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EPISODE #295
EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT: BISHOP KEVIN VANN ON THE JOY OF CHRISTMAS

It has become a holiday tradition to have our very own Bishop Kevin Vann join Deacon Steve Greco in the radio studio. On this podcast, the Bishop catches us up on some of the latest goings-on at Christ Cathedral; and, he shares some fascinating stories of some of his favorite Christmas traditions.

Tune in for a wonderful, heartfelt conversation! 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 12/26/21

A PEACEFUL 2019 TO YOU

 

No matter where we look, peace is a rare commodity. How then can the new year be more peaceful? 

Start the year with avoiding certain behaviors and doubling up on civility. 

St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians often deals with adversity in his communities. Stop your strife and avoid jealousy, he counseled. 

Jealousy is worrying about someone taking something from me, spawning over possessiveness. This is difficult to curb, given that we live in a culture that prompts us to get it now; don’t deny yourself; be more protective and hold on to what you have. 

Ironically, the more possessions we have, the greater fear we have of losing them. Fear and worry are often about losing possessions and status. 

St. John Paul II often quoted Christ: “Be not afraid.” And as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Both knew the stranglehold fear can have on us. 

At times, fear can be useful in creating a scare in a person who needs a scare to change. But today, we live in such a fear-driven society that it is detrimental to humanity. It causes people to be overly protective; to think of me and not thou, creating coldheartedness. 

2019 is a time to check our fear level and seek its causes and influences on us so that we can know what to avoid. 

St. Paul points us what to do in 2019 in his concept of a unified community: Increase civility so that it makes another feel at home with us. Civility goes beyond friendly words. It is a respectful disposition toward another. 

Focusing on “thou” denotes respect and a desire for hearts coming together. It makes us seek the uniqueness of a person and to want to be one with him or her. 

No doubt that in 2019 fear will be used to manipulate society into being more protective, and respect and considering the God-given uniqueness of the persons in our life will be considered a secondary necessity. Reversing this is exactly what will make 2019 a success.

 

– Father Eugene Hemrick writes for the Catholic News Service column “The Human Side.”

EPISODE #178
EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT: NEW CREATIONS IN CHRIST

Today is our very special new year’s program featuring Deacon Steve Greco and a very special member of the Spirit-filled Hearts ministry team, Katie Hughes.

According to Deacon Steve, 2019 is going to be a year of MIRACLES.

Tune in and be inspired! 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 1/6/19

 

POPE PRAYS FOR NEW YEAR MARKED BY TENDERNESS, BROTHERHOOD, PEACE

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A new year is a chance for a new start, a time to remember that all people are brothers and sisters and a time to nurture amazement that God became human to save all people, Pope Francis said.

The Jan. 1 feast of Mary, Mother of God, also is a time to remember how strong maternal love and care are, and how they are the secret to making life more livable, the pope said during his homily at a feast day Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Catholic Church also marks Jan. 1 at World Peace Day, an observance the pope spoke about when, after Mass, he recited the Angelus with tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square. So many people were in the sunny square that Pope Francis remarked, “It seems like a canonization,” which usually is when the square is full.

Mary shows to the world her son, the prince of peace, he said. “He is the blessing for every person and the whole human family. He is the source of grace, mercy and peace.”

Pope Francis chose as the theme for this year’s World Peace Day: “Good politics is at the service of peace.”

“We must not think politics is reserved to those who govern,” the pope said. “We are all responsible for the life of the community, of the common good, and politics is good to the degree that everyone does his or her part in the service of peace.”

After greeting hundreds of people who participated in a march for peace, carrying signs with the names of countries suffering because of violence, Pope Francis prayed: “Through the intercession of the virgin Mary, may the Lord grant us to be artisans of peace — and this begins at home, in the family — every day of the new year.”

Earlier, in his homily at the Mass, Pope Francis paid homage not only to Mary, but also to all mothers and all those who show tender care for others, including in political and economic life.

“A world that looks to the future without a mother’s gaze is shortsighted,” he said. “It may well increase its profits, but it will no longer see others as children. It will make money, but not for everyone. We will all dwell in the same house, but not as brothers and sisters.”

Pope Francis prayed that Mary would help all people learn to look at the world and each other as she does, providing for people’s needs, loving them and leading them to Jesus.

“In today’s fragmented world, where we risk losing our bearings, a mother’s embrace is essential,” he said. “How much dispersion and solitude there is all around us! The world is completely connected, yet seems increasingly disjointed. We need to entrust ourselves to our Mother.”

Too many people, he said, forget they are beloved children and instead “live in anger and indifference to everything! How many, sad to say, react to everything and everyone with bitterness and malice!”

In fact, he said, “showing oneself to be ‘malicious’ even seems at times to be a sign of strength. Yet it is nothing more than weakness. We need to learn from mothers that heroism is shown in self-giving, strength in compassion, wisdom in meekness.”

For Catholics, he said, Mary “is not an optional accessory: she has to be welcomed into our life” because Jesus entrusted her to his disciples and his disciples to her as their mother.

“She is the queen of peace, who triumphs over evil and leads us along paths of goodness, who restores unity to her children, who teaches us compassion,” Pope Francis said.

He urged people to begin the new year holding on to the “amazement” they should have experienced at Christmas, amazement that God was born a baby, “held in the arms of a woman who feeds her creator.”

“God has become one with humanity forever. God and man, always together, that is the good news of this new year,” he said. “God is no distant lord, dwelling in splendid isolation above the heavens, but love incarnate, born like us of a mother, in order to become a brother to each of us.”

Jesus himself “pours out upon humanity a new tenderness,” the pope said, which helps people “understand more fully God’s love, which is both paternal and maternal, like that of a mother who never stops believing in her children and never abandons them.”

“God-with-us, Emmanuel, loves us despite our mistakes, our sins and the way we treat our world,” he said. “God believes in mankind, because its first and preeminent member is his own mother.”

The church, which is called to be a mother, the pope said, also must be renewed and filled with amazement at the fact that it is “the dwelling place of the living God” and “a mother who gives birth to her children.”

Without that awareness, the church risks turning into “a beautiful museum of the past,” he said.

 

Pope Francis ended his New Year’s homily praying that Mary would “take us by the hand. Clinging to you, we will pass safely through the straits of history.”

EPISODE#160
OC CATHOLIC RADIO: GUEST IS DARYL SEQUEIRA – WHY ARE WE (STILL) CATHOLIC?

Host Rick Howick interviews folks on a variety of topics. Today, Rick welcomes back one of our favorite guests, Daryl Sequeira from Servite High School in Anaheim. Daryl is the ‘chair’ of the theology department at Servite.

Today’s episode will reflect on the spirit of the upcoming new year, and touch on several items that might give us ‘pause.’

In spite of all the challenging things going on in the church today, why is it that we’re still Catholic?

 

Tune in for the very thoughtful discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 12/29/18

 

CALL ME CATHOLIC: GUEST IS NANCY BARRY

On this episode of Call Me Catholic, you’ll meet Nancy Barry, founder and president of Enterprise Solutions to Poverty, an organization devoted to building inclusive business and finance opportunities around the world. Named one of Forbes’ magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Women in the World”, Nancy is committed to bringing her Catholic values to the world economy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 1/13/18

FOR NEW YEAR, POPE URGES HELP FOR REFUGEES, RESPECT FOR LIFE

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis began the New Year praying the world would demonstrate a marked increase in solidarity and welcome for migrants and refugees. 

“Let’s not extinguish the hope in their hearts; let’s not suffocate their hopes for peace,” the pope said Jan. 1 before reciting the Angelus with a crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square. 

For the New Year’s celebration of World Peace Day and the feast of Mary, Mother of God, Pope Francis had chosen to focus on migrants and refugees and their yearning for peace. 

“For this peace, which is the right of all, many of them are willing to risk their lives in a journey that, in most cases, is long and dangerous and to face trials and suffering,” the pope told an estimated 40,000 people gathered in the square around the Christmas tree and Nativity scene. 

Pope Francis said it is important that everyone, including individuals, governments, schools, churches and church agencies, make a commitment to “ensuring refugees, migrants — everyone — a future of peace.” 

Entrusting the needs of migrants and refugees to the maternal concern of Mary, the pope led the crowd in reciting a traditional Marian prayer: “Under thy protection we seek refuge, holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our needs, but from all dangers deliver us always, Virgin, Glorious and Blessed.” 

Pope Francis had begun the day celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Marian feast, which he said was a celebration of “a magnificent truth about God and about ourselves: From the moment that our Lord became incarnate in Mary, and for all time, he took on our humanity.” 

“To call Mary the mother of God reminds us,” he said, that “God is close to humanity, even as a child is close to the mother who bears him in her womb.” 

God becoming human in the baby Jesus, the pope said, is an affirmation that human life “is precious and sacred to the Lord,” so “to serve human life is to serve God.” 

“All life, from life in the mother’s womb to that of the elderly, the suffering and the sick, and to that of the troublesome and even repellent, is to be welcomed, loved and helped,” he said. 

Pope Francis also drew people’s attention to the fact that in the Gospel stories of Jesus’ birth, Mary is silent. And the newborn Jesus, obviously, cannot speak. 

“We need to remain silent as we gaze upon the crib,” he said. “Pondering the crib, we discover anew that we are loved; we savor the real meaning of life. As we look on in silence, we let Jesus speak to our heart. 

“May his lowliness lay low our pride; his poverty challenge our pomp; his tender love touch our hardened hearts,” the pope prayed. 

Celebrating evening prayer Dec. 31 and offering thanks to God for the year that was ending, Pope Francis gave a special acknowledgement to people — especially parents and teachers — who are “artisans of the common good,” working to help their families, neighbors and communities each day without fanfare. 

But, he said, people also must acknowledge that God gave humanity the year 2017 “whole and sound,” yet “we human beings have in many ways wasted and wounded it with works of death, with lies and injustices. Wars are the flagrant sign of this backsliding and absurd pride. But so are all the small and great offenses against life, truth and solidarity, which cause multiple forms of human, social and environmental degradation.” 

The pope also led the midday Angelus prayer Dec. 31, the feast of the Holy Family. 

The Sunday Gospel reading recounted Mary and Joseph taking the baby Jesus to the temple “to certify that the child belongs to God and that they are the guardians of his life and not the owners,” the pope said. 

Mary and Joseph experience the joy of seeing their son grow in wisdom, grace and strength, the pope said. “This is mission to which the family is called: to create the best conditions that will allow for the harmonious and full growth of children, so that they can live a life that is good, worthy of God and constructive for the world.” 

Growth and rebirth are possibilities open to every family, he said. “Whenever families, even those wounded and marked by frailty, failure and difficulty, return to the source of Christian experience, new paths and unimagined possibilities open up.” 

POPE’S NEW YEAR PRIORITIES: REFUGEES, YOUTHS, TRIPS, MORE CURIA REFORM

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Foreign trips, a focus on the rights and needs of migrants and refugees and a Synod of Bishops dedicated to young people all are on the 2018 calendar for Pope Francis. 

His activities and the passions that drive them are familiar by now. In fact, March 13 will mark the fifth anniversary of his election as pope, succeeding retired Pope Benedict XVI. 

Pope Francis, newly 81, will begin 2018 with a focus on Mary and on migrants and refugees. 

As with all modern popes, Pope Francis’ Marian devotion and his concern for people forced to flee their homes have been a constant in his ministry. 

But Pope Francis is the first to dedicate a celebration of World Peace Day specifically to the theme of migrants and refugees. On Jan. 1, for the 51st time, the Catholic Church will begin the new year praying for peace. The day also is the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and while Pope Francis sent a message to heads of state in November reflecting on the peace day theme, his homily at the Mass is likely to focus on Mary. 

The pope’s focus on migrants and refugees will come to the fore again Jan. 14 when he adds to the normal papal liturgical calendar a special Mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. 

In both his message for the Jan. 14 celebration and his message for World Peace Day, Pope Francis urged Catholic involvement in the drafting of the U.N. global compacts for migrants and for refugees. 

Approving the development of the compacts in September 2016, “world leaders clearly expressed their desire to take decisive action in support of migrants and refugees to save their lives and protect their rights,” the pope said in his message. He urged Catholics to get involved by lobbying their governments to include in the compacts proposals that would ensure the welcome, protection, promotion and integration of migrants and refugees. 

Although work on the compacts suffered a setback when the Trump administration announced in early December it was pulling out of the process and would not be a party to the accords, the United Nations hopes to have a draft of the documents ready by February. Late in 2018, the U.N. General Assembly will hold a conference to adopt the compacts. 

On Jan. 15, Pope Francis will set off for a six-day visit to Chile and Peru. As is his style, the trip will include meetings with government authorities and large public Masses, but also a visit to a women’s prison and to a home for children at risk. 

As of Dec. 20, no other papal trips for 2018 had been confirmed, although Vatican officials have said it is almost certain Pope Francis will travel to Dublin in late August for the World Meeting of Families; on the same trip, he is likely to be the first pope to visit Northern Ireland. 

Vatican officials also have confirmed that a September trip to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is under consideration. And they do not rule out a spring trip, perhaps to Africa. 

One month of the pope’s calendar already is booked solid. The Synod of Bishops focusing on young people and their vocations will be held at the Vatican Oct. 3-28. In preparation for the bishops’ gathering, the Vatican has asked bishops’ conferences around the world to nominate young people to attend a pre-synod gathering March 19-24 in Rome. 

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary-general of the synod, said Pope Francis hopes about 300 young people — mostly, but not all, Catholics — would attend the gathering. Many of them will speak to the whole group about the hopes and concerns of young people, what they can offer the church and what they need from it. They will discuss the presentations in small groups and will be asked to prepare a summary document for the bishops attending the synod. 

The fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ papacy also means 2018 is the fifth anniversary of his international Council of Cardinals and the effort to reform the Roman Curia.  

Changes have been made, new laws have been passed, offices have been combined to cut down on duplication. But 2017 ended without a clear indication of when a document presenting a global vision of the Curia and each of its offices would be ready. 

Perhaps that is what Pope Francis wants for Christmas 2018.

RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR WITH MARY, THE MOTHER OF GOD

While many Southern Californians watch the Rose Parade or Rose Bowl game on New Year’s Day, Catholics commemorate the Solemnity of Mary, a central feast day in the liturgical calendar. 

The Catholic Church reserves solemnities for the commemoration of the most momentous events in the lives of Jesus and the saints, and we celebrate them with special liturgies full of song, incense and ceremony. While every Sunday is considered a solemnity, only a select number of days are universally recognized as such by the Church. 

Because Catholics rightfully begin the first day of each year by recognizing Mary’s title and her immense importance, we start off the New Year in exactly the right way, says Msgr. Stephen Doktorczyk, judicial vicar for the Diocese of Orange, canon lawyer, and co-founder and spiritual director of the Foundation of Prayer for Priests. 

“We entrust our lives to Mary and renew our commitment to her as we commemorate the Solemnity of Mary,” Doktorczyk says. “We cannot separate humanity from divinity in Christ, so for Mary to be called Mother of God is the highest title. It acknowledges that she is the mother of the whole Jesus.” 

In Mary we see a woman who was totally humble and open to do the Lord’s will. We also recognize that her unique identity as Jesus’s mother means she is a powerful intercessor. “She wants to pray and intercede for us,” he says. “She wants to drape her mantle around us and protect us. She is the one that the devil cannot stand, largely because of her humility.” 

The celebration of Mary the Mother of God can be traced to the year 431, when the Council of Ephesus declared her the ‘God-bearer,’ of Jesus Christ. In 1931, her feast day was declared to be October 11, but Pope Pius VI moved the Solemnity of Mary to January 1 after Vatican II. 

“The purpose of the celebration is to honor the role of Mary in the mystery of salvation and at the same time to sing the praises of the unique dignity thus coming to the Holy Mother…through whom we have been given the gift of the Author of life,” according to Pope Pius VI in the 1974 “Marialis Cultus.” 

“This same solemnity also offers an excellent opportunity to renew the adoration rightfully to be shown to the newborn Prince of Peace, as we once again hear the good tidings of great joy and pray to God, through the intercession of the Queen of Peace, for the priceless gift of peace.” 

Fittingly, the World Day of Peace also falls on January 1. “It is quite fitting that the Holy Father gives a speech to the Church and to the world each year on the World Day of Peace,” Doktorczyk says. In 2018, Pope Francis titles his speech “Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace.”  

To commemorate the Solemnity of Mary, Doktorczyk recommends that individuals attend Mass and families come together to pray the Rosary as they ponder Mary’s importance in one’s life and in the life of Christ.  

MAKE NEW FRIENDS AND KEEP THE OLD

Jesus often spoke of the importance of friendship, whether it was his dearest companion John or his good friend Lazarus. So it is no wonder that from childhood we regard our friends as cherished parts of our lives.

The dawn of the New Year is a good time for resolutions about friendship – making new friends and deepening existing ties – and ensuring that our children have good friends and know how to make new ones.

“When you are a kid all your social interactions are based on your family until you go to school,” notes Kristina Bielkevicius, learning support director and school psychologist at St. Junipero Serra School. “Then you have a choice of who your friends are. It’s important that you have the ability to choose your circle of friends in order to explore who you are.”

Friendship is a critical childhood passage and an important way that kids learn to share, compromise and work through misunderstandings, writes Joanne Barker in a WebMD feature. Still, the ups and downs of friendships often are hard for parents to watch. When do parents intervene and when do they need to back off? Barker offers some tips from childhood development experts.

1. Teach friendship skills. Parents are role models. Seeing their own parents reach out to friends is your child’s first lesson in how to do that. Have your children help you bring food to a sick neighbor, or make a birthday card for a grandparent. Children’s experience at home models empathy.

“Friendship should and does help you grow as a person and help you know yourself by the people you’re choosing to associate with,” says Bielkevicius. “We learn a lot from our interactions with friends, what we do and don’t want. With friends, you gain some and lose some and learn from every relationship.”

2. Tune in to your child’s friendship style. Involving your child and forcing your child are two different things. Let your child show you what kind of social interactions work best for him. “Some children don’t want interaction all the time. Everyone needs someone, but kids are good at communicating what they want and need,” Bielkevicius says. “The culture we live in emphasizes being extroverted, but there are a lot of people who find it exhausting to be around other people too much.”

3. Open your home to your child’s friends. Even when your child is old enough to plan his own activities, encourage him to have friends over. Make your home a welcoming place.

4. Help your child work through friendship troubles. Parents need not step in every time to work everything out. Instead, they can point out that there are two sides to every story, and urge patience.

5. Let your child choose friends that fit. It’s a good idea to give your children room to make their own friends. “I was more of a floater and had a lot of different friends not totally associated with a single group. I didn’t get close to any one person,” recalls Bielkevicius. “Sometimes that would feel lonely, but long term that is a good quality to have – it makes you more adaptive in any social situation. A lot of kids feel weird when they don’t hang with one group, but it’s good to have variety in friendships.”

6. Keep an eye out for teasing or bullying. Teasing is often a part of childhood play, but as kids go from preschool to middle school it can become more harmful. You can help your child understand how her words or actions might hurt another child’s feelings.

7. Offer alternatives to popularity. Not being part of the popular crowd can feel like rejection on a grand scale. While you can’t change your child’s popularity status, you can listen to his concerns and share your own childhood misadventures. And a good group of friends can make problems like teasing and not being “in” less painful.

Lastly, know that children can learn skills of friendship, Bielkevicius advises. “Children must be able to communicate with others. Beyond that, even for kids who struggle socially, you can teach them reciprocation, caring and doing nice things for people.”