#ShortNews: ‘Welcome the stranger,’ bishops exhort Irish Catholics

The Winter 2019 General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference called on all Catholic parishes and communities to welcome and assist refugees in their local areas in light of the Gospel message.  For Catholic communities who are able to be more proactive in terms of practically assisting with the accommodation and integration of refugees.

Bishops welcomed the Apostolic Letter by Pope Francis, published on the first Sunday of Advent, on the meaning and importance of the nativity scene.  In it he reminds us:

‘By being born in a manger, God himself launches the only true revolution that can give hope and dignity to the disinherited and the outcast: the revolution of love, the revolution of tenderness.  From the manger, Jesus proclaims, in a meek yet powerful way, the need for sharing with the poor as the path to a more human and fraternal world in which no one is excluded or marginalized.’

Source: https://www.catholicbishops.ie/2019/12/04/statement-of-the-winter-2019-general-meeting-of-the-irish-catholic-bishops-conference/

#ShortNews: Evangelizers are like angels, bringing good news to the world, Pope says

People long for God and his love, and so they need angels “in flesh and blood who draw near to dry tears, to say in Jesus’ name, ‘Do not be afraid,’” the pope said.

“Evangelizers are like angels, like guardian angels, messengers of good who do not deliver ready-made answers but share life’s questions” and know “the God of love” is needed to live, he said.

“And if, with this love of his, we were able to look into the hearts of people who, because of the indifference we breathe and the consumerism that flattens us, often pass before us as if nothing were wrong,” the pope said, “we would be able to see the need” for God, their search for everlasting love and their questions about the meaning of life, about pain, betrayal and loneliness.

Source: https://catholicphilly.com/2019/12/news/world-news/evangelizers-are-like-angels-bringing-good-news-to-the-world-pope-says/

#ShortNews: Christians persecution led to ‘many thousands’ of conversions: Iraqi archbishop

The persecution of Christians in Iraq has led to “many thousands” of Muslims converting to the faith in the country, according to the newly appointed archbishop of Mosul. Chaldean Archbishop Najib Mikhael Moussa, a Dominican and Mosul native appointed to the formerly ISIS-occupied archdiocese in January, said that “many thousands of Muslims discovered the Person of Jesus Christ” after the “kind of violence” Christians faced there — persecution that led the faithful to become “stronger and stronger” in their faith.

“Yes, we lost everything except our faith in Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Moussa told participants at the Second International Conference on Christian Persecution in Budapest.

“We’re sowing a seed,” said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, “giving the persecuted what they need and getting back from them the Christian faith, love and persistence.”

Source: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/chaldean-archbishop-christian-persecution-leads-to-many-thousands-of-conver

Advent Week-2 (2019): The Candle Of Peace

And then the angels proclaimed “Peace on Earth” when the Baby Jesus was born. Today we wonder as we listen to the evening news, is peace possible? We all need two kinds of peace in our lives. We need inner peace, but we also need peace with others. God addresses both. He tells us what to do to find that peace.

INNER PEACE

Inner peace begins with a relationship with God, and it continues as we focus on His strength and allow Him to fill us. We can exchange our weakness for His strength in any area of life. God’s Word says, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is focused on You because He trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).

Personalize that verse with your own name in it: “God will keep me in perfect peace as my mind focuses on Him and trusts Him.” Inner peace hinges on your trust in God.

If inner peace is eluding you these days and anxiety is spilling over in your life, choose to trust God. You can choose to put your hand in His and draw from His patience and wisdom as you take each step. He will guide you through the maze of life if you ask Him. Choosing to trust God with those blind corners in your life will take you down the road to inner peace. Choosing not to trust Him will take you down the road to stress and worry. Inner peace is there for the choosing.

PEACE WITH OTHERS

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A Visit and a Song (Part 02/04)

The gift of blessing: Part of what’s so challenging about Mary’s story is its brevity. We know from the Gospel accounts that she’s perplexed by Gabriel’s announcement. We also know that she says yes to the angel’s request, anyway. But so much lies hidden beneath that seemingly quick and simple “yes.” So many questions. So many possibilities. So many occasions for doubt. Again, Luke doesn’t elaborate, but I can well imagine the questions I’d ask if I were in Mary’s place: Is Joseph going to stick around? Will my parents still love me? How will I survive the pain of childbirth? Who will help me when my time comes to deliver? Who will support this baby if my fiancé bails? Who am I to raise the son of God? Is any of this for real, or am I losing my mind?

Into this maelstrom of questions comes an outpouring of blessing: “Blessed are you among women,” Elizabeth tells Mary, “and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Elizabeth astutely connects the dots in Mary’s story; she makes the connection between trust and blessing. In Elizabeth’s mind, Mary’s “favored” status has nothing to do with wealth, health, comfort, or ease. Her blessing lies solely in her willingness to trust God and to surrender to God’s will. To lean hard into God’s promises and believe that they will sustain her, no matter what.

I wonder how desperately Mary needs this blessing by the time she lands on Elizabeth’s doorstep, exhausted and scared. How badly she needs someone to remind her that even after the angel leaves, the light fades, and the vision recedes, God’s faithfulness remains.

My guess is, Mary carries Elizabeth’s blessing in her heart for the rest of her life. After all, her vocation as Jesus’s mother is not easy. It leads her straight from scandal to danger to trauma to devastation. How blessed can she feel when she delivers her firstborn in a smelly stable? When she becomes a refugee, fleeing to Egypt to prevent her son’s murder? What does blessing feel like for her years later, when her miraculously conceived child is arrested? Beaten? Mocked? Killed?

God’s call on Mary’s life requires her to be profoundly courageous and countercultural, to trust an inner vision few others understand or value. Elizabeth recognizes that Mary’s faith is precious — that faith alone will fuel the ongoing surrender Mary’s journey will require. So she names and blesses Mary’s capacity for deep trust as a gift worth cherishing.

We don’t live in a time or culture that encourages us to bless one another, and that’s a terrible shame. What would it be like to recover Elizabeth’s vocation of blessing? To cultivate spiritual attentiveness? To gaze long and deeply at each other, looking for glimpses of God? How would our churches change if we made a point of discerning, naming, and blessing the divine gifts we see in each other? Elizabeth “exclaims with a loud cry” when she recognizes God’s life-changing work in Mary. What a compelling image. Joy flourishes when we’re willing to humbly bless each other.

to be continued…

#MoralStory: The Golden Slippers

It was only four days before Christmas. The spirit of the season hadn’t yet caught up with me, even though cars packed the parking lot of our local discount store.

Inside the store, it was worse. Shopping carts and last minute shoppers jammed the aisles. Why did I come today? I wondered.

My feet ached almost as much as my head. My list contained names of several people who claimed they wanted nothing but I knew their feelings would be hurt if didn’t buy them anything.

Buying for someone who had everything and deploring the high cost of items, I considered gift-buying anything but fun. Hurriedly, I filled my shopping cart with last minute items and proceeded to the long checkout lines. I picked the shortest but it looked as if it would mean at least a 20 minute wait.

In front of me were two small children – a boy of about 5 and a younger girl. The boy wore a ragged coat. Enormously large, tattered tennis shoes jutted far out in front of his much too short jeans. He clutched several crumpled dollar bills in his grimy hands. The girl’s clothing resembled her brother’s. Her head was a matted mass of curly hair. Reminders of an evening meal showed on her small face.

She carried a beautiful pair of shiny, gold house slippers. As the Christmas music sounded in the store’s stereo system, the girl hummed along, off-key but happily.Read More »