Jesus’ sacrifice was the highest form of love

Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year B) May 13 (Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17)

There is never a dull moment when the Holy Spirit is involved. The Spirit was probably the most exhilarating and disconcerting experience of the first generation of Christians. It has a mind of its own and cares little for our prejudices, opinions, preferences or theologies. That is probably why we try to keep it under lock and key. The Spirit had already shocked Peter and his companions by commanding them to eat foods without distinction — nothing that God created was to be called unclean.

A child-like openness to God can help us grow in faith

Her hands covered her face. She was weeping inside herself, her body shaking. “I know I need to let go,” she cried, “but I don’t know how. I can’t.”

Before she was 14, Marie already experienced tragedy, not once but several times: violence, betrayal. It’s buried deep within her. She carries it like an interior mountain without realizing the weight. No wonder she can’t stop clinging to the person who’s been for her a little life raft in the middle of the Pacific, but who is pulling her under the roaring waters. How can she let go of him, even though he’s harming her?

Living our lives in the light

Several years ago, I was approached by a man who asked me to be his spiritual director. He was in his mid-40s and almost everything about him radiated a certain health. As we sat down to talk, I mentioned that he seemed to be in a very good space. He smiled and replied that, yes, this was so, but it hadn’t always been so. His happiness had its own history ... and its own pre-history. Here’s how he told his story:

Priests must live holy lives to be effective ministers, Vatican says

VATICAN CITY - Ten years after a historic papal response to clerical sex abuse, the Vatican urged priests to strive for greater holiness in their own lives so that they might effectively minister to others and reverse the tide of atheism.

In its annual letter to priests for 2012, the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy focused on Blessed John Paul II's 2002 Holy Thursday letter to clergy, in which the late pope responded to the growing revelations and scandal of sexual abuse of minors by priests.

Pope says quest for peace must also be quest for truth

VATICAN CITY - The quest for justice and peace will bear fruit only if it's also a quest for the truth about the human person, created by God and "endowed with intelligence and freedom, capable of knowing and loving," Pope Benedict XVI said.

Intelligence enables people to discover what is good and beneficial -- "the right order that is inscribed within creation itself" -- the Pope said in a message April 30 to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

Don't let fear, search for the superficial deafen God's call, Pope says

VATICAN CITY - God is always calling people to dedicate themselves fully to serving him, but they often don't hear because they are either too distracted or afraid they would no longer be free if they answered the call, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"Let us pray that all young people pay attention to the voice of God, who speaks to their hearts and calls them to detach themselves from everything in order to serve him," he said April 29 -- the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

Celebrating in different languages, Pope sees translation troubles

WASHINGTON - Pope Benedict XVI told the German bishops that, as Pope, he has celebrated Mass in different languages and "sometimes it is hard to find common ground" in the various translations.

"The underlying common text often remains visible only from afar," he told the bishops, who were preparing to send their revised Mass translation to the printers.

In a letter dated April 14 and posted on the German bishops' website April 24, Pope Benedict said that, over the years, it has become "increasingly clear" to him that not translating liturgical texts literally creates difficulties.

Canada honours Andrey Sheptytsky for saving Jews

OTTAWA - As religious leaders from Ukraine sat in the gallery, the House of Commons passed unanimously on April 24 a motion honouring Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky for his courageous efforts to save Jews during the Second World War.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's motion said Sheptytsky, who headed the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church from 1900 until his death in 1944, courageously spoke out against violence against Jews and sheltered and saved the lives of more than 160 Ukrainian Jews, many of them children.

Charity, social justice must be coupled with prayer, Pope says

VATICAN CITY - All pastoral work, including promoting social justice and providing for the poor, must be nourished by prayer, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Without contemplating and internalizing God's word daily, one risks being suffocated by too heavy a workload and one's heart risks hardening to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, he said.

God’s Spirit is at work in giving another chance

Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year B) May 6 (Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 22; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8)

It was no wonder that Saul frightened the Christian community in Jerusalem. He had done nothing to inspire trust or openness; in fact, he had been their tormentor-in-chief for a number of years. He was responsible for the blood and the misfortune of many. His arrival in Jerusalem and his claim to be a follower of Jesus only aroused suspicion and anxiety.

Facing the 10 major faith struggles of our day

Sometimes the simple act of naming something can be immensely helpful. Before we can put a name on something we stand more helpless before its effects, not really knowing what’s happening to us.  

Many of us, for example, are familiar with the book The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church, by John Allen. The things he names in this book, even when they don’t affect us directly, still help shape us for the better. As a journalist who travels the world as the Vatican analyst for both CNN and the National Catholic Reporter, Allen is able to provide us with a wider, global perspective on Church issues than is generally afforded to those of us whose vision is more emotionally mired in our own local and national issues. Heartaches at home can make us blind to the wider concerns of the planet, just as seeing the concerns and pains of others first-hand can put our own concerns and pain into a healthier perspective. Allen’s global frame of reference, as outlined in the mega-trends he names in his book, helps us keep our own ecclesial concerns in a healthier perspective.