31 January 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for those who minister to our youth and for all You are doing for them and through them.

Saint John Bosco

As some people are aware, a favorite saint of mine is Saint John Bosco (1815-1888), whose feast day is celebrated today. This is an enhanced re-post of of a item originally posted on 31 January 2011.

A priest in the Archdiocese of Turin, Italy, he had a special ministry to urban boys – initially teaching them their faith. This ministry expanded to teaching other academic subjects, including the skills needed in a few trades (initially shoemaking and tailoring, and then expanding to printing and other trades).

Father John Bosco worked to educate the whole person body and soul. He believed that one’s faith, rooted in Christ, should permeate everything one does, including work, learning, and recreation.

When I was teaching, I tried to follow his education philosophy, which (among other things)was a preventive system, placing students in surroundings removed from the likelihood of committing sin and encouraging frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist. He encouraged his teachers to follow the example of Jesus, teaching the boys with patience, kindness, and calmness.

John Bosco was noted for the ministry of reaching out through the printed word. He wrote a number of booklets and other printed pieces to teach aspects of the faith, to combat false teachings, and to encourage his readers in a number of areas. In his writings, he worked to communicate information so recipients could readily understand the information or concepts involved.

With the encouragement of Pope Pius IX, John Bosco founded a religious order to focus on education and missionary work, with a special focus on young people. This order was the Society of Saint Francis de Sales, better known as the Salesians.

Saint John Bosco is a patron saint of editors.

For more information about Saint John Bosco, please visit:

Catholic Forum: St. John Bosco

Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Giovanni Melchior Bosco (1907)

Da Mihi Animas: An Interview with Saint John Bosco (30 JAN 11)

A reading from Saint John Bosco:

Lop Notes: Excerpt from a Letter by Saint John Bosco (31 JAN 12)

Reflection Starter from Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. . . . We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

30 January 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for inspirations that help remind us that You are near.

Br. Timothy Danaher, O.P., on Ritual in Our Lives

“Luke Ripley’s life is the same every morning: he sits in the dark with his coffee and thinks of the people he loves, then he sets out to the stables with a carrot or an apple to feed one of his horses, which he will saddle and ride fifteen minutes to morning mass. Afterwards he and his closest friend Fr. Paul talk baseball or the news in the sacristy. He is an ‘old buck’ in his late fifties and lives alone, having been divorced for more than a decade. He teaches riding clinics and boards horses, but underneath he wrestles always with two strains of thought: Similar to a recovering alcoholic, he deals with painful memories of the past, yet he’s found peace in the newfound rhythms of his reconstructed life without family.”

In a recent commentary, Brother Timothy Danaher, O.P., reflected on the role of ritual in our lives, including our walk with the Lord.

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

Dominicana: The Genius of Ritual (17 JAN 13)

Reflection Starter from Grenville Kleiser

“To live at this time is an inestimable privilege, and a sacred obligation devolves upon you to make right use of your opportunities.” – Grenville Kleiser

29 January 2014

Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 9 in C major

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 in C major as played by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra:

National Radon Action Month

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has designated January as National Radon Action Month. It is a time to raise awareness of radon and its potentially harmful effects. During this month, a number of public health officials and agencies are participating in education projects and are encouraging area residents to get their homes tested.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and chemically inert radioactive gas. It is formed by the natural radioactive decay of uranium in rock, soil, and water. Naturally existing, low levels of uranium occur widely in Earth’s crust. It can be found in all fifty states. Unless one tests for it, there is no way of telling how much is present. Exposure to radon in the home is estimated to be responsible for 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year.

A number of New England communities (e.g., Trumbull and Stratford, CT) offer radon test kits to their residents.

Presidential proclamation:

Presidential Proclamation – National Mentoring Month, 2014

Background information:

EPA: Radon

American Lung Association: Radon

EPA: A Citizen’s Guide to Radon

Thank You, Lord

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

Tim Conway's Hilarious (and Spiritual) Life

You should always follow your mother's advice. Well, almost always. Consider this story that comedian Tim Conway shared in his recent Christopher Closeup interview about his new memoir, What’s So Funny? My Hilarious Life.

During his third year starring in the 1960’s sitcom McHale’s Navy, Conway got a call from his mother Sophia in Ohio. She told him, “Ken Shutts down at the hardware store is taking on new help. You know him rather well, so you should apply.”

Surprised, Conway responded, “Ma, have you been watching television in the last couple of years?”

Sophia answered, “I saw it, but that junk isn't going to last. You've got a chance to get a good steady job. You should take it.”

Thankfully, Conway didn’t pursue that job, which freed him up to make it onto The Carol Burnett Show, where he cemented his comedic legacy. Surprisingly, show business was not his first career choice. He told me, “I wanted to be a jockey. But at this weight, even the horses ask you to get off. Plus, I fell off a lot, and people betting on you would like to see you on the horse when it comes across the finish line.”

A pivotal spiritual moment in Conway's life came in high school. He was playing in a football game when he got hit hard in the back. He writes in his book that he was unable to talk or “feel anything below my neck let alone move.” His team members grabbed his arms and legs and carried him off the field. A doctor took an X-ray, found nothing broken, and put him in a neck brace for a few weeks.

Many years later, Conway visited a doctor due to back spasms. The doctor told him his “spasms were a residual effect stemming from a broken vertebra.” Conway insisted he'd never broken a vertebra, so the doctor asked if he’d ever had a sports injury. Conway told him about the high school football incident.

The doctor replied, “Here’s what I think. Your vertebra probably was broken when you were hit, but when they picked you up and carried you to the locker room, your back got stretched out. I’d guess that the vertebra went back into place. The X-ray may not have shown anything at the time but, I assure you, you came very close to being permanently disabled. If they hadn’t moved you, it might have been a different story.”

Conway writes, “Ever since that incident on the football field, which might have altered the course of my life, Jesus and I have stayed in constant touch. I never stop saying thank you.”

Though Conway, who converted to Catholicism in college, doesn’t wear his faith on his sleeve, his relationship with God remains important to him. He admits that his journey of faith hasn’t always been a straight line, but adds, “All straight lines get a little crooked from time to time, but I tried to maintain a decent life.”

When I asked Conway what he hopes readers learn from his book, he said, “I hope it helps them better know what my outlook on life was – to see life as humorous and enjoyable. I think God has placed me in several positions, which I have found humorous. I find humor in life itself, and I can hardly wait to thank Him in person.”

(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

Refection Starter from Lord Chesterfield

“Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well.” – Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

28 January 2014

Prism of Praise: “I Am Yours”

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of Prism of Praise singing “I Am Yours”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for our Catholic schools and for all You do for them and through them.

Catholic Schools Week

This week, the week of 26 January-1 February, is being observed as Catholic Schools Week. The theme for Catholic Schools Week 2014 is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service.”

This theme was developed in response to requests for a theme and logo that would last more than a year (the new theme will be used for at least three years). The theme encompasses several concepts that are at the heart of a Catholic education. First, schools are communities—small families in their own right, but also members of the larger community of home, church, city and nation. Faith, knowledge and service are three measures by which any Catholic school can and should be judged.

2014 Catholic Schools Week Logo

The new logo features a swirl of colors interacting around a cross, which is at the center of all Catholic education. The vibrancy of the colors and the movement and shadows in the logo portray the inner-connectivity and community life that are present in our Catholic schools.

For more information related to this year’s observance, please visit:

NCEA: National Catholic Schools Week 2014

Reflection Starter from Denis Waitley

“No matter how much we’re given . . . the most important factor is to use our gifts to the fullest. But most of us . . don’t do very much with what we’re given. We are satisfied to be in our rut of average. Let’s face it: We’re living in a society where average is enough.” – Dr. Denis Waitley

27 January 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord for the graces You give us to (re)turn to You.

Deacon Mike Bickerstaff Offers Three Conversion Stories from the Bible

“Nearly everyone loves conversion stories. Over the last couple of decades, the conversion stories of people who have entered the Catholic Church have exploded onto the scene in the form of compilations of short stories found in books such as Surprised by the Truth and more detailed accounts such as found in Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home.

“But no book contains more moving accounts of conversion and the life of faith than the Holy Bible.”

In a recent commentary, Deacon Mike Bickerstaff reflected on three of the conversion events related in the Bible – the conversions of Ruth, King David, and Saul of Tarsus.

To access his complete post, please visit:

The Integrated Catholic Life: Three Conversion Stories from the Bible (26 JAN 13)

Reflection Starter from Samuel Johnson

“Kindness is in our power; even when fondness is not.” – Samuel Johnson

26 January 2014

“Jesus, the Light of the World”

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of “Jesus, the Light of the World”:

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Isaiah 8:23-9:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17; and Matthew 4:12-23. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 27 (Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 27 “The Lord is my light and my salvation”

The Gospel reading is as follows:

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.” From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

Reflection on this feast:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 26, 2014)

Msgr. Charles Pope: Come and Go with Me, to My Father’s House – A Homily for the 3rd Sunday of the Year (25 JAN 14)

The Deacon’s Bench: Homily for January 26, 2014: 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (25 JAN 14)

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio: Meaning of the Church: Are You Called?

The Sacred Page: The Joy of Dropping Everything: The 3rd Sunday of OT (21 JAN 14)

Word on Fire: Sermon 681: Land of Zebulon, Land of Naphtali: 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Dr. Scott Hahn: History Redeemed (January 26th 2014 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time)

The Catholic World Report Blog: Jesus is not a mere fact, but a living invitation (25 JAN 14)

The Integrated Catholic Life: Into the Deep: God’s Search for You (5 JAN 14)

Spirituality of the Readings: Light or LIGHT? (3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time A)

The Word Embodied: Divided Hearts, Divided Church (3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time A)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You encourage us to reach out to others.

Assisting Project Forgotten Child

“A rainbow of tiny rubber bands seems almost worthless, until the DaSilva girls pluck them out of a pile and stretch them onto their looms to help children who live on the other side of the world.

“‘If you keep going, it gets easier and easier,’ the oldest sister Isabella says as she creates another bracelet.

“‘This is what it looks like when you’re done,’ the youngest sister Sophia says, pointing to a colorful creation on her wrist.

“The West Warwick girls used their dedicated little hands to accomplish big things, well beyond accessorizing. And it all started with inspiration from a fourth sister.”

A recent WPRI-TV report profiled the efforts of the DaSilva children as they strive to support the Project Forgotten Child ministry of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy (North American Province). These efforts were begun after a presentation by Sister Judith A. Costa, S.S.D., at Saint Anthony Parish, West Warwick, RI, last summer.

To access the complete WPRI-TV report, please visit:

WRI-TV: Sisters weave hope for forgotten orphans  (24 JAN 14)

Background information:

Project Forgotten Child

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

“During the course of the day, recall as often as possible that you are in God’s presence. Consider what God does and what you are doing. You will see His eyes turned toward you and constantly fixed on you with incomparable love.” – Saint Francis de Sales

25 January 2014

Cesar Espinoza: “Unchained Melody” (on the Pan Flute)

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this presentation of Pan Flute version “Unchained Melody” as played by Cesar Espinoza:

Pew Research Report on America’s Reading Habits

“Americans are reading differently than they used to – more e-books, more audiobooks and more young people choosing not to read.”

In a recent National Public Radio report, Celeste Headlee interviewed Kathryn Zickuhr, research associate at the Pew Research Center ’s Internet & American Life Project, and Elissa Malespina, school librarian at South Orange, NJ, Middle School, about America’s reading habits.

The main focus of the interview was a recent Pew Research report reflecting that, although the proportion of Americans who read e-books is growing, few have completely replaced print books for electronic versions.

Among the report’s findings:

  • The percentage of adults who read an e-book in the past year has risen to 28%, up from 23% at the end of 2012. At the same time, about seven in ten Americans reported reading a book in print, up four percentage points after a slight dip in 2012, and 14% of adults listened to an audiobook.
  • Although e-books are rising in popularity, print remains the foundation of Americans’ reading habits. Most people who read e-books also read print books, and just 4% of readers are “e-book only.” Audiobook listeners have the most diverse reading habits overall, while fewer print readers consume books in other formats.

To access the complete NPR report, please visit:

National Public Radio: Are E-Books Killing Reading For Fun? (23 JAN 14)

To access the complete Pew Research report, please visit:

Pew Internet & American Life Project: E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps (16 JAN 14)

HLI President, Fr. Shenan Boquet, on Issues of Life and Getting Back to the Basics

The National Catholic Register recently published an interview with Father Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International (HLI), one of the largest pro-life organizations in the world (with affiliates and members in more than 80 countries). The interview covered a number of topics, including current concerns over abortion, the redefinition of marriage, and euthanasia.

To access the complete National Catholic Register article, please visit:

National Catholic Register: Issues of Life and Getting Back to the Basics (24 JAN 14)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You guide and encourage members of communities to work together and support one another.

Pitfalls in Process of Conversion to Christianity

“The process of conversion to Christianity is fraught with many deadly pitfalls. As one makes their way towards Christ, these pitfalls present themselves in a variety of ways, infecting one’s soul and causing it to stumble off the path.”

In a recent commentary, writer Jason Liske reflected on three stumbling blocks that may be experienced by a convert to Christianity. These pitfalls include Triumphalism (becoming so proud of one’s own conversion that he/she begins to aggressively lord it over others), Over-Intellectualization (a state of intellectual pride based on scholarly work – and losing sight of Christ), and Romanticizing the faith (assuming that all members of the Church are saints – becoming disappointed with their human frailties).

To access Jason’s complete post, please visit:

MonkRock: Three Pitfalls of Conversion (7 JAN 14)

Reflection Starter from James Russell Lowell

“Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do that day, which must be done, whether you like it or not.” – James Russell Lowell

24 January 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the Catholic press and for all You do for and through those involved in this special ministry.

Saint Francis De Sales

As a number of people are aware, one of my favorite saints in Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622), whose feast day is celebrated today.

Bishop of Geneva,  he was the author of a number of books and pamphlets (including An Introduction to the Devout Life and Treatise on the Love of God). He also wrote a number of letters (mainly to give spiritual direction to one or more individuals).

He was noted for his goodness, patience, and mildness. He also tried to live with the greatest economy (including eating plain food and keeping his household simple), in order to be able to provide more abundantly for the wants of the needy.

Besides his being patron saint of journalists and writers, one of the things that drew me to him and his spirituality was that he believed holiness was something for every one, no matter what his/her status in life.

“Go courageously to do whatever you are called to do. If you have any fears, say to your soul: ‘The Lord will provide for us.’ If your weakness troubles you, cast yourselves on God, and trust in him. The apostles were mostly unlearned fishermen, but God gave them learning enough for the work they had to do. Trust in him, depend on his providence; fear nothing.” - Saint Francis de Sales

For additional information, please visit:

Doctors of the Church: Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Francis de Sales: An Introduction to the Devout Life

The Vatican: Pope Benedict XVI on St. Francis de Sales (2 MAR 11)

“I wish to recall the figure of St Francis de Sales, whom the Liturgy commemorates on 24 January. Born in Savoy in 1567, he studied law in Padua and Paris and then, called by the Lord, became a priest. He dedicated himself to preaching and to the spiritual formation of the faithful with great success. He taught that the call to holiness was for everyone and that each one as St Paul says in his comparison of the Church to the body has a place in the Church. St Francis de Sales is the patron Saint of journalists and of the Catholic press.” – Pope Benedict XVI (during the Angelus, Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 24 January 2010)

(Note: For the past several years, the Pope has signed the annual papal message for World Communications Day on the feast day of Saint Francis de Sales. and entrusted the message to his prayers.)

Reflection Starter from Thomas Merton

“We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.” – Rev. Thomas Merton, OCSO

23 January 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You work through us to touch the lives of others.

From Beverly Hills to a Mexican Prison

As experiences go, they don't come much more life-changing than this one.

You go from a Beverly Hills upbringing through two marriages and seven children, to living – voluntarily – in a Mexican prison, serving the needs of inmates, becoming a nun and founding a religious order. It all happened to Mary Clarke, later known as Mother Antonia Brenner, and when she died last October obituaries told of a magical life of serenity lived among some of the world's most desperate criminals. With it all she was known as the Prison Angel, and few could have worn the honor as lightly as she.

How did it all happen? Mary Clarke was born in Los Angeles in 1926, grew up in Beverly Hills with movie stars like Cary Grant among her neighbors, had two marriages and two divorces that she rarely discussed, and raised four daughters and three sons. All the while she was deeply involved in charity work, and when a priest told her one day in 1965 that he was delivering medical supplies to La Mesa Penitentiary in nearby Tijuana, Mexico, she decided to go along. The trip would change her life forever.

“Something happened to me when I saw men behind bars,” she said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “When I left, I thought a lot about the men. When it was cold, I wondered if the men were warm; when it was raining, if they had shelter . . . When I returned to the prison to live, I felt as if I’d come home.”

That didn’t happen right away, although she began working with the inmates as a volunteer. In 1977, with her children grown, she moved to La Mesa, living as any other inmate would. She slept in a 10-by-10-foot cell in the women’s wing, eating prison food and lining up for morning roll calls. As Richard Marosi of the Times wrote: “She would walk freely among thieves and drug traffickers and murderers, smiling, touching cheeks and offering prayers.”

He also cited a 2002 interview in which she said, “They have to accept that they’re wrong. They have to see the consequences. They have to feel the agony. But I do love them dearly.”

Along the way Mother Antonia became known as “The Prison Angel,” which was also the title of a Christopher Award-winning book about her. In time – with the approval of the bishop of Tijuana – she established a religious community for older women, the Eudist Sisters of the 11th Hour. And she still found time for regular visits with her own family.

“We called her the Eveready battery,” said her daughter, Christina Brenner. “She wouldn’t stop. She was always going.”

In changing her own life, she also changed the lives of others. A Catholic News Service obituary quoted one of them, a former prisoner named Antonio Granillo who is now the director of a men’s shelter: “If it weren’t for Mother Antonia, I would have been dead in prison or discarded in the street because of drugs.”

It was left for Mother Antonia herself to write the final lines of her life story. “In 30 years there,” she said, “I haven’t met anyone that wasn’t worth everything I could give to them – even my life. I see the image and likeness of God in each and every one of them.”

(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

Eudist Servants of the Eleventh Hour: Biography of Mother Antonia Brenner

Reflection Starter from William Barclay

“The tragedy of life and of the world is not that men do not know God; the tragedy is that, knowing Him, they still insist on going their own way.” – Rev. William Barclay

22 January 2014

“Don't Flush Baby Wipes” Public Education Campaign

The Maine WasteWater Control Association, in collaboration with other partners, has initiated a campaign designed to deal with the issue of non-dispersibles – products (including baby wipes) marketed or advertised as “flushable” that don’t break down like toilet paper or products that are not flushable but are flushed by confused consumers. These products can cause damage to a home’s plumbing, septic systems, and public sewer systems.

SaveYourPipes Logo

Media report:

Bangor Daily News: Flushed baby wipes causing multimillion-dollar problems for Maine wastewater systems (22 JAN 14)

For more information about this campaign, please visit:

Save Your Pipes: Don’t Flush Baby Wipes

Facebook: Save Your Pipes

Background information:

Maine WasteWater Control Association

Maine Department of Environmental Protection

INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D major

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D major (Op. 36) as played by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Christian Thielemann):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You work through those who strive to promote Christian unity.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2014

This week,the week of 18-25 January, is being observed as the 2014 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The octave ends on the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle. This year’s theme is “Has Christ been divided?” (based on 1 Corinthians 1:13).

Background information:

Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute

Graymoor: History of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Additional information:

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

World Council of Churches: Commission on Faith and Order

Reflection Starter from Blessed John Henry Newman

“One secret act of self-denial, one sacrifice of inclination to duty, is worth all the mere good thoughts, warm feelings, passionate prayers in which idle people indulge themselves.” - Blessed John Henry Newman

21 January 2014

Straight No Chaser: “Amazing Grace”

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of Straight No Chaser presenting “Amazing Grace”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of life You have given each of Your people.

March for Life Reminds Us of True Values on 41st Roe v. Wade Anniversary

Throughout this week the nation remembers the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion at any stage of the preborn baby’s life in his/her mother’s womb. To sadly commemorate this decision and its tragic consequences, there are a number of observances taking place in this region and throughout the nation.

The March for Life will be on Wednesday, 22 January in Washington, DC. The pre-march March for Life Rally will be on the National Mall (west of 8th Street near the Smithsonian Castle) beginning at 12:00 PM and continuing until approximately 1:00 PM. It will be followed immediately by the March for Life itself.

As in previous years, the Solemn Vigil Mass for Life/National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Boston (and Chairman-elect, USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities) will be the Principal Celebrant and Homilist at the Vigil Mass. Catholic TV and EWTN will broadcast coverage for this event beginning at 6:30 PM.

The Archdiocese of Washington will also host its 18th annual Youth Rally and Mass for Life on Wednesday.

Background information:

March for Life

National Prayer Vigil for Life

Archdiocese of Washington: Youth Rally and Mass for Life

Walk for Life West Coast

Reflection Starter from Rupert Hughes

“A determined soul will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop.” – Rupert Hughes

20 January 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for taking on our sins in Your perfect offering as the Lamb of God.

On Martin Luther King’s Refutation of Atheist Materialism

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birth we commemorate this weekend, is most known for his work with racial justice and civil rights. But Dr. King had other things to say as he preached each Sunday, first in his own assembly and later as he moved about.

“Among the recorded sermons that are available comes the excerpt below from one, where Dr. King addresses the problem of unbelief, of materialism and atheism. His reflections are worth pondering since the issues he addresses here are more widespread than when he made these remarks in 1957.

“The title of the sermon is ‘Why the Lord Called a Man a Fool’ He is commenting on the parable of the Lord about the wealthy man who had a huge harvest and, instead of sharing, just built bigger barns. The Lord called him a fool for thinking his material wealth could supply is needs and give him security. As a sidebar in his sermon Dr. King addressed the problem in the modern world of unbelief, and speaks to the foolishness of this.”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) offered the text of Rev. Dr. King’s homily and reflected on a number of the points he made.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: The Doctor is In – A Reflection on a Sermon of Dr. Martin Luther King refuting Atheist Materialism (19 JAN 14)

Reflection Starter from Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

19 January 2014

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

“Ships at sea have a mariner’s needle which always points to the north star; although the ship may be headed south, the needle never fails to point north. It sometimes seems that the soul at prayer is going straight south, since it is greatly bothered by distractions; nevertheless, the highest point of the spirit always looks toward God, Who is its north. People who are the most advanced in the spiritual life often have such great temptations, even against faith, that it seems to them that their whole soul consents to these temptations. Yet they still resist at the deepest level of their being. Even though all their other faculties and powers may be filled with distractions, their spirit is praying.” – Saint Francis de Sales

11 January 2014

Pillar: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of Pillar presenting “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings You have bestowed upon Your people during this Christmas season.

Br. Nicholas Schneider, O.P., on the Joy of Christianity

“Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium has produced significant reaction and commentary, both positive and negative. Many in the media have focused on the social, political, and economic implications of the document. Sadly, most commentators have looked past the obvious: the second word of the text and the title: joy. ‘The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus’ (EG 1).

“Joy is such a central aspect of our faith. Unless we are filled with joy, we have no message of Christ to bring to the world. The accounts of the martyrs throughout history are full of descriptions of them going to their deaths with great rejoicing and full of joy. Joy reorients us away from our self-focused lives and onto what is really important. Mother Teresa used the acronym JOY as an aid to remind us of the proper ordering of the importance of things: Jesus, Others, You.”

In a recent commentary, Brother Nicholas Schneider, O.P., reflected on the importance of joy, one of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, in living our faith and on how joy, that is rooted in Christ’s love, is overflowing and contagious at all times and in all situations.

To access Br. Nicholas’ complete post, please visit:

Dominicana: The Joy of Christianity (27 DEC 13)

Reflection Starter from Elbert Hubbard

“A successful person is one who has tried, not cried;
Who has worked, not dodged;
Who has shouldered responsibility, not evaded it;
Who has lifted the burden instead of standing off, looking on and giving advice.” – Elbert Hubbard

10 January 2014

Tom Jones: “Mary’s Boy Child”

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of Tom Jones singing “Mary’s Boy Child” (accompanied by David Foster on the piano):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the joy You bring to us and call us to share with others.

Dr. Francis Beckwith Meets Jesus in Las Vegas

“Several days before my 13th birthday, in late October of 1973, I had a dream that was so vivid that when I woke up the next morning I was convinced that it was no mere dream. As I note in my 2009 memoir, Return to Rome, in the dream Jesus and I ‘were sitting, facing each other, with the landscape of heaven in the background. He spoke to me. Over thirty years later, I cannot honestly recall the words he uttered. But I do remember waking up the next morning with the sense that I had experienced a reality that was unlike any dream I had ever had.’

“Last week, on the evening of December 26, while my wife and I were visiting family in Las Vegas for the holidays, I voiced a brief prayer under my breath while I was driving alone to my brother’s home, ‘Jesus, I invite you back into my dreams tonight.’ We recently received news that my father has been diagnosed with cancer. Although the prognosis was far from hopeless, such news, especially during Christmas, has the power to jar one from the complacencies of ordinary life.

“I began to reflect on the fragility of our mortal existence, the inevitability of death, and how ill-prepared I am for the journey that awaits each and every one of Adam’s children. So my mind harkened back to the one first-person glimpse of the supernatural that seemed the most real to me.”

In a recent commentary, professor Francis J. Beckwith, Ph.D., reflected on another encounter had with Jesus.

To access Dr. Beckwith’s complete reflection, please visit:

The Catholic Thing: The Day I Met Jesus in Las Vegas (3 JAN 14)

Reflection Starter from Pope John Paul II

“Christ came to bring joy: joy to children, joy to parents, joy to families and to friends, joy to workers and to scholars, joy to the sick and joy to the elderly, joy to all humanity. In a true sense, joy is the keynote of the Christian message and the recurring motif of the Gospels . . . . Be messengers of joy.” – Blessed Pope John Paul II

09 January 2014

Johnny Mathis: “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”

As we continue our Christmas celebration, I offer this version of Johnny Mathis singing “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the opportunities You offer to us each day.

Randy Hain on the Difference an Hour Can Make

“[Recently] I had to work for part of the day to meet a few clients, tie up loose ends for the year and do some preparation for 2014.  It was challenging to be pulled away from my family over the holidays, especially with my easily bored sons out of school during the break.  I felt guilty, but I needed to be a good steward of my business and financial responsibilities and get some of my work done.

“The last meeting of the day was to be a late lunch with a new client prospect which had been scheduled several weeks ago.  He called me 30 minutes before our appointment to apologize and say he could not make it.  Suppressing my mild irritation, we rescheduled our meeting for another day.  I found myself with an unexpected extra hour.  What to do?  Well, I had a pile of paperwork back at my office to be handled.  Perhaps I could leave messages for some of my clients or send them emails in an effort to start filling up my meeting calendar after the holidays.  Maybe I could find a quiet place and write that new business blog post which has been on my mind for weeks.

“I did none of these things and went home instead.”

In a recent commentary, writer Randy Hain, Senior Editor for The Integrated Catholic Life, reflected on how he put the gift of this extra hour to good use.

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

The Integrated Catholic Life: The Difference an Hour Can Make (2 JAN 14)

Reflection Starter from Charles Swindoll

“Today is unique! It has never occurred before and it will never be repeated. At midnight it will end, quietly, suddenly, totally. Forever. But the hours between now and then are opportunities with eternal possibilities.” – Rev. Charles Swindoll

08 January 2014

BeBe and CeCe Winans: “The First Noel”

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of BeBe and CeCe Winans singing “The First Noel”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You guide us in coming to know and understand Your truths.

Br. Edmund McCullough, O.P., on Tolkien and Hope

“We are firm believers in the clear-cut happy ending. Winter without spring is unthinkable. But what do we do when it comes? Suffering without foreseeable relief is very real when a spouse dies, when a teenage son or daughter gets into serious trouble, when a boss or coworker is intolerable. Once in a while, we crash straight into the wall, and fail decisively. Where do the happy ending and our picture of ourselves go then?

“The life and literary work of J. R. R. Tolkien . . . can offer a helpful example of how to deal with such facts of life. He lost his father at four in South Africa, his mother at twelve in England, and most of his friends at twenty-four at the Battle of the Somme in France. Death, betrayal, and human limitation are everywhere in his works. Good eventually wins the big battles, but even at those great victories, there is loss: many good men, elves, dwarves, and hobbits don’t return home, and nothing can get them back as they were. Even when Frodo arrives home, he can’t stay: he has been too scarred and has to direct his hope beyond Middle Earth.”

In a recent commentary based on the works of Tolkien, Brother Edmund McCullough, O.P., reflected on how only the virtue of hope, given by God, can enable us to see to the far side of the sorrows.

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

Dominicana: Tolkien and Hope (3 JAN 14)

Reflection Starter from H. A. Williams

“Laughter is the purest form of our response to God. Whether or not the great saints were capable of levitation, I have no evidence. I do know that the saints had the power of levity. . . . Laughter is the purest form of our response to God’s acceptance of us. For when I laugh at myself I accept myself.” – H. A. Williams (editor of The Joyful Newsletter)

07 January 2014

Tanya Tucker: “What Child Is This”

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of Tanya Tucker singing “What Child Is This”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of our extended families and for the many blessings You have bestowed on them.

Pope Francis on Families

“Just as people must never ignore the plight of today's immigrants and refugees, they must also remember today’s ‘hidden exiles’ -- the elderly and other relatives who are abandoned or forgotten by their own families, Pope Francis said.

“‘One sign for knowing how a family is doing is to see how they treat children and their elderly’ relatives, the pope said at his noon blessing at the Vatican Dec. 29, the feast of the Holy Family.

A recent article in the Boston Pilot reported on the Holy Father’s message on how God wanted to be born in a human family, on the importance of families (including in the life of the Church and in society), and on the importance of cultivating peace and joy in one’s own family.

To access the complete Boston Pilot report, please visit:

Boston Pilot: Pope: Don’t forget plight of exiles, elderly marginalized by own family (30 DEC 13)

Reflection Starter from Charles Dickens

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – Charles Dickens (in A Christmas Carol)

06 January 2014

David Phelps: “O Holy Night”

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of David Phelps singing “O Holy Night”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the light of Jesus that shines through the many forms of darkness in our world.

Msgr. Pope on Finding God in Snow

“. . . Not every one likes snow but is it an amazing work of God. He takes a barren winter landscape and creates it anew. I can almost hear the Lord saying, ‘Behold, I make all things new!’

In the modern world we often walk past the glory of God and hardly notice the gifts that God daily provides. I am mindful of the movie, ‘The Color Purple’ when the main character ‘Ceilie’ admits she is angry with God. Her friend ‘Shug’ says, ‘I think God gets mad at us when we walk through a field and miss the color purple.’

“Tonight and tomorrow I don’t want to miss God’s gift. It is true, it comes at the price of weather related hardships. But MAYBE just maybe, God can get a few of us here on the East Coast to stop, for just a minute and rest a while, and behold his glory. Getting ‘snowed in’ for those who will get more than we are expected to get in DC,  is a wonderful chance to become reacquainted with our family and even our very selves. And just looking out the window and marveling at the snow as it falls with a hypnotic and calming steadiness can be a prayer if we think of God who sends it. Where ever you are on this planet, don’t walk through life and miss the glory of God!”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the opportunities provided by a snow storm for us to reflect on the beauty of God’s creation and the many ways it reflects His glory.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: God in Winter – A Meditation on Finding God in the Snow. (2 JAN 14)

Reflection Starter from St. Francis of Assisi

“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.” – Saint Francis of Assisi

05 January 2014

Four-alarm Fire Hits Downtown North Attleborough, MA, Building

A four-alarm fire heavily damaged a four-story wood residential/mercantile building at 30 North Washington Street in downtown North Attleborough, MA, in the early morning hours of Friday, 3 January. The fire occurred during the height of a severe winter storm affecting this region and the entire northeast United States.

The initial alarm was transmitted shortly after midnight hours as fire companies were returning from another working fire (at 264 High Street). One firefighter suffered a minor injury.

The North Attleborough department was assisted by companies from a number of area departments, including Attleboro, Foxborough, Mansfield, Norton, Plainville, and Wrentham, MA; and North Cumberland, RI.

Media reports:

The: Sun Chronicle: Odd Fellows building razed after stormy blaze (4 JAN 14)

WJAR-TV: Building hit by fire in North Attleborough to be demolished (3 JAN 14)

WBZ-TV: Firefighters Battle Flames, Snow, Ice, Wind & Cold In North Attleboro (3 JAN 14)

The Sun Chronicle: Downtown North Attleboro landmark lost (4 JAN 14)

WJAR-TV: North Attleboro building collapses from ice (4 JAN 13)

WJAR-TV: Slideshow: North Attleborough fire

The Sun Chronicle Photo Gallery: Odd Fellows Building Fire

NRI Fire Photos: 4th Alarm North Attleboro, MA 30 North Washington Street January 03, 2014

YouTube: Odd Fellows Fire and Cleanup

Background information:

Town of North Attleborough

Wikipedia: North Attleborough, Massachusetts

Google Map: 30 North Washington Street, North Attleborough, MA

Kings College Choir: “We Three Kings”

As our celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord continues, I offer this version of “We Three Kings” as sung by the Kings College Choir (University of Cambridge, U.K.):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the revelation, the epiphany of who Jesus is, that is being offered through His manifestation to the magi.

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. The assigned readings are Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; and Matthew 2:1-12. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 72 (Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 72 “Lord, every nation on earth will adore You forever”

The Gospel reading is as follows:

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”

After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

Reflection on this feast:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Epiphany of the Lord (January 5, 2014)

Msgr. Charles Pope: From Magi to Wise Men – A Homily For Epiphany (4 JAN 14)

The Deacon’s Bench: Homily for January 5, 2014: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (4 JAN 14)

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio: The Epiphany Revealed!

The Sacred Page: “Your Light Has Come”: A Look at the Readings for Epiphany Sunday (2 JAN 14)

Word on Fire: Sermon 678: Herod and the Magi: Feast of the Epiphany

Dr. Scott Hahn: A King to Behold (January 5th 2014 – Feast of Epiphany)

The Catholic World Report Blog: The Incarnation and the Call to Worship (4 JAN 14)

The Integrated Catholic Life: Into the Deep: God’s Search for You (5 JAN 14)

Spirituality of the Readings: Light to the Nations (Epiphany of the Lord A)

The Word Engaged: Defending the Child (Epiphany of the Lord A)

Fr. Longenecker on the Power of the Name of Jesus

“Father Roger was just over five foot tall. A very spiritual priest, he was much involved in the healing ministry, exorcism and visiting prisons and mental hospitals. He told me that one day he was walking down the corridor of a mental hospital when around the corner came a huge man – well over six foot tall and three hundred pounds. He was bellowing out blasphemies and was rushing straight for Roger brandishing a kitchen knife.

“Roger stopped and said, ‘In the name of Jesus, drop the knife!’

“The man halted. Dropped the knife and turned and walked away as meek as a lamb.

“It’s a reminder that the name of Jesus has power in the spiritual realm. We repeat the holy name at the center of our rosary prayer, and should do so with a pause and a bowed head. This is the heart of the prayer: an invocation of the holy name.”

In a recent commentary, Father Dwight Longenecker (parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Greenville, SC) reflected on the name of Jesus and its power, especially in spiritual warfare.

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

Standing on My Head: The Power of Jesus’ Name (3 JAN 14)

Background information:

Dwight Longenecker - Catholic priest and author

Reflection Starter from Pope Benedict XVI

“Only if people change will the world change; and in order to change, people need the light that comes from God, the light which so unexpectedly [on the night of Christmas] entered into our night.” – Pope Benedict XVI

04 January 2014

Bing Crosby: “Silent Night”

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of Bing Crosby singing “Silent Night”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for warm clothing and for those who design, manufacture, and distribute this clothing.

Operation True Grit

Whenever a year draws to a close, many of us question the way we’re living our lives and what we’d like to improve about ourselves. Lt. Col. Mark Weber faced that question too. But it wasn’t in relation to a new year.

In 2010, Weber was told he had Stage IV gastrointestinal cancer. Surprisingly, that was good news. His initial diagnosis had been pancreatic cancer, with the prediction that he would die within months. Considering that Weber led an active life and had been scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan, the news came as a major shock to him, his wife Kristin, and their three sons, Matthew, Joshua and Nick.

The gastrointestinal cancer diagnosis was a tiny point of light because, though the disease was still terminal, it was more treatable than pancreatic cancer. Weber became determined to live the rest of his days to the fullest by writing down the life lessons he’d learned to give to his sons in book form. It would be his way of being present for them as a father long after he was gone.

As Weber explained on Christopher Closeup, he initially wanted to keep the book within the family. After meeting with Minnesota chaplain, Col. John Morris, he changed his mind. Morris told him that people need stories of wisdom and inspiration, and “You need to look at this as a charge of responsibility.”

Weber self-published the book under the title Tell My Sons, and used it to reveal many formative experiences. One occurred when he was 14 years old, and started caring for his grandmother who had a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair. He believes his grandmother’s example of enduring suffering with grace and dignity helped him deal with his own periods of debilitation: “When I can’t do something, I find it much easier to accept offers of assistance. Pride is not a barrier for me.”

Weber, a lifelong Catholic, also came to see the miraculous in the ordinary, marveling at the human body and how it works. He didn’t expect to be directly healed by God; he said the mere fact that he was alive at all was miracle enough for him.

Weber’s story spread, so he created a Facebook page on which people could connect with him. He wanted to name it something special because he was an Army man in the fiercest combat situation of his life. When a friend suggested he call the page “Operation True Grit,” Weber (a John Wayne fan) knew he had found the words that combined the spirit and message of what he wanted to accomplish.

Tell My Sons grew so popular that it was published by Ballantine Books. When asked what he hopes readers get out of the book, Weber answered, “Perspective about life. There’s a compass on the cover. You’ll notice that the compass doesn’t point in any particular direction. It’s a tool for you to use the way you want to, depending on your purpose and direction in life. You [need to] use that compass to help answer the question, ‘What am I gonna do when life doesn’t go the way I want it to?’”

Life didn’t go the way Weber wanted it to. He passed away in 2013 shortly after our interview. However, he died in the knowledge that he used his days in the very best way he could: loving his family intensely, growing in humility, and opening himself up to the next life with God.

If we could all live that way in 2014, it would be a very promising year.

(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

Background information:

Tell My Sons website

Detroit Free Press: Mitch Albom: A father, a friend says his final farewell (16 JUN 13)

Reflection Starter from Earl Nightingale

“You can change you and your environment by doing this simple exercise. For the next 30 days, treat every person you meet, without exception, as the most important person on earth. You will find that people will begin treating you the same way. You see, every person is the most important person on earth.” – Earl Nightingale

03 January 2014

FRI: “Angels We Have Heard on High”

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of the Christendom College Choir and Schola Gregoriana presenting “Angels We Have Heard on High”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for, when we turn to You, meeting us where we are.

Dominican Carolers in Downtown District of Columbia

“Passers-by stopped for a moment to pause and listen in the busy streets of Washington, D.C., as Dominican brothers, sisters and friars gathered in joyful song to wish people a Merry Christmas.

“One observer, John Cherry of Washington, D.C., described the scene as ‘very soothing to my spirit.’ . . .
“‘The purpose of Jesus is to come and let the light shine in the darkness,’ he continued, saying that the Dominicans’ singing offered a reminder of this in an often busy and sometimes difficult city.”

A recent Catholic News Agency article reported on this outreach.

To access the complete article, please visit:

Catholic News Agency: Dominican carolers bring joy of Christmas to downtown DC (24 DEC 13)

To access a related video, please visit:

YouTube: Flash mob Washington DC Chinatown: bananas meet Dominican Friars

Reflection Starter from St. Thérèse of Lesieux

“You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love at which we do them.” – Saint Thérèse of Lesieux

02 January 2014

Casting Crowns: “Away in a Manger”

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of Casting Crowns singing “Away in a Manger”:

Forum on Homelessness Among Connecticut’s Youth

Over 100 policy makers, legislators, activists, and youth who are or have been homeless recently gathered at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, CT, for “Invisible No More,” a policy forum on homelessness among Connecticut’s youth.

The gathering released a study, “Invisible No More,” which was the result of a year of research that included input from 98 young people who are or have been homeless. The study found that such youth often are not connected to services, and populations within the youth who are most vulnerable to housing insecurity include those who are LGBT, trafficked, and/or have some involvement with the juvenile justice or child welfare systems. Young men and boys of color are also especially vulnerable, according to the study.

Recommendations included:

  • creating a planning task force to develop and recommend strategies to address housing insecurity for young people,
  • developing strategies to improve the point-in-time-count of the number of housing insecure young people by increasing collaboration across Connecticut state systems and non-profit organizations and expanding the methodology used in gathering data and outreach to capture these young people,
  • including the voices of all young people in the review, development, and approaches developed to address their housing needs,
  • building on best practice experiences of other states, and
  • increasing the supervision and training at the Connecticut state and local provider level to help providers identify and work with housing insecure young people.

To access the complete report, please visit:

Partnership for Strong Communities: Invisible No More

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the graces You bestow on us when we face what appear to be difficult challenges.

New Year’s Resolutions from Pope Francis.

In a recent article, writer Paterno Esmaquel II offered ten New Year’s resolutions that may be drawn from the teachings of Pope Francis.

These resolutions include:

  • Don’t gossip.
  • Finish your meals.
  • Make time for others.
  • Choose the “more humble” purchase.
  • Meet the poor “in the flesh.”
  • Stop judging others.
  • Befriend those who disagree.
  • Make commitments, such as marriage.
  • Make it a habit to “ask the Lord.”
  • Be happy.

To access the complete article, including related quotes by Pope Francis, please visit:

Rappler: New Year’s resolutions: The Pope Francis list (31 DEC 13)

Thank you, Deacon Greg Kandra, for the tip!

Reflection Starter from Edith Lovejoy Pierce

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” – Edith Lovejoy Pierce

01 January 2014

The Gaither Vocal Band: “Mary Did You Know”:

As we continue of celebration of this holy day, I offer this version of the Gaither Vocal Band singing “Mary Did You Know”:

New Year’s Day Reflection

“Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!
This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!
I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!” – William Arthur Ward

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions for January

The Holy Father’s prayer intentions for January are:

General intention: “That all may promote authentic economic development that respects the dignity of all peoples.”

Mission intention: “That Christians of diverse denominations may walk toward the unity desired by Christ.”

The Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

Today the Church celebrates the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. The assigned readings are Numbers 6:22-27, Galatians 4:4-7, and Luke 2:16-21. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 67 (Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8).

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

YouTube: Psalm 67 – May God bless us in his mercy

The Gospel reading is as follows:

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.

When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Reflections related to these readings and this feast day:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Mary, Mother of God (January 1, 2014)

Msgr. Charles Pope: Will the Real January 1st Please Stand Up. A Homily For New Years Day and the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God (31 DEC 13)

The Deacon’s Bench: “The rest is still unwritten”: a homily for January 1, 2014, Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God (31 DEC 13)

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio: Mary, the Mother of God?

The Sacred Page: Mary, Mother of God, a Common Protestant and Catholic Confession (31 DEC 13)

Dominicana: The New Year and the Maternity of Mary (1 JAN 14)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for this new year and for the many blessings You have waiting for us as we go forth to live each day of this year.

On Our New Year’s Resolutions and Our Dependence on God’s Grace

“New Year’s Day always struck me as something of an odd holiday. Why do we humans find it necessary to set aside a day to mark yet another full trip around the sun? Different cultures have celebrated the new year at different times: the Jewish people celebrate the new year in their liturgy on Rosh Hashanah in the early fall; for many Christians the new liturgical year begins with Advent; the Chinese celebrate between late January and late February; and the ancient Romans celebrated the new year in March. Whatever the month or the day, people of all cultures and religious traditions seem to have an innate desire, if not a need, to mark a new beginning each year.

“In our culture one of the most common ways to observe this new beginning is the making of New Year’s resolutions. These resolutions more often than not seem like an exercise in futility – we almost inevitably cave within a month or two. And yet, every year many of us pluck up our will power and try again. What are we to make of this phenomenon? The practice of New Year’s resolutions demonstrates two aspects of our human nature that are important for the spiritual life: our constant need for growth and our inability to persevere by sheer will power.”

In a recent commentary, Brother Isaac Augustine Morales, O.P., reflected on the resolutions we make and our dependence on God’s grace as we continue to live our lives.

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

Dominicana: New Year’s Resolutions, Confession, and the Mother of God (1 JAN 14)