God's Living Light

One e-mail sent to me this month was from "sunny Puerto Rico." It came from a kind woman who picked up on my seeing the Internet as a "positive force for good" and as an expression of God's loving presence around the world.

"I, too, see the Internet as an extension of the Church," she affirmed. "We can communicate with our brothers and sisters around the world in a matter of minutes."

The Internet can be an instrument for good or evil--for the "glory of God" or "the work of Satan," she added. Others commented on the potential of the Internet "to be God's 'body.'" But they also warned that we should be aware of the moral dangers. In this regard, pornography was mentioned or hinted at more than once in the e-mails sent to me.

I think I can accurately express the sentiments of many of you by saying, "The God of light is everywhere, but anyone can chose to reject the Light."

As part of my getting up routine most mornings, I try to cheer myself with the following exercise. I open my venetian blinds and "drink in" with my eyes the light of the morning sky, perhaps even the radiant sun. I let it invade my soul. I ask God to take away any darkness or gloom from my heart that I may try my best to serve God cheerfully and with an ever-lighter step.

Light is such a wonderful symbol of God. It helps us see God not so much as a gloomy moralist, but primarily as our wonderful source of light and beauty and overflowing goodness--which is much closer to the truth and avoids being an insult to our All-Good Creator, who said "Let there be light!"

St. Francis had a fascination with God's light. You'll find my reflection on Francis and light at the end of this e-mail, so read on.

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EVERYDAY CATHOLICS:
"Every Day Catholic" is a NEW interactive publication from St. Anthony Messenger Press. Each month, readers are invited to further explore topics and themes online by:

  * Casting their vote online to that month's poll question

  * Offering their insights into and answers to questions from  Father Richard Rohr's Scripture article

  * Responding to Judith Dunlap's Family Corner, which includes activities for family members.

Check it out by casting your vote online to this month's poll question: What story from Scripture has helped you deal with rejection in your life? http://www.EveryDayCatholic.org/

BLACK CATHOLICS: LEADERS TODAY AND YESTERDAY:
February's St. Anthony Messenger Online features "'Opening the Doors': Black Catholics in the U.S." Members of the Black Catholic community offer a much-needed gift to the Church. This article offers a history of their role in the Church and current work to raise new leaders.

By Mandy Erickson http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Feb2001/Feature1.asp

PARISH WEB SITE PARADOX?:
Locate parishes that are finding clever ways to build community at: http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Feb2001/Web_Catholic.asp

Also, John Bookser Feister thanks those of you who sent suggestions of great Catholic Web sites for consideration in his Web Catholic column. Send your new ideas to webcatholic@franciscanmedia.org.

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MINISTERING IN A MEDIA AGE:
Consider reading a fascinating new book that looks at the use of the media in Christian ministry. In Screen Saved: Peril and Promise of Media in Ministry, Dan Andriacco defines the dangers of media and provides the tools to make it a powerful ally. Learn how TV, advertising, print and the Internet create and define our culture by embarking on a media "fast." Understand which media can be effective in ministry and which should be left out--and why. Transform your ministry by becoming a medium through which Christ reaches other people.

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SEND A VALENTINE FOR CHASTITY:
CatholicGreetings.org has a NEW e-Greeting this month for the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry portion of "Seize the Net," a Valentine's Day chastity promotion for teens. Encourage any teen you know to send this NEW "True Love Waits" pledge e-Greeting to encourage chastity among teens. http://www.CatholicGreetings.org/Holiday/

CatholicGreetings.org is also offering several NEW Valentine's Day cards featuring the beautiful nature photography of Don Nesbitt: http://www.CatholicGreetings.org/Holiday/

QUESTIONS FOR LENT:
In February, Father Pat's "Ask a Franciscan" answers various questions about the Stations of the Cross, meatless Fridays and confessing to a priest instead of Jesus. Find out more at http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Feb2001/Wiseman.asp. As always, please continue to submit your questions about the Catholic faith to "Ask a Franciscan."

MORE LENTEN RESOURCES:
St. Anthony Help Me Find... more resources for your Lenten journey! Ash Wednesday is February 28 so consider perusing this "Lent" search at AmericanCatholic.org.

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FRIAR JACK'S CHOSEN SITE:
Learn about the horrors of Christian persecution and even slavery in Sudan from the exiled Catholic bishop's Web site: http://www.petersvoice.org/gassis/. Read a timely editorial about what Catholics can do at: http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Feb2001/Editorial.asp

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CONCLUSION TO FRIAR JACK'S MUSINGS:
St. Francis had a fascination with God's light. In his "Canticle of Brother Sun," in which he praises God through all creatures, Francis praises God, first of all, through the "beauty" and "radiant splendor" of Brother Sun--which is a marvelous image of God according to Francis. My advice is: Do yourself a favor and open yourself to the light of God by soaking up the light of Brother Sun. Do this in the gentle spirit of the following poem received from a kind e-mail-writer in response to my reflections on "God as light" in last month's E-spirations. It is reprinted with the author's permission:

Open Like a Flower

Open like a flower, Receive the morning sun; Let the light shine through Til the day is done. -- Helen M. Nowak

"It is truly wonderful," Helen adds, "to let our Lord's light shine through us!"

Join me in saying: Amen! --Friar Jack

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As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions via e-mail: friarjack@franciscanmedia.org.


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