Quiet Corner
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The four Gospel accounts from Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written perhaps thirty, forty, even fifty years after the events which they relate actually occurred. These four accounts were written possibly in Jerusalem, maybe in Syria, perhaps in Rome or elsewhere. One or two of these narratives were destined for Jewish readership; the other two were destined for Greek, Roman and Gentile circulation. more
It is often reported that young adults don’t go to church, don’t marry and don’t vote. Any pastor can relate that young people disappear shortly after their Confirmation and return when it is time to get married or, more likely today, when they want their first baby baptized. The latest Pew Survey found that while church attendance is off, generally “the main reason for the decrease was due to millennials (18 to 35 year olds) leaving the church.” Pew researchers offer a similar bleak statistic regarding marriage: “If current trends continue, 25% of young adults in the most recent cohort (ages 25 to 34 in 2010) will have never married by 2030. That would be the highest share in modern history.” And the data from the US Census Bureau on voting is not much more encouraging: “In every U.S. presidential election from 1964 on, 18 to 24-year-olds voted at lower rates than all other age groups. In contrast, Americans 65 and older have voted at higher rates than all other age groups since the 1996 election.” more
The sad news from Pew Research Associates that the percentage of Rhode Islanders who claim to be Catholic has diminished to 42% is matched by the equally distressing information that the number of Rhode Islanders who have no religious affiliation at all has increased to 20 percent. more
The solemnity of Pentecost was a Jewish feast day long before Christians began to commemorate the powerful arrival of the Holy Spirit on the Church community at Jerusalem. And truth be told, the Jewish observance of this early summer festival certainly had agricultural roots in the fulfillment that farmers experienced as their early spring plantings came to fruition. This spring planting would have occurred seven weeks earlier around the time of the Jewish feast of Passover and the later Christian observance of Easter. Then the next two months would have coincided with the farmers’ anxious witness of the first sprouts, the lengthening stems, the hardy stalks, the ripe kernels and the successful harvest of sweet rye, wheat, and barley. From a human perspective, the festival that later became Pentecost was a celebration of natural fulfillment, completion, accomplishment. more
Father Joseph Egan was a long-time dogmatic theology professor at St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester, New York. It was always his contention that St. Luke wrote Acts of the Apostles in order to justify the missionary activity to the Gentiles by St. Paul in light of the prior if somewhat limited outreach to the Gentile world by St. Peter. By the time St. Luke was writing Acts, St. Peter’s stature within the Christian community was acknowledged and respected enough that any precedent St. Peter had initiated could justifiably be cited as reason for other followers of Christ, like St. Paul and St. Barnabas, to venture out into similar even if more extensive challenges and apostolates. Accordingly, St. Luke devotes an entire chapter of Acts to the conversion by St. Peter of the Gentile but God-fearing centurion Cornelius and his household. more
Believers are certainly not surprised to hear Jesus’ words proclaiming love as a principal pillar upon which the Christian life rests. Nor is the believer surprised to read the words of the sacred authors of the Gospels and epistles joining Jesus in his demand that love be central to all Christian activity. St. James writes, “However, if you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.” St. Paul joins him while writing to the Galatians, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And again the Apostle confirms this belief in writing powerfully to the Romans: “…whatever other commandments there may be, are summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.” The Gospel accounts of Saints Matthew, Mark and Luke are unanimous and unequivocal in placing love at the heart of the Christian message. St. Mark writes for all three when he records: “Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And for the Christian love is to be understood in its broadest sense: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” more
Every Sunday Catholics through the world along with a number of other Christians solemnly professes the venerable words of the Nicene Creed: “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” more
Perhaps no sacrament has evolved (or maybe the word should be devolved) over the centuries like the sacrament of Penance. And canonically it still is the sacrament of “Penance.” The official publication of the Catholic Church for the instruction of ministers confecting the sacrament is entitled “Ordo Paenitentiae,” i.e., the Order of Penance. The modern term “Reconciliation” is a mid-twentieth century application that ordinarily connotes equality between offending parties. more
As good and faithful Jews, Jesus and his closest disciples made careful preparations for the celebration of the Paschal meal – which, of course, would sadly be Jesus’ last supper. Joining St. Matthew and St. Mark, St. Luke carefully observes, “He sent out Peter and John, instructing them, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” A man they would meet would show them “a large upper room that is furnished.” They should make the preparations there. “Then they went off and found everything exactly as he had told them, and there they prepared the Passover.” When the four Gospel accounts of this Last Passover are read, along with St. Paul’s recollections, all of the traditional elements that even today comprise the Paschal Meal are mentioned. more
Recent articles have described St. Mark’s version of the Gospel as “a Passion account with an extended introduction.” One reference came from Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household and the other came from the lectors’ workbook published by Chicago’s Liturgy Training Program. With such diverse observers sharing the same perspective on St. Mark’s brief Gospel account, a closer look at the Passion of Christ according to St. Mark, which forms this coming Palm Sunday’s lengthy Gospel reading, is clearly in order. more
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