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February 16, 2006 Edition

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Living the Scriptures
Faith Alive!
This week's readings
Pope's Prayer Intentions
Prayer for St. Raphael Cathedral

Now it springs forth: Do we recognize it?

photo of Fr. Eric Sternberg

Living the Scriptures 

with St. Paul University 
Catholic Center 

Fr. Eric Sternberg 

"Remember not the events of long past; the things of long ago consider not."

These are the stirring words that greet us at the beginning of this Sunday's readings. At least they should stir us up a little bit. For within this passage is a call for each and every person to something new and what is new is always exciting, always stirring.

Of course, in our modern day we are obsessed with what is new, what is the latest trend, what is fashionable. In this moment we should remind ourselves that the prophets, the prophet Isaiah above all, are not fashionable.

Seventh Sunday
in Ordinary Time
(Feb. 19, 2006)
Is 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25
Ps 41:2-3, 4-5, 13-14
2 Cor 1:18-22
Mk 2:1-12

When we hear the end of this reading - "It is I, I, who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses; your sins I remember no more." - we realize that the newness is to be within us. That is fulfilled in the person and ministry of Jesus Christ, the one who has power to forgive sins.

In the Gospel reading we might be surprised to see that Jesus is not primarily interested in healing the paralytic from his physical problems. Rather, Jesus is interested in the forgiveness of sins and only uses a physical healing to prove His divine authority and power.

In that moment we recall the words from Isaiah, "I who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses." It is the power of God, the holiness of God, the authority of God, the love of God that blots out sin. We here on earth, called to the Christian life, are to be reflections of His glory.

These readings should always stir us to look inward, to look deeper at the self and find what is there, the good and the bad. Our sins are not to be ignored or put to the side. Instead we must hold them to the Light, hold them to He who is the Light of the World. And we must never doubt His power to do so and in the way He has chosen.

Reflection questions

• Do I clearly understand that God's mercy is always ready for me, even in my darkest sin?

• Do I understand the power of Confession for healing in my own life and the lives of all those around me?

In the Gospel the scribes say, "Who has the power to forgive sins but God alone?" How many times in our day do people question the sacrament of Penance and doubt the power of the priest to bestow divine mercy onto repentant sinners. We must avoid the pride of the scribes and instead humble ourselves before the Lord in the person of His priests.

Mercy flows so greatly from this sacramental source and we should hear the Lord say, "Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" Indeed we do perceive it, and come humbly to that place where a new thing can be done in us, as individuals, parishes, a diocese, the whole Church.

Fr. Eric Sternberg was recently ordained a priest for the Diocese of Madison. He is Parochial Vicar at St. John the Baptist Parish in Waunakee.

St. Paul's Web site is www.stpaulscc.org

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Faith Alive!

Faith Alive! logo

In a Nutshell

  • Culture is a kind of template by which communities order their lives -- the social skin and bones in which human societies are embodied.

  • Faith at times invites us to honor and utilize culture. Other times, faith calls us to stand in opposition to culture.

  • Jesus is the model of one who maintained harmony between valuing culture's blessings and challenging its dark side.

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    Washington DC 20017
  •  Food for Thought
    How -- in what ways -- are Catholic Christians countercultural?

    How -- to what degree -- are Catholic Christians countercultural?

    These two questions often are raised in discussions of the stance the church's people should take toward their culture. I mention these questions because I think they help illustrate that there isn't an exact "recipe" for counterculturalism; there is more than one way to go about this.

    It seems one can be countercultural without being entirely countercultural. Pope John Paul II spoke often about culture's positive strengths.

    full story

    What does it mean to be "countercultural"?
    By Dan Luby

    Catholic News Service

    In a beef cattle town, a couple opens a vegan restaurant. A teenager from a long, proud line of military officers registers as a conscientious objector. A supervisor at a company renowned for collaboration promotes competition among employees in her department.

    Do actions such as these that buck prevailing values and customs serve as examples of being countercultural, or are they merely contrarian? It's a distinction that matters for followers of Jesus.

    full story 

    Christians and conterculturalism
    By Christopher Carstens, Ph.D.

    Catholic News Service

    The term "countercultural" was invented in the '60s to describe hippies. Back then, people liked to say that "Jesus was countercultural." Yes, he had long hair and a beard, but Jesus was not a hippie any more than he was a Democrat or a Republican. He was beyond our ordinary categories. He stood outside the values of his times and named them for what they were -- the good as well as the wicked.

    Christians are in the world, but not of it. This is hardly easy. We walk around with a bundle of assumptions about how people operate, what is valuable and what things mean. When a bundle of assumptions is shared by a large number of people, you call it a culture. Being "countercultural," in a positive sense, means standing back and evaluating those assumptions rather than just acting upon them.

    full story 

    The reshaped life of gratitude and generosity
    By Leisa Anslinger

    Catholic News Service

    On the bulletin board at my desk is a sketch my daughter gave to me a few years ago. It is a picture of bright sunshine, hills and trees, people smiling and a little town with shops and places for people to gather together. The title Carrie gave to her sketch is, "What We Have Without Notice." Alongside her illustration are the simple words of a folk song that often has moved me: "When we are living, we are in the Lord; when we are dying, we are in the Lord; for in our living and in our dying we belong to God."

    I reflect daily on what Carrie's sketch reminds me about, that we are abundantly blessed in ways we often do not acknowledge and that our lives should reflect Christ's life.

    full story

    Faith Alive! logo
     Faith in the Marketplace
    This Week's Discussion Point:

    Do you monitor your children's TV viewing? If so, how and why do you do so?

      Selected Response From Readers:  
    Copyright © 2006 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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    This week's readings

    Week of February 19 - 25, 2006

    Sunday, Feb. 19, 2006
    Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
    Reading I: Is 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25
    Reading II: 2 Cor 1:18-22
    Gospel: Mk 2:1-12

    Monday, Feb. 20, 2006
    Reading I: Jas 3:13-18
    Gospel: Mk 9:14-29

    Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006
    Reading I: Jas 4:1-10
    Gospel: Mk 9:30-37

    Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006
    Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle
    Reading I: 1 Pt 5:1-4
    Gospel: Mt 16:13-19

    Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006
    Memorial of Saint Polycarp, bishop and martyr
    Reading I: Jas 5:1-6
    Gospel: Mk 9:41-50

    Friday, Feb. 24, 2006
    Reading I: Jas 5:9-12
    Gospel: Mk 10:1-12

    Saturday, Feb. 25, 2006
    Reading I: Jas 5:13-20
    Gospel: Mk 10:13-16

    Pope's Prayer Intentions

    February General Intention

    End to human trafficking. That the International Community may be ever more aware of the urgent duty to bring an end to the trafficking in human beings.

    February Mission Intention

    Lay faithful. That in the Missions the lay faithful may recognize the need to serve their own country with greater commitment in its political and social life.

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    Prayer for St. Raphael Cathedral

    O God,
    Whose word is like fire,
    who spoke to Your servant Moses in the burning bush;
    who led Your people Israel out of bondage
          with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night:
    hear Your people as we call upon You
    in both need and gratitude.

    May the Cathedral fire purify Your Church
    in the Diocese of Madison
    so that our hearts may burn with the knowledge
          that Your Church is built upon the bedrock
    of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

    Through the intercession of Saint Raphael,
          Your messenger of healing,
    in union with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI,
    and with our Bishop, Robert C. Morlino,
    may we find comfort in our affliction
    and the courage to proclaim
          the Good News of Jesus Christ,
    who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
    one God forever and ever.


    For more prayer resources visit the Office of Worship's Web page at www.straphael.org/~office_of_worship/
    (Click on the link on the main page.)

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    Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
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