31 October 2013

Jackie Evancho: “The Lord’s Prayer”

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of Jackie Evancho singing “The Lord’s Prayer”:

Congratulations, Bosox!

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, who won the World Series, four games to two, with their 6-1 victory over the Saint Louis Cardinals in last night’s game!!! It was truly an exciting series to watch and to participate in.

Media reports:

NECN: Boston Red Sox become World Series champs with 6-1 win over St. Louis (30 OCT 13)

NECN: Ortiz: ‘Winning this World Series is special’ (31 OCT 13)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your encouraging words that come to us through Scripture and through those You place in our lives (whether in person, in print, or via  other media).

The Wright Thing

This month marks the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the superstorm that dealt much of the Northeast a crippling blow. The loss of life and property was staggering; an estimated 250 people were killed as a result of the storm, and property damage was measured in the billions. That was particularly true of the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, where some homes in low-lying areas were smashed to bits and others were burned to the ground. Millions more were without power for over a week.

While recovery has been remarkable for the most part, some sections were not as lucky. There are people still struggling to put their lives back together a year later . . . and others are making sure you don’t forget about them.

One of them is David Wright, who is using his celebrity as third baseman and captain of the New York Mets to shepherd a program that honors both the victims of Sandy and the heroes who saw them through it. He couldn’t be more serious about the cause, as he told Denis Hamill of the New York Daily News:

“After the storm I met a lot of the kids who were displaced by Sandy. New York is my second home, a city that’s been very good to me, and so when I visited some of the neighborhoods that were destroyed by Sandy, my heart went out to these people.”

Wright rolled up his sleeves right away. First he donated $250,000 to a fund that was aiding relief for Sandy victims, and then he set up his own program – which he called, appropriately enough, The Wright Thing.

“So many people did great things during and after the storm,” he explained to Hamill. “We wanted to honor some of them in some small way, let them know that we don’t forget once the storm is over.”

One of those people is NYFD Firefighter Tommy Wood of Belle Harbor, Queens, who was off-duty at the time but immediately went into rescue mode. With his 14-year-old son Brendan, he got in a kayak and, ignoring the flames shooting forth all around him, evacuated 25 of his neighbors to safer ground – including a woman in a wheelchair. Wright saw to it that he had a day of his own at the Mets’ home stadium of Citi Field in August, where he greeted other Met players and had his family introduced to the crowd.

Then there’s Elaine Wepa Gil of Staten Island, who showed up at a high school there where 900 people were temporarily displaced and, with a costume of her own, hosted a Halloween party for the 200 kids among them. With her husband she organized a volunteer outreach program that found people in battered homes who were cold and hungry, and in addition set up a collection point in her own basement for all the supplies that were coming in. She, too, had a day at Citi Field with her family, courtesy of Wright.

“We want to honor people like Tommy and Elaine,” he said. “To say we haven’t forgotten. Mostly I want to meet these heroes so I can have the chance to say, ‘Thank you.’”

A good idea? Seems wonderful from here. And maybe “The Wright Thing” is a little gimmicky, true. But who’s to say it isn’t a perfect fit?

(This essay is a recent “Light One Candle” column, written by Jerry Costello, of The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.)

Background information:

The Christophers: Christopher Radio & Video

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

“We must consider our neighbor in relationship to God, Who wants us to love him . . . and we are to be interested in him even when this is distasteful for us. The resistance of the inferior part of our soul will be overcome by the frequent performance of good acts. To this end, however, we must center our prayers and meditations of the love of our neighbor, having first implored the love of God. We must ask for the grace to love especially those we do not like very much.” – Saint Francis de Sales

30 October 2013

Jean Sibelius: Symphony No.1 in E minor, Op.39. Paavo Jarvi - YouTube

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No.1 in E minor (Op. 39), as played by the Orchestre de Paris (conducted by Paavo Jarvi):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the adventures You allow us to participate in.

On Questions To Ask Others When Evangelizing

“I have found that a growing number of Catholics (and other Christians) have realized the urgency and necessity of evangelizing the culture and other people. But due to the lack of good evangelistic experiences, practices, and training there are few who know how to evangelize very effectively.

“Some tend to equate evangelization with having all the right answers. I was one of these. My idea of evangelization was winning an argument or proving someone else wrong, through the power of the truth of the Catholic Church. It wasted a lot of time pushing people away, through my pride and lack of charity, to realize my mistake. Apologetics can remove an obstacle toward someone growing closer to Christ, but it rarely moves anyone closer to Him. This is done through an act of the will, in choosing faith and love.”

The blog, Aggie Catholic, recently offered some suggestions about Catholics can ask others as part of the process of discerning about how one may best help a person in each situation encountered.

To access this post, please visit:

Aggie Catholics: Questions To Ask Others When Evangelizing (25 OCT 13)

Reflection Starter from John Amatt

“Adventure isn’t hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles of life – facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our resources against the unknown and in the process, discovering our own unique potential.” – John Amatt

29 October 2013

EPA: New England Experienced Fewer Unhealthy Air Quality Days During Summer Ozone Season

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that New Englanders experienced a decrease in the number of unhealthy air quality days this year, compared to 2012.

The findings are based on preliminary data collected between April and Sept. 2013. Air quality monitors recorded 20 days when ozone levels in New England exceeded levels considered healthy. In 2012 there were a total of 29 unhealthy ozone days. The trend in unhealthful days over the past 30 years is substantially downward. The downward trend is reportedly due to reduction in the emissions that form ozone.

The number of unhealthy ozone days in each state this summer were:

  • 17 days in Connecticut (compared to 27 in 2012),
  • 7 days in Rhode Island (12 in 2012),
  • 6 days in Massachusetts (17 in 2012),
  • 5 days in Maine (4 in 2012),
  • 3 days in New Hampshire (4 in 2012), and
  • 0 days in Vermont (0 in 2012).

Although the number of unhealthy days may vary from year to year due to weather conditions, over the long-term, New England has experienced a decreasing number of unhealthy ozone days. In 1983, New England had 113 unhealthy days, compared with 20 this year.

Ground-level ozone is the main ingredient of smog. Ozone levels are unhealthy when average concentrations exceed 0.075 parts per million over an 8-hour period. Ground-level ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen chemically react in the presence of sunlight. Cars, trucks, and motorcycles give off the majority of the pollution that makes smog. Fossil fuels burning at electric power plants, which run at high capacities on hot days, emit substantial amounts of smog-making pollution. Gas stations, print shops, household products like paints and cleaners, as well as gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment, also contribute to smog formation.

EPA also notes that, although the 2013 ozone season is ending, pollution from small particles in the air is a year-round concern.

The daily air quality index forecast will continue to be available at http://www.epa.gov/ne/aqi/. New Englanders may also sign up at this address to receive air quality alerts. These alerts are issued by e-mail, whenever necessary, to notify program participants when high concentrations of ground-level ozone or small particles are predicted to occur, in their area.

Historical charts of unhealthy air days from 1983 through 2013 for each New England state are available at: www.epa.gov/ne/airquality/standard.html.

PA preliminary detailed list of 2013 unhealthy air quality data for New England is available at: www.epa.gov/region1/airquality/o3exceed-13.html.

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of hope.

Fr. Longenecker on St. Teresa’s Advice to Love Jesus

“All the best answers are simple even if they are not easy.

“St Theresa of Avila reminds us that the path to perfection is simple: love Jesus.”

In a recent commentary, Father Dwight Longenecker (parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Greenville, SC) reflected on ways we can follow Saint Teresa’s advice to love Jesus – by reading the Holy Gospels, loving Jesus in the Eucharist, and walking with Christ (including following Him and allow Him to lead us).

To access Fr. Longenecker’s complete post, please visit:

Standing on My Head: Theresa of Jesus- It’s Simple – Love Jesus (15 OCT 13)

Background information:

Dwight Longenecker - Catholic priest and author

Reflection Starter from Bl. Contardo Ferrini

“Our life must reach out toward the Infinite, and from that source we must draw whatever we can expect of merit and dignity.” – Blessed Contardo Ferrini

28 October 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the warmth You provide in our homes during cold nights and days.

Br. Luke Hoyt, O.P., on Cheering for the Home Team Vis-à-vis Awaiting God’s Final Triumph

“We’re coming to the end of October. For a baseball fan like myself, this doesn’t designate a merely generic period of days on a calendar. It’s World Series time. It’s the culmination of a whole month of baseball magic, where each pitch is charged with energy, where every player is ready to go the extra mile to make a great play, where every pitching change and lineup switcheroo is loaded with significance.

“But it’s also a time when the fans themselves become something of a marvel to behold. Playoff ballgames are always packed, filling the stadium with an electric charge that is palpable. This charge crackles and buzzes from foul pole to foul pole, and spins across the whole diamond, lighting up and enlivening the players on the field. As a fan at a playoff game in Pittsburgh earlier this month remarked in a text message,

‘It’s crazy here. It’s as loud as a concert and the place shakes every time something big happens!’

“If you’ve ever seen a playoff crowd erupt at a come-from-behind victory, you know it’s a gorgeous sight. . . .

'”But it also makes me wonder. What’s going on here? Is this a case of authentic joy or just some primal herd instinct running wild? To the sports fan it seems entirely natural to go crazy when the home team comes up with a victory. But to the outsider, it’s a ridiculous spectacle. They protest: ‘It’s just a game.’”

In a recent commentary, Brother Luke Hoyt, O.P., offered some reflections on the similarities between a ballpark full of cheering fans and our awaiting God’s final triumph.

To access Br. Luke’s complete post, please visit:

Dominica: Cheering for the Home Team (24 OCT 13)

Reflection Starter from Viktor Frankl

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” -  Dr. Viktor E. Frankl

27 October 2013

The Martins: “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of The Martins singing “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”:

World Priest Day

Today is observed as World Priest Day, an observance that is sponsored by Worldwide Marriage Encounter to honor the men who have dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The observance is celebrated concurrently with Serra Club’s National Priesthood Sunday.

For more information about this observance, please visit:

Worldwide Marriage Encounter: World Priest Day

Serra Club: National Priesthood Sunday

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for October 27, 2013: World Priest Day (26 OCT 13)

USA Council of Serra International

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; and Luke 18:9-14. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 34 (Psalm 34:2-3, 17-19, 23).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 34 “The Lord hears the cry of the poor”

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Reflections on this day and on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 27, 2013)

Msgr. Charles Pope: It’s Me Oh Lord, Standin’ in the Need of Prayer – A Homily for the 30th Sunday of the Year (26 OCT 13)

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio: The Pharisee, the Publican, and Humility

Word on Fire: Sermon 668: Finding Justification: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Sacred Page: What Does it Mean to Be Poor? The 30th Sunday in OT (34 OCT 13)

Dr. Scott Hahn: No Favorites (October 27th 2013 – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

The Catholic World Report Blog: The Prayers of Pharisees and Tax Collectors (26 OCT 13)

Spirituality of the Readings: The Cry of the Poor (30th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Historical Cultural Context: Divine Reversal (30th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of our faith and for the many ways in which You encourage us to take it seriously.

Pope Francis: Take Our Faith Seriously

“In [a recent] homily, Pope Francis focused on the fact that we have been ‘re-created’ in Christ, urging those in attendance to take their faith seriously, rather than committing halfway.

“'‘People do not take it seriously! Lukewarm Christians: ‘But, yes, yes, but, no, no.’ Neither here nor there – as our mothers said, ‘rosewater Christians’ – no!’”

In his homily based on the readings for the Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time, Pope Francis encouraged all Christians to place God first in our lives and then, as part of our effort to live our faith, to “do what Jesus advises us to help others.”

To access a Catholic News Agency report on his homily, please visit:

Catholic News Agency: Pope Francis warns faithful not to be ‘rosewater Christians’ (24 OCT 13)

Reflection Starter from St. Leo the Great

“The faith of those who live their faith is a serene faith.” – Saint Leo the Great

26 October 2013

Israel “Cachao” Lopez: “Mambo”

As this blessed week comes to a close, I offer this version of Israel “Cachao” Lopez playing “Mambo”:

VT Musician: Using the Harmonica as a Teaching Tool

At a recent Vermont Housing Managers Association conference, musician (and author) David Feldman (a.k.a., Harp), a resident of Middlesex, VT, offered a presentation on using harmonica playing to, among other lessons, help participants gain control of how they think and act.

Media report:

Burlington Free Press: Middlesex musician uses harmonica to help teach others (26 OCT 13)

Related media report:

Los Angeles Times: David Harp Found Key to Life and Happiness in a Harmonica : Health: This is a story about pain and redemption, about one man's journey into the light, and his willingness to guide others there, (10 SEP 95)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your many good priests who strive to minister to You people in many different ways (usually without being noticed by others).

“I Did What a Priest Does”

It had all the earmarks of a great wire-service news story, the kind that reporters hope will fall into their laps one day: a priest mysteriously shows up at the scene of a motor vehicle accident, consoles a victim and prays with her, and then just as mysteriously disappears, before anyone could even offer a word of thanks. The story had legs for a couple of days, with reports of an “angel priest” who appeared and suddenly disappeared, all in the middle of Missouri.

Before long everyone was talking about “the mystery” and, perhaps, a sign from heaven--but just as quickly, all the questions were cleared up. There was no mystery at all; just a priest quietly doing his job.

The priest was Father Patrick Dowling of the Jefferson City Diocese in Missouri, an Irish-born veteran of the diocesan missions in Peru. Ordained in 1982 for Jefferson City, now involved in prison ministry and work with Spanish-speaking residents of the diocese, Father Dowling was a bit bemused by all the speculation the incident had caused. He treated it matter-of-factly, though, and said that if any angels were present it was the emergency personnel who worked “so professionally,”

“I hope the credit goes where it is due,” he said.

The Sunday-morning accident involved vehicles driven by Katie Lentz, 19, and 26-year-old Aaron Smith. Lentz, who was struck head-on, was trapped in her car with serious injuries. Father Dowling, en route from one parish Mass assignment to another, stopped to offer whatever assistance he could. Once he discovered the media attention centered on his presence at the accident, he promptly came forward with a full explanation.

“I asked the sheriff’s permission and approached the scene of the accident,” he said. “I absolved and anointed Katie, and, at her request, prayed that her leg would not hurt. Then I stepped aside to where some rescue personnel and the [helicopter] pilot were waiting, and prayed the rosary silently. I left when the helicopter was about to take off, and before I got to my car it was on its way.”

Father Dowling didn’t stop there, of course. He made sure he visited Lentz in the ICU unit at Blessing Hospital in Quincy, and when she saw him she reached out her hand. And then she cried and offered her thanks.

The thanks, he repeated, belong to the rescue people – “people of faith and prayer,” he called them. “I have no doubt that the Most High heard their prayers, and I was part of his answer . . . but only one part.”

Reflecting on the role he played, he said, “I try to be a priest, not a hero. And I did what a priest does. And every priest that I know, if they would pass by an accident, they would stop and do what I did.”

Is there a lesson to be learned from all this? There sure is, Father Dowling said, and it’s simply this:

“God loves us, he is here close to us, and when we’re in trouble, he’s there.”

(This essay is a recent “Light One Candle” column, written by Jerry Costello, of The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.)

Background information:

The Christophers: Christopher Radio & Video

Reflection Starter from Samuel Johnson

“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome.” – Samuel Johnson

25 October 2013

Winter Weather Awareness Week

The National Weather Service offices that serve New England have declared the week of 21-25 October as Winter Weather Awareness Week.

In New England, everyone is potentially at risk during winter storms and cold weather.  The actual threat to individuals depends on their specific situation, the amount of risk they’re willing to take, and how prepared they are for the possibility that something may go wrong.

Based on statistics, the majority of winter weather-related fatalities are men, probably because men take more risks, and do not prepare for the possibility that something may go wrong. The majority of the fatalities related to snow and ice are actually men over 40 years old. About 70 percent of the fatalities occur in automobiles while about 25 percent are people caught out in the storm. Regarding hypothermia-related fatalities, about 75 percent are men, about 50 percent of the fatalities are people over 60 years old, and about 20 percent of the fatalities occur inside the home.

Background information:

National Weather Service: Gray/Portland (ME) Office: Winter Weather Awareness Public Information Statements

National Weather Service: Winter Weather Safety and Awareness

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

On Saturday (26 October), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will again be coordinating a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcement agencies (including many agencies throughout New England) to remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from medicine cabinets. The free event will be held from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. These sites include (as of this writing) 78 in Connecticut, 162 in Maine, 153 in Massachusetts, 85 in New Hampshire, 39 in Rhode Island, and 60 in Vermont.
This Seventh National Take-Back Day is designed to provide an opportunity for the public to surrender expired, unwanted, or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications for destruction. These drugs are a potential source of supply for illegal use and are considered an unacceptable risk to public health and safety.
This one-day effort is designed to bring national focus to the issue of increasing pharmaceutical controlled substance abuse. The program is anonymous, and it focuses on prescription and over the counter solid dosage medications (i.e., tablets and capsules). Intravenous solutions, injectables, and needles will not be accepted. In addition, illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine are not a part of this initiative.
To view a list of collection sites in a specific state, please click on the following link:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your grace and for the many ways it touches our hearts.

R. Jared Staudt on St. Isaac Jogues as a Forgotten Founding Father

“In narrating the birth of our country, no one would forget figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and, of course, George Washington. Yet Catholics know that it is truly the spiritual that forms and shapes the external reality. In this sense, when we look for the true spiritual fathers of our country, we would be absolutely remiss to forget the figure of St. Isaac Jogues (1607-46). Though on mission to French Canada, his captivity brought him deep inside the present territory of the United States; he may have been the first white man to traverse the Adirondack Mountains on foot and was one of the first to sail down the Susquehanna River through central Pennsylvania. If only his christening of the present day Lake George had stuck as Lake of the Blessed Sacrament! St. Isaac Jogues, along with his other fellow Jesuits, sanctified our nation with their blood, laying the true spiritual foundation for our country, one that we need to take up and make our own.”

In a recent commentary, R. Jared Staudt, Assistant Professor of Theology and Catechesis at the Augustine Institute, reflected on the role of Saint Isaac Jogues (and the other North American Martyrs) in tilling “the soil for a new Christendom in America” and on the challenges still being faced by Christians in this nation, reminding us: “This is all the more reason to turn back to the foundation of our martyrs, looking to them as a model of witnessing to Christ through charity, patient endurance, and even suffering.”

To access Mr. Staudt’s complete post, please visit:

Crisis Magazine: A Forgotten Founding Father: St. Isaac Jogues (17 OCT 13)

Reflection Starter from Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati

“The end for which we are created invites us to walk a road that is surely sown with a lot of thorns, but it is not sad; through even the sorrow, it is illuminated by joy.” – Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

24 October 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You work through chaplains in hospitals, prisons, schools, and other institutions.

Msgr. Pope on Kindness Vis-à-vis Love

“In yesterday’s post we pondered that being holy is more than being nice. Today we do well to ponder that that being loving is not the same as being kind.

“Here too we live in a reductionist culture that has tended to reduce love to kindness. The results are often quite problematic as we shall see.

“Kindness is a very great thing and has an important place in our relationships. Kindness is evidenced by goodness and charitable behavior, a pleasantness, tenderness and concern for others. According to Aristotle, kindness is an emotion manifesting itself by the desire to help somebody in need, without expecting anything in return. . . .

“Kindness is a very great attribute and it surely has its place. But we must carefully distinguish it from love. Exalting kindness over love amounts to a denial of the wisdom of the Cross. Kindness focuses on comfort and alleviating suffering and this is a very great thing. But love is greater thing for it focuses on healing, and it wills what is best, not what is merely desired.”

In a commentary we posted yesterday, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on holiness vis-à-vis being nice. In a post on the next day, he reflected on the place for kindness vis-à-vis the place for love.

To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Kindess is not the same as Love. (16 OCT 13)

Reflection Starter from Blessed Pope John XXIII

“See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little.” – Blessed Pope John XXIII

23 October 2013

Charles Camille Saint-Saëns: “The Carnival Of Animals”

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Charles Camille Saint-Saëns’ suite, The Carnival Of Animals (Le carnaval des animaux) as played by a youth chamber ensemble from the University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia:

National School Bus Safety Week

This week, the week of 21-25 October, is National School Bus Safety Week. This year’s theme is “Stand Back From the Yellow and Black!”.

Background information:

NAPT: National School Bus Safety Week

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: School Buses

National Association for Pupil Transportation

National School Transportation Association

American School Bus Council

Teachers and Families: Bus Safety Basics

Connecticut School Transportation Association

Maine Association for Pupil Transportation

Maine Dept. of Education: School Facilities Services / Transportation Team: School Bus Safety

School Transportation Association of Massachusetts

New Hampshire School Transportation Association

National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You encourage and guide our growth in holiness.

Msgr. Pope on Holiness Vis-à-vis Being Nice

“We live in a time that has tended to reduce holiness to merely being nice and agreeable. In this manner of thinking holiness tends to be variously thought of as: getting along well with everyone, being kind, agreeable, helpful, likable, generous, pleasant, mild mannered, amiable, good humored, middle of the road, even tempered, placid, benevolent, friendly, forbearing, tolerant, thoughtful, and the like. It can all be summed up by saying that ‘so-and-so’ is ‘basically a nice person.’ And thus the goal seems more to be nice than holy.

“. . . But true holiness, while it does not seek a fight, does not easily fit into this world’s schemes and categories. It tends to run against the grain and upset the status quo. Jesus could surely be kind, merciful and forgiving. But he was also holy. And true holiness does not compromise the truth, does not go along to get along. It does not remain silent just so everyone can be happy and unoffended. Jesus did not end up on the Cross because he was “basically a nice person.” He spoke the truth in love. He prophetically denounced hypocrisy, duplicity, sin and injustice. It is true he also blessed children and repentant sinners found refuge in him and a strong advocate. But Jesus was no fool, and he didn’t just go around slapping every one’s back and being nice. Jesus was holy. And holiness is hot to the touch. It is not easily endured by the tepid and worldly minded. They killed him for it.”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on there being a place for niceness and ordinary human kindness. But there are also times “where holiness demands that we speak out strongly and unambiguously.”

To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Holiness is more than being “Nice.” (15 OCT 13)

Reflection Starter from Leo Buscaglia

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia

22 October 2013

John Michael Talbot: “Only in God”

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of John Michael Talbot singing “Only in God”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You inspire people to reach out to those who are disadvantaged.

On the Condition of Our Hearts Affecting the Way We See

“‘Fear and faith have one thing in common: they both ask you to believe in something that hasn’t happened yet.’

Former ‘American Idol’ contestant and country singer Danny Gokey lived those words after his wife Sophia died due to a congenital heart defect during their fourth year of marriage.

“Sophia had experienced ongoing medical problems since 2005, but during a surgery in 2008 meant to correct the issue, she had a negative reaction. During a follow-up procedure, her heart failed and she was put on an artificial heart. She never regained consciousness and passed away soon after.

“For Danny, this was a devastating time, especially because both he and Sophia had grown up as faithful Christian believers, who constantly prayed for healing.”

In a recent interview, Tony Rossi, of The Christophers, examined the challenges faced by Danny during this time, including Danny’s asking God why He had not answered the his prayer.

To access Tony’s complete post, please visit:

Christopher Closeup: The Condition of Our Hearts Affects the Way We See: An Interview with Danny Gokey (17 OCT 13)

Reflection Starter from St. Miguel Febres Cordero Muñoz

“The heart is rich when it is content, and it is always content when its desires are fixed on God.” – Saint Miguel Febres Cordero Muñoz

21 October 2013

Unique Ocean Landscapes

“When people mention the word ‘ocean’ many think of the endless blue that touches the sky on the horizon. However, oceanic expanses are not so monotonous. In addition to the usual islands, peninsulas and coral reefs that we used to see at the ocean expanses, there are some ocean landscapes that are simply unique in the world.”

The World Geography offers a report sketching ten of these ocean landscapes. To access this report, please visit:

The World Geography: 10 Unique Ocean Landscapes

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of the fall season, with its colors, its scents, and its sounds.

Fr. Longenecker on the Messages of Fatima and Pope Francis

“As pastor of a church dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, I found [the recent] Marian celebration in Rome very moving. . . .

“In our parish we moved our image of OL Fatima into the church for today’s Mass and the rest of the month of October and somehow the church’s teachings on Mary hit home to my heart today in a deeper way than ever before. As Rocco Palma observes, ‘If you don’t understand it can’t be explained.’ In his [recent post] Rocco explains how close the Blessed Mother is to the heart of Pope Francis’ life and ministry, and how close she is to the spirituality of the people.

After Mass I said to a parishioner, ‘This is what the message of the Blessed Mother is all about. It is about the end of the world. It is about the end of humanity – not so much in an apocalyptic way (although I wouldn’t rule that out) but the end of the world and the end of humanity because we are destroying ourselves. We are destroying families through contraception, sterilization, abortion and divorce. We are destroying our purity and power through pornography, homosexuality, promiscuity, lust and rage. We are destroying our society through greed, materialism, disregard for the poor, trampling the widows, orphans, homeless and hungry. We are destroying ourselves and the Blessed Mother looks on with a mother’s broken heart.”

In a recent commentary, Father Dwight Longenecker (parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Greenville, SC) reflected on the message of our Blessed Mother and the message of Pope Francis and on what these messages mean for the world.

To access Fr. Longenecker’s complete post, please visit:

Standing on My Head: The Pope, Fatima and the End of the World (13 OCT 13)

Reflection Starter from Albert Einstein

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

20 October 2013

Keene, NH, Sets New Jack-o’-lantern Record

At the 2013 Keene Pumpkin Festival this weekend in Keene, NH, participant set a new world’s record for the most lit jack-o'-lanterns – 30,581.

The Pumpkin Festival is designed to be a community-hosted, family-friendly celebration of fall and of what is unique about Keene and the Monadnock region.

Media report:

Keene Sentinel: Smiles, pumpkins abound as Keene breaks jack-o’-lantern record (20 OCT 13)

Background information:

City of Keene

Downtown Keene

Wikipedia: Keene, New Hampshire

André Rieu: “Nearer my God to Thee”

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of André Rieu presenting “Nearer my God to Thee”:

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Exodus 17:8-13, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2, and Luke 18:1-8. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 121 (Psalm 121:1-8).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 121 “The Lord, my Guardian”

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’”

The Lord said, "\”Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Reflections on this day and on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 20, 2013)

Msgr. Charles Pope: The Practices of Prayer – A Homily for the 29th Sunday of the Year (19 OCT 13)

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio: Ask and You Shall Receive – The Gospel of the Widow and the Unjust Judge

Word on Fire: Sermon 667: The Hard Texts of the Old Testament: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Sacred Page: Prayer as Warfare: The 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (15 OCT 13)

Dr. Scott Hahn: Hope From on High (October 20th 2013 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

The Catholic World Report Blog: The Prayer That We Breathe (19 OCT 13)

Spirituality of the Readings: The Everlasting Arms (29th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Historical Cultural Context: Shameless Behavior (29th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You invite us and encourage us to have an ever closer relationship with You.

Bishop Conley on Evangelizers Having an Intimate Relationship with Jesus

“St. Augustine was converted to Christianity through the voice of child calling to him under a fig tree in Milan. The voice cried the famous words ‘tolle lege, tolle lege’ — ‘take up and read, take up and read.’

“Augustine picked up the Letter to the Romans, and read the words of St. Paul: ‘Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh.’ He did put on Christ, in that moment of faith, and in baptism thereafter. When he put on Christ, he became a new man. St. Augustine said that in that moment ‘something was infused in my heart like the light of full certainty.’

“St. Augustine was converted by an encounter with the living God — with Jesus Christ. It was Christ who opened the Scriptures to him that day. Of course, Augustine became a prolific theologian, a competent bishop and a consummate churchman. His work helped to define the course of Christianity in the early centuries. But Augustine became, and remained, above all, a disciple of Jesus Christ. He encountered not a concept or a doctrine beneath that fig tree, but a person — Jesus of Nazareth, who set his heart aflame.

“After his conversion, Augustine came under the tutelage of St. Ambrose, the holy bishop of Milan. It was through Ambrose that the conversion of Augustine began to bear fruit. It was through Ambrose that the Augustine’s kerygmatic encounter with Christ developed into a full, healthy, spiritual life.”

In a recent commentary, Bishop James D. Conley, of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, reflected on the importance – for evangelizers as well as for those being evangelized – of forming an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus.

“It is said that people today have more questions about the faith than ever before, and there are fewer people trained to answer those questions than ever before. . . . If the Year of Faith is to bear fruit, and if the New Evangelization is to be an authentic renewal of Christian life and culture, it will be because more Catholics have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. There can be no effective ministry that is not the fruit of the maturity, discernment, and vision that comes from life in Christ.”

To access Bishop Conley’s complete reflection, please visit:

Catholic Pulse: Evangelizing the Evangelizers (14 OCT 13)

Reflection Starter from St. Anthony of Egypt

“Live each day as if dying.” – Saint Anthony of Egypt

19 October 2013

“The Sound of Silence”

As this blessed week comes to a close, I offer this version of two Chasidic rabbis (from Jerusalem) singing Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”:

(From the Israeli Channel 2 television show Rising Star)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for surrounding us with the mantle of Your love and for being an active participant in our lives, whether we are aware of it or not.

Simcha Fisher on Creation Singing God’s Praises

“. . . All creation sings your praises, whether it knows it or not.”

In a recent commentary, writer Simcha Fisher reflected on God’s creation constantly singing His praises.

To access her complete post, please visit:

National Catholic Register: Blogs: All Creation Rightly Sings Your Praise (10 OCT 13)

Reflection Starter from Abraham Lincoln

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.” – Abraham Lincoln

18 October 2013

On Archaeology and the Bible

“The workday is just beginning in Jerusalem, 20 miles to the northeast over folded ridges and misty valleys, but the sound of clinking trowels and creaking wheelbarrows has been echoing across this hillside since dawn. Dust billows up in the morning sun as a worker sweeps away a section of the excavation, where Hebrew mingles with American accents and yarmulkes with wide-brimmed hats.

“Clad in soggy T-shirts, the crew sifts through the ruins of a city that some archaeologists believe was part of the biblical realm of King David 3,000 years ago. At 8:30 a.m., Yosef Garfinkel, the codirector of the dig, arrives to survey the project, one of the most prominent and politically sensitive in a country rife with historical excavations.”

A recent article in the Jewish World Review examined the relationship between the Bible and archaeology, including some of the concerns that have been raised related to the accuracy of archaeological finds.

To access the complete article, please visit:

Jewish World Review: What archaeology tells us about the Bible (14 OCT 13)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of enthusiasm and for the many ways in which You work through this gift.

Good Counsel for Mothers and Babies

“Can you help us?” asked the young woman with a baby.

The year was 1979, and Chris Bell was living and working in New York’s Times Square, helping homeless and runaway kids. Though he’d encountered a lot of different people in his work, he admitted to me during an interview on Christopher Closeup that he was “taken aback because I didn’t imagine with all the homeless in the city that there would be a young mother and a baby.”

Bell asked the young woman what happened, and she explained that when she found out she was pregnant, she was happy because she thought she and her boyfriend would start a life together. But her boyfriend’s response to the pregnancy was, “Get rid of this thing.” The young woman felt so alone and depressed that she considered killing herself. Then she realized the baby inside her was innocent, so she couldn’t do that. After her daughter was born, her mother kicked her out of their home saying that she should be out on her own.

That’s what brought her to the shelter where Bell was working. “Can you help us?” she asked him while holding up her baby. “I instinctively said yes,” Bell recalled, “but I soon found out there was very little help. Unfortunately it’s still true today. There’s very little help for a mom with a child. That’s what led to us eventually creating Good Counsel Homes.”

The five existing Good Counsel Homes in New York and New Jersey offer “residential care and community-based services for homeless, expectant, and new mothers and their children in the context of the Catholic social tradition.” They have become a lifeline to desperate women since they were founded in 1985.

Bell says, “When a mother comes in, we assess her educational levels. She may have graduated high school, but may not be that good at reading or math. We help her along and encourage her to get into college or a vocational training program, to do something that will help her take that next good step in her life.”

The practice of faith is also encouraged. Bell says, “We have a chapel in each of our homes, and every day the staff and the moms gather for some kind of praise or petition because God knows we need prayer every day. But the women are invited. It’s not mandatory that they go into the chapel, but we invite them because we want them to get to know our Lord.”

In the years he’s done this type of work, Bell has faced many challenges – and new ones seem to crop up all the time. But Bell persists in his mission. As the inspiration behind his persistence, he credits the good example set for him by his family when he was younger – and even the stories about positive action he read in our Christopher News Notes, which his mother received.

The young mothers he helps are also an inspiration for him to continue his work. He says, “We have a few Moms, who were in our residences, who have gone on to college, and are now working with us because they want to give back. It’s so beautiful and encouraging to see. And we know it’s only through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that any good can come of where we’re at.”

The Good Counsel Homes Helpline, which you can call from anywhere in the United States to receive assistance, is 1-800-723-8331. Their website is GoodCounselHomes.org.

(This essay is a recent “Light One Candle” column, written by Tony Rossi, of The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.)

Background information:

The Christophers: Christopher Radio & Video

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

“We accuse our neighbor for so little, and we excuse ourselves for so much.” – Saint Francis de Sales

17 October 2013

A Thought Starter

“As Gandhi stepped aboard a train one day, one of his shoes slipped off and landed on the track.

“He was unable to retrieve it as the train started rolling. To the amazement of his companions, Gandhi calmly took off his other shoe and threw it back along the track to land close to the first shoe.

“Asked by a fellow passenger why he did that, Gandhi replied, ‘the poor man who finds the shoe lying on the track will now have a pair he can use.’” – Author Unknown

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You answer prayer, whether or not we are aware of Your working in each of the concerns we lift up to You in our prayer.

Pope Francis on Involving Ourselves in Our Prayer

“During [a recent] homily, Pope Francis reflected that authentic prayer involves knocking ‘at the heart’ of God with a strong, unwavering faith that he will respond.”

The Pope’s reflection was on the Gospel reading for the Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” – Luke 11:5-13

To access a Catholic News Agency report on his homily, please visit:

Catholic News Agency: Real prayer is always insistent, courageous, Pope Francis notes (10 OCT 13)

Reflection Starter from Aesop

“Something that seems funny when it happens to someone else, may not seem so funny when it happens to us.” – Aesop’s Fables

16 October 2013

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 2 in B-flat major

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2 in B-flat major (Op. 52) (known as the Lobgesang Symphony, or “Hymn of Praise”) as played by the Teatro alla Scala Orchestra Milan, Italy:

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October 2013 marks the tenth annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). During this observance, DHS is encouraging Americans to follow a few simple steps to keep themselves safe online – to keep their own personal assets and information secure and to help improve the overall security of cyberspace.

As part of this initiative, DHS is encouraging a number of cybersecurity actions during month and beyond. These actions include:

  • Making sure anti-virus software and firewalls is installed, properly configured, and up-to-date; setting the computer to automatically update (New threats are discovered every day, and keeping software updated is one of the easier ways to protect oneself from an attack.).
  • Updating the operating system and critical program software (Software updates offer the latest protection against malicious activities.); turning on automatic updating if that feature is available.
  • Backing up key files; if important files are stored on a computer, copying them onto a removable disc and storing it in a safe place.


National Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign

National Cyber Security Alliance

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the peace “that passes all understanding” that You offer to each of Your people.

Msgr. Pope on Humility in Prayer

“I, perhaps like you, have to see folks I love and care about through some difficult periods in their life. One neighbor and parishioner just lost her eight year old daughter to cancer. A number of parishioners are seeking work and praying daily for it, but no work offers seem forth-coming. Still others cry out for the alleviation of any number of different crosses. I too have lots of things for which I pray, and sometimes I get discouraged or even angry when God seems to say, ‘no’ or, ‘wait.’”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on how we are often sure of “what is best for us, or best for others. But what we find the desirable outcome is not necessarily the best outcome.” He also reflected on God’s knowing “the best answer and when to answer.” This, he states, “is humility.”

To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: On humility in prayer (10 OCT 13)

Reflection Starter from St. Augustine

“If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo

15 October 2013

Some Life Lessons

“I volunteer at a Mental Illness Drop in Centre in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Next to the drop in centre, there is a Men's Shed, where men who are mostly retired come together to do wood work and metal work. It is also a place where these men meet and bond.

“I sometimes wander into the Men's Shed to say hello to some of them men, whom I now know on a first name basis.

“Just recently, I went to the Men's Shed and noticed a new face. He was a short and slim elderly man, with grey hair pulled back. So, I decided to introduce myself, and we started a casual conversation.”

In a recent commentary, writer Ron Prasad reflected on his meeting Ted and on the lessons he learned from it.

To access Mr. Prasad’s complete post, please visit:

A Gift of Inspiration: No Barriers in Life (October 2013)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which Your creation proclaims Your glory.

Year of Faith: Marian Day

During the weekend, in St. Peter’s Square, the Marian Day was celebrated as part of the Year of Faith. The event included a procession around the square of the original statue of the Virgin of Fatima, which had been transported by air from Portugal and which Pope Francis had welcomed at the entrance of the Basilica. More than one hundred thousand people attended the event.

Following an address by the president of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the statue of the Virgin was enthroned and, after a Marian prayer, the Holy Father gave his catechesis in which he explained that Mary is the path that leads us to Jesus. “Mary is a woman of faith, a true believer,” he said. “But we can ask: What was Mary’s faith like?”

“Mary’s faith unties the knot of sin,” he continued. “What does that mean? The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council used a phrase of Saint Irenaeus, who states that ‘the knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by the obedience of Mary; what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith’”.

When we do not listen to God and do not follow his will, “we do concrete things that demonstrate our lack of trust in him – for that is what sin is – a kind of knot is created deep within us. These knots take away our peace and serenity. . . . But we know one thing: nothing is impossible for God’s mercy! Even the most tangled knots are loosened by his grace. And Mary, whose ‘yes’ opened the door for God to undo the knot of the ancient disobedience, is the Mother who patiently and lovingly brings us to God, so that he can untangle the knots of our soul by his fatherly mercy. . . . All the knots of our heart, every knot of our conscience, can be undone”.

Mary’s faith “gave human flesh to Jesus. As the Council says: ‘Through her faith and obedience, she gave birth on earth to the very Son of the Father, without knowing man but by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.’ . . . Mary first conceived Jesus in faith and then in the flesh, when she said ‘yes’ to the message God gave her through the angel. What does this mean? It means that God did not want to become man by bypassing our freedom; he wanted to pass through Mary’s free assent, through her ‘yes’.

“But what took place most singularly in the Virgin Mary also takes place within us, spiritually, when we receive the word of God with a good and sincere heart and put it into practice. It is as if God takes flesh within us; he comes to dwell in us, for he dwells in all who love him and keep his Word. . . . Believing in Jesus means giving him our flesh with the humility and courage of Mary, so that he can continue to dwell in our midst. It means giving him our hands, to caress the little ones and the poor; our feet, to go forth and meet our brothers and sisters; our arms, to hold up the weak and to work in the Lord’s vineyard, our minds, to think and act in the light of the Gospel; and especially to offer our hearts to love and to make choices in accordance with God’s will”.

The third element is “Mary’s faith as a journey. The Council says that Mary ‘advanced in her pilgrimage of faith.’ In this way she precedes us on this pilgrimage, she accompanies and sustains us. . . . Her entire life was to follow her Son: He – Jesus – is the way, He is the path! To press forward in faith, to advance in the spiritual pilgrimage which is faith, is nothing other than to follow Jesus; to listen to Him and be guided by His words; to see how He acts and to follow in His footsteps; to have His same sentiments. And what are these sentiments of Jesus? Humility, mercy, closeness to others, but also a firm rejection of hypocrisy, duplicity and idolatry. The way of Jesus is the way of a love which is faithful to the end, even unto sacrificing one’s life; it is the way of the cross.”

For Him, the journey of faith “passes through the cross. Mary understood this from the beginning. . . . Mary was always with Jesus, she followed Jesus in the midst of the crowds and she heard all the gossip and the hatefulness of those who opposed the Lord. And she carried this cross! Mary’s faith encountered misunderstanding and contempt. When Jesus’ ‘hour’ came, the hour of his passion, Mary’s faith was a little flame burning in the night, a little light flickering in the darkness. Through the night of Holy Saturday, Mary kept watch. Her flame, small but bright, remained burning until the dawn of the resurrection. And when she received word that the tomb was empty, her heart was filled with the joy of faith: Christian faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Faith always brings us to joy, and Mary is the Mother of joy! May she teach us to take the path of joy, to experience this joy!”

The Holy Father concluded, “This evening, Mother, we thank you for our faith, the faith of a strong and humble woman; we renew our entrustment to you, Mother of our faith.”

(the above was from the Vatican Information Service)

Media reports:

Catholic News Agency: Let God untie your knotted hearts, Pope says (12 OCT 13)

Whispers in the Loggia: The Great “Untier” – For Francis, There's Something About Mary (13 OCT 13)

Reflection Starter from Jimmy Carter

“We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon.” – Jimmy Carter

14 October 2013

Br. Henry Stephan, O.P., on Columbus Day

“Today, the United States observes a holiday in honor of Columbus’s arrival in the New World on October 12, 1492. We’re hardly alone in marking the occasion – most of our southern neighbors commemorate the day as well. The Bahamas marks Discovery Day straightforwardly enough, while Belize and Uruguay celebrate the Day of the Americas. Most Latin American countries recognize El Día de la Raza, or “Day of the (Hispanic) People/Race.” The Argentines gently sermonize with El Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural: “The Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity.” Finally, the chavistas of Venezuela seek catharsis on El Día de la Resistencia Indígena (Day of Indigenous Resistance). It may be a bit on the nose, but Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian Republic never was one for subtlety.

“Columbus Day, in all its iterations, brings to the fore all the baggage that the Americas carry regarding the European conquest of these continents. History books have been written and re-written over the past decades as the traditional, lauding view of Columbus’s arrival has come under severe criticism. It’s all well and good to recite the poem about Columbus sailing the ocean blue, the critics say, but it does nothing to recognize the apocalyptic impact the arrival of Europeans had on the indigenous populations.

“Insofar as these controversies lead us to a greater historical consciousness about the injustices and cruelties of colonization, they have their merit. . . . For all of this, though, it still seems fitting for Catholics to mark the day and the man. This should not just be on account of some provincial pride that one of our coreligionists was pivotal in the settlement of this continent. We should celebrate because Columbus planted the flag of more than just Spain – he established a foothold for Western civilization in the new world.”

In a recent commentary, Brother Henry Stephan, O.P., offered some reflections on Columbus day and what it represents.

To access Br. Henry’s complete post, please visit:

Dominica: What Hath Columbus Wrought? (14 OCT 12)

Team Heart and Its Rwanda Ministry

“Stowe resident Mark Sgantas is always up for an adventure. And, he’s always willing to lend a helping hand.

“Sgantas is chief of the Stowe Fire Department and has spearheaded volunteer trips to Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina and New York following Hurricane Sandy.

“He’s also a nurse at Fletcher Allen Health Care, where’s he worked on the cardiac thoracic medicine floor for the past 18 years.”

Stowe, VT, Fire Chief Mark Sgantas plans to travel to Rwanda (with another Fletcher Allen nurse) in February as part of Team Heart, a medical team (based in the Boston area) that is planning to perform a number of heart-valve surgeries.

To access a Stowe Reporter article, please visit:

Stowe Reporter: Striving to make a heartfelt difference (10 OCT 13)

Background information:

Stowe Volunteer Fire Department

Town of Stowe

Wikipedia: Stowe, Vermont

Team Heart, Newton, MA

Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington, VT

“The Power of Kindness”

In this Simple Truths video, Mac Anderson offers a reminder of how acts of kindness can put joy into our lives:

Simple Truths: The Power of Kindness

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which acts of kindness, often unlooked for, touch our lives.

Fr. Longenecker on Three Popes Vis-à-vis Wizard of Oz Characters

“The Wizard of Oz is a pretty smart book because the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion show three traits we need to be complete. If you only had a head, a heart and courage. It occurred to me on my walk this morning that the three popes illustrate what we need, the church needs and the world needs.”

In a recent commentary, Father Dwight Longenecker (parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Greenville, SC) reflected on how Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis reflect the traits of these three characters and on how the traits of the characters and the Popes balance one another.

To access Fr. Longenecker’s complete post, please visit:

Standing on My Head: Three Popes and the Wizard of Oz (4 OCT 13)

Background information:

Dwight Longenecker - Catholic priest and author

Reflection Starter from Christopher Columbus

“I am a most noteworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous Presence.” – Christopher Columbus

13 October 2013

“Christ Is the World’s Light”

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of Koiné singing “Christ Is the World’s Light”:

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are 2 Kings 5:14-17, 2 Timothy 2:8-13, and Luke 17:11-19. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 98 (Psalm 98:1-4).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 98 “The Saving Power of God Revealed to All”

The Gospel reading is as follows:

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”

As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan.

Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

Reflections on this day and on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 13, 2013)

Msgr. Charles Pope: How To Render Perfect Thanks: A Homily for the 28th Sunday of the Year (12 OCT 13)

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio: Thanksgiving – Namaan and the 10 Lepers

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for October 13, 2013: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (12 OCT 13)

The Quiet Corner: A practical gesture of reverence and respect (3 OCT 13)

Word on Fire: Sermon 666: Humility and the Healing Power of God: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Sacred Page: Is Anyone Grateful? The 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (8 OCT 13)

Dr. Scott Hahn: Returning Thanks (October 13th 2013 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

The Catholic World Report Blog: The Living Dead and the Grateful Living (12 OCT 13)

Spirituality of the Readings: Gratitude (28th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Historical Cultural Context: “Boundaries” (28th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which Your creation sings Your praise.

Pope: Be Vigilant Against the Devil’s Presence

“In [a recent] homily, the Holy Father warned of the discreet presence of the devil, exhorting those gathered to be astute in their spiritual lives.”

The Pope’s reflection was on the Gospel reading for the Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time:

When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said: “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.

But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

“When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, ‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.” – Luke 11:15-26

To access a Catholic News Agency report on his homily, please visit:

Catholic News Agency: Pope Francis: Christians must guard against slyness of the devil (11 OCT 13)

Reflection Starter from St. Gregory the Great

“The Holy Bible is like a mirror before our mind’s eye. In it we see our inner face. From the Scriptures we can learn our spiritual deformities and beauties. And there too we discover the progress we are making and how far we are from perfection.” – Pope Saint Gregory the Great

12 October 2013

“The Battle Hymn Of The Republic”

As this blessed week comes to a close, I offer this version of Johnny Cash singing Julia Ward Howe’s “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic” with the Statler Brothers and the Carter Family:

This presentation was the show-closer of the The Johnny Cash Show on 27 September 1969.

Nativity School of Worcester Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

The Nativity School of Worcester, MA, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. The school is an independent Jesuit school that strives to provide a quality, all-scholarship education to underserved boys (of all faiths) in Grades 5-8.

Drawing upon four pillars (strength, scholarship, character, and service ), the school strives to inspire self-discovery, responsibility, spiritual growth, and a lifelong dedication to learning. The structured learning environment includes an 11-hour school day, individual tutoring, and small classes. It also includes a a mandatory summer program and

The school does not received financial assistance from the College of the Holy Cross (some of whose staff members were instrumental in launching the school), the Diocese of Worcester, or the state or federal government. To meet its operating expenses, the school relies instead on the generosity of individuals, foundations, and corporations.

Although the school does not charge tuition, families pay a book and activity fee of $200.00 or $250.00 a year.

Among the school’s achievements in its first ten years:

  • One-hundred percent (100%) of the school’s 86 current graduates were accepted into and received sufficient financial aid to attend private high schools.
  • Ninety percent (90%) of the school’s graduates are on track to graduate high school in four years’ time (compared to the national average of 68% for low-income students).
  • 83% of the school’s high school graduates have been accepted into a four-year college or university.
  • 100% of the school’s graduates who are attending a four-year undergraduate college or university are on track to finish their degree in four years.

Media reports:

NECN: Tuition-free private school marks 10 years in Worcester, Mass. (9 OCT 13)

Telegram & Gazette: Nativity School celebrates 10 years (1 AUG 13)

Background information:

Nativity School of Worcester

Facebook: Nativity School of Worcester