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.


Pat writes:

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 ending love.


Patricia writes:

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.


Carol writes:

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.

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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?
http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Aug2001/Feature2.asp

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:
http://www.EveryDayCatholic.org

SUFERING FROM "INBOX FATIGUE"?:
E-mail newsletters bring the Web directly to your inbox. Find helpful ones—and perhaps a way to control the overload:
http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Aug2001/Web_Catholic.asp

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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.


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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:
http://www.CatholicGreetings.org/Flowers/

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.
http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Newsletters/YU/ay0801.asp

"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".
http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Aug2001/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:
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.
http://www.jesuit.ie/prayer/

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FRIAR JACK'S MUSINGS, continued from above:

Once again, the theme is God's unconditional love, and you all did the
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.


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Keep those e-mails coming! I welcome your comments and suggestions:
friarjack@franciscanmedia.org.

 

—Jack Wintz, O.F.M.


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