Sunday, April 27, is the Sixth Sunday of Easter. Today at 9 a.m., Pope Benedict XVI will ordain deacons for the Diocese of Rome in St. Peter’s Basilica.


Parish

EPriest.com offers “Best Practices” ideas from various parishes.

Father Tom Aschenbrener at St. Alphonsus parish in Chicago recommends the “One in Christ” marriage seminar, which starts new marriages on the right foot and refreshes more experienced married couples.

“Putting this seminar together is probably one of the pinnacles of my priestly ministry,” said the priest.

The 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. seminar is a “turnkey” program with one DVD, nine Power Point presentations, supplemental material, instruction guide, speaker notes, outline for the day, discussion questions, prayers and videos of couples who give their personal witness and testimony. Said the priest:

• 90% of those who have participated have a more positive outlook. concerning chastity and Church

• Numerous couples have returned to more frequent reception of sacraments

• Some couples living together before participating in the program have subsequently chosen to abstain from sex until marriage.


Readings

Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20; 1Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21

EPriest.com offers free homily packs for priests.


Our Take

Pope Benedict’s visit ends on this week’s issue date. The central theme of his pastoral teaching has been to promote friendship with Jesus.

He introduced the idea in his homily as cardinal before the conclave that elected him.

He referred to the Last Supper discourse of Jesus, of which today’s Gospel is a part. Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Said Pope Benedict: “The Lord addresses these wonderful words to us: ‘No longer do I call you servants ... but I have called you friends’ (John 15:15). Many times we simply feel like useless servants, and it is true (see Luke 17:10). And, despite this, the Lord calls us friends, he makes us his friends, he gives us his friendship.

“The Lord defines friendship in two ways. There are no secrets between friends: Christ tells us everything he hears from the Father; he gives us his full confidence and, with confidence, also knowledge. He reveals his face to us, his heart. He shows us his tenderness for us, his passionate love that goes to the folly of the cross. ...

“The second element with which Jesus defines friendship is the communion of wills. Idem velle — idem nolle (what you like, I like), was also for Romans the definition of friendship. ‘You are my friends if you do what I command you’ (John 15:14). Friendship with Christ coincides with what the third petition of the Our Father expresses: ‘Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’”


Family

Your family can follow Pope Benedict’s advice today by trying two different activities.

1. Pray. Just as we talk to our friends, we should talk to Jesus. As Pope Benedict says, he shares everything with us. Take the children to the church sometime when Mass isn’t being offered. Kneel in front of the tabernacle.

As the children listen, lead them through a brief period of silent prayer.

Start by invoking the Holy Spirit. Then say, softly, an act of faith, hope and love. Pausing after each brief prayer, lead them through the ACTS of prayer: Adoration (“Oh my God, I adore you. You are so great and I am so small.”); Contrition (“Jesus, I am so sorry for the times I have offended you. Please forgive me.”); Thanksgiving (“Jesus we thank you for our family, our food, our many blessings, and especially for our faith.”); and Supplication (“Bless the Pope, bishops and priests; bless the sick and the poor; bless our extended family; and give us what we most need in the spiritual life.”)

2. Act. Friendship means that we like what Christ likes. He loves serving others. Arrange ahead of time to do a charitable deed: Bringing clothes to a goodwill drop-off, food to a food pantry, bring McDonald’s gift certificates to a homeless person, visit a nursing home (they love seeing the kids) or, if you have the opportunity, take those old enough to help at a soup kitchen, home for unwed mothers, or other service volunteer opportunities.


The Hoopeses are editorial directors of

Faith & Family magazine

(faithandfamilymag.com).