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Featured Article: May is dedicated to Mary as the season of the beginning of new life - According to Catholic Culture.org, “The month of May is the month which the piety of the faithful has especially dedicated to Our Blessed Lady.” The dedication of the month of May to the Blessed Virgin began at the end of the 13th century as a way for the Church to Christianize secular feasts. By 1700, the members of the Jesuit Order and the Gesu Church in Rome publicly practiced the May observance (https://www.catholicculture.org). Current celebrations include a daily recitation of the rosary and the crowing of Our Lady’s statue. Read Full Story

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 May is dedicated to Mary as the season of the beginning of new life
 Confirmation: Strengthened by the Spirit, Called to Action
 Prayer For Healing Your Family And You
 Pentecost Sunday - May 15, 2016
 What the CARA Report Tells Us About Our Newest Priests
 Getting to the Heart: Gratitude, servitude and attitude
 NET Ministries Puts Youth in the Church
 No Diets! How Parents Can Help Kids Learn Healthy Eating Habits
 26 Recommended Preventive Health Services for Older Adults: the Healthy Aging Checklist
 Take Charge of Your Health: A Guide for Teenagers
 WORLD YOUTH DAY, Krakow-2016
 Praise Through Poetry
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A Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence
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Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
NBCC Spotlight
 The Catholic Church and The Black Lives Matter Movement: The Racial Divide in the United States Revisited
 IBCS At Xavier University
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 Breaking the Silence: Confronting Race, Power & Privilege Retreat
May 7, 2016
 Domestic Violence Workshop
May 7, 2016
 14th Annual Asian and Pacific Island Catholics Marian Pilgrimage
May 7, 2016
 FREE Healing of Families Worldwide Webinar with Fr. Yozefu (Joseph) Ssemakula
May 9, 2016
 The Way Healing Retreat for Female Survivors of Abuse
May 13, 2016
 Together in God’s Love Marriage Retreat Weekend
May 13, 2016
 22nd Annual Memorial Mass on the Solemnity of Pentecost
May 15, 2016
 St. Martin's Church 2016 Pentecost Concert
May 15, 2016
 Montclair’s African Heritage Day Parade
June 4, 2016
 GIVEN: the Catholic Young Women's Leadership Forum
June 7, 2016
 Interregional African American Catholic Evangelization Conference (IAACEC)
June 9, 2016
 WOMEN'S RETREAT: Finding Afresh the God of Our Longing
June 10, 2016
 Standing on the Rock, a guided retreat for Black Catholics
June 17, 2016
 “You Show Me the Path to Life”
June 26, 2016
 Xavier University of Louisiana Institute for Black Catholic Studies
June 27, 2016
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In The News
 National Day of Prayer - Thursday, May 5th, 2016
 Makeup of mission dioceses reflects U.S. church’s changing demographics
 Chosen: Helping teens fall in love with the truth, beauty and joy of Christ and his Church.
 Parishes Shine in the Year of Mercy
 Will Birmingham Give Birth to National Racial Reconciliation?
 A Summary of Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love)
 Pittsburgh’s 2016 Juneteenth Festival & Bicentennial Event
 Why there’s hope for Catholic liturgical music
 Father Stephen Thorne to receive Gesu School award - Catholic Philly
 Request for Religious and Laity Help
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 NBCC : Black Health & Wellness

MARY: A Word For The Weary

"In the world," our Savior tells us, "we will have trouble." Sadness, exhaustion, loneliness, interpersonal conflicts, and failure are just some of the common troubles we Christians experience at various points in our lives. Too often, these challenges rob us of God's priceless gift of joy. "The joy of the Lord," we know from Nehemiah and Ezra, "is our strength." So we rightly seek to make sense of the the sort of trials and difficulties mentioned above so that we can hold fast to our joy and better fulfill our purpose in the world.

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There are many 'answers' to the problems of life and many of these answers we have discovered on the natural level are very good at overcoming the challenges we face in our lives. For instance, the mood of sadness can give way to happiness with more time spent in the sunshine, a better diet or the right song. The feelings of loneliness can leave when a loved one loves back or smiles back. In so far as they go, natural answers can be very good. The problem we encounter, however, is that natural solutions do not go as far as we would have them. In other words the solutions offered by this world come and go.

Thankfully, for those of us who have put on the mind of Christ, we are able to understand the realities of this present world in light of the realities of the world to come. When we experience some evil or negative situation in our lives, we rightly ask 'Why?' This is not the angry 'Why?' of a wounded sense of entitlement. Rather, our questioning stems from our natural desire to know the cause of anything that exists. Asking 'Why?' does not arise so much from our personal experience of pain or disappointment, rather it comes more from our knowledge that God is all-good, all-knowing and all-powerful.

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We know that "God orders all things sweetly" and this includes the way he directs us during the difficult times of life. Even when we know this is the case, we do not always grasp that truth on an affective level. Whenever we find our emotions out of sync with precepts and promises of God, it is very important that we decide to trust what He has revealed in spite of how we feel. We find great help doing this in the teachings and examples of many of the saints. The Apostle Paul, for instance, gives a very important reason for our sufferings when he teaches that "power is made perfect in infirmity." He says, "I will glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. . . . for when I am weak, then am I powerful." This reality of power (not only being present in the midst of weakness, but also being perfected in the midst of weakness) can be hard to understand at first. It is a bit counter-intuitive to give thanks to God for a "thorn in the flesh," but it is precisely this wexample of gratitude in the midst of affliction that we have received from St. Paul.

The way this all works out can be illustrated in the natural order in a very common sort of athletic competition: arm wrestling. Let's say we are spectators to a long series of arm wrestling matches between two unevenly matched contenders. Watching the underdog struggle and lose over and over could come across as a sorry sight. The key to seeing how great such a spectacle is in fact, is to understand it, not in terms of winning, but in terms of getting stronger. More important than the comparison between the strength of two wrestlers is the strength each can claim as his own. The weaker of the two may never 'win' a match. He can, however, get much stronger by competing well. Every time he strives to defeat his opponent by employing good form, following the rules and exerting the little strength that he does have, he gets stronger. His strength, to borrow St. Paul's words, is made perfect in weakness.

In a similar way, when we persevere through trials and tribulations, we grow stronger spiritually. God is not concerned primarily with whether or not we are 'winning.' Rather, He is concerned that we are struggling and, thereby, becoming stronger in charity. In fact, this process of getting stronger is the sure sign that we are winning where it matters. It is our strong love for God that will ensure our ultimate victory at the end of our earthly lives. So, understanding the great and lasting value of our passing trials and tribulations, we respond as such an understanding demands: with gratitude to God for the gift of our struggles.

In the Gospel of Luke, our Savior admonishes us to "struggle to enter through the narrow gate, for many... will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough." More often than not, the ordeals we go through are not all that pretty to watch. sometimes we get so beat-up that even those on the sidelines are embarrassed. Be that as it may, our Heavenly Father is looking long-term, and we do well to take our cue from Him. God is looking way beyond the temporary humiliations of His saints as He sees the everlasting exaltation that awaits us. He is looking towards our happiness beyond that narrow gate. Whenever troubles overwhelm us and we feel our weakness, even when we feel only our weakness, that is the moment to keep striving. That is the moment to get stronger in God. If we persevere in this struggle here below, then God will not fail to crown our labors in Heaven where the strong ones, His saints, will rejoice forever after having passed through the narrow gate.

Disponit Omnia Suaviter

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