Category Archives: Reflections / Family


See Below in the following Order — Use the Table of Contents Links to find the Resources you want.

  1. RESOURCE: At Home with the Word 2018, LTP, pages 40-43.
  2. RESOURCE: Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary,  LTP, pages 8-9.
  3. RESOURCE: Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities 2018, Liturgical Press, Online Pages 12-15.
  4. RESOURCE: The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections,, pages 8-9..
  5. RESOURCE: Guide to Daily Prayer, Apostleship of Prayer, pages 16-17.
  6. RESOURCE: Lectio Divina
  7. RESOURCE: Magnificat Reflections, December 2017, pages 262 & 267-269.
  8. RESOURCE: Give Us This Day® Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, December 2017, pages 180-181.
  9. RESOURCE: Homily for Sunday, December 10, 2017
  10. RESOURCE: Holy Father’s Intention For The Month Of December 2017  —The Apostleship of Prayer
  11. RESOURCE: KNOM Radio Mission’s Monthly Bulletin’s, One-Liners in Faith For December 2017.
  12. RESOURCE: Suggested Prayer of the Faithful: Faith Catholic Online;   Daily Prayer 2017;   OCP;   Magnificat;  Liturgical Press.
  13. RESOURCE: Prayer of the Faithful Last Sunday, Second Sunday of Advent, December 10, 2017 – Cycle B – Saint Peter Parish, Kirkwood

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At Home with the Word 2018

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT                     December 17, 2017

READING I         Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11                                                                                                                                                                     The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me;                                                                                          he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted,                                                                                            to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God.

I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul;                                                                                                                   for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels.                 As the earth brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise spring up before all the nations.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM                  Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54 (Isaiah 61:10b)

R: My soul rejoices in my God.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the LORD; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,                                                                                for he has looked upon his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed. R.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.                                                                                                             He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. R.

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.                                                                                      He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy. R.

READING II         1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Brothers and sisters: Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.

GOSPEL        John 1:6-8, 19-28

A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” he admitted and did not deny it,

but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said:  “I am <<the voice of one crying

out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord,>> as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Practice of Hope

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the LORD / my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” sings the mother of our Lord. Gaudete means “Rejoice!” Today, Gaudete Sunday, we pause in our more solemn preparations to rejoice with Mary in the promise of God’s coming. At Mass we mark the day with rose-colored vestments and at home, with a rose-colored candle in the Advent wreath. Christ is our first and greatest gift, source of our hope and joy! • Whenever you decorate your Christmas tree, gather the household to bless it, with your own prayer or with this one from the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: prayer-and-worship/sacraments-and-sacramentals/sacramentals-blessings/objects/blessing-of-a -christmas-tree.cfm. Afterward, share in Mary and Joseph’s journey of hope. Watch the film, The Nativity Story (2006; rated G; with Keisha Castle-Hughes). • At Christmas time, opportunities abound to spread the hope of Christ. Invite someone to your home for Christmas dinner who might otherwise be alone, or volunteer at a local soup kitchen over the holidays. Reflect on your experience and consider extending yourself in this way on a more regular basis. • For an unusual and energetic musical experience, listen to the Choir of Clare College Cambridge perform the centuries-old Latin Advent carol “Gaudete” at /watch?v=11NgHonWNEO.

Download more questions and  activities for families, Christian  initiation groups, and other adult  groups at           ­productsupplements.aspx.

Scripture Insights

Today’s readings continue the preparation theme we heard in the previous two weeks of Advent. But now the focus shifts somewhat to the joy that awaits us in God’s coming Kingdom. This Sunday is Gaudete (Latin, “rejoice”) Sunday or, as Pope Francis calls it, the Sunday of Joy.

In today’s First Reading, the prophet writes about the mission conferred upon him by God—to bring glad tidings to the lowly and to heal the broken hearted—and about the joy he experiences in God who clothes him in justice and salvation. Early Christians appropriated this text to describe Jesus’ mission (see Luke 4:18-19). By virtue of our Baptism in Christ, this ought to be our mission as well. As the prophet suggests, there is no greater joy than doing God’s work.

The Gospel presents John the Baptist as the one who testifies or gives witness to the Light who is coming into the world (John 1:8). We can rejoice because he is the Light that darkness cannot overcome! As the story unfolds, we see John testifying on Jesus’ behalf before the priests and Levites of Jerusalem and declaring that Jesus is already among them, though they do not recognize him. John declares he is lower than the lowest household servant by comparison to Jesus, the revealer of God. This is cause for great joy!

On the theme of joy, the Church has wisely paired these two readings with a reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. Paul admonishes us to always live in joy, praying and giving thanks, because this is God’s will for us. Everything we do and say should be inspired by this Spirit as we await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Carefully read and reflect on today’s First Reading. What makes the prophet’s call to mission and the work it demands a source of joy? How does this reading relate to your own sense of mission?
  • Where do you see Jesus already in our midst today? Describe the joy that this knowledge brings to you.
  • What does it mean to you to always live in joy?

At Home with the Word, LTP, pages 40-43.

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Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT                 The Voice Testifies to the Word                                      LECTIONARY #8B

ISAIAH 61:1-2A, 10-11          As ancient Israel saw the end of its exile, a glorious future opened before the Chosen People. Those who refused to lose hope saw their dreams fulfilled. The spirit of the Lord fell upon the prophet who faithfully announced the good tidings of healing, liberty, and vindication.

God makes justice and praise spring up. Justice signifies the restoration of a community in its social dignity, and also in its spiritual union. Praise results from these actions. It is the only fitting response of a people redeemed.

Many Christians recognize this passage as the one that Jesus read in the synagogue at the beginning of his ministry in Luke’s account of the Gospel. Today it stands on its own to further the character of Advent.

LUKE 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54 (ISAIAH 61:10B)    Mary’s can­ticle, the Magnificat, proclaims the greatness of a God who has upended the injustices of the world. The hungry are filled; the rich are empty. God has returned to lift Israel from slavery to mercy.

Normally the response that follows the First Reading is drawn from the Book of Psalms, but there are occasions when a canticle from another book fills in. Today’s passage might seem more fitting as a Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, which recounts the events immediately preced­ing the birth of Christ. In fact, it is the Gospel whenever December 22 falls on a weekday. Today, however, it joins with the First Reading to serve as a prophecy for the signifi­cance of the coming of Jesus Christ. He will bring justice to a world in need.

So tightly connected are the themes of these first two elements of today’s Liturgy of the Word that one verse from the First Reading is the refrain for the responsory. The Lectionary links Mary’s canticle to the Book of Isaiah to connect the prophecies for the coming of justice to the coming of Jesus Christ.

1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-24     St. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to rejoice always and constantly give thanks. By retaining what is good and refraining from evil, the Thessalonians may be preserved “blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:23). That phrase explains why this passage has been chosen for our meditation this week­end. The people were awaiting the coming of the Lord, just as Christians today do. As Paul encouraged his readers to be blameless, so we receive the same advice.

This letter is possibly the very first piece of literature composed for the New Testament —the oldest of Paul’s epistles, older than each of the four Gospel accounts. In it can be seen the early anticipation of the imminence of Christ’s return.

The opening word, rejoice, sounds the traditional theme of this Gaudete Sunday. The same word appears in the refrain for the responsory, which in turn comes from the First Reading.

JOHN 1:6-8, 19-28          Today’s passage from John parallels the account heard last week from Mark. It is in two parts—the body following a brief introduction. The intro­duction is taken from the prologue of the Gospel according to John, a poetic proclamation of the mystery of the divine Word. Embedded into the prologue is a narrative about John, distinguishing him from Christ. Those few verses are proclaimed today ahead of the actual appearance of John in the unfolding account of Jesus’ ministry. John the evange­list provides information about the conversation between John the Baptist and the priests and Levites from Jerusalem. They probe to find out just who he is. John cannot answer that without proclaiming who Jesus is.

The Third Sunday of Advent sounds two concurrent themes. One of them is gaudete (rejoice), as seen in the other elements of today’s Liturgy of the Word. The other is the message of John (the Fourth Gospel never calls him “John the Baptist”). So central is John’s preaching to Advent that the Gospel readings for both the Second and Third Sundays always tell of him. Historically, he was preparing his contemporaries for the arrival of Jesus. Biblically, he prepares us to meet Christ at the end of time.


        “The candles [of the wreath] represent the four weeks of Advent, and the number of candles lighted each week corresponds to the number of the cur­rent week of Advent. The rose candle is lighted on the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday” (Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers, p. 73).

∞         “Looking to the heart of Mary, to the depth of her faith expressed in the words of the Magnificat, Christ’s disciples are called to renew ever more fully in themselves ‘the awareness that the truth about God who saves, the truth about God who is the source of every gift, cannot be separated from the manifestation of his love of preference for the poor and humble, that love which, celebrated in the Magnificat, is later expressed in the words and works of Jesus”‘ (CSDC, 59).                                     John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Mater, 37: AAS 79 (1987), 410.

Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 8-9.

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Astoria, OR – Mouth of Columbia River

 Reflecting on the Gospel

On this “Gaudete” (Rejoice) Sunday, other readings and the gospel acclamation may speak more directly to joy or glad tidings than the gospel, which gives us its version of the story of John. Of course, he is often referred to as John the Baptist in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but not in this gospel. Here he is clearly and simply called a “man” (John 1:6), and when he is named, it is merely “John” without modifier (e.g., 1:6, 15, 19, 26, 28, 32). In this way, and in many others in this gospel, he is distinguished from Jesus.

The Fourth Gospel states clearly and unequivocally that John was not the light, but was sent from God to testify to the light (John 1:8). John admits that he is not the Messiah; he is not Elijah. (In both Matthew [11:14] and Mark [9:13], John is considered the Elijah figure, said to be so by Jesus himself.) In the Fourth Gospel, John is not even the prophet. His role is to cry out in the desert, “make straight the way of the Lord.” Such a deflection away from any attention or claims to himself seems to reflect the interests of the evangelist more than the historical situation of the time. Indeed, there are other clues in the Fourth Gospel and other New Testament writings that tell us that John continued to have a following years, perhaps decades, after his death. Today we recognize that John prepared the way for Jesus.

This first chapter of the Fourth Gospel reminded the early Christian community that John was merely a precursor, a forerunner, to Jesus the Messiah. We have heard these stories so often, and fre­quently from the Synoptic point of view. When we read the Fourth Gospel on its own terms we see that John says he baptizes with water. We might expect him to say, “but the one coming after me baptizes with the Holy Spirit” as we hear in the Synoptics. Instead, John says, “I baptize with water; / but there is one among you whom you do not recognize.” There is nothing in this gospel about Jesus bap­tizing with the Holy Spirit. Instead, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Even the use of the term sin in the singular rather than the plural is deliberate. Rather than merely taking away individual sins, Jesus takes away the cosmic force of sin. The Fourth Gospel reflects a different but congru­ent theological thought world than the Synoptics. The differences in details may seem minute but they point to profound theological emphases.

Once John points the way to Jesus, once he testifies to the Lamb of God, John in effect disappears from the gospel (there are some minor passing references). His role is basically confined to chapter 1 of the Fourth Gospel, and it consists in testifying to Jesus.

Living the Paschal Mystery

When we see how John gave testimony to Jesus we recognize him as a model for ourselves. John is not the center of attention. When he receives attention he deflects it to Jesus. John will not even claim the title of prophet. He is merely a pointer to Jesus. After accomplishing his role John recedes into the background so that the one who is already in their midst might be made more fully known.

Where do we find Jesus in our midst? Are we pointing to that reality, and tes­tifying to it? Once having done so, do we then recede into the background?

Focusing the Gospel           John 1:6-8, 19-28

Today’s gospel is the Fourth Gospel’s portrait of John’s baptismal ministry. In a scene unique to the Fourth Gospel, a delegation of priests and Levites from the city confront John about his preaching and baptizing. John responds that he is not Elijah, the great prophet who was expected to return in the last days of time to announce the coming of the Messiah; John claims to be only the “voice of one crying out in the desert.” But, John says, the Messiah they have waited for has already come and is “among you.”

There is serenity about this portrait of John: there are no descriptions of wearing camel hair and eating locusts or wild honey; there are no rantings to re­pent or angry confrontations with official Jerusalem. The Baptist of the Fourth Gospel is a figure of peace and humility. John preaches that God has revealed himself to his people through the incarnation of his Word, Jesus the Christ, and John has been called to testify (to witness) to this revelation as standing “among you whom you do not recognize.”

Forms of “baptism” were common in the Judaism of gospel times. But John’s baptism was distinctive: his baptism at the Jordan was a rite of repentance and metanoia—a conversion of heart and spirit. John’s ministry fulfilled the promise of Ezekiel (Ezek 36:25-26): at the dawn of a new age, the God of Israel would purify his people from their sins with clear water and instill in them a new heart and spirit.

Focusing the First Reading               Isa 61:1-2a, 10-11

Today’s first reading is the prophet Isaiah’s proclamation of his mission to the exiles returning to Jerusalem in the sixth century BC, after decades of slavery in Babylon. It is the beginning of a new era of hope for Israel: Judah, con­demned to exile because of the injustice of its economic and social systems, will be restored by the Spirit to a new commitment to justice for the poor. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus himself reads these words at the beginning of his preaching and healing ministry (Luke 4:16-20).

Focusing the Responsorial Psalm            Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54 (Isa 61:10b)

Today’s response to the first reading is not from the psalms but a weaving of Mary’s song of praise in Luke’s gospel upon her greeting from Elizabeth with images from the prophet Isaiah’s canticle of hope for the returning exiles (Isa 61, today’s first reading). Both Mary’s song and Isaiah’s prophecy celebrate that God is recreating humankind in his goodness and mercy.

Focusing the Second Reading              1 Thess 5:16-24

Paul’s exhortation to rejoice gives this Third Sunday of Advent its traditional name Gaudete Sunday. Today’s second reading is the conclusion of what scholars recognize as the oldest surviving documents of Christianity, Paul’s first letter to the Christian church at Thessalonica (written around 51 AD). The apostle Paul has spoken sternly to the Thessalonian community about their passivity as they await the Lord’s return. He concludes his letter urging them to embrace the joy that is experienced in following the Spirit’s prompting to create the ideals of Christian community: joy, thanksgiving, wise discernment, seeking and maintaining the common good.

Homily Points

  • In our own individual Advents of poverty and despair, in our struggle to find mean­ing and purpose in this life we have been given, God is with us. Advent faith calls us to approach God not in fear but in joy: not a Pollyanna, happy-face, sugarcoated denial of anything bad or unpleasant, but a constant awareness that God is always present to us. That despite the heartaches, there is always healing; that despite our forgetting and abandoning God, God neither forgets nor abandons us; that despite the cross, there is the eternal hope of resurrection.
  • Light is the opening image of today’s gospel: John proclaims Jesus as the light who will shatter the darkness that envelops our world, the light who illuminates our vision with compassion and justice. In our own baptisms, that light is ignited within us, melting the winter cold of despair and self-absorption and opening our eyes to see God’s goodness in our midst. We are called to “testify” to the light we have seen in the compassion and for­giveness of others, to become the means to straighten the roads we travel that have been made crooked and dangerous by injustice and greed. We have been entrusted by God to transform our deserts into God’s vineyard of mercy and peace.
  • The coming of Christ calls us to the work of making a straight road for him, of trans­forming the barren deserts around us into harvests of justice and peace, of making the light of his presence in our midst known to all. As God gives himself so completely and unreservedly to us in the birth of his own Son, may we find our life’s joy and fulfillment in giving completely and unreservedly of ourselves to others.

About Liturgy

Liturgy doesn’t lie: In today’s gospel, John the Baptist testifies to the light “so that all might believe through him.” In other words, he was to tell the truth about the light.

At the midway point of Advent, today’s liturgical texts overflow with joy. “Rejoice” appears in the first and second readings and the responsorial psalm, and the gospel acclamation speaks of “glad tidings.” This Sunday is obviously meant to communicate the joy of our faith in Christ the Light.

Now take a look around you at Mass at the faces of those present, especially of the liturgical ministers and other parish leaders. Do their faces “testify” to the light, to that joy? Or do they look like the Christians Pope Francis described as those who “have expressions like they’re going to a funeral procession rather than going to praise God” (homily in Casa Santa Marta, May 31, 2013)?

As liturgical ministers, we must not give in to what Pope Francis calls the “disease of a lugubrious face” that “weakens our service to the Lord” and conveys an untruth in the liturgy (address to the Roman Curia, December 22, 2014). If we are homilists, lectors, or music ministers, when we say “rejoice,” let us mean it and, more impor­tantly, look it! Our faces and demeanor need to be a silent proclamation to the truth of Christ—a proclamation that can be even more powerful than our words. If ushers, let us radiate joy with a sincere greeting not just to those we know by name but most of all to those we do not recognize. To those who arrive late, may our attitude convey to them that in Christ’s eyes, latecomers are as richly blessed as those who come early. If we are Communion ministers, let us use the most of our few seconds with each person to express joy through our eyes and faces, testifying to our love for the Body and Blood of Christ in our hands as well as in the person before us.

Of course we all know this, but sometimes we may not be aware of what our faces actually communicate. So it may be useful to ask someone to take video of you as you minister (and throughout the liturgy) so that you can assess how well you are silently conveying the joy of your faith.

At every Sunday liturgy, and most especially on this Gaudete “Rejoice” Sunday, let us testify to the truth of Christ the Light who radiates through our faces, words, and actions.

A “short” Advent: In 2017, the Fourth Sunday of Advent falls on December 24, which makes this coming week the last week of Advent! This means there are only three full weeks of Advent this year. Be aware of this as you schedule liturgical prepa­rations, especially for environment ministers and music ministers, who will need to make a quick changeover from Advent to Christmas next Sunday.

About Liturgical Music

Rejoice! Rejoice!: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is a musical staple of Advent, and the season feels incomplete without it. The verses of this song come from the antiphons of Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours from December 17 to 23. The final weeks of Advent are the perfect time to include this hymn at every liturgical gathering. However, take care to be authentic witnesses to the message of this text. Sometimes we tend to think that Advent’s sound is quiet, slow, and contemplative—and at times it is. Yet when the first words of the refrain of this song are “Rejoice! Rejoice!” we should make the sound of our music match the message. Therefore, be careful to avoid falling into the trap of singing this piece too slowly or timidly. Experiment with a livelier tempo, and consider adding more joyful accompaniment and instrumentation so that these words truly may usher in the joyful anticipation of these last days of the season.

Living Liturgy™ Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis for Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, Pages 12-15.

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WAITING ON HOPE          Third Sunday of Advent

Readings: Isa 61:1-2a, 10-11; Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54; 1 Thess 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28

“Who are you?” (John 1:19)

Christians read the Old Testament today, understandably, in light of Christ’s fulfillment of the promises and prophecies found there. It is a simple thing to do, since the early church read the Old Testament in the context of Jesus’ incarnation and teaching and the experience of Easter, and then formalized these readings and understandings in the texts of the New Testament.

But what if you were a Jew in the first century, eagerly hoping for the Messiah, a successor to David? These hopes, shared with the whole nation, had been growing since the return from Babylonian exile. As you searched through the panoply of prophecies, you began to wonder, when will these hopes be fulfilled? Who do you look for and where do you start looking? It would be like reading a mystery novel, knowing every clue, studying every sign, but seeing only in retrospect how the whole fits together.

Isaiah 61, for instance, is most often dated to the period just after the return from Babylonian exile, and the author of the passage is generally considered to be the speaker in the text. This prophetic passage emerged, therefore, some five centuries before the birth of Christ. In it the speaker says, “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, / because the LORD has anointed me; / he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, / to bind up the brokenhearted, / to proclaim liberty to the captives, / and release to the prisoners.” In its original historical context and literal mean­ing, the author speaks of the conditions that the returning Babylonian exiles found, especially when he promises that those returning exiles “shall build up the ancient ruins, / they shall raise up the former devastations; / they shall repair the ruined cities, / the devastations of many genera­tions.” It also seems that the postexilic prophet is speaking of his own role in the restoration of Jerusalem when he says, “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me.”

Yet there is also an eschatological edge to the hopes imagined, especially in the proclamation of “the year of the LORD’S favor,” an event still to come.

Christians see the spiritual fulfillment of these proclamations in the person and ministry of Jesus, centuries after they were uttered. The reason is simple: Jesus himself read this passage, according to Luke 4, in the syna­gogue in Nazareth.

There Jesus says of the Isaian passage, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). This we might identify with what Catholic biblical scholarship has called the sensus plenior, or “fuller sense,” since it does not obviate the original historical meaning and context but points to a fulfillment of which the original human author was unaware.

This is why the questioning of John the Baptist by some representatives of the Pharisees makes historical and theological sense. The Pharisees, like most Jews of this period, were awaiting the Messiah. Because of the attractiveness of John’s prophetic message of repentance to the people, and his popularity, he was someone who had to be examined. They asked, “Who are you?” In response, John confesses that he is not the Messiah, not Elijah, not the prophet and cites Isaiah 40:3, a passage dated to the end of the Babylonian exile: “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, / ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ ” John identifies himself not as the Messiah, but as the fulfillment of long-ago prophecies, as the one who prepares the way for the coming Messiah.

But the questions still remained, even for John. Who ever thought that it would happen through a young, unmarried woman, that God would look “with favor on the lowliness of his servant,” Mary? God asks that as we wait for fulfillment we be prepared for God to do new things, un­expected things, and be ready for the unlikeliest of answers.

Reflect on the surprises of God’s ways. How has God surprised you in the past? How do you wait in hope for the Messiah at Advent? Do you expect God’s surprising ways at Advent?

The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, Martens, Liturgical Press, pages 8-9.

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 Sunday, December 17, 2017 Third Sunday of Advent

Know that God is present and ready to converse.

“Light of the world, light of my life, let me see you in your Word.”

As the candles in the Advent wreath continue to burn during this time of hopeful anticipation, our longing for the Lord grows. We love the infant Jesus. We love the triumphant Messiah who is to come. But, best of all, for now and for eternity, we love the coming and abiding of Jesus Christ in our hearts. The kingdom of heaven is already within us.

“I welcome you into my day, Lord, though you are always with me. I am here with you.”

Read the gospel: John i:6-8, 19-28.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. . . .

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said,

“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,” as the prophet Isaiah said.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Notice what you think and feel as you read the gospel.

John has a positive message, for he proclaims the imminent coming of the Lord. Those who hear him press him for more, so he has to declare plainly that he is not the Messiah, Elijah, or the prophet. He declares also that he is not worthy to untie the thong of the sandal of the one who is to come after him.

Pray as you are led for yourself and others.

“How human we are, Lord, as we dispute about your words. Let me avoid dispute and with simple heart and mind receive you. I pray others do as well . . .” (Continue in your own words.)

Listen to Jesus.

You see why I have said that intelligent people cannot understand, while children can. Study to be a child, for you are my child. Love and trust your Lord and God. All shall be well with you and yours. What else is Jesus saying to you?

Ask God to show you how to live today.

“By your grace, let me learn and practice simplicity, love, and trust today. Let it bring honor to you, Lord. Amen.”

Pray as you are led for yourself and others.

“How human we are, Lord, as we dispute about your words. Let me avoid dispute and with simple heart and mind receive you. I pray others do as well . . .” (Continue in your own words.)

Listen to Jesus.

You see why I have said that intelligent people cannot understand, while children can. Study to be a child, for you are my child. Love and trust your Lord and God. All shall be well with you and yours. What else is Jesus saying to you?

Ask God to show you how to live today.

“By your grace, let me learn and practice simplicity, love, and trust today. Let it bring honor to you, Lord. Amen.”

SACRED READING, The 2018 Guide to Daily Prayer, Apostleship of Prayer, pages 16-17.

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Guide to Lectio Divina:

Choose a word or phrase of the Scriptures you wish to pray. It makes no difference which text is chosen, as long as you have no set goal of “covering” a certain amount of text. The amount of text covered is in God’s hands, not yours.

Read. Turn to the text and read it slowly, gently. Savor each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the “still, small voice” of a word or phrase that somehow says, “I am for you today?’ Do not expect lightning or ecstasies. In lectio divina, God is teaching us to listen, to seek him in silence. God does not reach out and grab us but gently invites us ever more deeply into his presence.

Ponder. Take the word or phrase into yourself. Memorize it and slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories, and ideas. Do not be afraid of distractions. Memories or thoughts are simply parts of yourself that, when they rise up during lectio divina, are asking to be given to God along with the rest of your inner self. Allow this inner pondering, this rumination, to invite you into dialogue with God.

Pray. Whether you use words, ideas, or images—or all three—is not important. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. Give to God what you have discovered during your experience of meditation. Give to God what you have found within your heart.

It is not necessary to assess the quality of your lectio divina, as if you were “performing” or seeking some goal. Lectio divina has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures.

—Fr. Luke Dysinger – Luke Dysinger, OSB, is a Benedictine monk of Saint Andrew’s Abbey, Valyermo, California. Give Us This Day®, Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, April 2017, Liturgical Press, page 441.


      1. ctio: Read a Scripture passage aloud slowly. Notice what phrase captures your attention and be attentive to its meaning. Silent pause.
      2. Meditatio: Read the passage aloud slowly again, reflecting on the passage, allowing God to speak to you through it. Silent pause.
      3. Oratio: Read it aloud slowly a third time, allowing it to be your prayer or response to God’s gift of insight to you. Silent pause.
      4. Contemplatio: Read it aloud slowly a fourth time, now resting in God’s word.

      Throughout his life, Jesus taught the impor­tance of forgiveness, offering it even to those who had crucified him. Important as universal forgiveness is, Jesus’ instruction here explains a process of reconciliation within the church, bringing a sinful member back into communion.

      RESOURCE: 2017 Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers, and Proclaimers of the Word® LTP, page 242.

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      Third Sunday of Advent   –    In this Mass, the color violet or rose is used.

      “Rejoice in the Lord,” for as miserable as life can seem at times, the reality is that God has clothed us “with a robe of salvation” that heals all our poverty, our broken hearts, our bondage. “He has mercy on those who fear him,” that is, those who fear only one thing: losing their relationship with the Lord. Therefore, “be preserved blameless for the coming of Jesus.” Even though in the troubles of life you may not recognize him, “the one who calls you is faithful.”   Magnificat, December 2017, page 262.

      Testifying to the Light

      As John announced Christ even before his birth, so he was the forerunner of his public life. Now, after the desert, came the culminating moment of his life, while he was preparing the way of Christ: There was a man sent from God whose name was John. This man came fora witness to give testimony of the Light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the Light, but was to give testimony of the Light. John the Baptist’s essential work, then, was to give testimony of the Light, to show Christ. He had a most important part to play in the preparation for Christ’s coming, and Christ’s work itself. He it was who laid the ground for our Lord’s pub­lic life, and for his teaching, by making people’s souls ready for it. He was to some extent educating souls, taking the first steps towards laying them more open to receive what Christ was to tell them. Christ’s words would have been too much for souls not prepared for them. They had to have some previous education. Their interests had to be given a new twist away from their earthly concerns and customs; they must be made to feel that all was not well.

      That was John the Baptist’s task. Among people to­tally unconcerned with the things of God, it was his work to awaken their interest, unsettle them from their complacency, and arouse in them enough good will to understand Christ when he came.

      In this he was in the same position as all who had earlier shared in the work of preparing for the Lord’s coming; they, too, were separated from earthly things by God, and mysteriously given to see his plans, so that they might trace his ways to people. Saint John came in his turn to trace his ways to people, to make the rough ways plain, to bring the mountains low. But in order to do this he must first be completely caught up by his inward vision, he must belong to the Lord utterly, for the ground he had to break was hard: he was com­ing amongst the people of his day, who were mainly engaged, like those of our own, as Saint Luke tells us, the soldiers in doing violence and spreading calumny, the publicans in taking more than their due (3:2-14).

      Human beings are like that—they were then, and they are now. They are busy about earthly affairs. They are completely heedless of God, and our chief feeling as we move among them is one of anguish at seeing the world’s utter indifference to anything higher.

      To shake the world out of this indifference we need prophets, that is to say, people whose souls are cap­tured by the divine vision of things and who can shake the mass of people out of their inertia, and be, in truth, “witnesses.” Now a witness is someone to whom it is granted to see things as God does, and who has this inner vision himself in such a way that he can hand it on to mankind. Such a man was John the Baptist.

      CARDINAL JEAN DANIELOU  —  Cardinal Danielou (†1974) was a Jesuit priest, theologian, liturgist, historian, and member of the Academie Francaise.         Magnificat, December 2017, pages 267-269.

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  • Reflection – Instruments of Joy
  • I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul.At this midpoint in Advent, we might ask ourselves: What or who is “the joy of my soul?” Do we rejoice in the victory of a favorite football team, in the performance of a grandchild at a Christmas concert, in a political victory? John the Baptist experienced joy in the womb when Mary greeted Elizabeth, his mother. St. Paul experienced joy in his great calling to be an evangelist, proclaiming God’s love and mercy revealed in Jesus. Pope Francis has given the world his papal smile, an expression of his interior joy and faith.Joy has fallen on hard times in this turbulent world. Too easily is our soul overwhelmed by the sheer volume of suffering of so many innocent people. Is joy possible in such a broken world? St. Paul was keenly aware of a turbulent, messy, chaotic world. Yet he tells us to rejoice always, to pray day in and day out, to be grateful. Paul’s faith in God’s presence enabled him to have joy and peace far beyond our limited understanding. The Holy Spirit empowered Paul to be prayer­ful, grateful, and yes, joyful.As we reflect on human joy we might also ask about divine joy. Does God rejoice? In several of his great parables—the stories of the lost son, the lost coin, the lost sheep—Jesus tells us how much his Father rejoices when the lost are found. It’s all about relationships being restored; it’s all about realizing that redemption is the restoration of unity and oneness. Herein lies our joy.As we draw closer and closer to the feast of the Nativity, let us recommit ourselves to being instruments of God’s joy.Bishop Robert E Morneau  —  Robert F. Morneau is pastor of Resurrection Parish in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and auxiliary bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Green Bay.This Is The Day, Liturgical Press, December 17, 2017, pages 180-181.



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    Homily for Sunday, December 10, 2017

     by Fr. James J. Hogan, Missoula, Montana                                                                                           Isaiah 4: 1-5, 9-11 + 2 Peter 3: 8-14 + Mark 1: 1-8 2 Advent B ‘18

    Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. As winter darkness deepens and surrounds us, we light two candles reminding ourselves that we and all of creation are being drawn forth by that Gracious Mystery we name God into a future of unknown possibilities. Yes, Advent is a season of anticipation, but not focused on a past event — the child in the manger. With the scripture texts as our guides, we hear Advent direct our focus to the future, the eternal cosmic Christ.

    We have come to be through a process of evolution. Evolution is never a straight line. It is an active, ongoing process, a movement toward greater wholeness, fullness and union in love.   Gradually we are beginning to realize the plan of that Gracious Mystery we name God whose hope seems to be that one-day humanity and all of creation will recognize that Gracious Mystery is “incarnate” and present in all that exists.

    In Jesus of Nazareth those first-generation Christians experienced a concrete and personal embodiment of universal, non-violent, unconditional love. I slowly am beginning to understand what they named — “The Christ Mystery.” The adult and cosmic Christ is drawing us, and all creation, beyond space and time toward greater wholeness, fullness and union in love.

    Mark announced: “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ.” A leading American Scripture scholar always emphasized two words: “the beginning.” These two words imply there is more to come. That is my point today. There is more to come!  Perhaps Mark is exaggerating when he tells us, “the whole Judean countryside, and all the people of Jerusalem went out to” John. His point is that people got excited about John’s vision and message because it is for everyone. John awakened his peers to a dream of how life will be when the “one more powerful than I” comes. That is how Mark introduces us to Jesus.

    Those early generations of Christians were convinced that in Christ everything changed. “God’s new reality” is emerging among us. They understood Christ is the hinge of our history, the center of our time, the norm of what we are to become and how we are to live. This is why I offer the William Butler Yeats’ poem, “ THE SECOND COMING ” as our Advent guide.

    “Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst  Are full of passionate intensity.” The poem is dark and negative. It certainly fits this time in which we live.  When “the falcon [you and I] cannot hear the falconer [Christ]”. Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world …..Evolution is a slow process. On our Earth clock, two thousand years seems a long time. It is not.    On the clock of cosmic time, we really are still at the “beginning of the gospel!” The good news is that “God’s new reality” is emerging among us. “The falconer” is calling us to embrace his path of non-violent, unconditional love; to carry on and extend his life and spirit into the darkness of the Cosmos. God is with us, drawing us forward into an unknown future full of hope.”

    That is what that now deceased American Scripture scholar tried to get us to understand when he `was so emphatic about such a simple text. “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ.”

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    Teach Us to Pray – Being Still in Advent, Father James Martin, page 7.

    This may sound almost heretical, but with each passing year I like Christmas less and less. At the same time, with each passing year, I like the feast of the Nativity more and more. Maybe you feel the same. The craziness surrounding the secular season of Christmas—the endless ads on TV and on­line, the crowded stores, the glut of often crass holiday-themed movies—sometimes seems to drown out the real meaning of the season.

    That’s why I treasure silence during Advent. Silence is a gift that we can give to ourselves in the middle of a noisy season. And silent prayer is something we can all afford—it costs nothing. Of course many people—parents of young children, children of aging parents, and people with hectic working lives—may not have much time to spare, but even a few minutes of quiet may help to center oneself.

    In busy times it’s important to let quiet be your prayer. This can be as simple as “withdrawing:’ as Jesus did, from the busyness of life and just sitting in the presence of God. Or it could be a simple meditation, reflecting on a single word from the stunning readings of Advent: from the Book of Isaiah, the Psalms, or the Gospels.

    Sometimes people feel guilty for taking a break in the weeks before Christmas—there’s often so much to do. But think of silence as a gift you give not only to yourself but to God, who wants to meet you in the silence as you wait for Jesus to enter your heart in a new way this Advent.

    James Martin is a Jesuit priest and author of many books, including Jesus: A Pilgrimage and a collection of essays from Give Us This Day entitled In All Seasons, For All Reasons.


    Calendars, Deadlines, and Timeless Love Do not become drowsy from the anxieties of daily life.

    Here’s what a friendship with our dearest Companion, our holiest God, is like. In it, intimacy is always possible and can’t be stopped, except on our side, for God is always open to us. Nothing can come between us and God, our Spouse, and we can be alone with God whenever we want, as long as we want. All we have to do is desire it.

    So let us close the door on our worldly calendars and dead­lines and live instead in paradise with the God of love. If we desire this closeness that comes from closing the door on the world, we must realize that that door is our hearts. We don’t have to be mystics to accomplish this communion. We only need to focus on God with our will. That’s all. It’s our own choice, and because God loves us, we can do this.

    Don’t confuse this state with empty silence. I am speaking of a turning inward and a listening.     St. Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection – Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) was a mystic, religious reformer, and the foundress of seventeen convents. In 1970 she was the first woman to be named a Doctor of the Church.

    This Is the Day, December 2017, pages 32-33.

    Reflection — Willing to Begin Again

    Advent is my favorite liturgical season, as its readings en­compass so much of both the Old and New Testaments. In order to prepare to celebrate the birth of the infant Jesus, we revisit the whole of salvation history. With Isaiah as our guide, we can’t go wrong. We journey forth on a highway where even fools can’t go astray.

    But Advent is also a challenge, as it requires us to begin again. We go to great lengths to attain status as experts, and not beginners. We regard repetition, going back to stories we’ve heard a thousand times over, as a waste of our precious time. The familiarity of the readings of Advent and Christmas can deaden our hearts.

    Maybe that’s why today’s readings insist that we wake up from our self-absorbed stupor. The Collect asks us to “run forth” towards Christ; Isaiah asks God to return to us with awesome deeds. The psalmist prays to God: “rouse your power, and come to save us.” St. Paul reminds us that our job is to wait, not only for the incarnation of Jesus but for his second coming. And in the Gospel Jesus says: “Be watchful! Be alert!”

    Advent reminds us that God’s ways are not our own. It asks us to take a realistic look at who we are, people in need of God’s grace, beginners who must start all over again in this season to be reminded of the good news that is our salvation in Jesus Christ.

    Kathleen Norris — Kathleen Norris is an oblate of St. Benedict and the author of many books, including The Cloister Walk and Acedia and Me.                                                    This Is the Day, December 2017, pages 43.

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    Blessing for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

    Pope Francis has decided to institute in the Catholic Church an annual “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” to be celebrated on September 1. Pope Francis explains:     As Christians, we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation. We need always to keep in mind that, for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for our sake, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us” (Laudato Si’, 216). The ecological crisis thus summons us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them” (ibid., 217). For “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (ibid.).

    A Prayer by Pope Francis
    from the Encyclical Laudato Si’

    Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
    They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
    they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
    Praise be to you! Son of God, Jesus, through you all things were made.
    You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
    you became part of this earth,
    and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.

    Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory.
    Praise be to you! Holy Spirit, by your light
    you guide this world towards the Father’s love
    and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
    You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good.
    Praise be to you!

    Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
    teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe,
    for all things speak of you.
    Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made.
    Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.
    God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love
    for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.

    Enlighten those who possess power and money
    that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
    that they may love the common good,
    advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.
    The poor and the earth are crying out.

    0 Lord, seize us with your power and light,
    help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future,
    for the coming of your kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty.

    Praise be to you! Amen.

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    The Elderly

    That the elderly, sustained by families and Christian communities supporting them on the path of growth and openness to the communities, may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming the new generations.

    Mature experienced members of our families, parishes and societies have much to offer to the formation of young people today. Experience matters. The elderly are a treasure who inform our minds and spirits with lessons of the past so that we might better approach our future.

    In the medical field, risk-taking among the young is seen as a great risk factor for injury or unhealthy behavior. Because the young have energy and ideals, they can accomplish much in the arenas of family, social and work life. On the other hand, without experience, the young tend to take risks not cautioned by the school of hard knocks. Here is where our elders can be of great help in spiritual and personal formation.

    Pope Francis, in a radio address in 2016, proclaimed: “The Church regards the elderly with affection, gratitude, and high esteem. They are an essential part of the Christian community and of society: in particular they represent the roots and the memory of a people… Your maturity and wisdom, accumulated over the years, can help younger people in search of their own way, supporting them on the path of growth and openness to the future.”

    It is a duty, an honor, and a privilege to share our holy faith with those who come behind us. It is likewise a duty, honor, and privilege to learn from those who have gone before us. How many of us have experienced firsthand the lessons of wisdom from a grandmother, grandfather, or elder among our acquaintances? All of us must lower our pride and open our hearts to listen to our elders: elders at the same time, can learn from listening to the young.


    Consider yourself kneeling before Christ on His Cross. Ask yourself: How have I shared the faith with young people? How am I sharing the faith? How ought we share the faith? (Conversely, younger people might ask how they share the faith with their elders.)


    Mt 19:13-14 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

    Prayer of the Month     Prayer of Pope Saint John Paul II for the elderly:

    Grant, 0 Lord of life…that we may savor every season of our lives as a gift filled with promise for the future.                       Grant that we may lovingly accept your will, and place ourselves each day in your merciful hands. And when the moment of our definitive “passage” comes, grant that we may face it with serenity, without regret for what we shall leave behind. For in meeting you, after having sought you for so long, we shall find once more every authentic good which we have known here on earth, in the company of all who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and lope.                                                                Mary, Mother of pilgrim humanity, pray for us “now and at the hour of our death”. Keep us ever close to Jesus, your beloved Son and our brother, the Lord of life and glory. Amen!

    Saint of the Month   

    Saint Edmund Campion, Memorial on December 1

    Edmund Campion is one of the greatest saints of the Jesuit Order. In 1566, Queen Elizabeth I heard him speak at Oxford University. He was a protestant, but investigation of the faith ultimately led him to question his theological positions. After studying in Douai, France, he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1572. He entered the Jesuit Order in Rome and began studying for the priesthood. It is said that in the novitiate he had in a vision of Our Lady in which she told him of his martyrdom in England. Father Campion returned to England in 1580. He was captured in 1581. During interrogations, his torturers stretched him on the rack. On December 1, 1581, the martyr was drawn and quartered at Tyburn Hill, London. He is the patron of numerous schools, parishes, colleges and religious communities.

    Traditional Offering Prayer

    O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.

    To register as a member of the Apostleship of Prayer, to subscribe to leaflets, or to order additional leaflets for distribution to others, please contact us. Thank you for your generous support of our ministry.


    Apostleship Of Prayer
    1501 S. Layton Blvd.
    Milwaukee, WI 53215-1924

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    RESOURCE:  KNOM Radio Mission’s  Monthly Bulletins, provided the following One-Liners in Faith For December 2017. 

    Lavender Iris

    KNOM Radio Mission One-Liners for December 2017:

    The hope of this season is a passion for the onion seemingly impossible. Our hope is rooted in the promise of God. With God, nothing is impossible.

    That the elderly, sustained by families in Christian communities, may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming the new generations.”            – Pope Francis’ monthly prayer intention for December 2017

    Just as Jesus at his birth drew wise men from afar, today he draws people of all backgrounds to Himself. People all over the world, whether consciously or unconsciously, are searching for the Truth and Life found in Jesus. There is not one person to whom Jesus does not wish to manifest His Presence and His Love.

    Is there someone in your life who prays for you? Is there someone who makes tough times easier to bear, by knowing that they’re on their knees, pleading to the Lord on your behalf? We are all blessed by people who pray. They comfort us and help us to keep our faith strong.

    The hope of this season is a passion for the seemingly impossible. Our hope is rooted in the promise of God. With God, nothing is impossible.

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           (Each local community should compose its own Universal Prayer,  but may find inspiration in the texts proposed here.)




    That, in our church and parish’s ministries of compassion and care, we may bring glad tidings and proclaim the Lord’s favor to all

    That the Church will be zealous in bringing good news to the poor, healing to the brokenhearted, and liberty to captives,

    For the Church during this holy season of Advent, that we testify to Christ by rejoicing in him always,

    For all members of the Church, the people of God, may we strive always to be a reflection of Christ’s light to all people who seek the Lord,

    For the Church, the body of Christ, may she always be a steadfast voice challenging the faithful to live the Gospel message with courage and conviction,

    For those who shepherd our Church, may they continue to listen closely to the voice of the Holy Spirit as they guide the faithful on the path of life,

    That the Church may be strengthened by women and men who continue to give from the heart, as Mary did, for the sake of God’s kingdom,

    That those who serve our Church, including Francis, our pope, and all bishops, clergy, religious and lay leaders, may be renewed by the joy of God’s presence,

    For the Church, may her teachings stir joy and thanksgiving for the gift of life into the hearts of all people,

    For the Church, as we long for the coming of Christ, may the Lord truly prepare each and every one of our hearts for that day,

    For wise leaders in Church, government, and communities,

    For a profound respect for the unspeakable name of God—Adonai,

    For missionaries, evangelists, and volunteers who bring increase to the Body of Christ,

    For an end to ideologies that threaten nations and peoples,

    For the Church, the bride of Christ, as she seeks to be a faithful spouse,

    For vocations to a dedicated life in the Church as consecrated men and women religious,



    That God’s justice, liberty, and peace may “spring up” before all nations

    That under the protection of Christ our times may be peaceful,

    For our country during these winter months,

    For all civic leaders, may there be a greater willingness to resolve disputes nonviolently so that peace may reign on earth,

    For Catholic families throughout the world, may they reflect the love of the Holy Family, and be a source of healing and hope for others,

    For our government leaders, may they work to protect the religious freedom of all people,

    That parents all over the world may be blessed as they work to nurture the love of God in their children,

    That those in positions of authority may be guided by God’s justice in their work to protect those who can’t protect themselves, especially the unborn,

    For our world, may its leaders work to end terror and hostility by promoting messages of nonviolence and love,

    For all who serve in public office, and in public capacities, may they turn to God for guidance to enact laws and policies that promote the good of all,

    For ambassadors and diplomats who work to avoid international conflicts,

    For world leaders, that they may be drawn to work for peace,

    For wise and just men and women to lead the world’s nations,

    For the willingness of young people to discern God’s will as they consider marriage, ordained ministry, religious life, or other calls,



    That as witnesses to Christ’s love before all we may abide in the truth,

    For the grace this week to be free of anxiety and to be generous in showing kindness,

    that we serve the poor and needy in a spirit of Christian charity,

    For all who are alienated from God and his Church, may they open their hearts and respond to Christ’s message of love and healing,

    For all who are persecuted for their faith in Christ, may they find comfort from the prayers and support of their Christian brothers and sisters,

    That pregnant women facing difficult circumstances may look to Mary for strength and comfort,

    For those struggling to conceive, may they trust in the Lord as his will is revealed to them,

    For those who have sad memories during the holidays,

    For humility that reflects our true selves and not pretense,

    For a faith that is always steadfast and joyful,

    For Mary’s intercession upon all expectant mothers,

    For infertile couples who long for children,

    For charitable agencies that rely on holiday giving to support their work,

    For those who doubt God when troubles come,

    For the humility to cooperate with God’s grace instead of insisting on our need to be in control,

    For teenage girls and boys who are left unguided during this challenging stage of their lives,

    For prisoners, hostages, victims of sexual trafficking, and all who are held captive,

    For the gift of forgiveness and healing among families,

    For detachment from any sense of entitlement as we receive material gifts from relatives and friends,

    For childless couples who have chosen to fulfill their parental desires through adoption,

    For those who do not share our faith in Christ,




    That the elderly, sustained by families and Christian communities, may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming the new genera­tions, (Holy Father’s Intention)

    For those in this community who are discouraged or depressed, that they persevere in prayer and find strength in God’s loving care,

    That the joy and peace of this holy season may illuminate every home in our community in every season of the year,

    For this faith community, may our children experience God’s presence and grow in their love and commitment to God,

    For members of this faith community, may we have the courage to be Christ’s presence in the world around us,

    For all members of our parish, may we continue to observe Advent with a spirit of joy and anticipation, in preparation for celebrating the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ,

    That those suffering due to external circumstances or inner turmoil may experience God’s presence through the loving outreach of his people,

    For our parish community, may we imitate Mary’s model of faith in the way we say “yes” to God with our lives,

    For women pressured to terminate their pregnancies,

    For engaged and married couples as they encounter the mountains and valleys of love,

    For a renewed appreciation for the gift of human life, especially for children,




    For all who form this worshipping assembly, that we may be united in prayer and thanksgiving to God,

    For each of us, in these last days of Advent, may our hearts become a more welcome home for Jesus,

    That we here today, when faced with challenging decisions, may act with trust and confidence in God, following the example of Mary,

    That those of us gathered here who have brokenness in our families and communities may have the grace necessary to restore relationships and bring reconciliation and forgiveness to all,

    For relatives and friends preparing to gather with us in celebration of Christmas,




    That Christ the light of God may be the health and hope of the sick and dying, the ad­dicted and recovering

    For those who experience any kind of hardship or sor­row during the holidays: that the Father’s compassion will provide for them in every way,

    For the sick members of this community of faith, that they be comforted and encouraged in God’s love,

    For those facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies, may people of faith embrace them and strive to meet their physical and spiritual needs,

    For those who suffer from physical ailments, that God will grace their caregivers to help bring them comfort and relief,




    For our beloved dead, may they be welcomed into God’s heavenly presence with the saints and angels,

    For our loved ones who have died, may they experience the fullness of life in heaven,

    For those who have died, may they dwell with joy in God’s presence,

    That those who have died may rejoice forever at the banquet of the Lord,

    That those who have gone before us may enjoy the peace of resting in God’s loving presence,

    For all the faithful departed, may they find peace and rejoice in the Father’s unending love,

    For those who have died, may they receive a place at the eternal banquet in heaven,

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    Chihuly Glass

    Universal Prayers for Victims of Recent Natural Disasters

     1)   For those in our country and around the world affected by recent natural disasters, may the support of relief agencies , neighbors and loved ones who come to their aid provide them the care and hope needed to recover and rebuild from the devastation they have experienced, let us pray to the Lord.
    2)   For all those who have died recently as a result of flooding, hurricanes, earthquake and other natural disasters throughout the world, may they live in the light and warmth of God’s love for all eternity, let us pray to the Lord.

    3)   For those whose homes and businesses have been destroyed by floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, forest fires or other natural disasters, that, as they struggle to rebuild, they will experience the loving assistance of communities of faith, let us pray to the Lord …

    4)   For all rescue workers and volunteers, that they will be blessed with energy and courage as they help their brothers and sisters who have been injured or left homeless by recent natural disasters, let us pray to the Lord …

    5)   For all of us, that we will reach out in love to those who are suffering due to the recent earthquakes, floods and tornadoes, let us pray to the Lord …

     Universal Prayers for Opioid Crisis:    

    1) For members of the health professions, first responders and civic leaders, may the Holy Spirit inspire them to work together to help all those who are affected by the scourge of addiction, let us pray to the Lord.

    2) For those struggling to break free from addiction to opioids, may they find hope and healing in Jesus and his Church on their path to recovery, let us pray to the Lord.

    3) For those who have died because of their addictions, may they now rest in the peace and joy of God’s love through all eternity, let us pray to the Lord.

    Universal Prayers for the Shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas

    1) For the innocent victims killed in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and for all who die as a result of violence, may they find perpetual peace and joy in heaven, let us pray to the Lord.

    2) For the families and friends of those who were killed or wounded in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, and for all those who have experienced violence in their lives, may they be comforted by the love of God and the compassion of all members of our Church, let us pray to the Lord.

    3) For members of churches everywhere, may God help us find practical and meaningful ways to overcome dysfunction, evil and violence in our world, let us pray to the Lord.

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    Faith Catholic Online;    Daily Prayer 2017;    OCP;    Magnificat;   Liturgical Press.


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        Sunday,  December 10, 2017 – Cycle B

  • Presider:           God of hope, you raised up John the baptizer as a herald who calls us to conversion. Seeking the consolation of God for all in distress and need, we open our hearts to that Divine Grace by which we prepare a way for the Lord. 
    1. For the Church: that, during this Advent season, it may be a model of holiness, inspiration and life in a world where right values often seem confused and compromised;                    We pray to the Lord.


    1. For an easing of tensions between nations and within nations: that God will open a high­way of peace for communication and the resolution of disputes so that life may be protected;            We pray to the Lord.


    1. That those who have separated themselves from the grace of God may find this season a time of reconciliation and peace;            We pray to the Lord.


    1. Jesus, be with us this day as we are your hands, face and voice for the homeless. Help us to be Your love for them and for each other;               We pray to the Lord.


    1. That all the defeats and setbacks of our daily lives, small and large, be turned around and made sources of life, learning and wisdom;                     We pray to the Lord.


    1. For the sick, the lonely, and the depressed, especially .    .    .    .          That they may find strength and hope in the love of God;              We pray to the Lord.


    1. For those who have passed from this Earthly life, especially .    .    .    .          That as they lived in the hope of Christ, may they now share in the joy of his glory. We also remember:


    5pm                 Nanette Cancila                                                      7:30am            Dr. Bill Haynes

    9am                 Janet Walter                                                           11am               our St. Peter Parish Family

    5pm                 Karen Lynn Nevins

    for whom this Mass is offered;          We pray to the Lord.

    Presider:         God of hope, you call us from the exile of our sin with the good news of restoration. You build a highway through the wilderness as a way to bring us home. Comfort us with the expectation of your saving power, made known to us in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


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    Horsetails in the Mtns_001001



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    A big silver dollar, and a little brown cent; along together they went rolling along the smooth sidewalk, When the dollar remarked — (for the dollar can talk)  “You poor little cent, you cheap little mite! I’m bigger and more than twice as bright – I’m worth more than you – a hundredfold, And written on me in letters bold Is the motto drawn from the pious creed – ‘In God We Trust’ – which all can read.” I know,” said the cent, “I’m a cheap little mite, And I know I’m not big, nor good, nor bright” An yet,” said the cent, with a meek little sigh – ­”You don’t go to church as often as I.”
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Modern Treason: The Corporate Moral Person Denies Any Allegiance To Our Country.



A nasty new species of “jumping bean”                 Carrier and Nabisco close US plants,                      hop to Mexico and stoke the anger of working-class America.

When I was about six years of age, my Uncle Earnest showed me some­thing that made my jaw drop, my eyes bug, and my mind boggle: four beans that, on their own, moved. Leaping legumes!

It wasn’t trickery (or deviltry), but an odd twist in the natural world that creates the novelty of “Mexican jumping beans.” They’re not beans, really—they’re brownish seedpods from a desert shrub in northwest Mexico. A larva from a small moth invades a pod, hollows it out, attaches itself to the inner wall with a silk-like thread, and waits in relative coolness for its metamorphosis into mothdom. When you hold the “bean,” however, the warmth of your palm discom­forts the larva so that it twitches and pulls on that thread, causing the pod to “jump.” It’s actually more of a mini-hop or a rollover—but still, pretty astonishing to a kiddo. Decades later, I find myself wide eyed again, astonished by the odd movements of a new species of Mexican jumping bean I’ve named Corporados Greedyados. Far from being a creation of the natural world, these jumpers are enormously profitable, brand-name manufacturers. Native to our land, they’ve long reaped the benefits of being US corporations, including having highly skilled and loyal blue-collar workforces, corporate-friendly labor and consumer laws, publicly funded education and training, an interstate highway system, legal protection of special corporate privileges, extensive tax breaks, on-call police to safeguard their corporate order, military defense of their worldwide commercial pursuits, and much, much more. But now they’re twitching in their conglomerate pods and abruptly jumping to Mexico. Giving no more notice than a cursory shout of adios, they’re leaving US workers, communities, the future of our middle class, and our unifying ethic of fair play in the dust of their corporate greed.

Taking avarice to a new level

Yes, perfidious corporations have been jumping to cheap-labor countries for years, particularly since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), China’s admission to the World Trade Organization, and other policies incentiv­izing corporations to export our blue-collar jobs. Since NAFTA was signed in 1994, 50,000-plus US factories have closed and more than 5 million jobs have been lost to the offshoring fad.

Unfortunately, that was just a warm-up. During the past decade, corrupted and compliant legislatures, courts, and regulatory agencies have effectively removed our society’s reins on these profit-seeking powerhouses. Not since the robber barons of the late 1800s have those in executive suites felt so free (and even entitled) to work their will on the rest of us. And they are not hesitating. Their recent surge in abandonments of the Good 01′ USA is different from the offshoring of only a dec­ade ago—today’s are bigger, cruder, greedier, and wholly narcisstic.

The real difference is a fundamental, regressive shift in the ethos of the elites who run major corporate empires. These inordinately rich executives and investors believe that what they think and do is what’s best, and everyone else should just get out of their way. This has led them to adopt a thoroughly unethical ethic of social irresponsibility, unilaterally decreeing that they and their corporate entities owe nothing to the country and the people who have nur­tured and even coddled them.

They’ve even packaged their conceit in a hokey doctrine they’ve dubbed “shareholder hegemony” (see the Lowdown, February 2016). It asserts that corporations exist strictly to benefit their shareholders—ergo and hocus pocus, corporate managers bear a “mandate” to do whatever is necessary to increase stock values, no matter what this costs everybody and everything else.

Consequently, we’re presently witnessing the murder of our country’s manufacturing prowess by industry’s own leaders. CEOs of even the most iconic, well-established, financially secure corpora­tions—companies with deep roots in our communities—have gone honkers, asserting a “moral duty” to shut down factories here, dump the workers, desert our hometowns, and hightail it out of country to any low-wage, low-environmental-standard refuge on the map.

Of course, the beneficiaries of this Kafkaesque doctrine of share­holder supremacy include not only the large stock owners, but also the very CEOs whose paychecks and bonuses depend on jacking up stock prices at our expense. It’s a socially suicidal system, providing both an irresistible incentive and a moral excuse for executives to commit corporate treason, even as their moves expand the ever-widening chasm of inequality that cleaves our society. And, by the way, CEOs and billionaire shareholders aren’t moving south with their bottom-wage factories, preferring instead to enjoy their life of luxury in America the Beautiful. Apparently unaware that their elimination of middle-class wages is eliminating their own custom­er base, they also expect you and me to continue being the primary buyers of their now foreign-made products.

And they wonder why an angry, populist rebellion is spreading like a prairie fire.

It’s getting hot in Indianapolis

If the chieftains of industry and their political henchmen want to know what’s roiling the riffraff, they could read Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty’s landmark, 1,000-page book on inequality, or listen to one of Bernie Sanders’s hour-long, tub-thumping speeches.

Or they could just spend 3 minutes and 32 seconds watching an online video showing a Carrier Corporation executive speaking to hundreds of workers in the air-conditioning giant’s Indianapolis manufacturing plant this past February ( v=Y3ttxGMQ0rY). The proud Steelworkers union members thought maybe they’d been called to the factory floor to hear about new orders for their quality products. After all, sales at parent-company United Technologies (UTC) were zooming—expected to jump at least $2 billion to $58 billion in 2016.

Instead of receiving praise and good news, however, they got an ugly surprise. In the fuzzy video (recorded on a worker’s phone) UTC/Carrier honcho Chris Nelson doesn’t bother with any open­ing pleasantries. He gets right to the point, reporting in the dry tones of a corporate lifer that the bosses have decided, “The best way to stay competitive and protect the business for the long term is to move production from our facility in Indianapolis to Monterrey, Mexico.” KABLOOEY! He couldn’t finish his scripted sentence, for ­the entire assembly exploded like a human cluster bomb, with cries of disbelief, paroxysms of anguished working-class rage, raucous booing, and a steady barrage of “x#@! you.”

“Please quiet down,” the obtuse functionary instructed. But the devastated workers, realizing in an instant that Carrier is kicking their families right out of the middle class, just get rowdier. Then, as though he’s delivering a line from The Godfather, Nelson assures the angry crowd that the corporation means nothing personal by taking their jobs: “This is strictly a business decision.”

No, it wasn’t. This was a calculated greed decision. Severing this workforce of 2,100 top-quality, experienced, and dedicated producers (1,400 at the UTC/Carrier factory in Indianapolis and another 700 near Fort Wayne) makes questionable busi­ness sense: The move to Mexico is expected to save UTC only 2.W.theCREM $70 million a year in labor costs—a blip on the spreadsheets of a global behemoth that hauls in $56 billion a year in revenue and has an uninterrupted, 22-year record of increasing dividends. But UTC’s greedy Wall Street investment bankers are demand­ing that the giant go on a cost-cutting binge aimed at generat­ing a 17-percent hike in its stock price over the next two years. And what better way to please big institutional shareholders than to show a cold willingness to whack payroll.

Making such cuts is “painful,” mused Carrier’s top financial executive (though not to him personally, of course). But, he ex­plained, they are necessary for “shareholder value creation,” adding cheerfully: “We feel good about being able to execute on that.” So a city must suffer a factory abandonment, and workers must have their decent-paying jobs taken from them just so some distant, don’t-give-a-damn, rich shareholders can see a dollar rise in UTC’s stock price. “Execute” seems like just the right word.

There’s also an unstated motivation in play: Gregory Hayes’s pride. The UTC chief had taken heat from a board of directors con­cerned that the stock price hadn’t climbed as high and fast as Wall Street wants. Indeed, last year, Hayes took a “haircut” (corporatese for a pay cut). The board sliced his executive bonus in half!

“It’s embarrassing,” a financial analyst noted. “He got dinged.” But no need to cry for Greg, however, since his 2015 paycheck still totaled nearly $6 million. (A typical Carrier worker would need to stay on the job 150 years to earn that much.)

Welcome to the new, phantasmagoric Wild Kingdom of Corporate World, where prideful executive royals are empowered to uproot the livelihoods of commoners in a ploy to (1) please Wall Street, (2) manipulate corporate stock prices, (3) collect extrava­gant bonuses, and (4) save face.

Notice that such whimsy was pulled off autocratically. Despite a unionized workforce, UTC/Carrier simply commanded the workers to assemble so they could be unilaterally dispatched—there was no negotiation, consultation, or any other say-so by them, the community, public officials, or anyone else. This is our new norm of plutocratic rule, envisioned and implemented by the rampaging forces of corporate avarice.

Don’t think this is just a one-time Indiana problem. Carrier’s chief financial officer blurted out to a New York Times reporter that top executives are eying other factories to move to Mexico. Look out Charlotte (NC), Collierville (TN), and Tyler (TX)—UTC and Wall Street will be punching a one-way bus ticket to Monterrey for your Carrier jobs next.

Souring Chicago’s sweet treat

For generations, kids from 3 to 100 have loved munching on chocolaty Oreo cookies dipped in a glass of milk. But just over a year ago, the tasty treat suddenly went sour.

In May 2015, bakery workers in Nabisco’s monumental 10-story plant in Chicago’s Marquette Park neighborhood had been expect­ing some sweet news from corporate headquarters. Rumor had it that their renown facility—after more than half a century and millions of Oreos—was about to receive a $130-million modernization invest­ment to upgrade equipment and add new production lines. So the future looked bright and spirits were high on May 15 when management convened members of Local 300 of the Bakery Workers Union to announce that the investment was indeed going to be made. In Salinas, Mexico.

For 104 years, the Marquette Park community has been proud that the delectable smell of “milk’s favorite cookie” wafts through their neighborhood. But the noses of Nabisco’s corporate brass are clogged with greed, incapable of sniffing out anything but ever-fatter profits for themselves and other rich shareholders. So, taking the NAFTA low road, they intend to move the iconic Oreo brand—and the jobs of 600 top-quality bak­ery workers—from Chicago to Mexico, where the minimum wage is a bit more than $4. Not per hour, but per day.

This is the tyranny of corporate globalization in action. In 2012 Kraft Foods split off its grocery business, which retained the Kraft name, and rebranded its remaining snack-food empire as Mondelez International, which includes Nabisco and its many brands includ­ing Triscuit, Planters nuts, Ritz crackers, Chips Ahoy, and Oreos.

Such corporate empires now reign over millions of working families, arrogantly and even lawlessly making self-serving decisions from within the shrouded confines of faraway executives suites, wreaking havoc on workers, local economies, democratic values, and our sense of community. People affected get no input or warn­ing (much less any real say-so) in the profiteering that now routinely strikes us like lightning bolts from hell.

Worse, the so-called humans who’ve enthroned themselves with this autocratic power find it amusing to toy with those they rule over. Mondelez executives did exactly that after their sneak attack on Chicago’s bakery workers. In a crude gambit to shift blame to the union, the plutocratic powerhouse claimed it had made an offer to Local 300 to keep producing Oreos in Chicago, but that recalci­trant union officials had refused.

Of course they did, for Mondelez essentially proposed that the workers commit mass financial suicide. Here’s the “offer”: Since the move to Mexico is expected to save $46 million a year, the con­glomerate would graciously let the 600 ransom their jobs by paying that $46-mil themselves. Just slash your annual pay and benefits (as well as your throats) by that amount, the executives told the union, and you can keep making Oreos for us. At a poverty wage. This from an outfit that banked $7 billion in profit last year!

If Mondelez executives are so inept that they can’t find an honest way to fill a $46 million hole, here’s a suggestion: They could start by docking executive pay. The three top honchos—whose com­pensation last year totaled $37 million—can damn sure afford it. CEO Irene Rosenfeld alone took a $20 million paycheck in 2015, bringing her eight-year total to almost $200 million.

I’d say her gluttony is hoggish, but that would be unfair to swine, which have far better manners and more delicate appetites.

CORPORADOS GREEDYADOS SUCH AS Gregory Hayes of United Technologies and Irene Rosenfeld of Mondelez continue to be obsequiously deferred to and even celebrated as semi-divine social benefactors.

This is OUR fight

In a March protest outside Nabisco, a bakery worker held a hand-lettered poster aloft, proclaiming: “Crime Scene.” She’s right, but it’s not just true of her Chicago workplace—the entire United States should be enclosed in yellow tape.

Corporate America is now openly flouting our laws, violating our ethics, and rampaging over our society’s unifying sense of com­mon decency … because they can. Almost no one is telling them “no”—not Congress, the White House, Republicans, Democrats, the courts, the clergy (with the exemplary exception of Pope Francis), the police, the educational system, or others with power (and responsibility) to stand up to thugs.

We tell children to be good, to follow the Golden Rule. We teach that proper social behavior is essential, and that wrongdoing will always be punished.

But every day they see that America’s biggest, richest, most pow­erful, and most influential institutions—giant corporations—are free to be as bad as they want to be. Corporations bully their way over anyone, anything, and any rule, creating the vast inequality that presently disgraces America. Yet, perversely, rather than being punished by our society’s various authorities, Corporados Greedyados such as Gregory Hayes of United Technologies and Irene Rosenfeld of Mondelez continue to be obsequiously deferred to and even celebrated as semi-divine social benefactors.

The carnage on working-class Americans won’t stop until we actually start punishing these corporate malefactors. And that won’t start until We the People overthrow today’s clueless, elitist political establishment. The good news is that the current populist upris­ing—having spread from Occupy Wall Street in 2011 through Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter, Bernie 2016, and soon to What’s Next—is the way to get that job done. Let’s keep at it.


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Here are some ways to help unions battle runaway Corporados Greedyados:

SUPPORT COMPANIES THAT MAKE THEIR PRODUCTS IN THE USA. To learn more, check out the Made in America Movement: www.themadeinamericamovementcom

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE NABISCO FIGHT and to sign a petition in support of the Nabisco workers, visit:

By the way, you can still buy American-made Nabisco products. To learn what to look for when buying groceries, check out the Check the Label campaign: or

And for more information on rebuilding a strong manufacturing economy in the USA, visit this site:


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ALTHOUGH, UNITED TECHNOLOGIES SAYS it must skip off to Mexico with its Indiana factory jobs to save $70 million in labor costs, the conglomerate has actually been exceptionally generous to its workers. Workers in the executive suite, that is. For years, the CEOs of UTC have ranked among America’s high­est paid.

Consider the corporation’s cosseting of Louis Chenevert, who stepped down in November 2014 after six well-compensated years as CEO. The corporate board eased him out of his cushy executive chair for being too disengaged from the affairs of UTC and too focused on living the good life of wealthy swells. (The final straw came during a business trip to Asia, when he suddenly skipped over to Taiwan to check out progress on a sleek, 100-foot, 20-passenger, luxury yacht he was having built there.)

Rather than being bounced, though, Louis was squeegeed out with money: $31 million in pension benefits, $136 million in stock options, and $28 mil­lion in other compensation. Sadly for him, he got no severance pay. Still, that tidy $195 million goodbye kiss is more than twice the annual salaries all of UTC’s 2,100 displaced Indiana workers.


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The Hightower Lowdown (ISSN 1524-4881) is published monthly by Public Intelligence Inc. at 81 San Marcos Street, Austin, TX 78702. ©2016 in the United States. Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, TX and at additional mailing offices. Subscriptions: 1 year, $15: 2 years, $27. Add $8/year for Mexico or Canada; add $12/year for overseas airmail. Back issues $2 postpaid. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The Hightower Lowdown, P.O. Box 3109, Langhorne, PA 19047. Moving? Missed an issue? Call our subscription folks toll-free at (877)747-3517 or write Send mail to the editor to 81 San Marcos St., Austin, TX 78702 or to Printed with 100% union labor on 100% recycled paper.


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FRANCIS Person to Person. . . .

Yes to the New Relationships Brought by Christ

87. Today, when the networks and means of human communication have made unprecedented advances, we sense the challenge of finding and sharing a “mystique” of living together, of mingling and encounter, of embracing and supporting one another, of stepping into this flood tide that, while chaotic, can become a genuine experience of fraternity, a caravan of solidarity, a sacred pilgrimage. Greater possibilities for communication thus turn into greater possibilities for encounter and solidarity for everyone. If we were able to take this route, it would be so good, so soothing, so liberating and hope-filled! To go out of ourselves and to join others is healthy for us. To be self-enclosed is to taste the bitter poison of immanence, and humanity will be worse for every selfish choice we make.

88. The Christian ideal will always be a summons to overcome suspicion, habitual mistrust, fear of losing our privacy, all the defensive attitudes that today’s world imposes on us. Many try to escape from others and take refuge in the comfort of their privacy or in a small circle of close friends, renouncing the realism of the social aspect of the Gospel. For just as some people want a purely spiritual Christ, without flesh and without the cross, they also want their interpersonal relationships provided by sophisticated equipment, by screens and systems that can be turned on and off on command.

Meanwhile, the Gospel tells us constantly to run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction. True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service, from reconciliation with others. The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution of tenderness.

89. Isolation, which is a version of immanentism, can find expression in a false autonomy that has no place for God. But in the realm of religion it can also take the form of a spiritual consumerism tailored to one’s own unhealthy individualism. The return to the sacred and the quest for spirituality that mark our own time are ambiguous phenomena. Today our challenge is not so much atheism as the need to respond ade­quately to many people’s thirst for God, lest they try to satisfy it with alienating solutions or with a disembodied Jesus who demands nothing of us with regard to others. Unless these people find in the church a spirituality that can offer healing and liberation, and fill them with life and peace, while at the same time summoning them to fraternal communion and missionary fruitfulness, they will end up by being taken in by solutions that neither make life truly human nor give glory to God.

90. Genuine forms of popular religiosity are incarnate, since they are born of the incarnation of Christian faith in popular culture. For this reason they entail a personal relationship, not with vague spiritual energies or powers, but with God, with Christ, with Mary, with the saints. These devotions are fleshy, they have a face. They are capable of fostering relationships and not just enabling escapism. In other parts of our society, we see the growing attraction to various forms of a “spirituality of well-being” divorced from any community life or to a “theology of prosperity” detached from responsibility for our brothers and sisters or to depersonalized experiences that are nothing more than a form of self-centeredness.

91. One important challenge is to show that the solution will never be found in fleeing from a personal and committed relationship with God that at the same time commits us to serving others. This happens frequently nowadays, as believers seek to hide or keep apart from others or quietly flit from one place to another or from one task to another without creating deep and stable bonds. “Imaginatio locorum et mutatio multos fefellit.”68

This is a false remedy that cripples the heart and at times the body as well. We need to help others to realize that the only way is to learn how to encounter others with the right attitude, which is to accept and esteem them as companions along the way, without interior resistance. Better yet, it means learning to find Jesus in the faces of others, in their voices, in their pleas. And learning to suffer in the embrace of the crucified Jesus whenever we are unjustly attacked or meet with ingratitude, never tiring of our decision to live in fraternity.69

92. There indeed we find true healing, since the way to relate to others that truly heals instead of debilitating us is a mystical fraternity, a contemplative fraternity. It is a fraternal love capable of seeing the sacred grandeur of our neighbor, of finding God in every human being, of tolerating the nuisances of life in common by clinging to the love of God, of opening the heart to divine love and seeking the happiness of others just as their heavenly Father does. Here and now, especially where we are a “little flock” (Lk 12:32), the Lord’s disciples are called to live as a community that is the salt of the earth and the light of the world (cf. Mt 5:13-16). We are called to bear witness to a constantly new way of living together in fidelity to the Gospe1.70 Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of community!

Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation, Paragraphs 87-92, Pope Francis (Catholic News Service)


“The family is experiencing very difficult times requiring the church’s compassion and understanding in offering guidance to families ‘as they are.”

Synod 2014 Working Paper

The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization

By the Synod of Bishops General Secretariat

Origins, Pages 157-183, July 17, 2014 Volume 44 Number 10

Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization

Contraception, divorce, same-sex marriage, abortion and the right of parents to be primary educators of their children will be among the topics facing the third extraordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops, according to the 24,600-word “instrumentum laboris,” or working paper, made public June 26 at the Vatican by the Synod Secretariat. The document will serve as the basis for discussions at the synod, scheduled for Oct. 5-19. It summarizes the thousands of responses received from bishops’ conferences, dioceses, parishes, academic institutions and individual Catholics and non-Catholics to a series of questions posed by the Vatican on marriage and family life. “Many respondents confirmed that even when the church’s teaching about marriage and the family is known, many Christians have difficulty accepting it in its entirety,” it says. Catechesis about marriage and family “cannot be limited exclusively to the preparation of couples for marriage,” but must instead permeate the entire church, the document adds. The working document says many bishops’ conferences encouraged the church to consider “more widely exercising mercy, clemency and indulgence toward” divorced and remarried Catholics. On the topic of same-sex marriages, the document said the church needs to “develop a ministry that can maintain the proper balance between accepting persons in a spirit of compassion and gradually guiding them to authentic human and Christian maturity.” The text of the working document follows


0 n Oct. 8, 2013, Pope Francis convoked the third extraordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops to treat the topic “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops began its preparation by sending the preparatory document, which generated significant reflection among the people of God. The results of that consultation are presented in this instrumentum laboris. . . . .

The Holy Father has determined that the work of the Synod of Bishops is to take place in two stages forming an single organic unity. In the third extraordinary general assembly in 2014, the synod fathers will thoroughly examine and analyze the information, testimonies and recommendations received from the particular churches in order to respond to the new challenges of the family. The ordinary general assembly in 2015, representing a great part of the episcopate and continuing the work of the previous synod, will reflect further on the points discussed so as to formulate appropriate pastoral guidelines.

The instrumentum laboris is based on the responses to the questions in the preparatory document that was divided into eight groups of questions on marriage and the family. After its publication in November 2013, this document was distributed worldwide.

A great number of detailed responses to the questions was submitted by the synods of the Eastern Catholic churches sui iuris, the episcopal conferences, the departments of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General. In addition, other responses — categorized as observations — were sent directly to the General Secretariat by a significant number of dioceses, parishes, movements, groups, ecclesial associations and families, not to mention academic institutions, specialists both Catholic and non-Catholic, all interested in sharing their reflections.

The present text is divided into three parts and, for an orderly treatment at the synodal assembly, reflects the eight major subjects treated in the series of questions. The first part, devoted to the Gospel of the family, treats the divine plan and the vocation of the person in Christ. Within this perspective, the section gives indications — positive as well as negative — of the faithful’s knowledge and acceptance of pertinent teachings on the family from the Bible and the documents of the church’s magisterium as well as the faithful’s understanding of the natural law.

The second part treats various challenges and actual situations related to the pastoral care of the family. The third part is devoted to the topic of an openness to life and the responsibility of parents in the upbringing of their children — characteristic of marriage between a man and a woman — with particular reference to difficult pastoral situations.

The present document, the fruit of a collegial effort by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and the ordinary council of the General Secretariat to gather and examine the results of the consultation of the particular churches, is placed in the hands of the members of the synod assembly as the instrumentum laboris. The document offers a broad, yet by no means exhaustive perspective on the present-day situation of the family, on the challenges of the family and on the reflections related to the family today.

The topics that are not included in the document, those in response to Question 9 in the preparatory document (miscellaneous), will be treated in the ordinary general assembly of 2015.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri General Secretary Vatican City, June 24, 2014


The proclamation of the Gospel of the family is an integral part of the mission of the church, since the revelation of God sheds light on the relationship between a man and a woman, their love for each other and the fruitfulness of their relationship. In these times a widespread cultural, social and spiritual crisis is posing a challenge in the church’s work of evangelizing the family, the vital nucleus of society and the ecclesial community.

This proclamation of the Gospel of the family takes place in continuity with the synodal assembly on “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith” and the Year of Faith announced by Pope Benedict XVI.

The extraordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the topic “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization,” aware that “tradition, originating with the apostles, proceeds in the . . .


Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, one of three presidents appointed by Pope Francis to direct the daily sessions of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops in October, told Catholic News Service that he found responses to a Vatican questionnaire about marriage and family issues “shocking, if I am allowed to use that word.”

“Shocking because almost in all parts of the world the questionnaires indicated that the teaching of the church regarding family life is not clearly understood by people, and the language by which the church proposes the teaching seems to be a language not accessible to people,” the cardinal said in an interview in mid-May.

“So this is my hope, not far change — how can you change the biblical teachings? But maybe a real pastoral and evangelical concern for the church: How do we present the good news of the family to this generation, with its limitations, with its greatness, with its unique experiences?”

Cardinal Tagle will take turns with Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris and Cardinal Raymund° Assis of Aparecida, Brazil, running the general sessions of the synod, which will be held Oct. 5-19.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., will represent the U.S. at the 2014 synod as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Other presidents of national bishops’ conferences, the heads of Eastern Catholic churches, Vatican officials and three superiors of men’s religious orders, chosen by the Union of Superiors General, will be full voting members. Usually the pope also makes several appointments..

The extraordinary synod — held outside the normal three-year cycle of synods — will not make any final. . . .

ISSN 0093-609X, Origins, CNS Documentary Service, is published weekly (except biweekly during July, August and December’s last week) by Catholic News Service, 3211 4th Street N.E., Washington, D.C. 20017-1100. Copyright © 2014 by Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Periodical-class postage paid at Washington, D.C. Editor, Edmond Brosnan; Associate Editor, Mary Esslinger; Director of CNS, Tony Spence                                                                                                                                    Editorial: (202) 541-3284. Circulation: (202) 541-3290 –                                                                                                                                                                    Subscriptions: One year, $114; two years, $199; three years, $284; foreign postage additional. Single copy: $8.                                                                                                                     Back issues: Inquire for availability and rates. Attach mailing label to change of address requests and subscription correspondence.                                                                  Postmaster: Send address changes to Origins, CNS Documentary Service, 3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20017-1100.                                                                               Documentation in Origins is selected on the basis of interest and usefulness in reference to current issues. Publication does not signify endorsement by Origins or its sponsoring body, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

158 origins

continued on page 158


“Is the ‘sensus fidei’ something different from the majority opinion of the faithful in a given time or place, and if so how does it differ?

‘Sensus Fidei’ in the Life of the Church

International Theological Commission

Humble listening and proper consultation are necessary to discern the “sensus fidei” (sense of the faith) and “sensus fidelium” (sense of the faithful), especially on matters of controversy within the church, according to a new document from the International Theological Commission. Prepared by a 10-member subcommission and published on the Vatican website in late June with the approval of Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the document aims to explain the meaning, purpose and limits of the capacity of individual believers and of the church as a whole to discern the truth of faith. “When the reception of magisterial teaching by the faithful meets with difficulty and resistance, appropriate action on both sides is required,” it says, calling for “constant communication and regular dialogue on practical issues and matters of faith and morals between members of the church.” The document charges theologians with the task of critically examining “expressions of popular piety, new currents of thought and also new movements in the church for the sake of fidelity to the apostolic tradition.” Laypeople must commit to active participation in the liturgy and the sacraments, constant prayer, active engagement in the church’s mission and “a willingness to follow the commands of God,” the theologians said. Church leadership, for its part, must be open to what Pope Francis calls “new ways for the journey,” as discerned by laypeople. “One of the reasons why bishops and priests need to be close to their people on the journey and to walk with them is precisely so as to recognize ‘new ways’ as they are sensed by the people,” the document says. The full text follows:

Preliminary Note

In its quinquennium of 2009-2014, the International Theological Commission studied the nature of sensus fidei and its place in the life of the church. The work took place in a subcommission presided by Msgr. Paul McPartlan and composed of the following members: Father Serge Thomas Bonino, OP (secretary-general); Sister Sara Butler, MSBT; Rev. Antonio Castellano, SDB; Rev. Adelbert Denaux; Msgr. Tomislav Ivancic; Bishop Jan Liesen; Rev. Leonard Santedi Kinkupu, Dr. Thomas Söding, and Msgr. Jerzy Szymik.

The general discussions of this theme were held in numerous meetings of the subcommission and during the plenary sessions of the same International Theological Commission held in Rome between 2011 and 2014. The text “Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church” was approved in forma specifica by the majority of members of the commission by a written vote and was then submitted to its president, Cardinal Gerhard L. Willer, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who authorized its publication.


1. By the gift of the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father” and bears witness to the Son (Jn 15:26), all of the baptized participate in the prophetic office of Jesus Christ, “the faithful and true witness” (Rv 3:14). They are to bear witness to the Gospel and to the apostolic faith in the church and in the world. The Holy Spirit anoints them and equips them for that high calling, conferring on them a very personal and intimate knowledge of the faith of the church.

In the first Letter of St. John, the faithful are told: “You have been anointed by the holy one, and all of you have knowledge. … The anointing that you received from [Christ] abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. … His anointing teaches you about all things” (1 In 2:20, 27).

2. As a result, the faithful have an instinct for the truth of the Gospel that enables them to recognize and endorse authentic Christian doctrine and practice, and to reject what is false. That supernatural instinct, intrinsically linked to the gift of faith received in the communion of the church, is called the sensus fidei, and it enables Christians to fulfill their prophetic calling.

In his first Angelus address, Pope Francis quoted the words of a humble elderly woman he once met, “If the Lord did not forgive everything, the world would not exist”; and he commented with admiration, “That is the wisdom the Holy Spirit gives.”‘ The woman’s insight is a striking manifestation of the sensus fidei, which, as well as enabling a certain discernment with regard to the things of faith, fosters true wisdom and gives rise, as here, to proclamation of the truth. It is clear, therefore, that the sensus fidei is a vital resource for the new evangelization to which the church is strongly committed in our time.’

3. As a theological concept, the sensus fidei refers to two realities that are distinct though closely connected, the proper subject of one being the church, “pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tm 3:15),3 while the subject of the other is the individual believer who belongs to the church through the sacraments of initiation and who, by means of regular celebration of the Eucharist in particular, participates in her faith and life.

“The fathers and theologians of the first few centuries considered the faith of the church to be a sure point of reference for discerning the content of the apostolic tradition.”

On the one hand, the sensus fidei refers to the personal capacity of the believer, within the communion of the church, to discern the truth of faith. On the other hand, the sensus fidei refers to a communal and ecclesial reality: the instinct of faith of the church herself, by which she recognizes her Lord and proclaims his word.

The sensus fidei in this sense is reflected in the convergence of the baptized in a lived adhesion to a doctrine of faith or to an element of Christian praxis. This convergence (consensus) plays a vital role in the church: The consensus fidelium is a sure criterion for determining whether a particular doctrine or practice belongs to the apostolic faith.’

(Continued in Origins for July 3, 2014 – Volume 44, Number 9)



The International Theological Commission was instituted by Pope Paul W in 1969 as an international body of theologians charged with advising the pope, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and other Vatican agencies on doctrinal issues. Its members are appointed by the pope and serve five-year, renewable terms. The commission’s president is the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, German Cardinal Gerhard Muller.

As explained in the preliminary note, the commission has been studying the nature of the “sensus fidei” since 2009. The text presented here was developed by a subcommittee, discussed during four years of the commission’s plenary sessions, approved by a majority of its members in a written vote and approved for publication by Cardinal Millie,: Current members of the commission, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in June 2009, includes:

—Archbishop Study Hon Tai-Fai. SDB (China, secretary, Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Vatican City).

—Archbishop Jan Wilhelmus Maria Liesen (Breda, Netherlands).

—Bishop Charles Morerod, OP (Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, Switzerland).

—Bishop Paul Rouhana, OLM (titular bishop of Antarado, bishop, Patriarchal Vicariate of Sarba, Lebanon).

— Father Peter Damian Akpunonu (Nigeria, biblical exegesis, University of St. Mary of the Lake (Mundelein Seminary!, Chicago, Ill).

—Father Serge Thomas Bonino OR secretary-general (philosophy, the Catholic Institute of Toulouse; theology, Dominican Study Home of Toulouse, France).

—Father Geraldo Luiz Borges Hackmann (systematic theology, Pontifical Catholic University do Rio Grande do Sul of Porto Alegre, Brazil)

—Sister Sara Butler,

(Continued on Page 135)

NOTE: Complete text on link:


ISSN 0093-609X, Origins, CNS Documentary Service, is published weekly (except biweekly during July, August and December’s last week) by Catholic News Service, 3211 4th Street N.E., Washington, D.C. 20017-1100. Copyright CO 2014 by Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Periodical-class postage paid at Washington, D.C. Editor, Edmond Brosnan; Associate Editor, Mary Esslinger; Director of CNS, Tony Spence.

Editorial: (202) 541-3284. Circulation: (202) 541-3290 –

Subscriptions: One year, $114; two years, $199; three years, $284; foreign postage additional. Single copy: $8. Back issues: Inquire for availability and rates. Attach mailing label to change of address requests and subscription correspondence. Postmaster: Send address changes to Origins, CNS Documentary Service, 3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20017-1100.

Documentation in Origins is selected on the basis of interest and usefulness in reference to current issues. Publication does not signify endorsement by Origins or its sponsoring body, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Page 133-134  of   Origins – Pages 133-154.

REV. MSGR. JAMES M. RIBBLE, PhD + October 19, 2013


The Reverend Monsignor James M. Ribble, Ph.D.
March 11, 1930 — October 19, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes
Spokane, Washington


Ordained Priest May 30, 1957

Diocesan Director of Vocations 1957-1968

Teacher/Rector, Bishop White Seminary 1957-1965

Rector, Mater Cleri Seminary 1965-1968

Principal, DeSales High School 1968-1970

Doctoral Studies/Pastor, Sacred Heart Parish, Pullman 1970-1976

Rector, Mount Angel Seminary 1976-1983

Rector, Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, 1983-2005

Installed Prelate of Honor, bestowed by Blessed Pope John Paul II April 4, 1997

Senior Rector Emeritus, Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes 2011

Dear Friends, Greetings!

I have had 56 years of Priestly Service during which I could have composed my farewell to you. And yet the time that I have been with you has been such a precious gift to me I could not concentrate on formulating an adequate goodbye. This letter is not a goodbye, (because we only live twice), but rather a continued pledge of my love and respect for you in the bond of faith that we share together.

You have taught me much by your generous service and ministry to one another. I have engaged the thought … it is I who am more the pupil and you the teachers. You have given me the opportunity to serve as a Priest through the years. I have been surrounded with the resources of your wisdom, moral support, friendship, and prayers. These have made my every assignment an extraordinary honor.

I give thanks to God for the gift of life. I pray that we will experience one another again in the Communion of Saints at ‘The Feast”. Let this earthly farewell be as sweet as the memories that I carry with me.

I thank you for everything, and I ask God’s blessing on you and your loved ones. Please pray for the repose of my soul.

Your Brother in Christ,Monsignor James M. Ribble


Born:  March 11,1930, Duluth, MN

Parents:         Christian Merritt Ribble and Eva Rivers Ribble

Attended:      Central High School: Aberdeen, SD

Carroll College: Helena, MT, B.A.

St. Paul’s Seminary: St. Paul, MN, M.A. and M.Div.

1962 Graduate Studies: Northwestern University: Evanston, IL

(Doctoral Studies in Education)

Washington State University: Ph.D.

Ordained: 30 May 1957 by Bishop Bernard. J. Topel D.D., Bishop of Spokane, WA

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes

Celebrated: 16 June 1957 First Solemn Mass, St. Joan of Arc, Skokie, IL

1997 Golden Anniversary of Ordination, The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, Spokane, WA

Assigned:       1957 -1968 Diocesan Director of Vocations

1957 -1965 Teacher and Rector at Bishop White Seminary

1965 -1968 Rector at Mater Cleri Seminary

1968 -1970 Principal DeSalles High School, Walla Walla, WA

1970 -1976 Graduate Doctoral studies and pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Pullman, WA

1976 -1983 President/Rector Mount Angel Seminary, Portland,OR

1983 – 2005 Rector of The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, Spokane, WA

Received:       1997 Papal Honors from John Paul II and made Domestic Prelate with

the title Reverend Monsignor

1997 The Legacy of Leadership award, Mount Angel Seminary

1997 Knight Commander of the Equestrian Order of The Knights of The Holy Sepulcher

2013 October 19th, Spokane, WA, Entered the fullness of life


FR. LAWRENCE ROBOTNIK + February 28, 2014


           We recently learned of the death of a member of your class and want to share the information.

Fr. Lawrence  Robotnik died on February 28, 2014, in Erlanger, Kentucky.

Visitation — Thursday, March 2, 2014, Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington, KY from 5:00-8:00 p.m.

Vigil Service — Thursday, March 6, Cathedral Basilica, 8:00 p.m.

Visitation — Friday, March 7, 2014, Cathedral Basilica, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

Funeral Mass — Friday, March 7, 2014, Cathedral Basilica. 11:00 a.m.

We will remember our good friend and your classmate in the prayers of The Saint Paul Seminary community.

God be with you!

The Saint Paul Seminary



Apart From the Church,
It Is Not Possible to Find Jesus

Pope Francis


“Following Jesus means belonging to the church, the community that gives Christians their identity, Pope Francis said. “Apart from the church it is not possible to find Jesus,” he said in a homily April 23. “The great Paul VI said: It is an absurd dichotomy to wish to live with Jesus but without the church, to follow Jesus but without the church, to love Jesus but without the church.” Dozens of cardinals living in Rome or visiting the Vatican joined the pope in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace for the Mass on the feast of St. George, the martyr. The feast is the pope’s name day; he was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio. In his homily, Pope Francis spoke about the persecution of the first Christian communities and how opposition did not stop them from sharing their faith in Christ, but went hand in hand with even greater missionary activity. “At the very moment when persecution broke out, the church’s
missionary nature also ‘broke out,'” the pope said. When the first Christians began sharing the Gospel with the Greeks and not just other Jews, it was something completely new and made some of the apostles “a little nervous,” the pope said. They sent Barnabas to Antioch to check on the situation, a kind of “apostolic visitation,” he said. “Perhaps, with a touch of humor, we can say that this was the theological origin of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” The pope spoke in Italian; a Vatican translation of his homily follows, copyright © 2013 by Libreria Editrice Vaticana.”


“I thank His Eminence, the cardinal dean, for his words: Thank you, Your Eminence, many thanks.
I also thank those of you who came today. Thank you! Because I feel warmly welcomed by you. Thank you! I feel at home with you and that pleases me. Today’s first reading makes me think that at the very moment when persecution broke out, the church’s missionary nature also “broke out.” These Christians went all the way to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch and proclaimed the word (cf. Acts 11:19). They had this apostolic fervor in their hearts; and so the faith spread! Some people from Cyprus and Cyrene, not these but others who had become Christians, came to Antioch and began to speak also to the Greeks (cf. Acts 11:20).
This is yet another step. And, so the church moves forward. Who took this initiative of speaking to the Greeks, something unheard of, since they were preaching only to Jews? It was the Holy Spirit, the one who was pushing them on, on and on, unceasingly. But back in Jerusalem, when somebody heard about this, he got a little nervous and they sent an apostolic visitation: They sent Barnabas (cf. Acts 11:22).
Perhaps, with a touch of humor, we can say that this was the theological origin of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: this apostolic visitation of Barnabas. He took a look and saw that things were going well (cf. Acts 11:23).

If we want to take the path of worldliness, bargaining with the world … we will never have the consolation of the Lord.

And in this way the church is increasingly a mother, a mother of many, many children: She becomes a mother, ever more fully a mother, a mother who gives us faith, a mother who gives us our identity. But Christian identity is not an identity card. Christian identity means being a member of the church, since all these people belonged to the church, to mother church, for apart from the church it is not possible to find Jesus.
The great Paul VI said: It is an absurd dichotomy to wish to live with Jesus but without the church, to follow Jesus but without the church, to love Jesus but without the church (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 16). And that mother church who gives us Jesus also gives us an identity that is not simply a rubber stamp: It is membership. Identity means membership, belonging. Belonging to the church: This is beautiful! The third idea that comes to my mind ? the first was the outbreak of the church’s missionary nature and second the church as mother ? is that, when Barnabas saw that crowd, the text says, “and a great many people were brought to the Lord” (Acts 11:24), when he saw that crowd, he rejoiced. “When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced” (Acts 11:23). It is the special joy of the evangelizer.
It is, as Paul VI said, “the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing” (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80). This joy begins with persecution, with great sadness and ends in joy. And so the church moves forward, as a saint tells us, amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of the Lord (cf. St. Augustine,
De Civitate Dei, 18:51, 2: PL 41, 614).
This is the life of the church. If we want to take the path of worldliness, bargaining with the world ? as the Maccabees were tempted to do back then ? we will never have the consolation of the Lord. And if we seek consolation alone, it will be a superficial consolation, not the Lord’s consolation, but a human consolation. The church always advances between the cross and the resurrection, between persecutions and the consolations of the Lord. This is the path: Those who take this path do not go wrong.
Today let us think about the missionary nature of the church: these disciples who took the initiative to go forth and those who had the courage to proclaim Jesus to the Greeks, something that at that time was almost scandalous (cf. Acts 11;19-20). Let us think of mother church, who is increasing, growing with new children to whom she gives the identity of faith, for one cannot believe in Jesus without the church. Jesus himself says so in the Gospel: But you do not believe because you do not belong to my sheep (cf. Jn 10:26).
Unless we are “Jesus’ sheep,” faith does not come; it is a faith that is watered down, insubstantial. And let us think of the consolation Barnabas experienced, which was precisely the “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing.” Let us ask the Lord for this parrhesia, this apostolic fervor that impels us to move
forward as brothers and sisters, all of us: forward! Forward, bearing the name of Jesus in the bosom of holy mother church, as St. Ignatius said, hierarchical and Catholic. Amen.”


“The biggest threat to the church is worldliness, Pope Francis said in his daily morning Mass homily. A worldly church becomes weak, and while people of faith can look after the church, only God “can look evil in the eye and overpower it,” he said April 30. The pope celebrated the Mass with members of the Vatican’s investment agency in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthas. The day’s reading from the Gospel of St. John recounts Jesus telling his disciples, “I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming;” but Satan “has no power over me.”
The pope said, “If we don’t want the prince of this world to take the church in his hands, we have to entrust her to the only one who can defeat the prince of this world. Entrusting the church to the Lord is a prayer that makes the church grow” and is an act of faith because “we can do nothing. All of us are poor servants of the church,” he said.
Israeli President Shimon Peres officially invited Pope Francis to Israel, telling the pope “the sooner you visit the better, as in these days a new opportunity is being created for peace, and your arrival could contribute significantly to increasing the trust and belief in peace.”
The Israeli president’s remarks were reported in a statement released by the Israeli Embassy to the Vatican after Peres met Pope Francis April 30. The statement said Peres told Pope Francis about efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, mentioning specifically the meeting April 29 in Washington between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the foreign ministers of the Arab League.
Peres also told the pope that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “is a genuine partner for peace,” the statement said. Peres left the meeting at the Vatican telling the pope, “I am expecting you in Jerusalem and not just me, but all the people of Israel.”
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters, “The pope would be happy to go to the Holy Land,” although there are no concrete plans for the trip. The Vatican said that during their half-hour private conversation, the pope and the president discussed “the political and social situation in the Middle East, where more than a few conflicts persist.” Going to confession isn’t like heading off to be tortured or punished, nor is it like going to the dry cleaners to get out a stain, Pope Francis said in a morning Mass homily. “It’s an encounter with Jesus” who is patiently waiting “and takes us as we are,” offering penitents his tender mercy and forgiveness, he said April 29.
Members of the Vatican’s investment agency and a group of religious women joined the pope for the Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all,” the pope said, quoting from the First Letter of John.
While everyone experiences moments of darkness in life, the verse refers to the darkness of living in error, “being satisfied with oneself, being convinced of not needing salvation,” he said. As John continues, the pope said, “If we say, ‘We are without sin,’ we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” People have to start out with the humility of realizing “we are all sinners, all of us, “he said.”

FIRST THINGS – Success Is Not Dignity

THE  PUBLIC SQUARE  –  First Things Editorial Pages

By R. R. Reno

Success Is Not Dignity

1           Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam is worried about America. He should be. As Charles Murray put it in the title of his important book, we’re coming apart. (I wrote about Coming Apart in the March 2012 issue: “The One Percent.”) Putnam’s latest book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, tells pretty much the same story, but he slices the American population differ­ently. Putnam divides society into the college-educated over and against those with a high-school diploma or less. This is a rough but useful distinction between today’s haves and have-nots. The evidence of a growing divide is clear. And not just clear, but familiar to anyone who has been paying attention over the past couple of decades.

Money? The less educated make less money and are less wealthy, and they’re much more likely to feel finan­cially stressed. Divorce? It’s twice as frequent among the less educated. Illegitimacy? Nearly seven times as likely. Single parenthood? Same. Rates of imprisonment? Same. Unemployment? Same. Church? The less educated are less likely to attend. He doesn’t give statistics on drug use, alcoholism, diabetes, and other dysfunctions, but, again, they also affect those lower down on the social scale far more than those higher up.

In his widely read book Bowling Alone (2000), Putnam popularized the notion of social capital, meaning the so­cial assets we have that help us navigate through life. In Our Kids, he looks at data on social trust, breadth of so­cial networks, even the number of friends. One does not need a degree in sociology to anticipate that a population more likely to be imprisoned, use drugs, divorce, and have children out of wedlock will lack social capital. And this is in fact what his research shows.

Putnam is too politically correct to state the blunt truth bluntly, but the details of Our Kids say it again and again: College-educated people are largely functional, while less-educated people are increasingly dysfunctional. There are two Americas. We’re coming apart.

Putnam reports on the implications of the Great Diver­gence for children. It will come as no surprise to readers that the children of dysfunctional people tend to have a hard time in life, while the children of functional peo­ple tend to have an advantage. Dysfunctional parents give their children less time and are more likely to ne­glect and even abuse them. The children live in run-down neighborhoods that have little sense of community. They do more poorly in schools that have less rigorous course-work and more discipline problems. They’re less likely to go on to college and are vastly less likely to graduate. They have more difficulty finding steady employment.

Put simply, and again in a politically incorrect way, the children of dysfunctional people tend to be dysfunctional, which means kids at the bottom of society are only too likely to stay at the bottom.

Our Kids is also full of stories, both of kids fortunate enough to be born to college-educated parents who con­form to the neo-bourgeois standards of the upper middle class, and of those born into the increasingly large un­derclass. The differences are stark. The suffering of those born in bad circumstances anguishes any sensitive reader. It certainly anguished me.

Yet I was also irked, though not for the reasons others have objected to Putnam’s analysis. Some reviewers on the left have attacked Putnam for failing to zero in on the way in which “financial capitalism” and the selfishness of the rich is at the root of all these problems. Where is class politics in this book on class? Those on the right have complained he does not properly blame the deregulation of sex and the general trend to moral relativism that has de­pleted the social capital of the poor. Still others complain that Putnam paints too rosy a picture of 1950s America, a period of relative middle-class equality from which he thinks we have fallen, downplaying the the racism and sexism of that era.

But I did not have these criticisms in mind as I read Our Kids. By and large, Putnam strikes the right balance. It’s absurd to think that the dra­matic economic changes wrought by economic globalization (or “financial capitalism,” if you prefer) haven’t eroded working-class culture. Creative de­struction may promote economic growth, but it can be hell on actual communities. It’s also ridiculous to deny that feminism and the sexual revolution exploded the social norms that once brought order and dignity to working-class communities. One of the greatest spiritual failures of my lifetime has been the self-righteous refusal of feminists, gay activists, and assorted multiculturalists to acknowl­edge the heavy price poor and vulnerable people have paid for their cherished freedoms.

No, I was not irked by Putnam’s refusal to identify the “bad guys.” Instead, what troubled me was his implicit view of human flourishing. We read that bad family back­grounds limit “one’s ultimate economic success,” and that the growing dysfunction of the working class threatens the American dream of “upward socioeconomic mobil­ity.” What do the doleful charts about illegitimacy and other pathologies tell us? “More single parents means less upward mobility,” while “affluent neighborhoods boost academic success.” Our biggest problem is an “opportunity gap.”

I’m all for upward mobility. It’s surely a boon for chil­dren to advance further in education, make more money, and live in nicer houses than their parents did. It makes the inevitable inequalities of our society (any society) more palatable when the rising tide lifts all boats.

But to speak of “success” and upward mobility in the context of the lives of today’s growing underclass seems almost obscenely narrow and impoverished. Those who live in the dysfunctional world of today’s poor and en­dure its misery suffer from a moral and spiritual poverty more primitive than a lack of “opportunity.” Economic and academic “success” are upper-middle-class preoccu­pations. A good college, a rewarding career? That’s what we want for our kids, to be sure. But this sort of focus is largely a luxury. And like so many luxuries, it can seduce and bewitch us.

any of the subjects interviewed by Putnam’s team see as much. Andrew is an eighteen­ year-old in Bend, Oregon, who has every advantage. His father is financially successful. His mom stayed at home during his childhood. He went to a good school. He’s off to college and undoubtedly hopes to be successful. But he senses that climbing the ladder isn’t of first importance, and his life goal isn’t “success.” He gestures toward something more basic: “The first thing that would be good for me would be if I could build a home and have a family. Hopefully I will meet somebody that’s like my best friend, and then give my kids close to the same as what I had.” And what did he get that he wants to give to his children? “My dad always reminds me every day how much my mom and dad love me.” This is something very precious, and it’s not upward mobility.

David is roughly the same age as Andrew. His father is in prison. His mother moved out when he was an infant. Both have revolving-door relationships with alcoholic and drug-addicted partners. Half-brothers and half-sisters are born and neglected. His girlfriend gets pregnant, leaves him, and moves in with a drug addict. He feels he’s reached a dead end. In his darkness he does not think of “success.” Instead, he tries to take care of his neglected half-siblings, and his daughter. “I love being a dad,” he says. Despite having gotten next to nothing from those who brought him into the world, he too wants to give.

Elijah is a young black man in Atlanta. His childhood was brutal, painful. His life has been violent. He says, “I just love beating up somebody.” Yet he does not come across as a monster, because he sees himself clearly, and he does not like what he sees. “I don’t want to go that route now.” He goes to work and to church, “just trying to be a good all-around American citizen.” He seeks decency. Again, this is a precious thing, and it’s not “success.”

I don’t wish to denigrate Putnam’s concern. As its title indicates, Our Kids is a book written to call us—the well-to-do, the upper third—to see the poor as fellow citizens whose burdens we should share. It’s the right call to issue. But utilitarian, individualistic, meritocratic assumptions dominate his analysis.

To a great degree this impoverishment is forced on him by contemporary social science. It can’t see social institutions like marriage, family, neighborliness, and ed­ucation as goods in themselves. They are goods because they have positive utility functions, which are cashed out in terms of how conducive they are to “success.” Read to your kids at night because it will help their brains develop more fully!

As I read the many gut-wrenching stories in Our Kids of poor young Americans who live without stability, without anything resembling a home life, without adults who are responsible enough to take care of them—without love—it became more and more painful to see Putnam worrying that all this means that, to an ever-greater extent, not ev­erybody has an equal opportunity “to get ahead.”

Being poor at any time and in any place has al­ways been hard. But for many in the past, per­haps most, it could be decent and dignified. Putnam’s own stories of Port Clinton, his home­town, show us as much. He tells of Jesse, a black schoolmate he had growing up. Jesse’s parents had fled the brutal racist system in the South. Neither was educated beyond primary school. Both did menial work. Theirs was a hard life we wouldn’t wish on anyone. Yet, two genera­tions ago, they gave Jesse what Andrew and David want to give. They embodied the decency Elijah seeks.

Today, self-giving and decency are remote ideals for many poor people in America. Basic human dignity seems out of reach for those on the bottom of society. Raised in an environment of moral chaos, David lacks the discipline and self-possession—lacks the basic context of family sta­bility—to give himself to those whom he loves. This is the great crisis of our time, not the lack of upward mobility.

I don’t want to discount the role of poverty. Being be­hind on credit-card payments, losing your job because your car breaks down and you can’t get to work on time, feeling as though the world of opportunity has passed you by—all these and more can be hammer blows on the soul. If rich people are more likely to divorce when a spouse loses a job or piles up debt, the relentless financial battering the poor endure is surely a contributing factor to their dysfunctional lives. But we need to be clear about our brother’s burdens if we are to carry them. Today, the poor lack social capital first and foremost, not financial capital. They are spiritu­ally impoverished more than educationally disadvantaged.

Economic and educational reforms may be necessary. But they won’t address the deeper problem. We have to face the dark fact that over the past fifty years we’ve waged a cultural war on the weak. In the 1950s, when Putnam was growing up, a too common racism dogged the life of his classmate Jesse. But the larger culture supported Jesse’s parents in their main goal, which was to raise their son to be a dignified man: sober, law-abiding, honest, hard­working, faithful to his wife, devoted to his children, and God-fearing. That’s no longer true.

Or at least no longer true for those born poor. As Putnam points out, today’s America has become rigorous­ly segregated. The functional people insulate themselves and their children from the dysfunctional people. Im­bued with a therapeutic ethos that softens the rigors they impose on themselves and their children (drug use and sexual license are “unhealthy,” not wrong) and cowed by multiculturalism, today’s rich won’t speak up for a com­mon culture. Instead, they quietly and covertly pass on their social capital to their children in gated communities and class-segregated schools that celebrate diversity and “inclusion” while forming the young people into the rigid molds of the meritocracy.

0n occasion I’ve spoken up at conferences and meetings, arguing that the prefer­ential option for the poor today means social conservatism (again, not only, but certainly at least). It means policies that punish divorce and reward marriage. It means getting serious about limiting pornography and resisting the temptation to legalize drugs. It means affirming gen­der roles that encourage men to act like gentlemen and women like ladies. It means having the courage to use the word “sin.” Most of all it means fighting against the One Percent’s almost complete conscription of the cultural conversation to serve its own interests. (What could be more One Percent than gay marriage and efforts to break the “glass ceiling”?)

The reaction is almost always one of horror. I’m “blam­ing the victim” or “imposing my white male values.” I’ve come to see that it’s not the victims that most progressives care about. The well-to-do like the way the therapeutic, nonjudgmental culture works for them. It keeps the public domain open and flexible and forgiving, which is conve­nient for those of us who have the social capital that allows us to keep our footing when we screw up. Why should the functional people who succeed today give this up?

The rich almost always want to keep as much of what they have as they can. So perhaps what I need to advocate is a more progressive view of our cultural politics. Just as we have a progressive tax system committed to redis­tribution, we should have a progressive cultural system in which the meritocracy that now rules has to accept a higher rate of moral rigor so that we can redistribute its benefits to the rest of society.

First Things, R. R. Reno, May-June Issue, Page 2-5.


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Our Father, when we long for life without trials and work without difficulties,
remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and
diamonds are made under pressure.
With stout hearts may we see in every mishap an opportunity and
not give way to the pessimism that sees in every
opportunity a calamity…

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery. Today is a gift, which is our reason for calling it “the present!””

Most of us will never do great things  but each of us can do small things in a great way.

Do not fear tomorrow. God is already there.


Humans judge by the success of our efforts.
God looks at the efforts.

Life is like a game of tennis:
the player who serves well seldom loses.

Loving someone is seeing them the way God intended.

God, grant us the light of Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love and the radiance of Christmas, which is purity.

A day hemmed in prayer seldom unravels

I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when I feel it not. I believe in God even when He is silent.

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.

In God’s kingdom, the only way up is down. To become great in His kingdom, become the least – the servant of all.

He who wants milk should not sit on a stool in the middle of a pasture waiting for a cow to back up.

One of God’s arrangements is that, after winter, there should come beautiful spring and summer days. It happens every year. And it happens in every life.

There is nothing as strong as gentleness, or as gentle as true strength.

Lord, let my actions be prayer in motion:  silent, effective, and born of love.


KNOM Radio Mission, P.O.Box 988, Nome, Alaska 99762;


Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation

Pope Francis
“In his first extensive piece of writing as pope, Pope Francis lays out a vision of the Catholic Church dedicated to evangelization in a positive key, with a focus on society’s poorest and most vulnerable. The pope’s apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), was released by the Vatican Nov. 26. (Pope Francis’ first encyclical, “Lumen Fidei,” published in July, was mostly the work of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.) Pope Francis wrote the new document in response to the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization, but declined to work from a draft provided by synod officials. Pope Francis’ voice is unmistakable in the lengthy document’s relatively relaxed style – he writes that an “evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!”- and its emphasis on some of his signature themes, including the dangers of economic globalization and “spiritual worldliness.”
The church’s message “has to concentrate on the essentials, on what is most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the same time most necessary,” he writes. “In this basic core, what shines forth is the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead.” The exhortation is too long to fit into one edition of Origins. The first half of the document follows, copyright © 2013 by Libreria Editrice Vaticana; the second half will appear in a forthcoming edition of Origins.“

“Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others.”

“”Evangelii Gaudium” “The Joy of the Gospel”) was written in response to the October 2012 World Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization. The three-week gathering, which brought more than 260 bishops and religious superiors to the Vatican, along with dozens of official observers and experts, discussed how the church can revive and spread the faith in increasingly secular societies. Pope Francis participated in the synod as a delegate of the Argentine bishops’ conference.
In a homily at a Mass in St. Peter’s Square opening the synod, Pope Benedict XVI said, “The church exists to evangelize” and does this by sharing the Gospel with people who have never heard of Christ, strengthening the faith of those who already have been baptized and reaching out to those who “have drifted away from the church.”
“At various times in history, divine providence has given birth to a renewed dynamism in the church’s evangelizing activity, “as happened, for example, with the evangelization of the Americas beginning late in the 15th century, he said. “Even in our own times the Holy Spirit has nurtured in the church a new effort to announce the good news,” the pope said, pointing to the Second Vatican Council, where he said the modern effort to proclaim salvation in Christ found “a more universal expression and its most authoritative impulse.” Pope Benedict said the synod would be dedicated to helping people strengthen their faith and to helping those who have drifted away “encounter the Lord, who alone fills existence with deep meaning and peace, and to favor the rediscovery of the faith, that source of grace that brings joy and hope to personal, family and social life.”

In a homily marking the closing of the 2012 synod, Pope Benedict underscored “three pastoral themes” that he said had emerged from the talks. “Ordinary pastoral ministry … must be more animated by the fire of the Spirit so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful,” he said, stressing the importance of the sacrament of confession and the necessity of “appropriate catechesis” in preparation for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist.
The pope also called for a “new missionary dynamism” to “proclaim the message of salvation to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ.”
Finally, the pope spoke of the need to persuade lapsed Catholics, “especially in the most secular countries,” to “encounter Jesus Christ anew, rediscover the joy of faith and return to religious practice in the community of the faithful.” This effort, in particular, calls for “pastoral creativity” and use of a “new language attuned to the different world cultures,” he said. For coverage in Origins of the 2012 world Synod of Bishops, see Vol. 42, Nos. 20, 21, 22 and 23, dated respectively Oct. 18, 2012, Oct. 25, 2012, Nov. 1, 2012, and Nov. 8, 2012.

At the conclusion of the 2012 world Synod of Bishops, its participants issued a “message to the people of God” that expressed optimism about the future despite the growth of secularism, increased hostility toward Christianity and the sinful behavior of some church ministers.
That optimism is based on Christ’s promise of salvation, synod participants said. They said they were certain God “will not fail to look on our poverty in order to show the strength of his arm in our days and to sustain us in the path of the new evangelization.”

Even if the world often resembles a “desert” for Christians, “we must journey, taking with us what is essential: ‘the company of Jesus, the truth of his word, the eucharistic bread that nourishes us,’ the fellowship of community and the work of charity,” the message said.

Although the message described forces hostile to the Christian faith today, the synod members also said,
“With humility we must recognize that the poverty and weakness of Jesus’ disciples, especially of his ministers, weigh on the credibility of the mission.”

The text of the message appeared in Origins, Vol. 42, No. 23, the issue dated Nov. 8,2012.

Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on sharing the joy of the Gospel is a call to faith-filled optimism, recognizing challenges but knowing that God’s love and lordship will prevail, said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, introducing the text to the media.

The archbishop, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, told reporters Nov. 26 that “Evangelii Gaudium” is “an invitation to recover a prophetic and positive vision of reality without ignoring the current challenges.”

When the pope writes about the reform of church structures to be always missionary or the need to improve homilies or the obligation to reach out to the poor first of all or his insistence that the church always will defend the life of the unborn, Archbishop Fisichella said, “the cement which binds all these themes together is concentrated in the merciful love of God.”

At the Vatican news conference to present the papal document, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said Pope Francis wrote it himself in Spanish, mostly during his August vacation.

Archbishop Claudia Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said the exhortation
“has an almost conversational feel to it which reflects a unique and profound pastoral sensitivity.

In calling for the reform of church structures at every level and a change of attitude on the part of all Catholics in order to give priority to sharing the Gospel of God’s love and mercy with all, he said, the pope uses “the simple, familiar and direct language that has been the hallmark” of his style since becoming pope.

Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, said Pope Francis took the suggestions made by the 2012 Synod of Bishops on new evangelization, “made them his own, re-elaborating them in a personal way” and coming up with “a programmatic, exhortative document” on mission in the fullest sense. “Evangelii Gaudium”is not a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, he said, “because its scope goes well beyond the discussions of the synod.”

Archbishop Fisichella called the document “a map and guide” for the church’s pastoral mission and work in the world. Both Archbishops Fisichella and Baldisseri noted how Pope Francis in the apostolic exhortation expresses a need for the church to return to the Second Vatican Council and find concrete ways to ensure the world’s bishops, united with the pope, exercise collegiality or shared responsibility for the mission of the church.

Archbishop Fisichella also said the pope sees a need for the church to move “from a bureaucratic, static and
administrative vision of pastoral ministry to a perspective which is not only missionary, but is in a permanent state of evangelization.””

EVANGELII GAUDIUM: Apostolic Exhortation

Paragraph 1. “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept
his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the church’s journey in years to come.”

A Joy Ever New, A Joy That Is Shared – Paragraphs 2-8

Paragraph 2-8. “The great danger in today’s world,
pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish
born of a complacent yet . . . .”

Paragraphs 9-13:The Delightful and Comforting Joy
born of of Evangelizing

Paragraphs 11-13: Eternal Newness

Paragraphs 14-18: The New Evangelization for
the Transmission of the Faith

The Scope and Limits of this Exhortation – Paragraphs – 16-18


A Church That Goes Forth – Paragraphs 20-23

Taking the First Step,
Being Involved and Supportive,
Bearing Fruit and Rejoicing
– Paragraphs 24-26

Pastoral Activity and Conversion – Paragraphs 25-26

An Ecclesial Renewal
That Cannot Be Deferred
– Paragraphs 27-33

From the Heart of the Gospel – Paragraphs 34-39

A Mission Embodied Within
Human Limits
– Paragraphs 40-45

A Mother With An Open Heart – Paragraphs 46-49


Some Challenges of Today’s World – Paragraphs 52-75

No to an Economy of Exclusion – Paragraph 53-54

No to the New Idolatry of Money – Paragraph 55-56

No to a financial System
That Rules Rather Than Serves
– Paragraph 57-58

No to the Inequality
That Spawns Violence
– Paragraph 59-60

Some Cultural Challenges – Paragraph 61-67

Challenges to
Inculturating the Faith
– Paragraph 68-70

Challenges From Urban Cultures – Paragraph 71-75

Temptations Faced by
Pastoral Workers
– Paragraphs 76-77

Yes to the Challenge of
a Missionary Spirituality
– Paragraph 78-80

No to Selfishness and
Spiritual Sloth
– Paragraph 81-83

No to a Sterile Pessimism – Paragraph 84-86

Yes to the New Relationships
Brought by Christ
– Paragraph 87-92

No to Spiritual Worldliness – Paragraph 93-97

No to Warring Among Ourselves – Paragraph 98-101

Other Ecclesial Challenges – Paragraph 102-109

3. THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL – Paragraphs 110-175

The Entire People of God
Proclaims the Gospel
– Paragraph 111

A People for Everyone – Paragraphs 112-114

A People of Many Faces – Paragraphs 115-118

We Are All Missionary Disciples – Paragraphs 119-121

The Evangelizing Power
of Popular Piety
– Paragraphs 122-126

Person to Person – Paragraphs 127-129

Charisms at the Service of
a Communion That Evangelizes
– Paragraphs 130-131

Culture, Thought and Education – Paragraphs 132-134

The Homily – Paragraphs 135-136

The Liturgical Context – Paragraphs 137-138

A Mother’s Conversation – Paragraphs 139-141

Words That Set Hearts on Fire – Paragraphs 142-144

Preparing To Preach – Paragraph 145

Reverence For Truth – Paragraphs 146-148

Personalizing the Word – Paragraphs 149-151

Spiritual Reading – Paragraphs 152-153

An Ear to the People – Paragraphs 154-155

Homiletic Resources – Paragraphs 156-159

Evangelization and the
Deeper Understanding of the kerygma
– Paragraphs 160-162

Kerygmatic and
Mystagogical Catechesis
– Paragraphs 163-168

Personal Accompaniment
in Processes of Growth
– Paragraphs 169-173

Centered on the Word of God – Paragraphs 174-175


Communal & Societal Repercussions
of the Kerygma
– Paragraph 177

Confession of Faith and
Commitment to Society
– Paragraphs 178-179

The Kingdom and
Its Challenge
– Paragraphs 180-181

The Church’s Teaching on
Social Questions
– Paragraphs 182-185

Inclusion of the Poor
in Society
– Paragraph 186

In Union with God,
We Hear a Plea
– Paragraphs 187-192

Fidelity to the Gospel,
Lest We Run in Vain
– Paragraphs 193-196

Special Place of the Poor
in God’s People
– Paragraphs 197-201

The Economy and
the Distribution of Income
– Paragraphs 202-208

Concern for the Vulnerable – Paragraphs 209-216

The Common Good and
Peace in Society
– Paragraph 217-221

Time is Greater than Space – Paragraphs 222-225

Unity Prevails Over Conflict – Paragraphs 226-230

Realities Are More
Than Ideas
– Paragraphs 231-233

The Whole Is Greater
Than the Part
– Paragraphs 234-236

Social Dialogue as
a Contribution to Peace
– Paragraphs 238-241

Dialogue Between
Faith, Reason and Science
– Paragraphs 242-243

Ecumenical Dialogue – Paragraphs 244-246

Relations With Judaism – Paragraphs 247-249

Interreligious Dialogue – Paragraphs 250-254

Social Dialogue in
a Context of Religious Freedom
– Paragraphs 255-258

5. SPIRIT-FILLED EVANGELIZERS – Paragraphs 259-288

Reasons For a Renewed
Missionary Impulse
– Paragraphs 262-263

Personal Encounter With the
Saving Love of Jesus
– Paragraphs 264-267

The Spiritual Savior of
Being a People
– Paragraphs 268-274

The Mysterious Working of the
Risen Christ and His Spirit
– Paragraphs 275-280

The Missionary Power of
Intercessory Prayer
– Paragraphs 281-283

Mother of Evangelization
– Paragraph 284-

Jesus’ Gift to His People – Paragraphs 285-286

Star of the
New Evangelization
– Paragraphs 287-288