Gifts that do good… And feel good
A bi-monthly magazine that is full of hope, encouragement, and Good News! A source of strength to those who struggle, a sense of hope to those who despair, and the warmth of the love of Jesus Christ in the form of a magazine. It features inspirational testimonies, encounters of the tender loving care of God, conversion experiences, and more! Encounter, experience, and share the Word of God!
This Christmas, we have a special offer just for you! With a year’s subscription, get another year free! All you need to do is pay for 1 year. On the drop-down menu for “Subscribe for” click on “1 Year + 1 Year Free.” Easy!
Your annual subscription costs you US $20 /£20 /€ 25/AU$25 but, here you will be receiving the magazine for two years instead of just one. This offer is available in the USA, UK, Australia, Europe, and Canada. Hurry because it is only valid until the 31st of December, 2020.
It can be the perfect gift for a loved one or the perfect gift for yourself. We hope that this issue brings peace, joy, and cheer into your lives. Your choice makes you a part of our family, our mission, and God’s ministry. Thank you for your support of Shalom Tidings.
Continue to keep Shalom World and its efforts to bring the “Tidings” of God to every corner of the world in your prayers. Remember, you are loved and someone is always praying for you.
Engage cultures, Encounter Christ, Enjoy Life and Evangelize the World!
In the wake of the publication of Pope Francis’ most recent encyclical letter Fratelli Tutti, there was a great deal of negative commentary regarding the pope’s attitude toward capitalism and private property. Many readers interpreted Francis to mean that the capitalist system is, in itself, exploitative and that the holding of private property is morally problematic. Like most who write in a prophetic mode, Pope Francis is indeed given to strong and challenging language, and therefore, it is easy enough to understand how he excites opposition. But it is most important to read what he says with care and to interpret it within the context of the long tradition of Catholic social teaching. First, in regard to capitalism, or what the Church prefers to call the “market economy,” the Pope has this to say: “Business activity is essentially ‘a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world’” (Fratelli Tutti, 123). He thereby distances himself from any ideology that would simply demonize capitalism, and clearly affirms that a morally praiseworthy economic arrangement is one that not only distributes wealth but creates it through entrepreneurship. Moreover, he argues, a certain selfinterest, including the taking of profit, is not repugnant to the moral purpose of economic activity: “In God’s plan, each individual is called to promote his or her own development, and this includes finding the best economic and technological means of multiplying goods and increasing wealth” (123). In making these observations, Francis stands firmly in the tradition of St. John Paul II, who saw the market economy as an arena for the exercise of human creativity, ingenuity, and courage, and who endeavored to draw ever more people into its dynamism. He also reiterates the teaching of the founder of the modern Catholic social tradition, the great Leo XIII, who, in Rerum Novarum, strenuously defended private property and, using a number of arguments, repudiated socialist economic arrangements. So I hope we can put to rest the silly canard that Pope Francis is an enemy of capitalism and a cheerleader for global socialism. Now, without gainsaying any of this, we must, at the same time, point out that, like all of his papal predecessors in the social teaching tradition, without exception, Francis also recommends limits, both legal and moral, to the market economy. And in this context, he insists upon what classical Catholic theology refers to as the “universal destination of goods.” Here is how Francis states the idea in Fratelli Tutti: “The right to private property is always accompanied by the primary and prior principle of the subordination of all private property to the universal destination of the earth’s goods, and thus the right of all to their use” (123). In making the distinction between ownership and use, Pope Francis is hearkening back to St. Thomas Aquinas, who made the relevant distinction in question 66 of the secunda secundae of the Summa theologiae. For a variety of reasons, St. Thomas argues, people have the right to “procure and dispense” the goods of the world and hence to hold them as “property.” But in regard to the use of what they legitimately own, they must always keep the general welfare first in mind: “In this respect man ought to possess external things, not as his own, but as common, so that, to wit, he is ready to communicate them to others in their need.” Now, in regard to this distinction, Thomas himself was the inheritor of an older tradition, stretching back to the Church Fathers. Pope Francis quotes St. John Chrysostom as follows: “Not to share our wealth with the poor is to rob them and take away their livelihood. The riches we possess are not our own, but theirs as well.” And he cites St. Gregory the Great in the same vein: “When we provide the needy with their basic needs, we are giving them what belongs to them, not to us.” The simplest way to grasp the distinction between ownership and use is to imagine the scenario of a starving man coming to the door of your house late at night and asking for sustenance. Though you are in your own home, which you legitimately own, and behind a door that you have understandably locked against intruders, you would nevertheless be morally obligated to give away some of your property to the beggar in such desperate need. In short, private property is a right, but not an “inviolable” right—if by that we mean without qualification or conditions—and saying so is not tantamount to advocating socialism. What we might characterize as something of a novelty in Pope Francis’ encyclical is the application of this distinction to the relations between nations and not simply individuals. A nation-state indeed has a right to its own wealth, garnered through the energy and creativity of its people, and it may legitimately maintain and defend its borders; however, these prerogatives are not morally absolute. In Francis’ words, “We can then say that each country also belongs to the foreigner, inasmuch as a territory’s goods must not be denied to a needy person coming from elsewhere” (124). This is not “globalism” or a denial of national integrity; it is simply Thomas Aquinas’ distinction between ownership and use, extrapolated to the international level. Once more, lest we see Pope Francis’ teaching here as egregious, I would like to give the last word to Leo XIII, ardent defender of private property and equally ardent opponent of socialism: “When what necessity demands has been supplied, and one’s standing fairly taken thought for, it becomes a duty to give to the indigent out of what remains over” (Rerum Novarum, 22).
Feeling lonely can be detrimental. Here’s 5 ways to overcome loneliness. The Covid19 Pandemic that surged throughout 2020 took everyone out of their comfort zone—rich or poor, young or old, healthy or non-healthy, well-educated or less-educated from every race, culture and religion. The pandemic made people feel isolated—from the outside world, from their loved ones, from their kids, from their spouses, from their houses of worship, from their priests, pastors and rabbis, from their counselors and therapists, from their friends and co-workers, from their parents and grandparents and from building human connections. The pandemic has increased the feeling of loneliness in many people, leading some to desperate measures. Feeling lonely creates a void in our hearts; we long to find someone to help us, to hug us, to care for us and pay attention to us. No one wants to feel lonely! But people can feel lonely even when in a relationship or among friends. Loneliness can come at any moment in our lives and at any age. Loneliness can be triggered by a major event like a break-up or divorce and by lesser events like feeling overwhelmed or feeling out of place. Thinking of a particular event or tragedy can also trigger feelings of loneliness. But with every struggle, God can provide hope, comfort, and strength to anyone who seeks him. Overcoming loneliness is not easy. It is a process that requires constant practice. The best way I have found to overcome loneliness is to place my trust in God. But we know that grace builds on nature and so we must also seek out the many practical strategies that also can help. Here are five positive steps I believe can help you cope with and overcome loneliness. 1.Ask for help when feeling lonely and feeling overwhelmed! Reach out to people who are reliable and trustworthy. 2.Identify and engage in activities that bring you joy, that make you smile and keep you positive mentally, emotionally, and physically. 3.Fill your soul with spirituality—read the Bible, enroll in a Bible study or social weekly fellowship, pray privately or in groups and with family, pray online or on the phone. 4.Practice almsgiving by giving to a cause dear to your heart. Make a positive difference in other people’s lives by volunteering your time and talents. Giving yourself to others will lessen your feelings of loneliness. 5.Distance yourself from negative social media platforms and negative followers. Create a positive public forum to promote healthy spiritual conversations. See a Pastor or Counselor if your loneliness persists despite your efforts to deal with it. Try these steps to deal with your loneliness. Taking action will almost always result in a better mood. But remember that in challenging and uncertain times, trust in God is our best strategy.
In connection with an academic project of mine, I’ve recently been poring over the book of Exodus and numerous commentaries on it. The second most famous book of the Old Testament is concerned primarily with the manner in which God shapes His people, so that they might become a radiant beacon, a city set on a hill. On the biblical reading, Israel is indeed chosen, but it is never chosen for its own sake, but rather for all the nations of the world. I would say that this formation takes place in three principal stages: first, God teaches Israel to trust in His power; secondly, He gives Israel a moral law; and thirdly, He instructs his people in holiness through right praise. The lesson in trust happens, of course, through God’s great act of liberation. Utterly powerless slaves find freedom, not by relying on their own resources, but rather upon the gracious intervention of God. The moral instruction takes place through the Ten Commandments and their attendant legislation. Finally, the formation in holiness happens through a submission to an elaborate set of liturgical and ceremonial laws. It is this last move that perhaps strikes us today as most peculiar, but that has, I will argue, particular resonance in our strange COVID period. That education in religion involves moral instruction probably seems self-evident to most of us. And this is because we are, willy-nilly, Kantians. In the eighteenth century, the philosopher Immanuel Kant contended that all of religion is reducible to ethics. What the religious thing is finally all about, Kant argued, is making us more just, loving, kind, and compassionate. In contemporary language, Kantianism in religion sounds like this: “As long as you’re a good person, it doesn’t really matter what you believe or how you worship.” Now, there is no question that the book of Exodus and the Bible in general agree that morality is essential to the proper formation of the people of God. Those who would seek to follow the Lord, who is justice and love, must be conformed to justice and love. And this is precisely why we find, in the great Sinai covenant, injunctions not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to covet, not to kill, etc. So far, so Kantian. But what probably surprises most contemporary readers of the book of Exodus is that, immediately following the laying out of the moral commandments, the author spends practically the rest of the text, chapters 25 through 40, delineating the liturgical prescriptions that the people are to follow. So for example, we find a lengthy section on the construction of the ark of the covenant: “They shall make an ark of acacia wood; it shall be two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside you shall overlay it.” And as an ornament on the top of the ark, “You shall make two cherubim of gold. . . . Make one cherub at the one end, and one cherub at the other. . . . The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat.” Next, we find instructions regarding the elaborate furnishings inside of the tabernacle, including a lampstand, a table for the so-called “bread of the presence,” pillars and various hangings. Finally, an enormous amount of space is given over to the description of the vestments to be worn by the priests of Israel. Here is just a sampling: “These are the vestments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a checkered tunic, a turban, and a sash. When they make these sacred vestments. . . . They shall use gold, blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine linen.” No indication whatsoever is given that the moral prescriptions are somehow more important than the liturgical prescriptions. If anything, the contrary seems to be the case, since Exodus is followed immediately by the book of Leviticus, which consists of twenty-eight chapters of dietary and liturgical law. So what are we post-Kantians to make of this? First, we should observe that the biblical authors do not think for a moment that God somehow requires liturgical rectitude, as though the correctness of our worship adds anything to his perfection or satisfies some psychological need of His. If you harbor any doubt on this score, I would recommend a careful reading of the first chapter of the prophet Isaiah and of the fiftieth psalm. God doesn’t need the Ark and the Tabernacle and priestly vestments and regular worship, but we do. Through the gestures and symbols of its liturgical praise, Israel is brought on line with God, ordered to him. The moral law directs our wills to the divine goodness, but the liturgical law directs our minds, our hearts, our emotions, and yes even our bodies to the divine splendor. Notice how thoroughly the ceremonial instructions of Exodus involve color, sound, and smell (there is an awful lot about incense), and how they conduce toward the production of beauty. I said above that Exodus’ stress on the liturgical and ceremonial has a profound relevance to our time, and here’s why. For very good reasons, we abstained completely from public worship, and even now our ability to worship together is very limited. In most dioceses in our country, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass is, again for valid reasons, suspended. My fear is that when the propitious moment arrives, when we are again able to return to Mass, many Catholics will stay away, since they’ve grown accustomed to absenting themselves from worship. And my concern takes a more specifically Kantian form: Will many Catholics say to themselves, “You know, as long as I’m basically a good person, what’s the point of all of this formal worship of God?” Could I recommend that you take out your Bible, open to the book of Exodus, especially chapters 25 through 40, and consider just how crucially important to God is the correct worship offered by his holy people? Liturgy has always mattered. The Mass— involving vestments, ritual gesture, smells and bells, song and silence—still matters, big time. Isn’t it enough that you’re a good person? Not to put too fine a point on it: no.
What’s the greatest antidote to loneliness? It was an ordinary Sunday evening at the students’ boarding house where I was staying. Most of my friends had gone home for the weekend. After finishing my chores and studies for the day, I got ready to attend evening Mass at the small convent Chapel nearby. By the time I headed towards the Chapel, a heavy feeling of loneliness was overwhelming me. Besides the fact that I was miles away from family, something else was burdening me, but I could not quite place my finger on it. Loneliness was nothing new to me. I had already spent more than 6 years in college/university boarding, only able to visit my parents, who were working in another country, during semester breaks. When I reached the chapel, I was surprised to see it full of people, which was unusual. However, I managed to find a spot in the front pew and settled down, still engrossed in my thoughts. The Mass progressed, but I was unable to concentrate on the prayers. As the time for Communion approached, the ache inside had grown. I joined the Communion line and on receiving Jesus, came back to kneel down in thanksgiving. The next moment, I realized that the intense feeling of loneliness and sadness had vanished! It was as though a heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders in an instant. I was totally taken by surprise at this transformation because I had neither prayed anything much during the Mass, nor said anything to Jesus about what I was feeling. But the Lord was looking down on me from the altar. He knew I was struggling and needed help. The small incident etched a deep mark in my memory. Even after several years, I remember how the Lord showed his tender care. The Eucharistic Lord has been my refuge during all the difficult moments of my life. Not once has He failed to help me with His grace and mercy. When we feel battered by the storms of life, uncertain how to find the right direction, all we have to do is run to Him. Some of us spend a lot of money to speak with a clinical psychologist, but we often do not realize that the greatest Counsellor is always ready to hear our problems at any time, without an appointment! There is no greater antidote to loneliness than the presence of God. If you ever feel that no one really understands you or cares about you, go confidently before the Blessed Sacrament. Our Lord Jesus is waiting for you to experience His comfort, strength and overwhelming love! “The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth.” – Saint Teresa of Calcutta. My Jesus, who is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, help me to confide in You all my worries about the future. I trust in You and firmly believe that there is nothing impossible for You. Let me be comforted and strengthened by Your overwhelming love. Amen
Don’t want to skip
an update or a post?
Get the latest articles from tidings!