Friar Jack Takes It Easy This Month
Last month's Musings, "Letting God Love Us" seemed
to really strike a nerve in many of you. In fact, so many of
you replied with wonderful and quotable responses that I can
almost take a free ride this month! In this issue, you'll do
most of the talking. (If you missed last
month's issue, you can find it in our archives.)
What struck many of you was this thought: "Leading a good
life is not the CAUSE of God's loving and saving me, but its
CONSEQUENCE." Back in the 70's, some Christians expressed
a similar idea with this bumper-sticker theology: "We don't
need to be good in order for God to love us. God loves us, and
therefore we can be good!" It's all a matter of RESPONDING
to God's amazing goodness!
But let's hear it in your words.
Dear Friar Jack,
I once heard that if we find upon the earth the person who most
loves us, this is just the beginning of God's love for us. In
growing up, I too perceived God as very punitive. It is my belief
that Vatican II was the "love explosion" within the
Church. Before that many of the themes conveyed about God were
centered around his punishment or his suffering for us, with
very few exploring his all encompassing, unconditional, never
The message I received "in Church" was never that
I was powerless and that God was the Power. I thought I had
to do it all myself and, if I didn't, then God would get me.
I don't live in this mindset anymore. I would hope, dear Friar,
that you can share that God isn't out to get us and that he
sees us as he created us to be.
Thank you so very much for explaining to this thick-headed,
not-so-devout Catholic about God's happy love. I am nearly 50
years old and carried around in my heart a doom and gloom idea
of God. After I got into AA, I discovered that my God is a loving
and non-threatening God who only wants me to be happy. All my
years in Catholic grade school left me with such a fear of God
that I thought I was just a hopeless sinner and that God surely
was going to send me to hell. In my adult life I searched continually
for my God and finally when I got sober I realized that God
had always been with me...loving me and caring for me and only
wanting happiness and joy for me. I investigated other faiths,
but through the years they never gave me the inner warmth I
felt when I went to Mass (occasionally) or said the rosary.
You are the FIRST Catholic to explain about God's unconditional
love and how the commandments fit into that love. Thank you
for this gift.
Your wondrous outpouring continues at the end of this e-newsletter.
ARE YOUNG ADULT CATHOLICS COMING BACK?:
Although Church participation by young adults has waned in parts
of this country, three thriving Chicago parishes provide a model
for others. In the St. Anthony Messenger article, "Young
Adult Catholics: Are They Coming Back?," Theresa Carson
interviews priests and parishioners at each of these vibrant
parishes. She discovers that if you want to see more young adults,
you can begin by getting rid of singles groups and committees.
What do YOU think?
ONCE CATHOLIC SEEKER FINDS FORGIVENESS:
There have been many stories posted at OnceCatholic.org since
it was launched in March. Here's the ending to one such exchange
with a companion: "I know now that I am on the road of
recovery. Thank you so much for this website. Without it, I
would have never found true happiness and forgiveness from God.
Thank you for being there." Stop by OnceCatholic.org and
read the rest of the story:http://www.OnceCatholic.org
CAST YOUR VOTE ONLINE:
Read about Edith Stein, a 20th-century saint, at http://www.EveryDayCatholic.org/#Saints.
Then take the poll: I can celebrate the memory of Edith Stein
by 1) reading about and meditating on her life 2) praying to
her for courage to face the challenges in my life 3) imitating
her fidelity to God's will 4) learning more about the sufferings
of victims of the Holocaust. Check poll results at "Every
Day Catholic" this month:
SUFERING FROM "INBOX FATIGUE"?:
E-mail newsletters bring the Web directly to your inbox. Find
helpful onesand perhaps a way to control the overload:
PRAY THE ROSARY IN AUGUST
Purchase the audiocassette Mysteries
of the Rosary this month in honor of the Feast of the
Assumption. In this recording, the St. Anthony Messenger Press
staff prays the rosary as an aid for your prayer. We focus on
the Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries. You are invited to dwell
on the special life events of Christ and of his Mother, Mary,
as related in Scripture and reflected in the liturgical year.
CATHOLIC E-GREETINGS FOR MARY:
Stop by CatholicGreetings.org this month and celebrate the Feast
of the Assumption of Mary. Send our "Mary's Flowers"
e-Greetings to encourage further devotion:
WHY SHOULD A CATHOLIC PRIEST CARE ABOUT SEXUALITY?:
"I want all teenagers to be holy, happy and healthy. Your
life, your body and the gift of your sexuality are precious
gifts from our loving God." Read more in this month's Youth
Update, "Sexuality: A Gift With Strings Attached"
by Rev. Gary Bagley.
"ASK A FRANCISCAN"
Find answers to questions about whether to help a spouse become
Catholic, who is Mary Magdalene, do Catholics speak in tongues,
can the tattooed distribute Communion, and the meaning behind
the phrase "but only say the word and I shall be healed".
As always, please continue to submit your questions about the Catholic faith to "Ask a Franciscan."
FRIAR JACK'S CHOSEN SITE:
The Irish Jesuits invite you each day to their "Sacred
Space" where you can spend 10 minutes, praying here and
now, as you sit at your computer, with the help of on-screen
guidance and Scripture chosen specially every day.
FRIAR JACK'S MUSINGS, continued from above:
Once again, the theme is God's unconditional love, and you all
writing this month!
Jim had this to share:
I liked your words about God's will and our response to it.
I teach a Confirmation class for teens and teach them (about
the Bible) that the Old Testament is a book about God's tremendous
love for his wayward tribe. We need to be reminded that God
freed the Israelites before he taught them how to behave and
what to do. It is always God's chosen way to deal with us.
A Lutheran couple indicated their appreciation of my stress
on"response-ability" rather than a stress on a dreary
responsibility. Friar Jack's response to our Lutheran friends
is: I believe this stress (on grace rather than works) is a
gift from Martin Luther and his followers. Thank you!
Finally, Joe gives us the perfect conclusion to our discussion
with a touch of humor:
Dear Friar Jack:
It's so unfortunate that so many of us, taught in parochial
schools in the 40s and 50s learned almost exclusively about
our responsibilities! I smile when Garrison Keillor on his Saturday
evening NPR program, gently teases when he talks about "Our
Lady of Perpetual Responsibility" Parish in Lake Wobegon.
Thanks so much for putting the emphasis where it belongs.
Keep those e-mails coming! I welcome your comments and suggestions:
Jack Wintz, O.F.M.
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