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The Evangelist
Friday, July 19, 2019


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  • Kateri: Our first “millennial” saint?
    Much as I eschew the assignment of labels by psycho-social theorists to entire swaths of people, the title “millennial” seems particularly appropriate as a way to approach an understanding of St. Kateri Tekakwitha's journey of faith.   
  • Holiness in the service of justice
    It is not enough just to DO good. We are called to BE good, to become the very righteousness of God (cf. 2 Cor 5:21)! 
  • Growing our gardens of faith
    Agricultural metaphors abound in the Bible. Among the parables of Jesus, farmers figure prominently. Mary Magdalene even mistook Jesus for the gardener as she wept at the empty tomb on Easter Sunday (Jn 28:15).
  • The wounded heart of Mercy
    Our faith is a friendship offered to us from the heart of God, who is the Holy Spirit. It comes from Love and for Love.
  • A time to choose
    Nothing is more central to our faith than Jesus — to believe God loves us in him — personally. 
  • God’s Spirit within us
    Sometimes I wonder how, in the face of the shame and scandal we face these days in our Church and the headwinds in so many aspects of our lives, any of us manage to maintain a deep sense of peace and confidence on our road ahead. 
  • The God factor
    The core truth of our Christian faith is, in fact, that God IS Love.
  • Let us walk together, saying never again
    It is with deep sorrow that I listened to the gripping stories of three survivors of sexual abuse today. What courage it must have taken for them to come forward and I am grateful to them and those assisting them in doing so.
    It is with deep sorrow that I listened to the gripping stories of three survivors of sexual abuse today. What courage it must have taken for them to come forward and I am grateful to them and those assisting them in doing so.  
    It is with deep sorrow that I listened to the gripping stories of three survivors of sexual abuse today. What courage it must have taken for them to come forward and I am grateful to them and those assisting them in doing so.  
  • The Church as wounded healer
    A recurrent Gospel narrative is how Jesus meets each of us exactly where we are. 
  • Survivors are wounded healers
    Last Wednesday, May 1, I participated in a ground-breaking dialogue between some U.S. bishops and survivors of sexual abuse. 
  • Divine Mercy Evangelizes the Heart
    If someone were to ask me, what is the Divine Mercy all about, I would start by saying it is all about evangelization — or, as I like to call, “gospel-ing.” It’s about spreading the Good News effectively.  
  • Living in the reality of eternal love
    What if everything that I thought was wrong with the world suddenly was made right? 
  • The Way like none other
    Grammarians debate which phrase is correct: “like no other” or “like none other.” Normally, the former would be correct, if “the way” in the title of this article were referring to a thing, a path or a procedure. “None” is a contraction for “no one.” So “like none other” means “like no one other.” 
  • The Church is always to be reformed
    Ecclesia semper reformanda est — the Church is always to be reformed — is a much-appropriated, though not universally defined term familiar from Vatican II days.
  • The joy of being forgiven
    Everyone has a desire to be independent of feeling bound to please or placate some other person or agency, a need to be debt-free. 
  • Loving through times of suffering
    As we read every day about corruption within our religious institutions and brutal acts of violence against those seeking merely to worship God peacefully, we come to realize how difficult it is to love in such a sinful world. 
  • Where every traveler finds a home
    In last week’s column, I spoke of “spiritual networking” or friendships that can assist those who are facing difficult challenges or transitions in their lives. Nowhere do we see that more obviously these days than online. 
  • Spiritual Networking
    Networking is a word that was coined in the late 1960s.
  • Courage and concreteness
    What happened during, or will come out of, this meeting can hardly measure up to the enormity of the evil we must confront.
  • Open the doors of life to everyone
    Our mission as God’s people is to open the doors of life to everyone on life’s journey, especially the most vulnerable — physically, emotionally and spiritually.
  • Welcoming everyone to the table of life
    Anger and outrage over the recently enacted “Reproductive Health Act” (RHA) is no surprise for those who foresaw its damaging consequences. 
  • The world belongs to everyone
    This can’t be right. You feel it in your gut. States touting as “progress” legislation abolishing any protection for infants born alive during a late-term abortion. And now no physician need be present for any abortion. Isn’t that something Roe v. Wade (1973) was supposed to guarantee?  
  • I am proud to stand in support of our Catholic schools and our students who are growing every day in their faith and a love for learning in the very challenging world they live in.
  • Gratitude is the most personal, powerful and perfect prayer; in fact, the word “prayer” in this sentence is almost superfluous. For there is no way that gratitude cannot be a prayer — if taken to its logical goal: God. In that sense, whenever I give thanks, I give praise to God.
  • One thing you can be sure of. God is after you! Which means you have a calling, a vocation.  
  • 'To be humanized we must become divinized. What other faith or fancy lifts the
    human race up so highly, one person at a time?
    It is the humble reality of the child of Bethlehem, born as animals looked on...’
  • If there is any “golden age” of God’s presence in our lives, it is now or never!
  • Unlike the written word which, read, chewed and digested, commands the reader’s active, sometimes reactive engagement, graphic images enter our consciousness unfiltered: they leave their imprint in our mind, swallowed whole, before we can even decide whether it is good for them to be there
  • No one really likes crowds, but they seem hard to avoid this time of year. Yet, to make a good Advent, we have to find some time away from the crowd.
  • If there is one thing that unites us, it is the realization that all of us could fill at least one waking day with acts of thanksgiving.
  • The denigration and, one might even say, desecration of human sexuality that we have become so painfully aware of in our time has roots that go right back to the fall in the garden of Eden.
  • We are quickly approaching the end of the liturgical year. Sunday Scripture readings will be reminding us about being alert to God, especially in consideration of our preparedness for God’s coming — not if, but when.
  • It keeps coming back: the prodigal son and the son who is always at home...Martha and Mary...the Apostles fighting among themselves about who is the greatest. Different people, different settings, but the same issue: How can I earn God’s approval?

  • “Why isn’t God answering my prayers? Am I not praying right?” These are very serious questions and deserve honest answers.
  • Mother, model or mentor, there is something about Mary that has always evoked the highest of human aspirations. Her image is probably among the most artistically rendered throughout the course of Christian history, leading some to wonder whether Mary is even more important than Jesus to Christians.
  • “Mens sana in corpore sano” — “a sound mind in a sound body” — was the ancient Roman ideal of good health or, from that dualistic viewpoint, a life worth living.Christians have always embraced an even broader and deeper perspective on the value of every human life.

  • Writing as I am on the feast of the Archangels and as the month of October is upon us, I am thinking of the words of Pope Francis on “Ha-Satan” — the Great Accuser — who “prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls.” You may recognize this reference to the one of the so-called Leonine prayers, once said at the end of Mass.
  • How many times have we heard, "Jesus Christ suffered and died for us." How important it is to look at the cross and thank him for this. It is only right to thank someone who loved us so much that he gave up his very life.
  • “Welcome” is an appeal that most church communities seek to display in their signage and gestures to attract faithful and seeker alike. Yet, the brutal reality of the cross looms over our ecclesial life, forcing sobriety over any ephemeral glee.
  • Miracles happen daily. They do. Sometimes we see them, sometimes we don’t. Often, we do, but we downplay them — because they happen so often. Like Jesus, whose townspeople even dismissed him: “Oh, this is just Jesus. We know him because we know his parents.”
  • With God to trust in, each and every one of us is — unbreakable! We are called to live in God forever, and nothing can kill or destroy us if we trust in the one who punched a hole in the tomb that even he himself was wrapped up and thrown into. Death could not contain him; nor will it overpower us who believe.
  • The sins of fathers who abuse their families mock the love and holiness to which Christian faith calls us. Such lying lives give testimony not to the honor of God — and the person God loves — but to the idolatry of the sinful self and its own pursuits and pastimes.
  • No, it’s not quite Christmas yet, though it will be soon enough. The beginning of the school year is just around the corner; it won’t be long before the leaves start to turn, pumpkins are set a-grin and turkeys (or the Tofurkey) are getting dressed for the Thanksgiving table. Then you know what’s next....
  • You have certainly heard the age-old question, “What would Jesus do? (WWJD),” during some retreat you took, at a conference or in a guidebook or meditation you read on how to become a good disciple of Christ.

  • Pastoral letter from Bishop addresses McCarrick’s abuse
    Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has issued this letter to diocesan clergy in response to sexual abuse allegations made against now-former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington.
  • In case you haven’t yet noted the date and time of our Diocese-wide “Hearts Aflame” Eucharistic Congress on your busy calendar, it’s on Sat., Sept. 22, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., at the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville. The shrine is also known as the “Shrine of the North American Martyrs,” because it is where the first Jesuit martyrs shed their blood, proclaiming the name of Jesus. Now, here’s why you, your whole family and your friends should go.
  • Don’t envy the Apostles! Does it ever seem that the Apostles were so much better off than us because they actually saw Jesus, heard him speak and had him in their physical presence?

  • Our faith is really so simple. Sure, there are traditions and rules, regulations and rituals that we follow because they are meant to keep us focused. Every human society and organization that, like the Church, has a history, has them.
  • Ever notice that we don’t live in a perfect world? Ever get disappointed and angry with other people — or even yourself — that we don’t quite live up to expectations? It just seems that nothing is ever quite enough. The more we have, the more we want. When we get what we want, then we want something else.

  • The New Testament Greek name for Church, “ekklesia,” means “those called forth, summoned for an assembly.” What’s in a name? In this one, at least, quite a lot!
  • Recidivism — the temptation to revert to proven-to-fail former ways — is perhaps the most common and dangerous threats to the spiritual life.
  • In this month of June, in which we honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we may naturally want to focus on the heart as the symbol and center of love.
  • A song that was quite popular some 50 years ago described how, “Step by step, I fell in love with you.” The first step was “a sweet hello;” the third was, “I took a chance;” and the fourth was “true romance.” It’s graduation time again, and time for the next step.

  • The Confessions of St. Augustine make for some interesting reading. His plea as a young man — “Lord, make me pure [sexually chaste], only not yet!” — is emblematic of his struggle to find his true path, to live an authentic life. How is God to answer such a prayer?
  • Happy Birthday! Last Sunday, we observed the solemnity of Pentecost, the day on which the Holy Spirit affirmed the apostolic foundation and the apostolic mission of the Church, which is to go out to world and make disciples of all.
  • Some good friends of mine have been struggling with their nine- and 11-year-olds, who do not yet grasp the point of Sunday Mass. “We know that already,” they protest.
  • Christians take the incarnation very seriously. Not just as something that happened to Jesus Christ — “the Word was made flesh” (Jn 1:14) — but as a reality that affects all of us profoundly even now: who we are and our eternal destiny. It is something that defines and shapes our humanity — every aspect of it, body, mind and soul.
  • The Holy Spirit has sometimes been described as the love between God the Father and the Son — a love so real and eternal that it is perpetually generated in that divine relationship as a person. It is this Holy Spirit that dwells in the hearts of the baptized and inspires the many gifts and callings that we receive every day, throughout our lives.
  • This week marks the 55th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations (April 22). We continue our prayer through­out the week. We also thank and honor the members of our presbyterate who are celebrating jubilees in this season.
  • “May the Force be with you!”
    No doubt, many of us remember that greeting from the “Star Wars” movies. It is one of many theological themes that run through that series.
    Belief in a supreme authority or some higher powers is almost universal, even if such forces are regarded as nothing more than an impersonal reality, which is still above our comprehension — or perhaps forever beyond it.

  • “Fear is useless; what is needed is trust” (Lk 8:50).
    With these words, Jesus dispelled the din of the mourners who assumed “the obvious:” that the life of a dead 12-year-old girl — the daughter of Jairus — was over and done with. Nothing more could be done.
  • The extended eight-day celebration of Resurrection Sunday -- the octave of Easter -- illuminates not only how important this solemnity is, but also its true meaning. Important because, without the resurrection, our faith is without content, for "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins" (1 Cor 15:17).
  • As we are about to enter Holy Week, we may begin with a prayer that the Holy Spirit will give us a deeper understanding and appreciation of the meaning of the cross of Jesus Christ. It would be good to pause for a moment to ask for this grace.
  • Things are not always as they seem. We can be led by lures -- sometimes, deliberately, from without; sometimes, compulsively, from within -- that dazzle our senses even as, wolf-like, they stalk us, endangering our souls. We are always searching for "the real deal" that satisfies what we long for, but do not find it.
  • In the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shootings and other violent incidents, there is, understandably, no absence of passion and rage. Nor should a community, even a nation, in the face of such brutality, withhold its compassion for innocent victims or its outrage against those responsible.
    But none of this is likely to stop the next incident.
  • Has this ever happened to you? Just when everything seemed to be going so well, suddenly calamity strikes.
  • "Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return:" words you may have heard last Ash Wednesday. You may also have noticed the ashes are ritually imposed in the sign of a cross.
  • Most Catholics are familiar with admonitions "to avoid the near occasions of sin." This is one of the resolutions every penitent makes prior to receiving absolution in the sacrament of penance.
  • Last Friday, I was driving home south along Western Avenue after a particularly grace-filled day. I almost passed the intersection where I make a left turn, because the traffic light was out.
  • The Scriptures in recent days have been narrating a number of instances in which Jesus confronts the presence of devils and demons.
  • This is the second of two columns by Bishop Scharfenberger on Catholic education in celebration of national Catholic Schools Week, which is being celebrated Jan. 28-Feb. 3. Part I appeared in the Jan. 18 issue.
  • This is the first of two columns by Bishop Scharfenberger on Catholic education in celebration of national Catholic Schools Week, which will be celebrated Jan. 28-Feb. 3. Part II will appear in next week's issue.
  • We have all had the experience of getting stuck in a rut somewhere. Our car sinks into a ditch full of mud or (perhaps more recently) backs into a bank of snow. We know right away we are trapped.
  • What will 2018 be like? A lot of unpredictables, to be sure: the weather, the economy, health, politics, family fortunes -- you name them.
  • The "12 Days of Christmas" are still upon us. Actually, there are 13, but counting in the Epiphany (traditionally Jan. 6) might ruin the song.
  • The birth of our Lord Jesus was certainly no Christmas -- not, at least, as we know it, or as we dream Christmas might be each year.
  • We live in the time that St. Bernard calls the "intermediate coming" between the first and the second coming of Christ.
  • "I haven't taken leave of my senses, Bob; I've come to them." So Ebenezer Scrooge said to Bob Cratchit in the final moments of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.
  • As I write this article, I am filled with joy, pride and gratitude, surrounded by 274 young, vibrant and evangelizing people from throughout our beautiful Diocese. We are in Indianapolis at NCYC 2017: the biennial National Catholic Youth Conference.
  • Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger participated in an Oct. 28-Nov. 8 trip to ­Eastern Europe with a group from Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany. He visited Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; Krakow, Poland; and Prague in the Czech Republic.
  • Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger is on an Oct. 28-Nov. 8 trip to Eastern Europe with a group from Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany. He is visiting Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; Krakow, Poland; and Prague in the Czech Republic.
  • "Jesus must have been a very happy man to be around. He was always attracting children. And children don't follow a cranky person."
  • Of the many titles of Mary, "Morning Star" best seems to capture her guiding role in our personal and ecclesial lives as the one who lights the way to the Way. She is our sure and steadfast beacon of hope, because she leads us to the only way to happiness, which is Jesus Christ.
  • By its very nature, illness is a destabilizing, isolating experience. Even without a diagnosis, feeling sick interrupts the ordinary flow of events, including sleep, meals, traveling and the work routine.
  • We are embarking on a campaign to secure the foundation for our future, which will fuel our larger vision of growing and enhancing our Catholic community of faith for current and future generations.
  • Speaking from experience, the one thing I can say for sure about marriage is that it is not easy, but it can be beautiful.
  • Did you know that the Rosary is a Christ-centered, Scripture-rich prayer? Of course you did, but here are some good reasons why.
  • Imagining everyday life in "the missions" probably evokes heart-wrenching scenes like malnourished children with soulful eyes posed at entries to humble shacks, barefoot women bearing heavy loads along muddy roads -- and clerics in white cassocks and sandals.
  • School is back in session, no doubt to the relief of many parents who are happy to share their duties of educating their children with the professionals.
  • "The tongue is mightier than the sword!" No one knows for sure who first came to this conclusion. Maybe he or she was inspired by Scripture, which tells us, "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" (Proverbs 12:19).
  • At some point in the American psyche -- and not so long ago at that -- looking and acting "cool" seems to have overtaken character and virtue as a prized personal identifier.
  • "Let whoever has ears to hear, hear!" (Mark 4:9).
    Even Jesus had a communication problem! Why else would He have to say this so forcefully, so many times?
  • As summer turns to fall, our hearts go out to our young people, many of whom will soon be leaving home. We hope your summer has been fun and relaxing, but also one of spiritual growth and renewal.
  • It's easy to disagree on theological fine points, but it's hard to argue with experience. In attempting to evangelize both active and inactive Catholics, no one set a better example than Christ the Good Shepherd, who would look for the one sheep when He had 99.
  • Perhaps you remember, many years ago, when someone from your family -- a parent or grandparent, or maybe an aunt or an older sibling -- first took you to church.
  • Did you know that God is calling you?
    I am not talking about a specific state-in-life vocation like priesthood, religious life or marriage, but something even deeper and much more vital to your life right now.
  • In recent and upcoming Sundays and in the weekday readings, we are hearing many parables about the two kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Man. Jesus is contrasting how God is with how the world operates.
  • Though the "Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America" we attended was only four days, July 1-4, the insights, faith witness and experiences that we and thousands of Catholic leaders shared is sure to bear abundant fruit in all of our dioceses and parishes throughout the country.
  • Jesus sent His disciples out "two by two," never alone. Two men on the road to Emmaus encountered Jesus, and they recognized Him "in the breaking of the bread" (Lk 24:3-35). As promised, "where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them" (Mt 18:20).
  • Corpus Christi, or the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, which we just celebrated last weekend, was the fulfillment of one woman's dream.
  • You stand at a crossroads. You have to make a choice. You are about to become history or to make history.
  • Follow my logic: Christ is always good news for sinners. That, we know from the Scriptures.
    People in any kind of trouble were always better off for meeting Christ. Those who were the most down and out, the most marginalized people in society -- lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors and so on, all presumed sinners -- not only found acceptance in the presence of Christ, but welcome and deep healing.
  • Following up on last week's reflection on the Mass and how revolutionary it really is, we might say that the Mass represents an invitation to live on Earth as if we are already in heaven -- and it gives us the power to do this.