Excerpt from Pope Francis’ “Joy of the Gospel” #6

August 5, 2014

Dear Friends: I first want to invite you to join the discussion on this magnificent exhortation by Pope Francis, “Joy of the Gospel”. It is the signature document of his papacy. This document absolutely defines him and the new direction of the church. Make no mistake about this, we are all about to read excerpts from the single most important papal document since the Second Vatican Council.

I am presenting key excerpts from the document and asking you to comment. You simply need to enter your email address in the top right side of the homepage and you are a member. Members can comment on current and future articles and will receive future articles free.

Today’s excerpt is as follows: ” I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.

I am again fascinated by the bold invitation from the pope to all Christians, not just Catholics. He invites us each day to renew this encounter with Jesus. This is true evangelization. This is an example of how we should act.

Let me hear from you. Are you emboldened by this statement? Do you want to go into your world everyday and witness to Jesus’ saving love for you and for the whole world? Tell me your thoughts.

Sincerely, Dr. Nick

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Excerpt From Pope Francis’ “Joy of the Gospel” #5

August 4, 2014

Dear Friends:

Once again, I am extremely happy to share an excerpt from the papal exhortation and ask you for your thoughts and reactions. Today’s statement is from #2 of the document. It follows:

“Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.”

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced the feeling and loss of the power of God and His Spirit in your life when the human heart and spirit turns into itself and away from the cry of the poor?

I would like to hear from you. If you have read this and have been touched and called to reply, please enroll free in this discussion. You simply need to enter your email address in the upper top right side of the homepage and instantly you are connected. I would also invite you to read the “ABOUT” section. It will assist you in your sharing with the group.

Looking forward to your participation, Dr. Nick


Excerpt from Pope Francis’ Exhortation, “Joy of the Gospel” #4

July 30, 2014

Dear Friends: Over the past three evenings, I selected excerpts from areas of the papal exhortation that appeared interesting to me and which I felt would most likely interest you as well. However, after some thought, it seems more beneficial to proceed from the beginning of the exhortation and work our way through the entire document over the next few months.

It is my hope that our exploration of this beautiful and powerful document will provide spiritual benefits to us as individuals, to our faith communities and to the secular world searching for answers to life’s challenges.

I invite you to join in the conversation. Remember to enter the conversation, you simply need to enter your email address at the top right side of the homepage and “gusto” you are plugged in.

TODAYS EXCERPT IS THE OPENING PARAGRAPH #1
“THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by his joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.”

If I can add my observation, I am encouraged by this statement because the pope is saying that a new moment is being presented to us and to the Church. This new moment is “marked by joy” in evangelization. Amazing!!! The pope is asking us to enter into the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus with a spirit of “joy”. Our evangelization is not another thing to do or a chore to be embarked upon in our Christian journey. NO!!! Quite the opposite. If we enter this new moment with a spirit of joyfulness, the Spirit can increase in us and others the joy of the Lord and conversion to Jesus.

Love to hear from you. God Bless, Dr. Nick


Excerpt from Pope Francis’ Exhortation “Joy of the Gospel” #3

July 29, 2014

Dear Friends: You might have noticed that I give high marks to Pope Francis for his beautifully written exhortation to all of us on the reformation and renewal of our Catholic Christian lives. My purpose is to share an excerpt from this exhortation each day and then to invite you to share with the rest of us your thoughts and experiences related to the message the pope encourages us to live out in our daily lives.

Your sharing and mine are great ways to exhort ourselves and others to experience and witness to the commonality of all of our lives. Basically we are all experiencing similar struggles and temptations. By sharing you and I add to the fabric of others’ experiences and grow, as well, in our individual lives. Our growth adds to the growth of the wider community and , hopefully, to the wider world. So Peace be with all of you. Please participate.

TODAY’S EXCERPT: TAKEN FROM SECTION #2 “PASTORAL ACTIVITY AND CONVERSION” #28

” We must admit, though, that the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented”

My response is WOW!!!. This sentence says a lot about church. Can you see this??? What is church all about?? Are we doing it in the right way?? Are we touching the lives of people in their real situations???

I can not answer these questions along. I personally invite all the “Good People and the Good Priests” to leave our comfort zones and begin a conversation. The moment is ripe. The Spirit is sounding the call to unity and renewal. Let’s respond.

Once again, in order to participate freely, please and simply enter your email address in the top upper right side of the homepage and you are an active participant.

I honestly look forward to hearing and sharing with you. Nothing shared is a mistake.

God’s Love, Dr. Nick


Excerpt from Pope Francis’ Exhortation “Joy of the Gospel” #2

July 28, 2014

Dear Friends: For those of you who have not followed my educational forum in the past, this article is the second in a series on the recent exhortation of Pope Francis, “The Joy of the Gospel” (Evangelli Gadium). “The Joy of the Gospel” is a bold call to a new moment in the church. Pope Francis addresses many facets of the Christian person, church and community life, and the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ to a modern world and a church that needs reform.

Pope Francis uses the term “reform” many times when referring to changes needed in ourselves, church structures and the Catholic culture that has become “comfortable”. Typically, the church has used the term “renewal” in an effort to avoid confusion with the Protestant Reformation. However, Pope Francis seems to be unfettered by the term “reform”, so I will feel free to use it as well.

For today’s discussion, I will focus on Section II # 25 of the exhortation titled, “PASTORAL ACTIVITIES AND CONVERSION”. This title summaries the pope’s entire focus. In this section, Pope Francis strongly states, ” I hope that all communities will devote the necessary effort to advancing along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are. ‘Mere administration’ (a quote from the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops, Aparecida Document, 29 June 2007, 201) can no longer be enough. Throughout the world, let us be ‘permanently in a state of mission'(IBID) “.

These are bold and strong words from the pope. He is moving the church which includes many different expressions and communities from their present mode of Christian living to a new moment of permanent evangelization. There is no question that Pope Francis definitely walks the walk in this mindset.

I would like to hear from you. What do you think about this statement from the pope? What has to happen to make his exhortation possible? What role do you see yourself participating in this new evangelization?

I hope those of you who read this article will share in some meaningful way. To participate, if you are not already a participant, you simply need to enter your email address at the top right side of the home page and, magic, you are involved. We will notify you about future articles automatically.

Finally, I would like to advise you to also read the “ABOUT” section on the home page. It will provide additional information about the forum and preferred ways to share.

God Bless, Dr. Nick


Excerpt from Pope Francis’ Exhortation “Joy Of the Gospel” #1

July 27, 2014

My friends, I would like to share a few statements from Pope Francis’ exhortation, “Evangelii Gadium” (The Joy of the Gospel). He encourages us to get out of our comfort zones and to go out to the “peripheries”. More impressively he instructs us that “Everyone, however lowly, is a gift and has wisdom” and even more direct than that to “take on the smell of the sheep”.

In my own personal life, my wife Camille and I have worked with the homeless for the past ten years. Our main experience has been in supporting the homeless families as overnight hosts. It has been a pleasure to serve them.

I would love to hear from you about your thoughts on the pope’s statements above as well as your experiences in helping the unfortunate.

If you have not subscribed as a participant in this educational forum, it is absolutely FREE and easy. You just need to indicate your email address in the upper top right of the forum. From there you will be able to actively share and receive future messages.

I look forward to reading your comments. Remember, your comments do not have to be perfect, just be yourself. Finally, please read the “ABOUT” section on the home page. It will further help you in sharing with the rest of us.

God Bless, Dr. Nick


A married priest again ordained

March 2, 2014

This article was written by Jennifer Brinker for the Catholic News Service. Please read it and share your thoughts about married priests. I would enjoy hearing from you. Dr Nick.
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St. Louis — Fr. Wissam Akiki is the first married man to be ordained a priest for the U.S. Maronite Catholic Church.

On Feb. 27, with permission granted by Pope Francis, Bishop A. Elias Zaidan of the U.S. Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon ordained the married deacon at St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral in St. Louis.

“It is a blessing and an honor to officiate over any ordination, and especially so at this historic ordination of the first married man to enter the priesthood in the United States of America for the Maronite Church,” Zaidan said in a statement issued before the ordination.

“I join our Holy Father, our Maronite patriarch, my fellow bishops and priests throughout the world in our prayer for priestly vocations,” he said.

Akiki studied for the priesthood at Holy Spirit University in Lebanon, Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary in Washington and the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis. He is married to Manal Kassab and they have a daughter, Perla.

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The Maronite Church is among 22 Eastern Catholic churches that are in union with Rome. The spiritual heritage of the Maronite Church is traced to a fourth-century hermit, St. Maron.

These Eastern churches have an ancient tradition of allowing married men to become priests, although since the 1920s the practice generally has not been permitted in the United States, according to a press release from St. Raymond’s Cathedral.

St. Raymond’s statement also noted that having a married priesthood should in no way “detract from the value that the church finds in the vocation to celibacy. The celibate priesthood continues to be highly esteemed. We need to always keep in mind that it is a vocation to be married and a vocation to be a priest.”

In the Latin-rite Catholic Church, including in the United States, celibate priesthood has been the normal practice, explained Msgr. Michael Witt, professor of church history at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. The Council of Trent, he said, realized that celibacy within the priesthood was a church discipline.

“In other words, the church says that she wants her priests to be celibate so that we priests then stand in for Christ at the altar and also beyond the altar,” Witt told the St. Louis Review, newspaper of the St. Louis Archdiocese. “There is a marriage bond between the clergy and the church just as there is a marriage covenant between the church and Christ. And we as priests are supposed to image that.”

Eastern Catholic churches traditionally have dealt with the issue of married priests in a different way.

In 692 during the Council of Constantinople, also known as the Council in Trullo, Witt said, the council fathers “acknowledged the legitimacy of a married clergy, but it is highly restricted.”

“A (married) priest is not allowed to be a bishop — in fact most bishops (in the Eastern Church) are monks and they must be celibate. And if you’re ordained a priest and you’re not married, then you’re expected to remain celibate the rest of your life,” he explained.

“The important thing to remember about celibacy in Roman Church is that it is a covenantal relationship between the individual priest and the church itself,” Witt said. “The priest is standing in for Christ — the ‘alter Christus’ — and he stands in for Christ not only when he is performing the sacraments, but in a much broader sense than that. We are really married to the church in a unique kind of way.”


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