Persistence: Homily for Wednesday, August 30, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

It can be difficult to stick with something when it gets hard. We can feel like we want to give up.  The real test of value and importance is when we find a really hard challenge that seems impossible.  And yet, to confront evil, to provide justice, and to stand up for what is right does not come easy.  And what if things do not go well? It gets even harder.

When we think of Christian faith, it can feel like we are all alone in our beliefs.  The world has become secular. People do not value the things they used to value. There seems to be more and more a “live for the moment” mentality.  But as Saint Paul teaches us in their first reading today, hard work pays off.  Persistence is a value.  Staying with something means showing we are committed.  The greatest persistence comes from God’s love for each one of us.  And we can continue because God never gives up on us.

Emergency National Collection To Assist Dioceses Affected By Hurricane Harvey

August 29, 2017

WASHINGTON—Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has called on the bishops to consider taking up a special collection to support victims of Hurricane Harvey and to provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted dioceses.

In an August 28 letter, Archbishop Gomez requested that the collection be held during the weekend of September 1-2 or September 8-9.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families that have lost loved ones and to all who have lost homes and businesses along with their sense of peace and normalcy,” said Archbishop Gomez. “We also stand with our brother bishops in the region who have the difficult task of providing pastoral care in these most trying times while managing their own losses. Our prayerful and financial support is urgently needed.”

Funds given to the collection will support the humanitarian and recovery efforts of Catholic Charities USA and will provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted dioceses through the USCCB. The hurricane has affected southeast Texas, including the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, and could also strike Louisiana. As a result, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of USSCB, has asked Archbishop Gomez to coordinate this effort.

“Together with Cardinal DiNardo and the bishops throughout the affected region I express deep gratitude to the first responders and countless volunteers who are assisting the Gulf Coast region in countless ways,” Archbishop Gomez said.

This collection is to be taken on the weekend alternate to the CUA Collection. For more information on how to participate contact your local diocese or visit: https://catholiccharitiesusa.org/

Courage: Homily for Tuesday, August 29, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

The last few days have called for courage.  There has been tremendous devastation from Hurricane Harvey.  There were the protests in Charlottesville by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and racists.  There remain instances where standing up for what is right does not come easy.  The sharp moral divisions that exist are not easily overcome.  Rather, we must confront the fear we might face to stand up and speak out.

And today’s memorial of the beheading of John the Baptist remind us that often courage has a high cost.  To challenge the immoral behavior of another does not always lead us to something good or better.  Rather, there can be pain for us.  And as Saint John the Baptist’s life shows, there can be death.  We live in a time where all over the world those who are Christians are being persecuted and killed for their faith.  Yet they still stand up for what is right and true.  Will you?

7 Steps to Better Security Online

(Family Features) Virtually no one would park a car in a busy area, leave the keys in the ignition, roll the windows down and walk away. Yet many people who would take precautions to protect their vehicles leave access to their personal and financial information wide open. In this digital era, it pays to be just as diligent when it comes to virtual properties as it does physical ones.

These seven steps can help you create a more secure environment that protects you from online attacks.

Make your device a fortress. Whether you’re using a desktop, laptop or mobile device, taking proper precautions to safeguard the device itself is your first line of defense. Use reliable internet security software, apply firewalls, block pop-ups and prevent sites from logging your location. Make it a habit to log out of websites and regularly delete your history and cookies, especially if you’re using a public system or one that others access regularly.

Shop smart. Only make purchases from encrypted sites and limit purchases to a single credit card that you regularly monitor. It’s a good idea to make online purchases using a card with a clear policy about your liability in the event your card number does get stolen or you unknowingly purchase from a fraudulent seller and need to recoup your funds.

Be wary of strangers. Although social interaction with people you’ve never met is the norm via chat rooms and other internet-enabled sources, it’s still smart to treat those encounters with caution. Never divulge personally identifying information or financial details, and avoid opening emails or following text or message links from unknown senders.

Keep privacy in mind. Know that virtually anything you post online can become public at the hands of someone with ill intentions. This even applies to things you post that you intend only for friends and family to see, as one of them can easily copy and forward on your photos, words, etc. If you’d be worried about the general public seeing it, don’t post or share it.

Go ahead, be vain. Looking for yourself online isn’t really an ego move, it’s a smart one. Periodically searching your own name could reveal information in the public domain that you’d rather keep private or it could point to potential identify fraud.

Monitor your credit and accounts. Particularly if you have an active online life, whether for social, work or practical purposes like banking or shopping, pay close attention to your credit and bank accounts. Hackers find all sorts of ways to get to your identity, but regular monitoring can help you identify a problem before it spirals out of control.

Manage passwords responsibly. If you’re like most people, you probably use the same (or a variation of the same) password across numerous accounts. It’s human; it’s easy to remember. However, once a thief or hacker figures out your log-in credentials, all of your personal information and finances are ripe for the taking. Avoid repeating passwords across multiple sites and change passwords often for better security.

For more tips to protect your family’s privacy and stay safe while online, visit eLivingToday.com.

4 Tips to Make Sense of Cyber Security

It’s no secret that kids have a sense of invincibility. While that trait can bring some endearing reminders of the innocence of childhood, it can also have some highly unfortunately consequences. In the context of cyber security, an action by an unknowing child can impact the entire family.

The majority of U.S. households are filled with devices that pose a potential threat to your personal security. In fact, according to the 2016 Global Consumer Security Survey by Trend Micro, nearly half of households have two or more computers and nearly a third have three or more smartphones.

Despite the many benefits of a highly connected world, the potential for danger is strong. While there are plenty of parental controls and blocks available, they aren’t foolproof. Educating children about potential risks and how to avoid them with these tips from Trend Micro can go a long way toward protecting your family from potential cyber problems.

1. Understand what you’re saying yes to. Be involved, knowledgeable and interested in the devices, apps and sites your children use for school and for fun. For sites they use for school, ask their teachers for more information. For apps they’re using at home, spend 15 minutes trying it yourself.

2. Use privacy settings and features. Make sure you understand what privacy protections your browser or devices offer for your family when your kids are accessing their favorite sites, apps and online services. Many browsers allow you to prevent sites from tracking what you do and where you go online, so spend some time looking at web browser settings to see what privacy options are available to you.

3. Use features and services available within an app or website. Also take a look at the privacy settings available in the specific apps, websites or games your family uses. Most will let you have a private account, which means the whole world won’t be able to see what you post or who you’re connected to.

4. Remember that being online is a public life. Nothing is truly private online. If you and your family keep this in mind, it can help you all think through what you are about to post, like and click on, as well as who you connect with online.

Explore more ideas to keep your kids and family safe online at internetsafety.trendmicro.com.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

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eLivingToday.com

Not Just Words: Homily for Monday, August 28, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Sometimes in reading the bible, the words we read can seem rather ordinary.  In fact, readings might not immediately catch our attention.  But today’s first reading reminds us they are not just words.  Listen carefully to the words of Saint Paul.  “For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.”  Whenever we proclaim the Word of God or pray over, it God speaks. Do you forget the bible is the word of God?

Saint Augustine did.  While today we remember him as a great saint, that was not always true.  Day after day his mother prayed for him.  God heard her prayers.  But it was the action of God that made this possible.  Only God was capable of so influencing Augustine he converted.  The movement of God in our hearts is still available.  God can still influence in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much conviction.

How to help Texas with relief

Damage from Hurricane Harvey is just beginning, and already it is substantial.  There was first significant damage from the hurricane as it came ashore near Corpus Christi, Texas.  Now, as it is essentially halted in place over Houston, the flooding is catastrophic.  Some parts of Texas could receive over FOUR FEET of rain.  Obviously, the damage from this storm will impact Texas for years.

If you would like to help, the Texas Catholic Conference has posted in its website information about helping specific dioceses.  The most helpful and immediate need is money.  Most Texas dioceses are accepting cash donations online.  When people are forced from their homes, they often first need food, shelter, and healthcare.  Your financial gift makes that possible.  Some dioceses are beginning to gather names of people who might be able to volunteer with cleanup.

At the very least, everyone can pray.  Pray for those who have died, those who are injured, those who have been displaced by the storm, and also for the rescue personnel who will work tirelessly to save people.  As a reminder, you can submit a prayer here.

True Power: Homily for Sunday, August 27, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Ah, political power. Staff shakeups are not unknown.  They usually occur in times of trouble or crisis.  Sometimes leaders seek to get out of a crisis with “new blood” and a new way of proceeding.  Whether it is in fact really new or not, it provides a fresh start.

Today’s first reading is such a moment.  The city was under siege, and despite warnings from God, the king (and those around him) did not trust in God.  They sought security in military power and political alliance.  The ultimate outcome was the anger of Israel, the neighbor of Judah to the north, and the loss of political power, and ultimately, exile in Babylon.

Today’s gospel poses just such a choice to the apostles.  Will they follow Jesus, by declaring him Lord and Son of God, or will they trust in their own efforts.  Who do you say that I am?  We have the same choice today.  Do we follow Jesus, Son of God, and proclaim his name, or do we trust in something lower and not as powerful?  Who do you say Jesus is?

Love Neighbor: Homily for Saturday, August 26, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for today

Which commandment is the greatest? That was yesterday’s question.  Remember the answer.  Not just the greatest commandment, but Jesus mentioned the second greatest commandment too.  Today it is clear why Jesus felt compelled to say this.  He discusses the difference between the knowledge of the law, which the Pharisees have, and the application of that knowledge, which they do not have.

Too often this is applied to mean Jesus did not care about the Law.  That was not the case.  Jesus says other times that he has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, not do away with them.  So just what does he mean?  He clarifies by his words and actions the purpose of the Law.  The Law is always meant to bring a person closer to God.  So to preach is not just about knowing the Law, but helping others to understand it, to apply it, to live it.  And, it is about accompanying others when they fall, and seeking their forgiveness and understanding when we fall.

Greatest: Homily for Friday, August 25, 2017

To hear the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Teachers, at least good teachers, get asked a lot of questions.  Some they like.  Questions that challenge, or demonstrate insight, or seek clarity or understanding.  Others are not so pleasant.  “Will this be on the test?” probably ranks among the least favorite, although the student who comes back after missing a day of school to ask, “Did we do anything yesterday?” is pretty annoying too.

Why did the man ask Jesus about which commandment was greatest? Why wouldn’t a scholar of the law already know the answer? Perhaps because the question was not really a question at all.  It was an attempt to trip Jesus up by giving an answer that could get Jesus into trouble. But the result was an answer that makes it quite easy to develop a guide for Christian life.  Love God.  Love neighbor.