Faith Alive

By: Marcellino D'Ambrosio (CNS)
Originally Appeared in : 9807-3/29/18

In the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and all the popes since, we hear over and over again that evangelization is the primary task of the church. In fact, in 1990, St. John Paul II declared, “I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the church’s energies to a new evangelization.”

 

By: David Gibson (CNS)
Originally Appeared in : 9806-3/15/18

The Palm Sunday cry of Christians, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” was heard many centuries ago in Jerusalem’s streets. It still is heard today.

 

The words of this cry are so familiar that their meaning risks being overlooked or taken for granted. They hold a great challenge, however.

 

Let’s visit the writing of Etheria, a woman from Galicia, a Spanish province, who traveled to the Holy Land in the fourth century. Her word images of Christian life in Jerusalem became an invaluable tool for future historians.

 

By: Father Geoffrey A. Brooke Jr.(CNS)
Originally Appeared in : 9805-3/1/18

When I was in college, a classmate posted on Ash Wednesday that she was giving up Facebook for Lent. Thursday, she joined Twitter. Funny? Yes. Inconceivable? No.

 

This begs the question, What was she hoping to get out of giving up Facebook for Lent?

 

By: Mike Nelson (CNS)
Originally Appeared in : 9804-2/15/18

Unlike Christmas, Easter and every Sunday of the year, Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation. Maybe that’s part of the draw for some people, who fill their parish churches for Ash Wednesday liturgies as they rarely do at any other time.

 

“Yes, we get big turnouts for Ash Wednesday,” says Father Dan Rupp, pastor of Mater Dei Church in Sioux City, Iowa. “It seems like many of these folks are people who also come for the blessing of the throats, or anytime there is something different going on than at most Sunday liturgies.”

 

By: John C. Cavadini (CNS)
Originally Appeared in : 9803-2/1/18

The sacrament of confirmation is perhaps the most mysterious of all the sacraments. Many Christians find it difficult to understand what benefit it brings. Isn’t the Holy Spirit received at baptism?

 

Yes, baptism makes us “a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1279). Then why do we need to receive the Holy Spirit again in confirmation?

 

By: David Gibson (CNS)
Originally Appeared in : 9802-1/18/18

Baptism is no mere “formality” in Christian life. “It is an act that touches the depths of our existence,” Pope Francis remarked in January 2014, speaking four days before the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, when contemporary popes customarily baptize babies in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.

 

I do not know all the reasons Pope Francis accented the word “formality” in telling what baptism is not. But obviously, to regard baptism as a formality, something like an academic society’s initiation ceremony, would be to misunderstand it entirely. 

By: Paul Senz (CNS)
Originally Appeared in : 9801-1/4/18

The visit of the Magi to the newborn Jesus is commemorated as the feast of the Epiphany. This places the emphasis on what was revealed to them at this, the culmination of their long journey “from the east” (Mt 2:1).

 

The Magi remain mysterious figures. There are many theories as to just who these pilgrims were. There is a consensus that they travelled a great distance from the east, compelled as they were to come and do homage to the “newborn king of the Jews” (Mt 2:2).

 

By: David Gibson (CNS)
Originally Appeared in : 9726-12/21/17

Did you ever hear a sound in the night that startled you from sleep, an unsettling sound that left you wide awake and demanded that you investigate its cause? The Gospel of Luke tells of a nighttime disturbance similar to this (2:8-14).
It startled shepherds “keeping the night watch over their flock” some 2,000 years ago in the Holy Land. “Behold,” a voice called out to them.

 

Luke indicates that what happened in the night really frightened the shepherds at first. It captured their complete attention, of course.

 

By: Father Herb Weber (CNS)
Originally Appeared in : 9725-12/7/17

Promises are part of our lives. As kids we extract promises from parents and friends just as we learn to make promises. Some are simple like the promise to bring a treat. Others demand more commitment like the promise to be there when our friends need us.

 

The most significant promises that I witness take place at marriage ceremonies. As the officiating minister I ask both the man and the woman if they will repeat after me. Then they say how they promise to be faithful in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love and honor all the days of their lives. 

By: David Gibson (CNS)
Originally Appeared in : 9722-10/26/17

Something virtually unthinkable happened during the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s. Numerous Christians who were not Roman Catholics were invited to serve as formal observers of the council proceedings in Rome.

 

These observers’ surprising presence at the council confirmed that a centuries-long polemical era of disputes and contention, a time when divided Christians basically turned their backs to each other, was undergoing a profound transformation.

 

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