31 August 2015

On the Challenges Facing Aging Congregations

"Lannie Collins, a beefy man whose red face matches his thinning red hair, took a break from pulling weeds in the August heat outside the Quechee Community Church, a particularly attractive example of the archetypal white-steepled New England church.

"'The biggest problem is,' Collins said, 'because of the location, people have the impression that there’s nothing wrong with the church.'

"Collins has a point. For those who drive by on a Sunday and see the sun-drenched historic building with cars in the parking lot, hear its bells tolling dutifully in its classic steeple and take note of its location on prime real estate along Quechee Main Street, they probably would have a hard time imagining there's anything wrong.

"The reality is quite different, said Collins. . . ."

Focusing on the challenges facing Quechee Community Church in Quechee, VT, a recent Valley News article reported on the challenges facing a number of church communities that have primarily older members.

To access the complete Valley News report, please visit:

Valley News: Churches Fall on Hard Times: Aging Congregation in Quechee Struggles to Remain Viable (30 AUG 15)

Background information:

Quechee Community Church

Darlingside: "Whippoorwill"

Throughout the summer, residents and visitors have been treated to outdoor concerts (in a variety of genres, often by artists from the local area) in a number of communities in each of the six New England states. The sponsors of these presentations include local communities (perhaps organized by the Recreation Department), business associations, and other organizations.

One such presentation in (Middlebury) Vermont was by Darlingside, a group that focuses on "eclectic blend of 60s folk, clever wry wit, classical arrangements, soaring harmonies, and a modern indie-rock sensibility."

In this offering, Darlingside performs "Whippoorwill":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You bless those who set time aside to spend it with You.

On Ways Daily Mass Change Participants

"For many of us, the idea of making Daily Mass is a luxurious thought. We so quickly dismiss the idea without truly contemplating the real benefits of 'sacrificing' a portion of our day. I was one of those people . . . until I started going to Daily Mass."

In a recent commentary, Robert Barbry II, writer/speaker, youth minister, and Catholic convert, reflected on the value of participating in Mass each day.

To access Mr. Barbry's complete post, please visit:

EpicPew: 5 Ways Daily Mass will Change You (16 AUG 15)

Reflection Starter by Albert Schweitzer

"Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light." - Dr. Albert Schweitzer

30 August 2015

"I Sing the Mighty Power of God"

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of Isaac Watts' "I Sing the Mighty Power of God":

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Deuteronomy, chapter 4:1-2, 6-8; James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27; and Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 15 (Psalm 15:2-5).

For one version of the Responsorial Psalm set to music, please visit:

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 15

The Gospel reading is as follows:

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. - For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. - So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, "Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?" He responded, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition."

He summoned the crowd again and said to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.

"From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 30, 2015)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 30, 2015)

Community in Mission: The Love of the Law and the Law of Love - A Homily for the 22nd Sunday of the Year (29 AUG 15)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Tradition, Tradition

Word on Fire: Law and Laws (Cycle B * Ordinary Time * Week 22)

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology: Pure Religion: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (24 AUG 15)

The CWR Blog: The cart of human tradition and the horse of divine Law (29 AUG 15)

Spirituality of the Readings: The Heart of the Matter (22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Clean Hands, Dirty Thoughts? (22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

The Word Embodied: Difficult Passages (22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Historical Cultural Context: Conflict (22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Irenaeus (22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (28 AUG 15)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You encourage us to be Your presence in the world.