RENEW International - Home   RENEW International - Blog   RENEW International - Shop   RENEW International - Donate   RENEW International - Request Info
Search

 
 

I know a couple who have been operating the same restaurant for about sixty years.
 
Whenever I’m in that neighborhood, I try to stop there, because I have nostalgia for the place, and because I am partial to one of the specialties.
 
This restaurant and this couple are frequently the topics of conversation in a Facebook page I frequent; there is a perennial debate over whether the food now is as good as it was twenty or thirty or forty years ago.
 
There is also a debate about the couple themselves in which some writers speak well of them, and others criticize every aspect of their personalities.
 
Restaurant owners by now are accustomed to “consumer reviews” appearing on line, whether in Yelp or in some other forum.
 
Many of us probably have had the experience of reading a scathing review of a restaurant at which we recently had a wonderful meal—or vice-versa.
 
It’s part of the give-and-take that is inherent in an open society.
 
If you go into a business in which you directly serve the public, you’ll get your kudos and you’ll take your lumps.
 
But in the particular dialogue I’m referring to here, some of the writers have gone to extremes in lambasting not only the restaurant, not only the manner in which it is managed, but the couple themselves.
 
This is true to the extent that I am sure, having spent more than fifty years in publishing, that many of these remarks are actionable.
 
Facebook and other forums of that kind are relatively new phenomena on the legal landscape, but courts in many jurisdictions have already found that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy for someone expressing opinions in those media.
 
This probably is unlikely to happen, but if the couple I’m referring to were to read what some folks have written about them—remarks that could cause people to avoid them and their restaurant—then that couple might have cause for legal action.
 
But this kind of chatter is of concern for reasons more profound than the possibility of litigation.
 
This tendency to use vile images and language to attack other human beings—because of some misguided sense of impunity—contributes to a corrosion of civility that we now see and hear every day.
 
Even normally sober news agencies have had to—or, at least, have chosen to—lower the standard that governs what they will print or broadcast, because this same libertine attitude has become a part of everyday life.
 
And while it’s a degrading phenomenon in itself, it increasingly prevents calm discussion of issues that involve the common good.
 
Maybe a person gains some catharsis or maybe he feels more potent if he lets fly with the most scurrilous things he can call up from his spleen.
 
But if, at the same time, he professes to be a Christian, he must confront the fact that Jesus, who never referred to many behaviors that we can nonetheless assume he would condemn, did think verbal abuse of each other was important enough to single out.
 

“Whoever shall say to his brother, raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22).

 
This post was initially published in The Catholic Spirit, the newspaper of the Diocese of Metuchen. Charles Paolino is a permanent deacon of that diocese.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 
 

Jesus, brother and Lord,
your call to Peter
is echoed in my own call to discipleship.
At times I feel unsure
of how you could possibly desire me for this service.
Yet, I know you can do great things with my life
if only I consent.
Take my hesitancy and my reticence
and transform them into courage and confidence in you.
Teach me how to respond wholeheartedly to your invitation
and move more deeply
into intimate relationship with you.
I say yes to serving you and your people
in truth, justice, and mercy.
I pray this in your name.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The People’s Prayer Book, © RENEW International.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 
 

Holy One of Israel,
You, who were rebuffed by your loved ones
who would not receive the prophet’s call through you.
I ache with your rejection.
I want to hear the challenges of the prophets today
and respond wholeheartedly,
despite my fears of what this call may require.
I place myself at your disposal.
Direct me to the needs
you would have me address
so that your kingdom may come into being,
now and forevermore.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The People’s Prayer Book, © RENEW International.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 
 

God of our hopes and our dreams,
you have planted the hunger for glad tidings within us.
Make your joy more complete
as we participate in proclaiming this Good News;
the blind will see
the prisoner will be released.
Give us the courage
to reach out to the incarcerated
and bring into reality
this promise of freedom.
Help us to diffuse our fears
and know how to realize our call
so that a year of favor
may be celebrated in your name.
I pray this,
holding my reservations and anxiety up to you,
and I ask for your blessing and grace,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord
and through your Holy Spirit.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The People’s Prayer Book, © RENEW International.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 
 

Lord God, we gather together in your name.
We acknowledge your loving presence among us.
We ask you to help us to recognize
the many gifts we have received from you.
We thank you, in particular,
for inviting us to serve you.
Guide us
as we seek to use our own gifts more fully
and to empower others to use theirs.
Be with us
as we deepen our understanding
of all that you call us to be.
We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The People’s Prayer Book, © RENEW International.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 
 

God of love, in the Jordan River you revealed Jesus
as your beloved Son.
We praise you for the gift of Christ,
our salvation and our peace.
You anointed Jesus for the service of the world.
Strengthen the Church’s witness
to this mission in our world today.
You brought us to new life and made us
members of Christ’s Body in baptism.
May the gift of your Holy Spirit keep us
ready to meet the demands of our baptism.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The People’s Prayer Book, © RENEW International.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
 

When I baptized a baby recently, one of the folks in attendance felt that she had missed something.
 
Approaching me afterwards in the narthex, she asked, “Didn’t we used to put salt in the baby’s mouth?”
 
Yes, the hypothetical “we” did do that before the ritual commonly used now was adopted. I guess it had been five decades or more since our visitor had witnessed a baptism.
 
The salt in question symbolized wisdom, which is one of the gifts we receive from the Holy Spirit—in fact, it’s usually the first gift mentioned.
 
The salt was left out of the ritual that was promulgated after the Second Vatican Council, but the Holy Spirit was not.
 
The salt—like the holy oil, the chrism, the white garment, and the candle—was a symbol of the grace we receive in baptism, but the grace comes from the Spirit through the death and resurrection of Jesus, not from the signs and symbols.
 
Still, the material things we use in our rituals are important, because they emphasize the connection between the physical world and its Creator, between the realities of our daily lives and the reality of God.
 
This is a critical point. I believe that many people become disillusioned with religious faith because they have been conditioned to think of God as existing in a reality other than the one we experience every day. God is always “there,” not “here.”
 
At a certain point in the intellectual growth of many people, I believe, they find this concept—quite reasonably—untenable.
 
But those who studied under the old Baltimore Catechism will remember the answer to the question, “Who is God?” The answer was: “God is the Supreme Being who made all things and keeps them in existence.”
 
Each of us and everything that we can perceive with our senses at this moment exist only because God is willing it—now. God doesn’t exist in another reality; he exists in this reality.
 
In the symbols and gestures of baptism, God is so present in our reality that he touches us repeatedly.
 
Yes, there’s a minister there, and he has oil and chrism and white linen and flame at his disposal, but it is God, using the minister and the material signs to touch us.
 
And he touches us, perhaps most significantly, in an audible sign, in the first words of the ritual, when the minister asks the parents, “What name do you give your child?”
 
Before I ask this question, I always explain that it is a sign that God calls each of us by name—meaning that each of us has a unique relationship with God in which God both cares for us as his children and calls on us to be—through our particular vocations—the ministers of his compassion and generosity and justice.
 
The child, of course, knows none of this, which is why its parents and godparents are asked if they accept the responsibility of raising the child in the practice of the faith.
 
Today’s new parents are unlikely to have tasted salt at their baptism, but they were visited by the Holy Spirit nonetheless, and they were offered the divine gifts, including wisdom.
 
We can do nothing more important in the Church than to accompany parents in a way that ignites that wisdom, reminds them of the grace of their own baptism, and inspires them to raise their children to live as God’s missionaries wherever life takes them.
 
RENEW International is developing Baptism Matters, a program that will reinforce for new parents, godparents, and parish staff the importance of baptism as initiation into a life of Christian discipleship.
 
This post was initially published in
The Catholic Spirit, the newspaper of the Diocese of Metuchen. Charles Paolino is a permanent deacon of that diocese.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
 

Be with us, Jesus,
as we go about our lives this week.
Watch over our days and nights.
Help us be aware
that the lives we lead each day
are our response
to the great love shown to us
in your coming into this world.
We pray in the name of the Father,
you, the Son,
and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 
From PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, Cycle C, © RENEW International

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
 

“And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way (Matthew 2:9-12).

The Epiphany commemorates the coming of the Savior to all people, not only the Jewish people. God’s love leaves no one untouched.

God revealed himself to the magi in signs in the stars. As Christians, we must be guided in our search not by the stars but by Scripture.

Signs come in all forms: they may include the love we receive from someone, a good example someone sets by trying to live by the Gospel, an insight that comes in our prayer and reflection, or even a sickness or tragedy in our lives. It is up to us to pay attention and read the signs around us. If we look with openness and with the eyes of faith, these signs will lead us to God.

This feast is also a feast of unity. Jesus came to all, and we are all one under God’s love. As we reach out to those who are looked down upon or those who are considered outsiders, we do our part to bring about the unity for which God sent his Son to us.

In what ways can you reach out to those who might feel excluded?

Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
 

family

Heavenly Father,
we ask you to keep us from taking the ordinary
so much for granted.
Help us be patient with each other.
Help us appreciate all people and
see anew the mystery of godliness within them.
Give us the humility to ask for the forgiveness we need
and the generosity to offer our own forgiveness
to others in return.
We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ,
in union with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 
From PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, Cycle C, © RENEW International

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 
 

familyA reading from the Book of the First Book of Samuel
(Chapter 3:20-22, 24-28)
 
This is a heart-warming and heartbreaking story, especially for those of us who are parents. Many of us have prayed for a child as Hannah did and were overjoyed when that child was born. I suspect that none of us would do what Hannah did nor would we ever be asked to do so. This story, however, took place thousands of years ago in a different culture. Hannah did what she thought was right and, in a sense, sacrificed the life of her child to God’s service. He did indeed perform great service to God and to God’s people.
 
Sometimes, we make sacrifices for our children and for others, and make do them with some pain but also with the joy of giving from deep in our hearts.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 128: 1-2, 3, 4-5)
 
“Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.” The expression “fear the Lord” has been misunderstood for centuries and has been used to frighten and mislead people into both spiritual and emotional illness. The fear of the Lord that the Psalmist is talking about is not the cringing, debilitating fear that drains the joy from people and keeps them from the all-powerful and all-forgiving love of God. The real meaning of the word “fear” in Hebrew is awe and wonder at God’s great power and might.
 
Are you truly in awe of God, enthralled with his goodness, in wonder of his great creation? Or are you still caught up in the words you may have heard in your childhood: “You better be good, or God will punish you.” How you answer that question may either bring you a powerful sense of God’s peace and protection or encourage that little voice that sometimes in your head that says, “You’re not good enough.”
 
A reading from the first Letter of Saint John
(Chapter 3:1-2, 21-24)
 
Saint John is writing to people who have been shunned by their fellow Jews and persecuted by the ruling Roman Empire. These Christians risk their lives every day. What do they have to show for it? First, they are the “children of God.” “They shall be like him.” They “shall see him as he is.” And, “the way that we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.” That’s not bad for anyone but especially for people who were on the bottom of the social and economic ladder. Imagine that you are being told that you are like God, that you will see him face to face, and that his very Spirit lives in you right now. That was John’s great message then, and it is ours now. This is what we have been told. This is who we are. God’s Spirit lives in us, now and always.
 
As we celebrate this feast of the Holy Family, we need not only to look into the past at the family of Jesus but also to look into our own families. We can rediscover the Spirit that can help us heal all our wounds, including those that we inflict on one another. We can celebrate the Spirit-filled family that we are, despite our faults and insufficiencies, and forgive each other as the Father forgives us.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
(Chapter 2:41-52)
 
Some years ago, I read a novel about a man who takes his daughter, his only child, to the supermarket and has her sitting in the shopping cart as they reach the checkout. She asks him to take her down and let her stand behind him as he puts the items on the counter. Against his better judgement, he agrees, and when he is finished and turns around, she is gone. He never sees her again even though he spends the rest of his life looking for her.
 
Losing a child, even for a while, is a horrifying experience. Imagine how Mary and Joseph must have felt. They knew how special Jesus was, and now he was nowhere to be found. How distraught they must have been until they found him in the temple conversing with the teachers.
 
Mary “kept all these things in her heart” until one day when she lost her son for what may have seemed to her forever. But a short time later she had him back in a new life that he shares with her and offers to share with all of us—life in his presence forever.
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
 

Lord Jesus,
you are divine and human,
born into the world by your blessed mother.
As we celebrate your birth,
we do not tremble before you or shrink from you.
Instead, we embrace you,
assured of your understanding,
your love,
and your mercy.
Thank you for your presence among us here on earth
and for the promise of union with you
forever in heaven.
Amen.

 
Adapted from Advent Awakenings, Year C: Say Yes to God, published by RENEW International

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 
 

God,
open our hearts to the invitation and challenges
placed before us in the Gospel.
May our anticipation of the celebration of Christmas
encourage us in our work for justice in the world.
We ask these things in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

 
Adapted from Advent Awakenings, Year C: Say Yes to God, published by RENEW International

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 
 

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Micah
(Chapter 5:1-4a)
 
The prophet Micah lived some 700 years before Jesus at a time when Israel was overtaken by the Assyrians. Micah offers a hopeful promise for a messiah: “He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord, in the majestic name of the Lord, his God; and they shall remain, for now his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth;
he shall be peace.”
 
We Christians see this as a prophecy proclaiming the true Messiah, Jesus, and most important, his mission: “he shall be peace.”
 
Jesus brings peace for all who truly seek peace not just those who say it but don’t live it. How do you see yourself as living the peace of Jesus? Are you a peace maker?
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19)
 
“Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.”
How often do you turn to Jesus? Do you ever make the turn when you are not asking for anything but simply to be near Jesus?
 
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews
(Chapter 10:5-10)
 
In the Jewish faith when this letter was written, a whole series of offerings and sacrifices were fulfilled at different times in the year. Attributing the words to Jesus, the author says, “‘Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings, you neither desired nor delighted in. They are offered according to the law.’ Then he says, ‘Behold, I come to do your will.’ He takes away the first to establish the second.”
 
Jesus challenges the Old Law and replaces it with a new law, himself. He replaces the Old Law with its hundreds of impossible prescriptions with his Law of Love for God and one another. No wonder the religious leaders opposed him so dramatically. They felt, in effect, that he was putting them out of business, the business of ruling, of deciding who was in and who was out. For Jesus, everyone could be in who believed and lived accordingly, as it should be today.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
(Chapter 1:39-45)
 
Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures there are a series of unexpected, miraculous births. They all come through the power of God to exceptional women who were called by God to greatness through their children. For both Elizabeth and Mary, the births were full of joy, but the deaths of their sons were painful for the sons to experience and for the mothers to bear.
 
When we see the emaciated bodies of children dying in Yemen and Syria and on and on, imagine the extreme sorrow of their mothers and fathers. Mary and Elizabeth bore that sorrow but did it in faith, knowing that their sons were living and dying for the salvation of a whole people. So many mothers today who lose their children to starvation, violence, illness, or the disease of addiction are left only with memories, lifelong and very painful. Let us pray and act in solidarity with those mothers and fathers in their grief that they may believe in the power of the Resurrection of Jesus and of their children and all children.
 
And let us do our part to bring peace to our broken world, the peace that Jesus offers to us.
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.
 
Image, “Mary’s Song,” by Sr. Therese Quinn, RSJ

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
 

The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:9–11
 
Fr. Joseph Healy, a Maryknoll missioner, tells this story in his book, Once Upon a Time in Africa.
 
It was the night before Christmas in Africa, and an eight-year-old-boy from Ghana was devastated because his village had been destroyed by the so-called army of liberation. He felt none of the usual joy and anticipation of the season. His parents had been killed, and many of his friends were kidnapped and never returned.
 
In years past, Christmas in his village had always been a joyous festival with music, houses decorated with paper ornaments created by the children, roads filled with people visiting friends and relatives, and plentiful food and drink. The little boy wondered how Christmas could come without his parents and his village. How could he celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace since he had not known any peace, only war and suffering?
 
As the boy continued to think about Christmases past and about the present suffering, he heard the horn of a car. It was a group of travelers who had taken a detour through his village, because the bridge over the river had been destroyed. They said it was Christmas Eve, and they were on their way to celebrate Christmas with family and friends. They shared their food with the villagers and helped build a fire in the marketplace to keep the people warm.
 
The young boy’s oldest sister was pregnant. She was still in shock and had not spoken since she and her brother escaped the soldiers. She went into labor, and villagers and visitors removed their shirts to make a bed for her next to the fire. She gave birth to a beautiful boy. War or no war, they danced and sang Christmas carols until dawn. When the young mother was asked what she would name the baby, she spoke for the first time since the village had been destroyed. She said, “His name is Gye Nyame,” which means “except God I fear none.” And they celebrated Christmas that night. Christmas had come, in the midst of their suffering and despair, with the birth of the boy’s nephew. This was their hope. Christmas always comes—despite all circumstances. Christ is among us and continues to come into our darkest moments to bring light and hope to our wounded hearts and broken world.
 
Wishing you and your family a blessed Christmas season and a year filled with the hope of Christ!
 
Sr. Terry Rickard is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
Page 1 of 1912345...10...Last »
Home / Request Information / Site Map / Contact Us / Shop Online
Why Catholic? / ¿Por qué ser católico? / ARISE Together in Christ / Longing for the Holy
Campus RENEW / Theology on Tap / RENEW Worldwide