence in church/Catholics and the Freemasons/New rules for baptism?

    Q Growing up in our family, God always came first. Our parents taught us to love and respect the Eucharist, especially when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed on the altar. (We would genuflect and bow.)

    Our parish church now exposes the Eucharist before Sunday Mass. I am shocked to see people (young and old) come into Mass, plop themselves down in the pew and whip out their cellphones. Then they begin to laugh and text without, it seems, so much as a

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    Carville.pdf

    Prayer: Our deepest longing

    I don’t know if our four days of priests’ continuing formation in January were the cart or the horse, but prayer was the subject of our annual formation conference in Metairie that caused us to be absent from your church parishes Jan. 9-12. Included in our packets for the conference was an excellent short book (69 pages) by Father Ronald Rolheiser OMI entitled “Prayer: Our Deepest Longing.” The Christian Formation Secretariat of the Diocese is inviting all parishes to “read, reflect and share their thoughts” on this one book during the season of Lent.

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    Doyle.pdf

    Cremation and burial at sea

    Q  I am a lifelong Catholic and served 28 years in the Navy. As a junior officer, I saw the ashes or bodies of deceased sailors buried at sea; I decided at the time that this is what I want done with my body after I die, and I have not changed my mind.

    Recently, I shared that decision with some of my fellow parishioners, and one of them said that a new directive from the church provides that a Catholic can

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    Carville.pdf

    Lord, when did we see you … ill …?

    Our publication date for The Catholic Commentator and this column is Jan. 20. Of course, this is also the inauguration day of President-elect Donald J. Trump.

    During his campaigns to defeat his Republican rivals for the nomination of his party and then to defeat Democrat Hilary Clinton for the presidency, Trump constantly pledged to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s most important act of legislation. I was as surprised as anyone that Trump was elected, so I don’t qualify

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Orthodoxy, sin and heresy

    Recently, while on the road giving a workshop, I took the opportunity to go the cathedral in that city for Sunday Eucharist. I was taken aback by the homily. The priest used the Gospel text where Jesus says, “I am the vine and you are the branches,” to tell the congregation that what Jesus is teaching here is that the Roman Catholic Church constitutes what is referred to as the branches, and the way we link to those branches is through the Mass, and if we miss Mass

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    Catoir.pdf

    Accepting yourself as God does

    Perfectionists are often exhausted. They don’t know how to relax. It’s important to realize that being perfect is not as important as being at peace with who you are.

    There’s a lesson to be learned from those less fortunate than ourselves. The blind and the disabled often have a certain calmness about them. They have come to terms with their limitations. They’ve learned to live with being an imperfect human being.

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    Carville.pdf

    The Magi still ride

    The problems of our present time, war, refugees, inequality will not be solved until we know this earth as the home of all men, women and children. We all inhabit a common house. We are each other’s keeper, at least that is what our Christian faith is calling us to be. In the book that I have been reading this Christmas season, John Shea’s “Starlight: Beholding the Christmas Miracle All Year Long,” Shea does a beautiful job of showing how the Christmas

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Incarnation – God is with us

    For many of us, I suspect, it gets harder each year to capture the mood of Christmas. About the only thing that still warms our hearts are memories, memories of younger, more naïve, days when the lights and carols, Christmas trees and gifts, still excited us. But we’re adult now and so too, it seems, is our world. Much of our joy in anticipating Christmas is blunted by many things, not least by the commercialism that today is characterized by excess. By late October we already see Christmas decorations,

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    Doyle.pdf

    Can a woman say the homily?/Catholic-Jewish wedding /‘Orans’ posture during Our Father

    Q  At Mass, after the Gospel has been read by a priest, can the female parish life director give the homily? With six priests sitting down? At one of our local parishes, this happens regularly. (Upstate New York)

    A  The current guidelines of the Catholic Church on this matter are quite clear. The Code of Canon Law says: “Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a

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    Carville.pdf

    Is Christmas just for children?

    I am a Christmas lover, and I am sure that many of you readers are too. I love the music, the liturgies, the Christmas trees, the gift giving, the family parties and meals, and of course, all the excited children. I know that some Catholics would like to make the only Christmas tree before Christmas Eve in our churches and even in our homes a Jesse tree (it looks like Charlie Brown’s tree without a single Christmas ornament or even a leaf). But I prefer to anticipate Christmas

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Our churches as sanctuaries

    Whenever we have been at our best, as Christians, we have opened our churches as sanctuaries to the poor and the endangered. We have a long, proud history wherein refugees, homeless persons, immigrants facing deportation and others who are endangered, take shelter inside our churches. If we believe what Jesus tells us about the last judgment in the 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, this should serve us well when we stand before God at the end.

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    Doyle.pdf

    Guidelines on gluten-free/Football commentary at Mass

    Q  At our parish weekend Mass, one child comes regularly to the altar at the same time as the eucharistic ministers and receives Communion separately from the congregation. My understanding is that he has celiac disease and gets a gluten-free host.

    But I just realized today that the celebrant gives him Communion using the same hand that has just touched the “regular” hosts. As a person with a food allergy myself (albeit a different one), doesn’t that risk a cross-contamination of

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    Catoir.pdf

    Celebrating Christ at Christmas

    As we rejoice in the Lord’s birth this Christmas, it is important to remember that faith in the incarnation of Jesus Christ is an essential part of the Catholic Church’s teachings: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). Jesus came as a light into the world, to dispel the darkness and to give us new life (Jn 8:12). He gave up his life to bring salvation, love and joy to the human race.

    The doctrine of

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    Doyle.pdf

    Paying for indulgences/God and masculine pronoun

    Q  When did the church stop asking for money for indulgences? And why did they ask for money in the first place? (Wichita, Kansas)

    A  I am almost reluctant to answer your question because, as asked, a simple response would imply a serious admission. Though it has been accused for centuries of having “sold” indulgences, the Catholic Church never approved such a practice.

    Undeniably, individual Catholics were guilty of selling indulgences, but the practice was never

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    EDITORIAL: Politicizing Christmas

    Make no mistake, this day was inevitable.

    The state of Oregon, or at least several public school districts in the state, are requesting that Christ be eliminated from Christmas. Even jolly old St. Nick, he of the white beard who delivers toys to boys and girls everywhere, is being kicked to the curb.

    In western Portland, staff members of a local high school received a note saying they were allowed to decorate their offices or doors with the caveat

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    Carville.pdf

    Advent: waiting for what?

    We all outgrow the child’s Christmas, the waiting for Santa Claus. Unfortunately, Advent, the church’s season of waiting for Christmas can seem artificial too. The baby Jesus was born 2016 years ago. What is the point of waiting for that event again?

    Advent is not an exercise in “Let’s pretend.” It is a journey, year after year, into the deeper reality of our lives. While the “Word became flesh, and lived among us” 2,000 plus years ago, the entry of God into

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