Friar Jack Muses About the Communion of Saints

Just a day or two ago, an e-mail came sailing to my computer from the other side of the earth--from sunny Manila. It seemed like a miracle! It was from an old Franciscan colleague who reminded me that I was his "comrade in arms from the good old days." From 1969 to 1972, he and I had taught together at the same Franciscan Seminary (Our Lady of the Angels) just outside Manila. é His name is Jesús--Father Jesús Galindo, O.F.M.--and he is a friar and a bright light from Spain who is still serving in the Philippines as a member of the great Filipino Franciscan Province of San Pedro Bautista. He and I had not been in touch for almost 30 years. Father Jesús said he was just "fooling around with the Internet" and happily chanced upon our Web site (AmericanCatholic.org) and Friar Jack's e-newsletter. I'm happy he did.

This surprise reunion is one of the blessings of the Internet, which helps old confreres and acquaintances and members of Christ's body to discover that we are closer than we realize. I asked my Franciscan friend Jesús to share his views on the meaning of Internet from his perspective in the far-off Philippines. He is happy to share these thoughts with our e-newsletter's 7,600+ readers around the globe:

"The potential of the Internet for evangelization is so obvious," says my long-lost comrade. "You don't have to squeeze your brain to grasp it! Admittedly, the Internet is a two-edged sword. It is being used by many for questionable or downright evil purposes. That is precisely the reason why we should be so much more eager to use it for good ends.

"Christ told us to 'be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves' (Matthew 10:16), warning that 'the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light' (Luke 16:8). He is telling us not to allow ourselves to be outsmarted by the forces of evil. And that goes for the use of the Internet, too!

"Allow me to congratulate you and your co-workers at AmericanCatholic.org for having chosen this marvelous apostolate that brings the good news to people all over the world. Definitely, the Internet is the world's most powerful 'pulpit'--the Areopagus of today [see Acts 17:22]....I wish you the best of luck in your ministry!"

Muchas gracias, Padre Jesús, for your affirming and encouraging words!

My e-mail from Friar Jesús inspired my to consider how the Internet is affecting Christian life and ministry. You'll find my conclusions at the end of this e-newsletter.

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ONCECATHOLIC.ORG IS LAUNCHED!
A unique sister site of AmericanCatholic.org was launched this week, http://www.OnceCatholic.org, a "coming home" Web site for people who were "once" Catholic and want to reconnect with their Catholic experiences. Here is a safe interactive site inviting those who left active involvement in the Church because of marriage issues, not being spiritually nourished, quarrels with Church staff, difficulty with Church teaching or just drifting away. There are many stories and OnceCatholic.org hopes this new place on the Web will help these "once" Catholics connect again with their local Catholic faith community. Stop by and read the developing stories and then recommend it to anyone you know who was "once" Catholic. http://www.OnceCatholic.org

AMERICANCATHOLIC.ORG EXPANDS WITH NEW LOOK
http://www.AmericanCatholic.org, Web site of the Franciscan owned-and-operated St. Anthony Messenger Press, is proud to announce its new look and expanded features. Check out our new daily features including Catholic Daily Question and Catholic News. See our prayer intentions board, already brimming with requests. There's also a handy directory of how to get in touch with folks at St. Anthony Messenger.

 "WAY OF THE CROSS" VIDEO FEATURE:
AmericanCatholic.org offers "Way of the Cross" video excerpts to enhance your Holy Week prayer offerings. What a unique way to experience the final passion of Jesus. http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Features/Lent/

 THE JOHN PAUL II CULTURAL CENTER NOW OPEN!:
This month in St. Anthony Messenger Online, visit Washington, D.C.'s John Paul II Cultural Center. Faith influences everything, including how we see our world, other people and ourselves. This newly opened Center offers interactive exhibits--and much more. By Pat McCloskey, O.F.M. http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Apr2001/Feature1.asp

CATHOLIC MEDIA AND THE WEB
Check out the changing face of Catholic media and ask yourself: How long will some of these Web sites last? Visit: http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Apr2001/Web_Catholic.asp

WHERE DO YOU SPEND TIME ON THE WEB?
Do you have a favorite parish Web site (perhaps your own)? What Catholic media site do you visit frequently and recommend to friends? Or perhaps there is an inspirational Web site that draws you closer to God

Send your new Web site recommendations to webcatholic@franciscanmedia.org and check back see if they are included in an upcoming "Web Catholic"!

TAKE AN ONLINE POLL!
This month, "Every Day Catholic" readers are encouraged to answer: Which one of the following four qualities do you most associate with Jesus?: compassionate? self-confident? humble? forgiving? Click here and cast your vote this month: http://www.EveryDayCatholic.org/

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MASS FOR THE MASSES
Would you like to get more out of Mass? The Eucharist: A View from the Pew by Gerard P. Weber is aimed at those who go to Mass every Sunday with no special role, except as a member of the congregation. Offering his own perspective, Father Weber describes the meaning, or various takes on the meaning, of what actually occurs at Mass, taking the reader through the Mass step by step, from Entrance Song to Concluding Rite. Ideal for use in small groups of inquirers,new Catholics or Catholics who would like a fresh perspective on the Mass.

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CELEBRATE EASTER AT THE NEWLY REDESIGNED AMERICANCATHOLIC.ORG
Beginning on Holy Thursday and running all the way through Pentecost AmericanCatholic.org will be running its annual Easter to Pentecost feature, including weekly reflections, realaudio Sunday Soundbites by Franciscan Father Greg Friedman, Easter e-Greetings and a wealth of other resources. Check it out at http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Features/Easter/

EASTER CATHOLIC E-GREETINGS:
CatholicGreetings.org has e-Greetings this month for your Easter celebration. Visit sometime this month and see the unique FREE e-Greetings that celebrate special Catholic events: http://www.CatholicGreetings.org/

 QUESTIONS FOR EASTER:
In April, Fr. Pat's "Ask a Franciscan" answers questions about the seven readings at the Easter Vigil service and what "Maundy" from Maundy Thursday means. Find out more at http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Apr2001/Wiseman.asp. As always, please continue to submit your questions about the Catholic faith to "Ask a Franciscan."

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FRIAR JACK'S CHOSEN SITE:
Do you have opinions about parish life that you'd like to share with the U.S. Catholic bishops? Do you have thoughts about how you, a lay Catholic, should be involved with your Church? Do you like to fill out surveys? Online? Then the Bishops' Committee on the Laity asks you to visit their web site and fill out a survey. You have until May 13, 2001. Let your voice be heard! http://www.laysurvey.org

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CONCLUSION OF FRIAR JACK'S MUSINGS
Near the end of Father Jesús's e-mail, he pointed out another proof of the Internet's potential: "It made it possible for us to 'meet' after almost 30 years of separation." Yes, the Internet can help bring two old comrades and all citizens of the earth closer together.

Remember, however, that there was an another internet that existed prior to our modern day electronic Internet. It's known as the "Communion of Saints." It's an internet composed of the vine and the branches--the whole internet of human beings united with God, the source of all life. Those of us who are Christians, of course, embrace Christ as the vine in whom we, the branches, have life and unity.

Through the presence of the living God, you and I are immediately linked with each other and with all sisters and brothers throughout the world--and indeed with all creatures. No sooner do we ask God's loving help for a brother or sister--in the Philippines or in Sudan, for example--than it is done. The connection, the healing power is already there and at work.

Our modern day Internet can be for us the "sacrament of our unity," as one of my co-workers puts it--a holy tool for drawing each other into God and one loving family.

In more ways than one, this vision is inspiring new projects at AmericanCatholic.org. On March 29, we began a kind of worldwide prayer community. You can become part of this effort by clicking on Prayer Intentions, or going there directly: http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/PrayerIntentions/

Until next time let us strengthen our unity by praying for everyone in need--and with gratitude and praise to the One who sustains us all in the great Internet of Creation.

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

--Jack Wintz, O.F.M.


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