+ J.M.J.A.T. +

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


"There broke out a severe persecution of the Church in Jerusalem,
and all were scattered
throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria,
except the Apostles.
Devout men buried Stephen and made a loud lament over him.
Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church;
entering house after house and dragging out men and women,
he handed them over for imprisonment.

Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.
Thus Philip went down to the city of Samaria
and proclaimed the Christ to them.
With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip
when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.
For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice,
came out of many possessed people,
and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured.
There was great joy in that city."

Today at Mass I was touched by this reading in light of a few different things happening in our Church these days. I feel that the whole Church is living through a time when it is necessary to live the Catholic faith more passionately than we have had to in quite a while. By passionately, I mean with a deep willingness to sacrifice for our Church, to do penance for our mistakes, to live as authentic Christian witnesses, and to constantly seek to follow the will of God. I am not saying that this passion is important only now, but that the circumstances in which we are living make it vital that we live with this sort of passion.

The first happening I was reminded of in this reading was the pressure on our Holy Father at this time because of the sex abuse scandal. From the Times Online, "Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church." We are being persecuted at this time and I feel so strongly that we need to offer up whatever we can for the safety of our Holy Father. In trying to keep the pope away from a whole section of believers, we are seeing the freedom to follow our consciences and our faith threatened. I do believe that this is just the first of many challenges we are soon going to see.

The next interesting thing I see happening has to do with the courageous decision of Bishop Brandt in the diocese of Greensburg, PA to withdraw diocesan resources from vocation promotion to any religious community who signed the NETWORK letter supporting the health-care bill. I am young in religion but I have yet to see any bishop handle the disobedience in religious communities with such prudence, respect, and authenticity. What I am impressed with is the way Bishop Brandt did not punish the sisters for their disobedience, but held them accountable to what they felt they had to do. They distanced themselves from the Church and the Church through Bishop Brandt allowed them the freedom of conscience to follow what they thoughts was right. However, they had to accept the consequences of distancing themselves from the Church. I am hoping that this is the beginning of a new trend in the way we handle these kinds of situations within our Church.

Altogether I think this is a wonderful time for the faithful and religious men and women in particular to rededicate themselves to the mission of the Church. This reading today gave me a lot of hope for this to happen. The eternal city will be one filled with great joy.

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