Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vatican Issues Major Report on Science of Climate Change

A sobering report on the impacts for humankind as a result of the global retreat of mountain glaciers as a result of human activity leading to climate change has been issued by a working group of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, one of the oldest scientific institutes in the world.

In their declaration, the working group calls, “on all people and nations to recognize the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and by changes in forests, wetlands, grasslands, and other land uses.”  They echoed Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 World Day of Peace Message saying, “…if we want justice and peace, we must protect the habitat that sustains us.”

The report focuses on the impact of anthropogenic climate change on mountain glaciers and warns that, “Failure to mitigate climate change will violate our duty to the vulnerable of the Earth, including those dependent on the water supply of mountain glaciers, and those facing rising sea level and stronger storm surges. Our duty includes the duty to help vulnerable communities adapt to changes that cannot be mitigated. All nations must ensure that their actions are strong enough and prompt enough to address the increasing impacts and growing risk of climate change and to avoid catastrophic irreversible consequences.”  (Emphasis added.)

The working group recommends three measures to reduce the threat of climate change and its impacts:

1. “Reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions without delay, using all means possible to meet ambitious international global warming targets and ensure the long-term stability of the climate system. 

2. “Reduce the concentrations of warming air pollutants (dark soot, methane, lower atmosphere ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons) by as much as 50%, to slow down climate change during this century while preventing millions of premature deaths from respiratory disease and millions of tons of crop damages every year.

3. “Prepare to adapt to the climatic changes, both chronic and abrupt, that society will be unable to mitigate. 

You can read the entire report which has been posted on the Catholic Climate Covenant website.

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 29: Sixth Sunday of Easter

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel.

Gospel: John 14:15-21

The words in today’s Gospel are part of Jesus’ Last Discourse—that is, part of his farewell speech to his closest and most beloved friends. What a powerful message that must have been, both for Jesus and for his apostles. And, it can still be as powerful for us today.

For Jesus, he had to carefully choose the ideas, messages, and hopes that he wanted to share with his friends before having to say goodbye. What would we say to our closest loved ones if we could only say a few things more? For the apostles, even though they did not yet fully understand what would soon transpire, they must have had some sense that these were significant moments, both for their friend and for themselves. Perhaps they were wondering what they would do when Jesus was no longer with them.

For us, Jesus’ words may be a little easier to grasp today because we know that the Passion ultimately paved the way for the Resurrection, and for the joy we experience at Easter. With this knowledge, we can more easily hear two important messages that Jesus has for us. First, Jesus assures us that we are never alone. He has sent us the Spirit of truth whom will always be with us. And, Jesus promises that he himself will someday return: “I will not leave you orphaned; I will come back to you.” Second, Jesus lets us know exactly what we should do in memory of his time on Earth and as a witness to his living presence: we are to obey his commands to love God, our neighbors, and ourselves. Indeed, what better way could there be to remember Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection than to keep his love alive in the world through our faith and actions!

Christine Gerety
St. Monica, Santa Monica 

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 22: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel.

Gospel:  Jn 14:1-12

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where (I) am going you know the way." Thomas said to him, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth   and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.

“Do not let your heart be troubled” When I read this coming Sunday’s Gospel those words stood out to me the most. How often do we allow ourselves to be troubled? Even with the smallest of things in our lives we worry. For example, writing this reflection was difficult for me. I was worried about what people might think of what I wrote. Am I doing this right? OMG what did I get myself into? Those were the thoughts going through my head.

Then I remembered those words, “Do not let your heart be troubled” Everything we do is an opportunity to grow closer to Christ and an opportunity to believe in Him, to let go and let God.

How often do you find yourself troubling yourself with the smallest of things? What are some things you can do to help strengthen your relationship with Christ and to be more willing to let go and let God?

Mary Vizcaino
Our Lady of Assumption, Claremont

Friday, May 13, 2011

May 15: Fourth Sunday of Easter

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel.

John 10: 1-10
Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.  But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.”…”Amen, amen I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep… whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come and go out and find pasture.  I came so that they may have life and have it more abundantly.”

Jesus is the gate, the only entrance to eternal life.  Jesus, the Risen One, always recognizes us and cares for us, he is our Shepherd.  Jesus is truly here for us, he knows us by name.  He is with us through the moments where we feel the most alone, moments of hardship, of worry, or pain.  We must abandon ourselves in perfect confidence and let Jesus be our Shepherd.  He is with us and leads us to life. 

Meditative Question:
What is keeping You from abandoning yourself and allowing Jesus to be your Shepherd and lead you to life?

Annette Galarreta
St. Raymond, Downey

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 8: Third Sunday of Easter

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel.

Gospel: Lk 24:13-35

“The Suffering Messiah”…. Incognito

Living in a world of billions and billions of human beings, how hard is it to think that Jesus himself, flesh and blood, might be next to you in line at the supermarket, or reading peacefully on the couch next to you at Starbucks, or best yet driving next to you fighting traffic on the 10 freeway as you race home after work to make the 5:30pm Mass?

Luke describes this in his Gospel as Jesus makes one of his appearances after his Resurrection to two men on their long walk to a village named Emmaus.  Jesus simply strolls into the lives of these two men, Cleopas and the other “Unnamed,” and begins to fulfill his prophesy among the hesitant believers.

Now when Jesus returned from the dead, he did not show himself so that he would be easily recognized.  Jesus had a plan and a very unique strategy to evangelize his true self to people and most notably to the twelve Apostles.  When I think about it, it kind of plays out like Clark Kent in the Superman franchise.  Superman’s earthly appearance to cover up his famed status as Superman was a simple human being living a normal life with an alias of Clark Kent, journalist for The Daily News.  Now when you think of the costume Clark Kent came up with to hide his identity, you have to chuckle at the idea that it was merely a pair of black rimmed glasses and a suit. That was all it took to keep his friends and believers in the dark.  Even when face-to-face with him, no one would put two and two together and figure out that the person behind those glasses was in fact Superman.  Sounds very comical, right?

As for our Superhero God, Jesus himself with his ultimate power, I think his costume is harder to distinguish.  See, as the viewers of the movie Superman, we know that Clark and Superman are the same person, but the characters in the movie don’t.  It’s easy to assume that these people don’t have a clue, but really they are blind to Clark’s true self. They are unable to see Superman as he truly is, because their eyes have not been opened or their faith tested. Jesus makes it a lot harder for us, the viewers and characters in this movie called “LIFE.” He makes it hard because he wants us to really find HIM.  He wants us to use the script of our God-given life to have a connection with him and find the reason why he would need to come in contact with us, as many of us pray to one day do.

As Catholics we solidly and fully believe that God is present in the Sacrament as we approach the altar, as well as in the Church he created. But can you look at that person sitting next to you at Starbucks and fully give them the same respect and love that Jesus deserves, and give them the same glory as if you had been in the presence of our King in the flesh?  Can you look into that person’s eyes so deeply that you see Jesus, and get that same warm, full feeling that most of us get walking out of confession?  I’m sure Jesus would want you to smile and greet that person as if you and he secretly knew that you were the special one who at that moment was able to figure out that his incognito cover or disguise was blown.  And then you move on knowing that you met Jesus and knowing that he can use the varieties of race or gender to make us understand that he made us in his Image.

In the Gospel of Luke, Cleopas and the other man weren’t fully on board with the thought of Jesus as a suffering Messiah; they were under the assumption he would redeem Israel.  To help them understand, Jesus had to step into their lives; then they had to invite Jesus to stay overnight with them and eat dinner with them.  Once invited, Jesus unveiled himself by the breaking of the bread, and then the two men fully understood this complete stranger was Jesus…God Almighty!!!

Once we can see one another as a “possible” Jesus in flesh, then we are focused on the grand idea of God being present in one another and we are not focused on the wrong things.  As I type this, I’m wondering if Jesus is sitting next to me in a Starbucks, smiling…high fiving God, and saying to himself, “Thanks be to God” that there are Young Adults interested in proclaiming the Word, connecting to each other, and keeping their faith strong and their eyes open to a future that will grant them to life everlasting.  AMEN!!!!

Christopher Galvan
St. Mary’s, Whittier