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Baptism of the Lord Marks Endings, Beginnings

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Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, with the Gospel reading from Mark 1:7-11. This occasion introduces Jesus to the world as the Son of God – pretty dramatic entrance to the world stage, wouldn’t you say? This passage catches your attention. The Baptism of the Lord is a really big day for three reasons. It marks the end of:

The Christmas season, and the beginning of Ordinary Time.Jesus’ private life and the beginning of His ministry.Our separation from God and the beginning of an open line of communication between heaven and earth. 1 We see the physical manifestation of that claim with multiple people hearing the voice of God the Father, when He states, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11).
Baptism Marks an Ending and a Beginning
Endings and beginnings remind us of our own baptisms where we died with Christ and became adopted sons and daughters of the Father. Our baptisms... Read more...

'The seed of eternal life.' Sunday Reflections, The Baptism of the Lord, Year B

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Baptistry, St Mark's, Venice [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Mark 1:7-11 (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEdition)

John the Baptist proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

In countries where the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated this year on Monday 8 January, eg the Philippines and the USA, there is only one reading before the Gospel and the Creed is omitted. Fea…

'Then people will come from east and west . . .' Sunday Reflections, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

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Crowning during a Syro-Malabar Catholic wedding

Gospel Luke 13:22-30 NRSV, Catholic Ed.
Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the…

'Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.' Sunday Reflections, The Baptism of the Lord, Year B

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The Baptism of Christ (detail), Tintoretto, 1579-81 Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 
http://www.universalis.com/20150111/mass.htm GospelMark 1:7-11 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada)

John the Baptist proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.I have baptized you withwater; but he will baptize you withthe Holy Spirit.” In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved;with you I am well pleased.”
The Census at BethlehemPieter Bruegel the Elder, 1566 Musées Royaux des…

Parents, the First Evangelists

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Pope Francis has an evangelization prayer close to his heart this month: he is praying for parents. As the Pope puts it, "Pray that parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith."

Mary and Joseph were the first evangelizers of Jesus. If evangelizing means to bring the good news of salvation to the world, then Mary was a literalist: she physically brought Jesus, the saving Word of God, to the world. Joseph and Mary cared for the Word, loved the Word, and shared the Word with others in their daily lives.
It almost seems unfair, in a way, doesn't it? SAY WHAT?! Read on at Praying with Grace.

'Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.' Sunday Reflections, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

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Saint Peter, El Greco,1610-13 Monasterio de San Lorenzo, El Escorial, Spain [Web Gallery of Art] Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA) Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)  GospelMatthew 16:13-20 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah,the Son of the living God.”continue gospel reading>

Pope Francis in Korea, 13-18 August 2014 [Wikipedia]

In his homily on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, 29 June 2013, Pope Francis said: I would like to offer three thoughts on the Petrine ministry, guided by the word 'confirm'.  What has the Bishop…

'Just Routine, Nothing Special' — Thank You, Father Statz

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Quite a lot has happened, since Father James Statz came to the Our Lady of the Angels parish here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Most of it's routine, like the annual cycle of the liturgical year, some hasn't.

Today is the last time Father Statz celebrates Mass as our parish priest. I'm sorry to see him go, but very glad that he has been here.

Remembering, Mostly 2003
Some of it hasn't been routine, like when the Christmas tree — over a dozen feet tall — fell over behind him. That was in 2003.

I took that photo before the excitement. The choir director had told us that the last song would be "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" when the Christmas tree fell over.

Over a dozen children on the near side of the altar, and probably a few other folks, said "eee!" The tree fell neatly on the altar's far side.

Then we sang "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." Nobody was hurt, much, although Father Statz got clipped as the tree went past him, and the deacon was …

God's Field Kits: Pentecost Plus Two Millennia and Counting

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Partly because of the visual drama, this is one of my favorite scenes from the Bible:
"1 When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.

"And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, 2 and it filled the entire house in which they were.

"Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, 3 which parted and came to rest on each one of them.

"And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, 4 as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim."
(Acts 2:1-4) It's also part of what we read during Mass this morning: Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23....

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Life in the Universe: Focusing the Search

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Scientists have found at least a dozen planets where life might exist. They're learning more about biosignatures: signs of life.
Understanding Life's Limits"...An Enormous Quantity of Creatures of Every Kind...""...So Much We Still Don't Understand"A Growing Catalog of Known WorldsEarth-Sized Planets: Billions of ThemSearching the Sky: Frustration and Vindication Life on Other Worlds: Imagined
(From "Quatermass and the Pit," via Tales of Future Past, used w/o permission)
('That's odd: he doesn't look German.')

Some science fiction movies strayed from the man-in-a-rubber-suit style of space alien. But most extraterrestrials in the movies look at least vaguely human.

I don't mind, since "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "The Last Starfighter," and "Spaced Invaders" are entertainment: not documentaries....

...Angels are persons, too: beings of pure spirit, with no bodies. They "are personal…

Lousy Godparents

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You’ve been poorly catechized and didn’t really understand the role of a Godparent for your newborn baby and so you gave this honor to your best-friend-since-3rd-grade. It made sense at the time and you both giggled and loved the whole idea of it. Now, years later, you no longer speak to your best-friend-since-3rd-grade. You’ve come to regret this poor choice—in a very big way—and don’t know what to do about the lousy Godparent you chose. You have been blessed by faith-filled parents and have been living your faith in a constant manner for as long as you can remember. Bestowing the honor of Godparent upon your cousin was a good choice. After all, she’s family and your lives have the blood connection that will stand the test of time. A few years later you see that she didn’t really get how important this honor was and has really failed. She apparently didn’t read up on the “job” description and now your daughter is burdened with a lousy Godparent. And your daughter sees this at every fa…

'This is my beloved Son . . .' Sunday Reflections, The Baptism of the Lord, Year A

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The Baptism of Christ, El Greco, painted 1608-28 [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA)                                  
Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 3:13-17 (New RevisedStandard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he consented.And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were openedand he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him;and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son,with whom I am well pleased.”

Today's Feast of the Baptism of the Lord brings the liturgical season of Chri…

New Resource for Catholic Moms-to-be

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Sometimes pregnancy makes us glowingly happy and sometimes it makes us miserable. But no matter how it makes us feel, it will change us and the world around us irrevocably. If you want to know more about the physical and spiritual changes that pregnancy can bring, if you're looking for deeper meaning in the little aches and pains, read Sarah Reinhard's book A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism. Sarah's book offers pregnant moms a week-by-week journey in prayer with Our Lady through pregnancy, labor, birth, and beyond.

Each chapter of the opening section on pregnancy details the amazing physical developments the baby is undergoing. The chapters also lead us into meditation on the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, helping us to imagine how Mary coped with the dizzying changes from the moment her motherhood was announced until the day she lost Jesus in the Temple and heard his radical declaration of departure from childho…

'Men will come from east and west . . .' Sunday Reflections, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

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Open Air Rock Cross also called Nasrani Sthambams in front of the 2nd Century built Marth Mariam Catholic Church at Kuravilangadu, Kerala, India. This church belongs to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, in full communion with Rome.
Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA)                                  
Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Luke 13:22-30 (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition)
Jesus went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. And some one said to him, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them, "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, 'I do not know wher…

'But who do you say that I am?' Sunday Reflections, 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

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St Peter Preaching, Masolino da Panicale, 1426-27 [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)                                  
Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) Gospel Luke 9:18-24 (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition)
Now it happened that as Jesus was praying alone the disciples were with him; and he asked them, "Who do the people say that I am?" And they answered, "John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen." And he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered, "The Christ of God." But he charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised." And he said to all, "If any man would come…

Whisper His Name

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Father was a no show at the 8 a.m. Holy Mass today.  The old man stood at the back door waiting for him, he said he had talked to Father and that he had said he would be there.  At 8:02, we decided to have a communion service.  Jim, wonderful servant of God, did the service for us.  One of the men came up to me and a woman that I was speaking to after the service.  You never saw this man without his rosary in his hand.  It gave me such hope to see one so faithful every day to the Rosary of our Blessed Mother.  He came over and speaking to the woman spewed a derogatory comment about Father.  My heart dropped.  The woman agreed and joined in the bashing.  This isn't the first I had heard of this, and every time I hear it, it broke my heart.  
They invited me to McDonald's for breakfast, I declined and said I would stay and pray.  The woman said to me, "Well he needs it!" (Meaning Father.)  What she didn't know was that most of my prayers would be in supplication for…