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Latin America collection
On behalf of the Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America, I would like to express my gratitude to Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, and the Diocese of Oakland for the generous contribution of $41,125.72 to the 2013 Collection for the Church in Latin America (CLA).
As a result of your diocese's continued generosity, the subcommittee was able to award a total of 393 grants amounting to $5,548,716 in pastoral grants in 2013.
These projects included the formation of seminarians and religious, the development of youth ministry projects and the support of pastoral ministry activities.
The 2014 campaign highlights the call to share our faith. Catholics in Latin America and the Caribbean face many challenges when it comes to living and sharing their faith; yet the light always shines through and hope arises.
Without you, our solidarity could not take shape into concrete programs that support and spread the faith among the people of Latin America, a faith that is now bearing fruits in the person of our Holy Father Francis. On behalf of the subcommittee and those who benefit from the Collection, I offer you my humble thanks.
Most Rev. Eusebio L. Elizondo,
Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle
Chairman, USCCB Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America
"I shall no longer call you servants ... I call you friends …" John 15:15. With these words, Jesus establishes a new relationship with God's children. But the New Testament is not really new in that from days of old, Our Lord calls us into a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Him. "Like a young man marrying a virgin, your rebuilder will wed you, and as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so will your God rejoice in you." Isaiah 62:5
Our Catechism teaches that Christ claims the Church as His beloved bride, CC 796, 808. Some might wrongly think that we must act a certain way to "earn" God's love. But anyone in a healthy marriage understands that true love accepts the other with all her wounds and blemishes. The loving spouse only hopes his beloved will freely choose to return his love.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter teaches that love is a decision. We freely choose to give ourselves to the other, be it to a friend, a child or to God.
Some in the pro-life movement think we need the state to dictate a format to develop family relationships. But I believe that forcing a woman to love another is a sin of the worse kind. It destroys God's give of Love and replaces it with bureaucratic legalism. Only God can command His people to love. And even so, God woos us, and never forces us to love in return.
The soul never dies
One of the first prayers we are taught as children, "Now I lay me down to sleep," tells us early on that we pray for our souls for God to take when our human bodies die. I do not understand when people place the emphasis on ones' mortal body as what God redeems.
If indeed we are practicing Catholic Christians and Christians of all denominations then we should know instinctively when to let go. Shame, shame on those who exploit those who are confused and grieving and perpetuate the idea that the human body lives forever by insisting one feed or ventilate a body that is a corpse. The Church as well as the scientific community recognizes death as when the brain no longer functions. Artificially the heart may beat as long as it is ventilated. (Most often this is done to harvest organs after one has died.)
If we could go back to the innocence of our childhood and simply remember that the human body is only a vessel in which the soul lives while it is on earth, then perhaps we can better understand the process of the soul during the event of death.
" ... If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord, my soul to take."
The death experience is the same as the birth experience. The body along with the soul takes its first breath to live on earth. The soul, having been cleansed through Baptism, shortly after death, takes a second breath to return to Heaven and to live for all eternity. Therefore, the soul, (our souls), never dies.
Grief is the human process of letting the human part of our self go. Often we forget that we need to rejoice in the returning of the soul, (of us), back to heaven. We forget to rejoice for the soul continuing its (our), life.
I've been appalled at some recent Forum letters urging priests (and lay ministers?) to deny Communion to those they would brand as sinners. Seems a bit quick to reach for that stone. Whether public officials taking stands opposed to traditional Catholic teaching (e.g. abortion) or regular folks who seemingly act contrary to Church positions on premarital sex, contraception, remarriage without annulment, etc., who has the right to interpret someone else's conscience? Or, as a man named Francis put it: "Who am I to judge?"
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