May 18, 2016
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Here are links for Mass on Wednesday, May 18, 2016: Wednesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
- Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051816.cfm (from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website)
- You can listen to the audio recording of the readings here: http://ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/16_05_18.mp3
- Video reflection: http://bcove.me/5lgq9d91 (from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website)
- Daily meditation: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/may18.htm (from the Daily Scripture Readings & Meditations website)
- Saint of the Day: St. John I
- http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1387 (from the American Catholic website)
- http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=432 (from the Catholic Online website)
- http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/saint.php?n=241 (from the Catholic News Agency website)
- https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2015-05-18 (from the Catholic Culture website)
Hands of Love for Jesus – I would like to ask for your help for a Kairos weekend on which I will be serving from Friday, May 27 to Monday, May 30, 2016 in the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, CA. Kairos is like a Cursillo weekend for prison inmates, and these weekends have been held throughout the U.S. and internationally since 1976. Over 25,000 prison inmates experience the transformative joy and love of Christ on their Kairos weekend each year. Through ongoing prayer support groups, inmates learn how to build Christian communities in prison that continue their spiritual conversion. You can play an instrumental role in helping these prisoners realize that Christ has not forgotten them, and will give them His grace in becoming conscientious, well-behaved people during their prison terms, and productive, law-abiding citizens upon their release. Here’s how you can help:
- You and your church group can help by making “Hands of Christ’s love” (see attachment for examples). Start by drawing outlines of your hand on a pieces of colored paper.
- With the wrist facing up and fingers pointing down, hand print a one-sentence, short expression of God’s love an encouragement within the outline of your hand and sign your first name only.
- Only use markers, crayons, or rubber stamps. No stickers, glitter, or glue is acceptable in the prison.
- If children are also making hands, please have them write their age below their first name, too. Many inmates are fathers who rarely or never get to see their children during their long prison terms. They are deeply moved seeing that some child has created this remembrance for them.
- Finally, cut out the outline of your hands so that only the paper outline of the hand including the fingers, palm, and wrist remain (with your message included).
- Then, please mail all of your Hands of Love to the following address so that I receive them by next Monday, May 23, 2016:
Deacon Ben Agustin
St. Jerome Catholic Church
308 Carmel Avenue
El Cerrito, CA 94530
We need at least 1,000 Hands of Love to string them completely around the prison chapel where the 4-day Kairos Weekend will be held. I sincerely thank you in advance and pray in thanksgiving for your help in this important corporal work of mercy in bringing Christ’s love, healing, and hope to the 42 men who will be attending their first Kairos weekend. As Jesus said in Matthew 25:35, “I was in prison and you visited me.” You can learn more about Kairos at this link: http://www.kairoscmfvacaville.org. God bless you!
Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation On Love in the Family – You can read Pope Francis’ newly-released apostolic exhortation On Love in the Family, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) at this link: https://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia_en.pdf. The Joy of Love is divided into nine chapters as follows:
- Chapter 1 – In The Light The Word
- Chapter 2 – The Experiences And Challenges Of Families
- Chapter 3 – Looking To Jesus: The Vocation Of The Family
- Chapter 4 – Love In Marriage
Chapter 5 – Love Made Fruitful
- Chapter 6 – Some Pastoral Perspectives
- Chapter 7 – Towards A Better Education Of Children
- Chapter 8 – Accompanying, Discerning And Integrating Weakness
- Chapter 9 – The Spirituality Of Marriage And The Family
To facilitate your reading of this 261-page document, I will reprint short consecutive segments of the entire text at the bottom of this email each day.
“Make a friend. Be a friend. Bring your friend to Christ.”
Deacon Ben Agustin
Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love)
Chapter 6 – Some Pastoral Perspectives
- The dialogue that took place during the Synod raised the need for new pastoral methods. I will attempt to mention some of these in a very general way. Different communities will have to devise more practical and effective initiatives that respect both the Church’s teaching and local problems and needs. Without claiming to present a pastoral plan for the family, I would now like to reflect on some more significant pastoral challenges.
Proclaiming the Gospel of the Family Today
- The Synod Fathers emphasized that Christian families, by the grace of the sacrament of matrimony, are the principal agents of the family apostolate, above all through “their joy-filled witness as domestic churches”. Consequently, “it is important that people experience the Gospel of the family as a joy that ‘fills hearts and lives’, because in Christ we have been ‘set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 1). As in the parable of the sower (cf. Mt 13:3-9), we are called to help sow seeds; the rest is God’s work. Nor must we forget that, in her teaching on the family, the Church is a sign of contradiction”. Married couples are grateful that their pastors uphold the high ideal of a love that is strong, solid, enduring and capable of sustaining them through whatever trials they may have to face. The Church wishes, with humility and compassion, to reach out to families and “to help each family to discover the best way to overcome any obstacles it encounters”. It is not enough to show generic concern for the family in pastoral planning. Enabling families to take up their role as active agents of the family apostolate calls for “an effort at evangelization and catechesis inside the family”.
- “This effort calls for missionary conversion by everyone in the Church, that is, one that is not content to proclaim a merely theoretical message without connection to people’s real problems”. Pastoral care for families “needs to make it clear that the Gospel of the family responds to the deepest expectations of the human person: a response to each one’s dignity and fulfilment in reciprocity, communion and fruitfulness. This consists not merely in presenting a set of rules, but in proposing values that are clearly needed today, even in the most secularized of countries”. The Synod Fathers also “highlighted the fact that evangelization needs unambiguously to denounce cultural, social, political and economic factors – such as the excessive importance given to market logic – that prevent authentic family life and lead to discrimination, poverty, exclusion, and violence. Consequently, dialogue and cooperation need to be fostered with societal structures and encouragement given to lay people who are involved, as Christians, in the cultural and socio-political fields”.
- “The main contribution to the pastoral care of families is offered by the parish, which is the family of families, where small communities, ecclesial movements and associations live in harmony”. Along with a pastoral outreach aimed specifically at families, this shows the need for “a more adequate formation… of priests, deacons, men and women religious, catechists and other pastoral workers”. In the replies given to the worldwide consultation, it became clear that ordained ministers often lack the training needed to deal with the complex problems currently facing families. The experience of the broad oriental tradition of a married clergy could also be drawn upon.
- Seminarians should receive a more extensive interdisciplinary, and not merely doctrinal, formation in the areas of engagement and marriage. Their training does not always allow them to explore their own psychological and affective background and experiences. Some come from troubled families, with absent parents and a lack of emotional stability. There is a need to ensure that the formation process can enable them to attain the maturity and psychological balance needed for their future ministry. Family bonds are essential for reinforcing healthy self-esteem. It is important for families to be part of the seminary process and priestly life, since they help to reaffirm these and to keep them well grounded in reality. It is helpful for seminarians to combine time in the seminary with time spent in parishes. There they can have greater contact with the concrete realities of family life, since in their future ministry they will largely be dealing with families. “The presence of lay people, families and especially the presence of women in priestly formation, promotes an appreciation of the diversity and complementarity of the different vocations in the Church”.
- The response to the consultation also insisted on the need for training lay leaders who can assist in the pastoral care of families, with the help of teachers and counsellors, family and community physicians, social workers, juvenile and family advocates, and drawing upon the contributions of psychology, sociology, marital therapy and counseling. Professionals, especially those with practical experience, help keep pastoral initiatives grounded in the real situations and concrete concerns of families. “Courses and programs, planned specifically for pastoral workers, can be of assistance by integrating the premarital preparation program into the broader dynamic of ecclesial life”. Good pastoral training is important “especially in light of particular emergency situations arising from cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse”. All this in no way diminishes, but rather complements, the fundamental value of spiritual direction, the rich spiritual treasures of the Church, and sacramental Reconciliation.