Marathon reading of Bible in the public square underway in Louisiana diocese

A marathon reading of the Bible is well underway in St. Martinville in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana. The “Jubilee of the Word” marathon in the town square is one of its events to close out the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which ends Sunday.

For the “Jubilee of the Word” marathon in St. Martinville, the Bible is being read publicly cover to cover without pause. It began yesterday at 6 a.m. (local time) and will ending on Sunday, the feast of Christ the King at 8 p.m. (local time).  Over 250 lectors from the Lafayette Diocese, joined by members of other faith communities, were scheduled to read for 20-minute intervals.

“This celebration of the Word will bring together Catholics, Baptists, nondenominational Christians and members of the Jewish faith for the purpose of proclaiming, reflecting on and marinating in the holy word of God,” said Father Michael Champagne, superior of the Community of Jesus Crucified.

The religious community, based in the Lafayette Diocese, is a prime sponsor of the event.

“People everywhere love to exercise. It’s important to stay in physical shape, which is why many people participate in Iron Man races, triathlons and marathons. And we wanted to provide a way for people to spiritually exercise,” said Father Champagne, who also is director of Fete-Dieu du Teche, an annual eucharistic procession along the Bayou Teche in Louisiana.

“We, as Catholics, are getting ready to close out the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and we wanted to do something to commemorate the closing of the floodgate of mercy and grace in an extraordinary way,” he continued. “Every page of the sacred Scriptures recounts God’s burning and fatherly love for us, and this will be a reminder of that love.”

Posted in CNS | 1 Comment

Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, Nov. 13, 2016

"He will rule the world with justice and the peoples with equity." -- Psalm 98:9

“He will rule the world with justice and the peoples with equity.” — Psalm 98:9


Nov. 13, Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) Malachi 3:19-20a

      Psalm 98:5-9

      2) 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12

      Gospel: Luke 21:5-19


By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

During my childhood, long before the days of downloadable music and satellite radio, there was vinyl (which, curiously, is making a comeback!). In our home, there was quite a collection of record albums, and my mother exposed us to the music of Schubert, Beethoven, Chopin and all the great composers.

My favorites were the symphonies, and I learned to pick out the various instruments — oboe, flute, trumpet, harp and tympani — that retained their distinct voices while combining in a beautiful, harmonious composition.

Indeed, the word “symphony” literally comes from the Greek words meaning “sounding together,” or a combination of different elements in harmony with one another.

Today’s psalm depicts the kind of symphony that resonates throughout all of creation as a result of the Lord’s coming to “rule the earth with justice.” Harp, trumpets and horns are complemented by the sounds of rivers clapping their hands and mountains shouting for joy.

But what does that symphony look like in terms of everyday living? St. Paul gives us a clue in his letter to the church at Thessalonica, when he contrasts “disorderliness” with the harmony of community life when its members perform their daily occupations conscientiously and peacefully.

When performing a musical score, the orchestra is responsible for conveying the composer’s vision while closely following the lead of the conductor through the various symphonic movements. Jesus cautions us about the importance of remaining faithful despite changing or alarming circumstances — not following deceptive counsel but focusing on his leadership.

We each have our own unique part to play in the Father’s vision of peace and justice. Let’s “keep calm and play on.”


Describe your experience of living in a community that is disorderly or disharmonious. What insights do today’s readings offer for the healing of such a community?

Posted in Word to Life

Concept of biblical jubilee comes to life

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi (CNS/Paul Haring)

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi (CNS/Paul Haring)

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi preferred that the focus wasn’t on him.

The real attention should be on the difficult work needed to protect poor people in developing nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America from predatory lending practices that deprive them of life’s necessities, he told a Capitol Hill dinner hosted by the Jubilee USA Network the evening of Nov. 10.

The archbishop accepted being named a Jubilee Champion by the Jubilee USA Network by saying people of faith must unite in solidarity with the world’s most vulnerable people by seeing their suffering.

He recalled how he learned what it means to help with development of a country when he served as apostolic nuncio to Ethiopia and Eritrea and later Djibouti.

“You can study it in school. There are courses on development. There are long debates (about development) in parliaments or the Congress of the U.S., but you need to go and see what a village is like,” he said, describing his work in bringing clean water to poor communities.

“Unless you participate in the actual life of the people you have a hard time to understand the needs and the aspirations of these communities,” said the archbishop, who retired in February as the Vatican observer to the U.N. agencies in Geneva and is credited for securing a key agreement on debt relief, tax policy changes and trade reform for developing countries.

Such experiential learning will bring greater understanding among people, he said.

“So all the efforts that people in Congress are making to build bridges instead of building walls becomes the real main road in which it is possible to build peace,” he continued. “Instead of enforcing with force concepts of public life, I think this kind of dialogue of reality is going to really transform society.”

Archbishop Tomasi was one of four Jubilee Champions honored for their work on debt relief efforts at the dinner. Others were Spencer Bachus, a former Republican member of Congress from Alabama who ushered legislation through Congress that led to more than $130 billion in debt relief; Kent Spriggs, a Florida attorney who was the lead author of “amicus curiae” brief spearheaded by Jubilee USA, signed by 80 faith-based organizations and filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in a 2014 case that helped Argentina block the predatory debt collection practices of a so-called “vulture fund”; and Ruth Messinger, former president of American Jewish World Service and co-founder of Jubilee USA 20 years ago.

Eric LeCompte, Jubilee USA Network executive director, said the four honorees were crucial to the organization’s success, but more importantly showed that their commitment can serve as a strong example of solidarity with the world’s poorest communities.

Jubilee USA is a network of more than 75 U.S. organizations, more than 650 faith communities and more than 50 worldwide partners. The organization embraces the biblical concept of jubilee, which calls for a year of liberation, wiping clean old debts and beginning a new period of equality and understanding.

The Vatican explains that the jubilee derives from the Hebrew word “jobel,” or ram’s horn. It was the ram’s horn that was used as a trumpet to announce the beginning of the jubilee year as described in the Book of Leviticus. Such years occurred every 50 years.

Posted in CNS

When tragedy hits, ‘Be there with the people’

Cubans pick up the pieces following the damage and havoc caused by Hurricane Matthew in Baracoa, Cuba, Oct. 6.

Cubans pick up the pieces following the damage and havoc caused by Hurricane Matthew in Baracoa, Cuba, Oct. 6. (CNS photo/Alejandro Ernesto/EPA)

What’s a bishop to do?

Even as the death toll from Hurricane Matthew in Haiti was climbing toward 800 in early October, the storm was hitting eastern Cuba as a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.

Days after the hurricane hit, Bishop Wilfredo Pino Estevez of Guantanamo-Baracoa spoke of the damage he saw: chaos, trees without leaves, houses without roofs. “All this horror was experienced in few hours, in the night of Oct. 4,” he said.

In a translation just obtained by Catholic News Service, the bishop spoke of what he asked his priests and nuns to do in the days after the hurricane:

A woman stands in a street near damaged homes Oct. 5 after Hurricane Matthew swept through Baracoa, Cuba. (CNS photo/Alejandro Ernesto, EPA)

A woman stands in a street near damaged homes Oct. 5 after Hurricane Matthew swept through Baracoa, Cuba. (CNS photo/Alejandro Ernesto, EPA)

— Be there with the people right where they are. To wipe away their tears. Raise their spirits. Give them some hope. Do what the apostles did and said: “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you.” (Acts 3:6)

— Give food to those who are hungry. By the way, yesterday, we picked up a man who was walking along the road looking for his family, and he confessed that he had not eaten anything or slept for two days. Fortunately, Caritas-Guantanamo staffers … are taking care of this case.

— The coordinators of every community had to make a list with the names of the persons that need help. There is a truck from the diocese transporting … all the donations: crackers, rice, beans, cooking oil, sardines, sausages, soaps, candles, detergent, matches, etc.

— Invite everyone to pray, like Moses did …. You can suggest any initiative about it. To say the rosary to the Virgin, consolation of the upset people, it could comfort in all these days.

— Don’t stop celebrating the Sunday Mass, especially in those places where the churches collapsed. I recommended to put away the rubble and use a table as a temporary altar and invite the faithful to bring an umbrella or something to cover their head for the sun or if it rains. We have to be clear on something that you all know: The building was destroyed but not the church.

He also spoke of things that gave him hope: Catholics and Protestants praying together; people looking at the bright side of things:

— The example of a motorcycle driver who was carrying a passenger. When the passenger tried to pay, the driver refused to accept the money. He did not want to take advantage of the situation of the disaster or the misfortunes of the others.

— When a convoy of utility workers from other provinces passed by … the chief of the electricians said, “Bishop, pray for us (because) we are working with electric current.”

Things are returning to normal now, but various Catholic groups are helping with recovery. You can find them here.

Cubans pick up the pieces following the damage and havoc caused by Hurricane Matthew in Baracoa, Cuba, Oct. 6. (CNS/Alexandre Meneghini, Reuters)

Cubans pick up the pieces following the damage and havoc caused by Hurricane Matthew in Baracoa, Cuba, Oct. 6. (CNS photo/Alexandre Meneghini, Reuters)


Posted in Latin America, weather disasters

Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, Nov. 6, 2016

"The King of the world will raise us up to live again forever." -- 2 Maccabees 7:9

“The King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.” — 2 Maccabees 7:9


Nov. 6, Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14

      Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15

      2) 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5

      Gospel: Luke 20:27-38


By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service

While reading this week’s Scriptures a song from the 2005 David Crowder Band album, “A Collision,” came to mind. One line in the song says, “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.” The reading from 2 Maccabees describes how many members of the Maccabee family were tortured and martyred by the occupying Greek army. To a person, they all welcomed death rather than violating their faith because they knew they would see God upon their death.

To be sure, this is an extreme situation and few of us will ever be required to choose faithfulness to Jesus over death, but the question all of us can ponder is: “How real to us is the prospect of eternal life?”

Years ago at a Bible study, my pastor asked for a show of hands of those in attendance who were ready to go to heaven that night. Of the 50 or so people in the room only a few people raised their hands.

Believing in the Resurrection is one thing, but the process of taking part in it can be less than appealing because, of course, it involves our death.

Last year at a young adult retreat, I listened as one of the participants was explaining how fearful she was about a particular situation. I said, “Worst case scenario is that you will die and get to see Jesus.” There was some laughter, but then the truth of my snarky comment began to settle in along with the realization that no matter what happens in this life, there is a greater, holier life that awaits us all.

A woman I worked with at my parish embodied this attitude and outlook on life. She was terminally ill and had the good fortune to be in her home as she passed to the next life. She had always said she wanted to die sitting up with her feet on the ground as though she had someplace to go, and that is exactly what happened.

Our faith calls us to the realization that we are destined to die, but it is not our ultimate destiny. Death is also a doorway to the presence of God.


Which do you think is harder, to die for your faith or to live every day like it is your last? Are you ready to die if Jesus called you home today?

Posted in Word to Life | 1 Comment

Pittsburgh bishop asks all churches to be open for prayer before Election Day

Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

PITTSBURGH (CNS) — Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh has asked every church in his diocese to be open for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament all day Nov. 7, so that people of faith can pray for the nation and the Nov 8 election.

“Let us pray that all people will vote in good conscience, seeking the common good and the dignity of all human persons, even when the choices before them seem neither good nor dignified. We must pray that, no matter what the results of the election, our people will work to build a civilization of love, hope and peace,” he wrote in an Oct. 27 letter to all pastors.

“Encourage your people to come before the Lord present in the Eucharist and ask for God to guide our nation and shape the consciences of its citizens. Pray for all of our political leaders, present and future, to support laws and promote programs that respect human life at every stage, promote peace among people and nations, care for God’s creation, preserve religious freedom and protect those who are the most poor and vulnerable,” Bishop Zubik wrote.

In his column in today’s issue of the Pittsburgh Catholic, he urges Catholics to “pray before you enter that voting booth.”

“A conscience rooted in true and open prayer will never let you down,” he writes. “Then vote as that Catholic conscience tells you. Vote in faith, hope and prayer this Tuesday. Vote as a faithful citizen.”

In the column he also talks about the flood of political ads this election season that he thinks “have helped to create an unprecedented level of distrust and division as Election Day approaches.”

“One side calls the other criminal; the other side declares many of the other’s supporters deplorable,” Bishop Zubik says. “We are going to need to go a long way to bring back any sense of unity, decency and harmony in our culture after Tuesday’s election, no matter the result.

As a bishop, he says,  in this presidential year more than any other, he has heard on a daily basis that he should speak out, “telling the faithful why they cannot vote for Donald Trump, or why they cannot vote for Hillary Clinton.”

“The church never — this bishop never — will tell you which candidate to embrace or which lever to pull or which button to press or which checkmark to mark in Tuesday’s election,” he said in his “Bridging the Gap” column, which he headlined “I’m David Zubik and I approve this message,” a takeoff on all the campaign ads in which candidates proclaim their approval for the ads. “But the church — and this bishop — will tell you,” he continued, “that you must consider all the critiques and weigh them with a Catholic perception, a Catholic focus and a Catholic conscience.

Posted in CNS

‘Carpool Karaoke’ parody is big hit in Illinois diocese

Two priests of the Diocese of Rockford, Ill., and their bishop are the stars of a new video making the rounds on the internet that parodies the “Carpool Karaoke” segments made famous by James Corden’s “The Late Late Show” on CBS.

According to the Rockford Register Star, the video was unveiled last Sunday at an annual youth summit in the diocese attended by 1,700 teens. Father Keith Romke and Father Kyle Manno pretend they’re driving to the summit. Halfway there (at about 3:50 into the video) they pick up their “boss,” Bishop David Malloy, to give him a ride. You can watch the whole thing here:

So far, the video has nearly 21,000 views. The paper called it a big hit with the teens.

Posted in youth | 14 Comments