Announcing Our Big News!

AmericanCatholic.org, celebrating its fifth anniversary, is in the last weeks of a site redesign. Watch for our new look during the last few weeks of March. We've worked hard to develop a look and site navigation that will make it easier for you to find things. We think you'll love it. http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/

HONOR ST. PATRICK AND TAKE A PILGRIMAGE:
St. Anthony Messenger Online features "An Irish Journey Into Celtic Spirituality." The origins of Celtic spirituality may be ancient, but the beliefs are still practical today. Join the author as she shares co-pilgrim's reflections on a recent pilgrimage to Ireland. Also, gain practical insight into Celtic spirituality. By Susan Hines-Brigger http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Mar2001/Feature1.asp

Also, check out menu of information about St. Patrick at http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Features/Patrick

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Friar Jack's Musings: Revelations of God's Goodness

Praise the God of Light as we approach the end of winter and the return of increasing light--at least in my hemisphere! Again I thank you for your thoughtful responses to my February musings. Although, to my regret, it's impossible to answer everyone personally, I can at least comment here on a few special insights and trends I see in your responses.

One trend I'm really happy to see is that an e-newsletter such as "Friar Jack's" has an ecumenical audience. Frankly, I must confess--as a writer for Roman Catholic publications for over 28 years--that Roman Catholics have been my predominant audience (though I always hope my words and my heart go out to all brothers and sisters who care to listen).

So it is a "joy" to receive an e-mail from a friendly writer named Joy along with her wonderful message: "I am a charismatic from International Four Square church. I work at trying to be loving to all my friends and to encourage the love of Jesus Christ in all. Not to try to convert, but to see the sameness in our beliefs."

I thank you, Joy. I hope that the same "love of Jesus" that glows in your heart, glows in mine through the grace of God, and in thousands of other readers of this newsletter whose hearts are warmed by your inspiring words of loving communion in Christ.

Another writer, Dennis, writes "I am a lapsed Catholic who returned to the Church this past year after 23 years 'elsewhere.'" While "elsewhere," Dennis says he reconnected to God through the gift of meditation. He appreciated last month's "reminder of God's greatness in Brother Son," adding that "I worship God and I embrace anyone who worships God, Catholic or non-Catholic."

Dennis and Joy, you give us an "Internet high"--a real sense of God's presence and love--through your grace-filled words as we contemplate the ecumenical and unitive potential of the Internet. Thanks for helping us all feel a bit of St. Paul's mystical intuition that "in God we live and move and have our being."

Read on! At the end of this issue I discuss an e-mail from Mary Margaret about her discovery of God's illumination and goodness.

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NEW WEEKLY FEATURES FOR LENT:
AmericanCatholic.org offers NEW and UPDATED features each week of Lent. Be sure to stop by every week during Lent and find: * Daily Readings and Weekly Exercises by Father David Knight

* Family Activities by Jeanne Hunt * Sunday Soundbites: An Audio Feature by Father Greg Friedman, O.F.M. Also, you will find inspiring audio features from Richard Rohr and Elizabeth Dreyer along with beautiful visual excerpts from the video, "Way of the Cross: Stations on Our Journey of Faith." Also, there are various articles and excerpts on such topics as the cross and forgiveness to keep you coming back to this popular Lenten site. Bookmark it TODAY and visit it often to experience your Lenten call to conversion: http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Features/Lent/

CYBERSPACE DEFINED:
Read the U.S. bishops new pastoral document, "Your Family in Cyberspace" and consider how you should critique various sites that claim to be Catholic: http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Mar2001/Web_Catholic.asp

Also, keep sending suggestions of great Catholic Web sites for consideration in John Bookser Feister's monthly "Web Catholic" column. Send your new ideas to webcatholic@franciscanmedia.org.

TAKE AN ONLINE POLL:
This month, "Every Day Catholic" readers are encouraged to answer: "The best way to deal with anger is to..." Visit the site today, cast your vote and see how your views on anger compare with others'. http://www.EveryDayCatholic.org/

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ROHR OFFERS FRANCIS' TRANSFORMING VISION:
In his new book, Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety, Richard Rohr describes how following Francis' way to forgiveness and love, and "owning the darkness," can bring us hope in a time of darkness. "We live in a time that, much like Francis' time, much like Jesus' time, cries for rebuilding," writes Rohr. Consider buying a copy to further your understanding of

Jesus' and Francis' message to rebuild the Church.

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CATHOLICGREETINGS.ORG OFFERS UNIQUE E-GREETINGS:
CatholicGreetings.org has many NEW e-Greetings this month, including ones for St. Katharine Drexel, St. Patrick, St. Joseph and the Feast of the Annunciation. Visit sometime this month and see the unique FREE e-Greetings that celebrate special Catholic events: http://www.CatholicGreetings.org/

 QUESTIONS FOR THE LENTEN SEASON:
In the March issue of St. Anthony Messenger, Father Pat's "Ask a Franciscan" answers questions about St. Patrick's canonization and whether a person who has committed suicide can have a funeral Mass. Find out more at http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Mar2001/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 my Lenten journey! It's never too late to begin, so wait no longer and search here:

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FRIAR JACK'S CHOSEN SITE:
This is the month for many to celebrate being Irish! The following Web site from PBS offers excellent resources on how to trace your Irish heritage. Actually, it also offers great links and resources for anyone interested in finding out more about any genealogy. But remember, we're all a little Irish on St. Patrick's Day, March 17! http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/irish/genealogy.html

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CONCLUSION TO FRIAR JACK'S MUSINGS:
Here are parts of the e-mail I received from Mary Margaret: "There is something calming about being in Church in the semi-darkness after the bright lights of Mass are turned off. There is a certain quiet, a hushed reverence which still hangs in the air like the faint scent of the recently extinguished candles. I can still hear the noises of the spinning world outside...cars and trucks on the highway...the school children at recess...but these are like sounds vaguely remembered in a dream.

"I recall Peter's words at the Transfiguration: 'Lord, it is good for us to be here.' Yes, Lord, it is good for me to be here. The calm, the reverence, your presence are so necessary to me in the midst of my busy, sometimes chaotic life. Thank you for this quiet moment."

And thank you, Mary Margaret, for sharing this awe-inspiring moment of your own faith experience. Your musings also prompt further reflection on the meaning of God's light. Yes, we do see God's light reflected in our literal experiences of light--the sun, the stars, a glowing cloud, the gleam of a raindrop on a leaf. And we do well to savor such glimpses of God's light in nature and let them brighten our hearts.

But, as you indicate so well, we experience God's light in many other ways beyond literal light. We can see God's light, for example, in the smiles of friends--and in the love behind those smiles. We see God's "light" also in a friend's comforting words and touch. Our hearts are "lightened" too by the sense of humor of loved ones--even as they struggle through dark times.

St. Francis of Assisi saw that light, that love, that overflowing goodness in all of creation, especially when he thought of Jesus' self-offering love. Let me try to express this with some lines of verse I wrote a few years ago:

What Francis Saw Behind the Veil of Creation

When Francis looked behind the veil of the blue sky and the glowing sun, he saw God's unconditional love. If Francis, in his mind's eye, were to scratch through the surface of an apple, a rose or a butterfly wing, he would fall to his knees and cry out: "Holy, Holy, Holy," for he would see there the blinding beauty of God's overflowing goodness. Above all, when Francis gazed behind the figure of his crucified God--behind the blood and the thorns-- he would weep and weep and weep! For there he saw the roaring furnace of God's love.

(From Lights: Revelations of God's Goodness, by Jack Wintz, O.F.M., St. Anthony Messenger Press, page 46.)

Til next month, be open to God's gracious light and overflowing love and goodness, even if the sun stays behind the clouds--or the lights are turned down low. Stay happy! --Friar Jack

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


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