Monday, January 31, 2005

Reactions to my talk at Mass

For those who were at either the 5:30 or 7:30 pm Mass last night at St Stephen's, please leave any comments or questions about the brief talk that I gave (after Communion) on the Eucharist here this week. Your HONEST feedback will be very helpful to this future homilist!

Reactions to "Miracles" video

We had a great turnout for the video, "Miracles of the Eucharist", last night at St Stephen's. And, great discussion! Some stayed until almost 11 pm for an impromptu, "spirited", dialogue. Thanks to all who came out! Thanks again, too, to all who helped me!!

Please post any thoughts, reflections, or questions about the video/discussion here this week.

One of the questions that arose was about the context of the Eucharist. In other words, what is the big picture about the Eucharist (the Body and Blood of Jesus)? Well, there's too much to say about it here, but check out a section (# 1365) from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he 'poured out for the forgiveness of sins'(Matthew 26:28)".

Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross and his Resurrection, then, are our means to salvation (how we get to Heaven). "For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and humanity, himself a human being, Christ Jesus, who offered himself as a ransom for all." (1 Tim 2:5). Christ's Body and Blood on the Cross is re-presented in the Eucharist: "the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world" (Jn 6:51).

So, as one person asked, what is the big deal about the Eucharist? The big deal is that the Eucharist is our ticket to Heaven: "anyone eats this bread will live for ever" (Jn 6:58).

As I said last night, the only places in the world where a person can truly eat this bread, "the bread which comes down from heaven" (Jn 6:50), is in a Catholic or Orthodox Church. That's a loaded statement which I will explain further if anyone wants...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Your questions

Free Chipotle dinner for GW students and young adults: Thursday, Jan. 27, 5:30, Parish Hall (1011 25th St., NW). 100 burritos provided by Chipotle! Also, a raffle for gift certficates to local businesses that range from $25 - $60. Proceeds go to Young Adult Ministry at St Stephen's. Please join us, and spread the word.


Contest for gift certificates (see Jan. 17 post for contest rules):
1. $ 100 - Comfort One Shoes, Georgetown Park. Answer one or both of the questions from the Dec. 7 post, "Awesome", and have your name entered into the contest. Winning name to be announced after the 5:30 Mass, 1/30/05, Parish Hall.

2. $ 100 - Blackie's restaurant, 22nd & M St. Answer one or both of the questions from the Dec. 7 post, "Awesome", and have your name entered into the contest. Winning name to be announced after the 7:30 Mass, 1/30/05, Parish Hall.


GW and young adult bloggers,

If this blog site is a bit overwhelming or confusing to you, please let me simplify and clarify a few things:

- the main reason for this site is to help you in your faith in Jesus Christ and in His Church

- I know that you all have tons of questions, and want you to feel free to ask them ('what is Heaven like?', e.g.); it would be great if you posted questions, and we can all try to answer them
- if you want to post a question or comment, go to the bottom of any of my posts or others', and click on comments. Then, you "post a comment" by either opening a free account (enter username and password) or 'post anonymously'. The ones who have opened an account and posted on here have said it's not too much of a problem. Whatever's easier for you!
- you can bypass posting on here, and e-mail me directly with your questions or comments. Go to the top right of the main page, click on "view my complete profile" for my address.

- If you can participate in the contests, great. If it seems too hard to follow, then just participate in any way you can.

- Don't be afraid to post! One of your questions or comments could really help someone else.

In any way that I can help you, please let me know here, or via e-mail. Thanks for letting me be a part of the most important relationship in your life.

In Christ,

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The tsunami - why?

Contest for gift certificates (see Jan. 17 post for contest rules):
1. $50 gc - Primi Piatti restaurant, 2013 I St, NW. Answer the question (or make a new question) from the Dec. 14th post, "Christ dwells in me", and enter your name into the contest. Winning name to be drawn after the 5:30 Mass, 1/30/05, Parish Hall.

2. $50 gc - Third Edition restaurant, Georgetown. Answer the questions (or make a new question) from the Dec. 7th post, "Awesome", and enter your name into the contest. Winning name to be drawn after the 7:30 Mass, 1/30/05, Parish Hall.
One question that can come out of a terrible tragedy like the tsunami in Southeast Asia is "why would God allow this to happen?" I have read what many of the Hindus whose lives have been devastated have said: 'God did this to us because of our lack of faith'. While I could never fathom the suffering of these peoples, I think it is good to see how the Christian approach to this difficult question is somewhat different from theirs.

Catholic teaching tells us that suffering and death are the natural results of sin. The cause of the tsunami (and any other natural disaster) is something that occurred many, many years ago and has afflicted the entire human family: original sin.

"death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned" (Romans 5:12).

Before the Fall, Adam and Eve lived in paradise. God's masterpiece of creation was in perfect order ("Thus heaven and earth were completed with all their array" -Gen 2:1). But, when they said the first 'no' to God, thus committing the first sin, they upset the order of creation that God willed. God never willed sin, suffering, or death.

"For God did not make Death, he takes no pleasure in destroying the living." (Wisdom 1:13)

Not only did human nature fall from its original state of grace, but nature itself was set into chaos that we still see the effects of today. Paradise was lost.

How does God feel about all of the human suffering that results from sin and evil, especially to innocent victims? How does He feel about the innocent victims of the tsunami?

"May my eyes shed tears night and day, unceasingly, since the daughter of my people has sustained a fearsome wound, a crippling injury" (Jer 14:17).

Ultimately, God's answer to the question of suffering comes in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. The Father loves the Son more than we can ever imagine, and yet he allowed even Christ to suffer tremendously on the Cross. 'But, why, Jesus never sinned?'

"For our sake, he made the sinless one a victim for sin" (2 Cor 5:21)

"his purpose in dying for all humanity was that those who live should live not any more for themselves but for him who died and was raised to life" (2 Cor 5:15)

In other words, Christ has redeemed us through his suffering, death, and resurrection. Anyone who imitates him and suffers for the sake of love, especially as an innocent victim in Southeast Asia, joins in the work of saving the world*.

* Read Col 1:24. Are you familiar with this verse? What do you think about it? Is St Paul saying that there is something lacking in Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Contest rules for gift certificates

We will be having many contests at St Stephen's this semester for GW students and young adults to win some cool gift certificates to local restaurants and shops.

Here are the rules for the contests:

1. How to enter:
a. Participate in this blog site

With new posts/contests each week on this blog site, you'll be asked to participate in this Q & A in specific ways. For every relevant and appropriate answer (or even a new question) that you give, your name will be entered in that week's contest.

b. Come to the drawings

The names of the contest winners will be drawn at the start of the Sunday night discussion groups in St Stephen's Parish Hall. Each person who shows up for the drawing will have his/her name entered once.

c. Purchase chances

Any person at the Sunday night drawings can purchase additional chances. Proceeds will go to Young Adult Ministry at St Stephen's. {Note: in addition to the contests, other gift certificates will be raffled off at each monthly dinner at St Stephen's - e.g., Jan. 27, dinner by Chipotle in Parish Hall. Dinners will be announced on this web site}

2. Answers or questions can be posted anonymously, but your name must appear somewhere in your comment. The deadline for answers to be included in each contest is 12:00 am on the day of the contest drawing.

3. Winners must be present at contest drawings to win.

4. Contests are only for GW students and DC young adults.

5. The contests will end if any gift certificate winner or guest of a winner significantly misrepresents himself, St Stephen's, the Newman Center, or GWU during his visit to the respective place of business that has been so generous to donate the certificate. Then, the remaining gift certificates will be given to other parish groups.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Jesus in the Confessional

I will try to answer the questions from the "your sins are forgiven" post and I encourage anyone to do so (GW students can still answer and be entered in the free lunch contest). Too bad I can't win the free lunch!
1. I think many of us Catholics find it difficult going to Confession because it's not easy to admit when we've sinned, especially in a serious way. The keys for me have always been that a) it is Jesus in the Confessional, b) He knows all of my sins already, and c) confessing them to Him is the sign that I am truly sorry for them and don't want to commit them any more.

2. We need to go to a priest in the Sacrament of Penance for mortal sins, mainly. That's why our Lord instituted this sacrament (John 20:20-23). Our venial sins can be forgiven outside the sacrament (the Eucharist, a sincere Act of Contrition, etc.), but forgiveness of mortal sins is reserved for Penance for the following main reasons:
- we receive God's sanctifying Grace in Penance (can't get that on our own)
- our sins are taken to the Cross of Christ and forgiven in Penance in a way that we can't do on our own
- we know we are forgiven (we hear that our sins have been absolved by Christ)
- Christ's Grace in Penance heals us and gives us the strength to overcome the sins in the future
- the priest can give us advice on how to avoid the sins in the future

Another way of understanding the need for Confession is to look at when we sin against each other. When we seriously sin against our neighbor, it is necessary for us to go directly to him/her to be forgiven. For example, if I lied to a buddy of mine about a serious matter and then have a change of heart and want to be forgiven, I can either choose to tell him about it and ask for forgiveness or simply assume that he will forgive me. If I choose to tell him directly what I did, it is more difficult but I hear from him that I've been forgiven. If all things have been fully restored, our friendship is whole again and actually even stronger.

If I just assume that he will forgive me, I choose the easier (and cowardly) route but I don't know that he has forgiven me. Actually, if I don't confess to him, he can't forgive me. How can he forgive me if he hasn't heard my sin and that I'm sorry about it? Our friendship is still broken and wounded, and not as strong as it would appear. Many years may go by with the wound still there; like any wound, it begins to grow over time unless it is
properly treated.
In Confession, the priest acts in persona Christi - we tell our sins directly to Christ.

3. Jesus gives the power to the Apostles to forgive sins at Pentecost in St. John's Gospel (20:20-23).
What is the difference between a mortal sin and a venial sin?
What are some examples of mortal sins? Venial?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Lunch for two?

GW bloggers: Want a free lunch for 2 at a very nice French bistro in Georgetown? Just answer any or all of the 3 questions from last week's post ("your sins are forgiven") and your name will be entered in the contest. Winner will be announced at the "8:30 Club" on Sunday night, January 23, 2005.

- Answers are to be entered as comments to last week's post. Comments should be posted as "anonymous", but student's name needs to appear with the answers.
- Winner must be present on 1/23/05 to win.
- Contest for GW Catholic students only.
- Your name will be entered for each question you answer (max. of 3).
- Appropriate and relevant answers only.
- The only catch is that the lunch must be used before January 31, 2005.