May 19, 2016
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Here are links for Mass on Thursday, May 19, 2016: Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
- Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051916.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_19.mp3
- Video reflection: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid506929354001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAdgye3dk~,p0Zv3iru3vLtuHJC18uO4sBMTKhhmskf&bctid=4824875109001 (from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website)
- Daily meditation: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/may19.htm (from the Daily Scripture Readings & Meditations website)
- Saint of the Day: St. Theophilus of Corte
- http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1388 (from the American Catholic website)
- http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=2269 (from the Catholic Online website)
- http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/saint-theophilus-of-corte.html (from the Roman Catholic Saints 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
Preparing Engaged Couples for Marriage
- The Synod Fathers stated in a number of ways that we need to help young people discover the dignity and beauty of marriage.237 They should be helped to perceive the attraction of a complete union that elevates and perfects the social dimension of existence, gives sexuality its deepest meaning, and benefits children by offering them the best context for their growth and development.
- “The complexity of today’s society and the challenges faced by the family require a greater effort on the part of the whole Christian community in preparing those who are about to be married. The importance of the virtues needs to be included. Among these, chastity proves invaluable for the genuine growth of love between persons. In this regard, the Synod Fathers agreed on the need to involve the entire community more extensively by stressing the witness of families themselves and by grounding marriage preparation in the process of Christian initiation by bringing out the connection between marriage, baptism and the other sacraments. The Fathers also spoke of the need for specific programmes of marriage preparation aimed at giving couples a genuine experience of participation in ecclesial life and a complete introduction to various aspects of family life”.
- I encourage Christian communities to recognize the great benefit that they themselves receive from supporting engaged couples as they grow in love. As the Italian bishops have observed, those couples are “a valuable resource because, as they sincerely commit themselves to grow in love and self-giving, they can help renew the fabric of the whole ecclesial body. Their special form of friendship can prove contagious and foster the growth of friendship and fraternity in the Christian community of which they are a part”. There are a number of legitimate ways to structure programs of marriage preparation, and each local Church will discern how best to provide a suitable formation without distancing young people from the sacrament. They do not need to be taught the entire Catechism or overwhelmed with too much information. Here too, “it is not great knowledge, but rather the ability to feel and relish things interiorly that contents and satisfies the soul”. Quality is more important than quantity, and priority should be given – along with a renewed proclamation of the kerygma – to an attractive and helpful presentation of information that can help couples to live the rest of their lives together “with great courage and generosity”. Marriage preparation should be a kind of “initiation” to the sacrament of matrimony, providing couples with the help they need to receive the sacrament worthily and to make a solid beginning of life as a family.
- With the help of missionary families, the couple’s own families and a variety of pastoral resources, ways should also be found to offer a remote preparation that, by example and good advice, can help their love to grow and mature. Discussion groups and optional talks on a variety of topics of genuine interest to young people can also prove helpful. All the same, some individual meetings remain essential, since the primary objective is to help each to learn how to love this very real person with whom he or she plans to share his or her whole life. Learning to love someone does not happen automatically, nor can it be taught in a workshop just prior to the celebration of marriage. For every couple, marriage preparation begins at birth. What they received from their family should prepare them to know themselves and to make a full and definitive commitment. Those best prepared for marriage are probably those who learned what Christian marriage is from their own parents, who chose each other unconditionally and daily renew this decision. In this sense, pastoral initiatives aimed at helping married couples to grow in love and in the Gospel of the family also help their children, by preparing them for their future married life. Nor should we underestimate the pastoral value of traditional religious practices. To give just one example: I think of Saint Valentine’s Day; in some countries, commercial interests are quicker to see the potential of this celebration than are we in the Church.
- The timely preparation of engaged couples by the parish community should also assist them to recognize eventual problems and risks. In this way, they can come to realize the wisdom of breaking off a relationship whose failure and painful aftermath can be foreseen. In their initial enchantment with one another, couples can attempt to conceal or relativize certain things and to avoid disagreements; only later do problems surface. For this reason, they should be strongly encouraged to discuss what each expects from marriage, what they understand by love and commitment, what each wants from the other and what kind of life they would like to build together. Such discussions would help them to see if they in fact have little in common and to realize that mutual attraction alone will not suffice to keep them together. Nothing is more volatile, precarious and unpredictable than desire. The decision to marry should never be encouraged unless the couple has discerned deeper reasons that will ensure a genuine and stable commitment.
- In any event, if one partner clearly recognizes the other’s weak points, he or she needs to have a realistic trust in the possibility of helping to develop the good points that counterbalance them, and in this way to foster their human growth. This entails a willingness to face eventual sacrifices, problems and situations of conflict; it demands a firm resolve to be ready for this. Couples need to be able to detect danger signals in their relationship and to find, before the wedding, effective ways of responding to them. Sadly, many couples marry without really knowing one another. They have enjoyed each other’s company and done things together, but without facing the challenge of revealing themselves and coming to know who the other person truly is.
- Both short-term and long-term marriage preparation should ensure that the couple do not view the wedding ceremony as the end of the road, but instead embark upon marriage as a lifelong calling based on a firm and realistic decision to face all trials and difficult moments together. The pastoral care of engaged and married couples should be centred on the marriage bond, assisting couples not only to deepen their love but also to overcome problems and difficulties. This involves not only helping them to accept the Church’s teaching and to have recourse to her valuable resources, but also offering practical programmes, sound advice, proven strategies and psychological guidance. All this calls for a pedagogy of love, attuned to the feelings and needs of young people and capable of helping them to grow interiorly. Marriage preparation should also provide couples with the names of places, people and services to which they can turn for help when problems arise. It is also important to remind them of the availability of the sacrament of Reconciliation, which allows them to bring their sins and past mistakes, and their relationship itself, before God, and to receive in turn his merciful forgiveness and healing strength.