18 July 2019

Reflection Starter from Nelson Mandela

"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." - Nelson Mandela

17 July 2019

Jessica Mesman on Remembering Our Mortality

"Daughters of St. Paul Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble, author of Remember Your Death: A Memento Mori Lenten Devotional, started keeping a skull on her desk a couple of years ago. She tweeted images of her ceramic skull; relevant quotes from scripture, saints and poets; and the hashtag #MementoMori: 'Remember you will die.' The first time she tweeted 'Day 1 with a skull on my desk,' her website says, she thought nothing of it. But the overwhelming response she received encouraged her to pursue the practice more deliberately. . . .

"Death was, in fact, what drew me back to practicing Catholicism. Specifically, I was drawn to the prominent display of the crucifix in our churches and homes and to meditations such as the Way of the Cross. Catholicism seemed to me the only place in our culture that wasn't afraid to look death in the face. In a Catholic church, I was never asked to deny what, for me, was already a harsh reality.

"In fact the practice of memento mori - meditating on one's death -has a rich Christian history, and Sister Noble is at the forefront of a movement to reclaim it. Remembering our finitude once emphasized the urgency of the call to holiness, but until I saw Noble's tweets, I noted that the 'Death Positivity' movement was being led by secular champions who recognized that our fear of death, and our inability to talk openly about it, was killing us."

In a recent commentary, writer Jessica Mesman reflected on the .

To access her complete essay, please visit:

U.S. Catholic: Remembering our mortality is a practice worth reviving (April 2019)

Research Report on Investing in Equitable Urban Park Systems

City Parks Alliance recently partnered with the Urban Institute to conduct a research scan of park funding strategies, with a particular focus on understanding how equity relates to funding decisions and how park leaders and communities can capitalize on parks’ many benefits to leverage funding for parks in low-income communities. The Alliance also partnered with Groundwork USA to identify community preconditions for using these strategies successfully and ensuring real ownership and health equity gains for long-term residents. The analysis was designed to build on City Parks Alliance’s ongoing research into the equitable resource distribution strategies of urban park and recreation agencies across the country.

To access a copy of the complete report, please visit:

Urban Institute/National Parks Alliance; Research Report: Investing in Equitable Urban Park Systems: Emerging Funding Strategies and Tools (July 2019)

Background information:

City Parks Alliance

Urban Institute

Groundwork USA

Liza Minelli: "New York New York"

Over the years, a number of songs have been presented that relate to various geographical locations - cities, states, countries,and so forth. One such song is "New York, New York." This version is presented by Liza Minnelli:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of good evangelists and the various ways in which they spread Your message.

Br. Jordan Zajac, O.P., on the Gas Pump Preacher

"He came up to me with a question about Aquinas.

"He comes up to a lot of people, apparently.

"We were standing on a dimly-lit subway platform. He had a hand-painted portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe tucked under his arm, several rosaries around his neck, and an earnest look on his face. 
It was clear he understood the faith well and loved it fiercely. And he found opportunities to speak about it. Often.

"'I preach at gas stations,' he told me, matter-of-factly."

In a recent commentary, Brother Jordan Zajac, O.P., reflected on how, although there "may be many ways to evangelize our culture, but the starting point for every evangelizer is the same: preparedness."

To access Br. Jordan's complete post, please visit:

Dominicana: The Gas Pump Preacher (17 JUL 19)

Reflection Starter from St. Thomas Aquinas

"Not everything that is more difficult is more meritorious." - Saint Thomas Aquinas

16 July 2019

Tom Perna on Our Lady of Carmel, St. Simon Stock, and the Brown Scapular

"[Today], July 16, is the feast day of Our Lady of Carmel, a very important feast day in the life of any Carmelite and really anyone that wears and has a devotion to the Brown Scapular. The story of the Brown Scapular and Our Lady of Carmel begins with a Carmelite saint known as St. Simon Stock.

"In the mid 13th century, Simon Stock, entered the Carmelite Order in Kent, England, after turning 40 years of age. He was sent by his superiors to Mount Carmel (Holy Land), where he enjoyed a life of prayer and penance. When the Saracens retook the region in 1238, during the Second Crusade, Simon Stock and many of his Carmelite brothers had to flee the area, many of them returning to England in 1242.

"From a very early age, Simon Stock had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is believed that the Carmelite Order saw great growth under the care of Simon Stock because of his great love and admiration for Our Lady, and eventually the Brown Scapular. He and the Carmelites would need her intercession when the Catholic Church tried to oppress them with decrees from the Councils of Lateran IV and the Lyons II.

"Not having any friends in the hierarchy with influence, the Carmelites prayed to Our Lady to save them from extinction. On July 16, Our Lady’s intercession came through for the Carmelites. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Tom Perna, Director of Family Catechesis at Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Gilbert, AZ, reflected on Our Lady of Carmel, Saint Simon Stock, and the Brown Scapular.

To access his complete post, please visit:

Tom Perna: Our Lady of Carmel, St. Simon Stock, and the Brown Scapular (15 JUL 19)