We need to re-sensitize ourselves to God’s compassion and mercy

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Feb. 19 (Isaiah 43:18-19, 20-22, 24-25; Psalm 41; 2 Corinthians 1:18-22; Mark 2:1-12)

Humanity has a huge memory problem. On the one hand, we are far too quick to forget things that should be the source of wisdom. It is very easy to sweep unpleasant or painful actions and events under the mental carpet and refuse to learn from our mistakes. On the other hand, often the problem is just the opposite: an overactive memory and a refusal to let go of the past. People (or groups) can cling to traumas and injustices and continually relive them. They can engage in a lot of inner self-flagellation and self-hatred.

    Lent is time to help others spiritually, materially, pope says

    VATICAN CITY - In his Lenten message, Pope Benedict XVI called on the faithful to be concerned for one another and "not to remain isolated and indifferent" to the fate others.

    Materialism and a sense of self-sufficiency are obstacles to a Christian life of charity, the Pope said.

    Instead of looking first to God and then to the well-being of others, people often have an attitude of "indifference and disinterest born of selfishness and masked as a respect for 'privacy.'"

      Richer orders should share with poorer religious, says Vatican prefect

      VATICAN CITY - Wealthier religious orders should share their resources with struggling religious communities, said the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

      Cardinal-designate Joao Braz de Aviz said that while religious men and women live a life of poverty and possess nothing, their religious "institution doesn't always give the same witness."

      "It's not that we are against holding assets or are saying the church cannot have all the things it needs," he said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, Feb. 2.

        Strong bond with God is defining quality of religious life, pope says

        VATICAN CITY - Strengthening one's relationship with God must be the highest priority and most defining quality of religious life, Pope Benedict XVI said.

        Celebrating vespers with members of religious orders Feb. 2, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the World Day for Consecrated Life, the Pope said the day was a way of bringing greater attention to the witness of faith of religious men and women worldwide.

        In his homily during the evening service in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict said the day was also an important occasion for religious to "renew your intentions and rekindle the feelings that inspire the giving of yourselves to God."

          From Valentine’s to ashes

          Anne was a pretty young blonde. She always had men interested in her, had friends, intelligence and a good career, and was a generous, good-hearted person. How surprising to hear, later on, she’d found her good looks a point of difficulty.

          She’d learned that often people were interested in her body but not the rest of her; underneath her popularity she had trouble finding self-worth. So though she took good care of her body, she was not on good terms with it.

            Jesus reaches out with compassion

            Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Feb. 12 (Leviticus 13:1-2, 45-46; Psalm 32; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45)

            Fear is a constant human companion. People fear many things — irrationally for the most part — but especially those things that are different in ways that are deemed to be threatening.

              Don’t let minor irritations take away from today’s grace

              “When grace enters, there is no choice — humans must dance.”

              W.H. Auden wrote those words and, beautiful as they sound, I wish they were true. When grace enters a room we should begin to dance but, sadly, more often than not we let some little thing, some minor mosquito bite, blind us to grace’s presence.

                Pope to visit Mexico, Cuba March 23-28, meet leaders, Catholic faithful

                VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and bishops and Catholics from the region when he visits Mexico and Cuba in late March.

                He will also greet bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean as well as pray at the shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre in Cuba.

                It will be his third visit to the Americas after the United States in 2008 and Brazil in 2007.

                  Confession: Celebration of mercy, not trial before prosecution

                  VATICAN CITY - Priests hearing confessions need to replace any negative or aggressive attitudes with meekness and mercy toward the penitent, said a Vatican expert on confession.

                  The sacrament of reconciliation "has led to a unilateral overemphasis on the accusation and listing of sins," said Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court that handles issues related to the sacrament of penance.

                  The end result is that "the thing that is absolutely central when listening to sin, that is, the blessed embrace of the merciful Father, is put on the backburner," he said.

                    Pope prays for peace, watches dove fly back into his apartment

                    VATICAN CITY - "Mamma mia," Pope Benedict XVI said as a dove flew over his head and back into his apartment Jan. 29 after he and two Italian school children released the bird as a symbol of peace.

                    The Pope and representatives of the Italian Catholic Action children's section release doves during the Sunday Angelus address in late January each year. And, almost every year, at least one of the birds flies back into the papal apartment.

                      Half a century after Vatican II, a year of faith and debate

                      VATICAN CITY - Fifty years ago this October, Blessed John XXIII and more than 2,500 bishops and heads of religious orders from around the world gathered in St. Peter's Basilica for the opening session of the Second Vatican Council.

                      Over the following three years, Vatican II would issue 16 major "pronouncements" on such fundamental questions as the authority of the church's hierarchy, the interpretation of Scripture, and the proper roles of clergy and laity. Those documents, and the deliberations that produced them, have transformed how the Catholic Church understands and presents itself within the context of modern secular culture and society.