Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You work in and through Your Church to proclaim Your truth and to touch the hearts of Your people throughout the world.
31 March 2014
“The Church is not part of the State. Nor is she simply a part of civil society set up by her members to advance their public and private goals. She is an independent society established by God to be a light to the world. As such, she has her own principles of existence, authority, and action.
“Her mission does not normally imply direct involvement in politics. Catholics may campaign for social and political causes that they believe promote good ends, just as they may run businesses in accordance with Catholic principles. The main political contribution of the Church, though, is the view of man and the good life for which she stands.
“Nonetheless, proposing that view calls for practical action that has social effects. The Church won’t be listened to unless she embodies something the world needs. To convert others we must first convert ourselves. For that reason evangelization must begin with the self-evangelization of the Christian community. That is a practical and social effort, and it means the leaders of the Church are fundamentally pastors, not philosophers, pundits, philanthropists, or outreach coordinators. The Apostle Paul preached the Gospel to the gentiles through half the Roman world, but his letters have to do with the promotion of Christian life within the Church.”
In a recent essay in Crisis Magazine, James Kalb reflected on the need for evangelization within the Church and on how the Church can more effectively influence today’s society.
To access Mr. Kalb’s complete essay, please visit:
30 March 2014
Today the Church celebrates the Fourth Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings are 1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13; Ephesians 5:8-14; and John 9:1-41. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 23 (Psalm 23:1-6).
The Gospel reading is as follows:
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” – which means Sent. So he went and washed, and came back able to see.
His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is,” but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.”
So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.”
He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses,
but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out.
hen Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.”
He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”
Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”
Reflections on these readings:
“From the time of Karl Marx, who famously said that religion ‘is the opium of the people,’ to our own days when modern secularists think that religion is a crutch for the weak, atheists and those who scoff at religion view it as some form of escape from the problems of daily life. Some of these views include the following:
“1. Religion is a drug, not unlike opium, which those who ‘have religion’ use to numb themselves to the hardships of life. It’s something that lifts their spirits, maybe even makes them a little ‘high.’ They’re happy all the time, and that’s just not natural.
“2. Religion is a crutch on which religious people lean because they are too weak to ‘stand on their own two feet,’ too insecure to practice the modern virtues of independence and self-reliance.”
In a recent commentary, writer Emily Hurt reflected on how religion, and the cross that it is, enables us to meet the hardships of our lives.
To access Ms. Hurt’s complete post, please visit:
29 March 2014
“I was a little shy of 10 years old when I had what may have been my most spiritually profitable Lent ever. Looking back now, I can see clearly that I owed that to my mother. And The Purple Monster.
“A short time before, my parents had taken the significant step of letting me to go to the movies by myself. That meant that every Friday after supper I trooped off to the local movie palace with a gang of neighborhood kids and plunked down my quarter to see a cowboy movie and the latest installment of the current serial.”
In a recent commentary, writer Russell Shaw reflected on Lent and its relationship to the virtue of detachment.
To access Mr. Shaw’s complete post, please visit:
28 March 2014
Two New England public safety servants recently died in the line of duty, again a reminder of the hazards and stresses faced by the members of the region’s emergency services.
Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh, Jr., and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, of the Boston, MA, Fire Department died as a result of operations during a nine-alarm fire at 298 Beacon Street in Boston’s Back Bay on Wednesday, 26 March. May they rest in peace.
NECN: Boston Fire: For there to be mayday call, something extraordinary must have happened (27 MAR 14)
“[T]he Church is the Body of Christ and is the place where we first and foremost find Him. We cannot really have Jesus without his Body, the Church, despite the privatized claims of many. Just as it pertains for a head to be together with its body, so too it pertains for Jesus the Head of Church to be united with his Body the Church. So, Jesus is at one with his Church and the Church is the place where we first and foremost find his presence.
“But to say we find him here does not mean that all people DO find him here. There are many issues that keep people from experiencing his presence here. There are also some practices we ought to better observe in order to better manifest the presence of Jesus. Let’s consider first some problems and then some remedial practices.”
In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on how we can better experiencing Jesus in our parishes through, among other ways, conviction in preaching, the cultivation of expectation, and appropriate catechetical focus.
To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:
“Keep yourselves free from sin so that every day you may share in the mystic meal; by doing so our bodies become the body of Christ.” – Saint Hesychius of Jerusalem
27 March 2014
In a recent commentary, Dr. Taylor Marshall reflected on labels we put on ourselves and/or other people – labels related to their Catholic faith practices/perspective and labels related to other areas of life, and he reflected on the process of appreciating a person as a child of God and seeing him/her in the light of God’s mercy.
To access Dr. Marshall’s complete post, please visit:
“The world each of us lives in every day, in the long run, is a mirror of ourselves; it is created by ourselves. Occasionally, it’s a good idea to take inventory and ask ourselves, ‘Do I like the world in which I live?’ If not, I’m the one who’s going to have to change.” - Earl Nightingale
26 March 2014
It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major” (Op. 60) (the “Pastoral Symphony”) as played by the Wiener Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic), conducted by Christian Thielemann:
“Hospitality has a long tradition in the Catholic faith.
“Pope Francis spoke of it last November, telling new Catholics: ‘God did not create us to be alone, closed in on ourselves, but to be able to meet him and to open us to a meeting with others.’
“He has also extended it to the many people he meets and helps, from the disabled to the homeless.
“The Bible also has a lot to say about being hospitable.
In the Old Testament, numerous verses speak of the importance of opening one’s door to travelers or providing a meal for the weary. . . .”
In a recent article, the National Catholic Register reported on Old and New Testament references to hospitality and offered a number of the examples from different periods during the history of the Church.
To access the complete article, please visit:
25 March 2014
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. The assigned readings are Isaiah 7:10-14, 8:10; Hebrews 10:4-10; and Luke 1:26-38. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 40 (Psalm 40:7-11).
The Gospel reading is as follows:
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."
But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end."
But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?"
And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God."
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
Dr. Edward Sri, provost and professor of theology and Scripture at the Augustine Institute Master’s program in Denver, CO, has written an interesting reflection on the life of Mary before the Annunciation. To access this reflection, please visit:
“Picture this: tomb of Blessed John Paul II, St Peter’s Basilica, early morning mass.
“The conditions were perfect – my priest friend was celebrating and had a smashing homily up his sleeve, the sun was gently streaming in, cascading golden shafts over the great marbled pillars, it was 7.30 in the morning, so flocks of tourists hadn’t yet flooded in; all was quiet and peaceful...
“Then I came up to receive the Blessed Sacrament right in front of the tomb itself; so far, so good. I sat down to say my prayers in quiet post-communion contemplation, when SMACK!
“All of a sudden a little old Italian lady shoots to her feet, her four feet and half a dozen inches standing tall – well, at least standing – with fiery indignation. . . .”
In a recent commentary, writer Carley Andrews reflected on the efforts of the Italian lady to protect and encourage reverence our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist.
To access Ms. Andrews’ complete post, please visit:
24 March 2014
“This time of the year, these forty days of preparation for Holy Week and Easter, I often hear folks over fifty-five or so reminisce about how Lent ‘used-to-be.’
“‘Remember the tuna casseroles and grilled cheese sandwiches?’
“‘I used to long for Sunday when I could have a piece of the candy I had given-up for Lent.’
“‘Did I ever love the Stations of the Cross on Friday.’ . . '.
“‘And remember how we used to so enjoy Easter, after forty days of sacrifice and penance; it was like we were entering a new life and the sun of spring with Jesus risen.’
“A lot of that these days, what I call ‘used-to-be Lent.’
“Because, I wonder if we’ve lost it . . . has Lent become a thing of the past?”
To access Cardinal Dolan’s complete post, please visit:
23 March 2014
Today the Church celebrates the Second Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings are Exodus 17:3-7; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; and John 4:5-42. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 95 (Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9).
Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” – For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans. –
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one speaking with you.”
At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?” They went out of the town and came to him.
Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”
But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?”
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. The reaper is already receiving payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”
Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I have done.” When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
Reflection on this feast:
“When asked, most people identify their most serious problems as issues related to their physical health, or finances. Family and career issues also rank up there.
But frankly, our biggest problem is pride, and all the sins that flow from it. Nothing is more serious than our sins, which can destroy us forever. Worldly problems are temporary. The worst they can do is to make life unpleasant, or kill us; then we get to go home and meet God if are faithful.
“Therefore, to God our most serious problem is our sin. This was well-illustrated when, at one point in the Gospels, a paralyzed man was presented to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Yes, that’s right, Jesus looked at a paralyzed man and saw his sins as the most serious thing to be dealt with first.
“We don’t think like this. And even when taught that we ought to think like this, we still don’t think like this.”
In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on, if we open ourselves to God’s grace, the effect our suffering may have on our pride.
To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:
22 March 2014
“We’ve heard it so many times, that we can easily skip over the details of Psalm 23. ‘The Lord is my shepherd, yadda, yadda…’ But what an odd sentence we have above. The psalmist is under attack from violent foes, and what does God have up his almighty sleeve? He decides to set the table. ‘Great strategy, God. Now they’ll never get us!’
“We have here, however, an ancient piece of wisdom from the mouth of David the king. It was in fleeing for his life from the bloodthirsty Saul that he was first inspired to write psalms, in praise and petition to God. Similarly, the Church today is ‘under fire,’ we might say, facing ever growing challenges of secularization, unethical legislation, and redefining of basic values. In every Christian home, every circle of Christian friends, the same million-dollar question finds its way into our conversations: ‘What do we do about it?’
“The psalm offers one answer above all others: worship.”
In a recent commentary, Br. Timothy Danaher, O.P., reflected on the importance of placing God first as we face the many challenges in our Christian lives.
To access Br. Timothy’s complete reflection, please visit:
21 March 2014
“The week after Pope Benedict’s surprise resignation, I began writing ‘Papabile Profiles’ for Aleteia. I did my research and learned everything I could about the world’s leading cardinals.
“What a stunning array of talent had risen to the top of the Church! From a dynamic young cardinal from the Philippines to a multi-talented Canadian polyglot; from a convert from pagan Africa to the rollicking and rubicund cardinal from New York City. A vast range of ability, experience, and colorful personalities paraded in their red robes for me to dissect and display to the world. But there was one I didn’t mention – the cardinal from Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
“Bergoglio was in the list of Cardinals, but nobody was talking about him. At 76, he was thought to be too old. His moment was past, having lost out to Ratzinger in 2005. He was not an expert linguist, now was he well-travelled. He had intentionally avoided getting more experience in the Curia. He wasn’t an expert liturgist or theologian. He was a Jesuit; an outsider. He was from the other side of the globe. He was unknown.
“Yet on March 13, 2013, he stood at the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, offering the world nothing more than a placid smile and a grandfatherly wave. My own first impression was bewilderment. Why didn’t he say something? Then he spoke in gentle Italian, wishing everyone a ‘buona sera,’ asking them to pray for him and then giving them his blessing.
“The surprises had begun. He was the first Jesuit pope, the first American Pope, and the first Pope to take the name of the great saint Francis. The God of surprises had given us a Pope of surprises.”
In a recent commentary, Father Dwight Longenecker (parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Greenville, SC) reflected on why anyone who is trying to understand him should open the Gospels and read them straight through.
To access Fr. Longenecker’s complete post, please visit:
20 March 2014
The Children’s Literacy Foundation, based in Waterbury, VT, strives to provide a variety of free literacy programs to low-income, at-risk, and rural children up to age 12 in the states of New Hampshire and Vermont.
The Foundation is currently in the process of providing free books and literacy programs to eight schools in these two states.
“The teaching of sacred Scripture on intercessory prayer is complex, and unless we maintain a balanced view of the fuller teaching of Scripture, distortions in our understanding of the prayer of petition (or intercession) can occur.”
In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the importance of praying for good things, including for greater holiness and for a mind and heart that seeks God’s will.
To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:
“Everything is grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father’s love. Everything is grace because everything is God’s gift. Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events – to the heart that loves, all is well.” – Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (also known as Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face)
19 March 2014
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The assigned readings are 2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16; Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22; and Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 89 (Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29).
The Gospel reading is as follows:
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
Reflections on this day and on Saint Joseph:
“Last week, I asked the question, ‘Are you looking for the secret to a better, deeper, more joyful life in Christ?’ and responded by exploring the reasons for the Catholic practice of self-denial. We saw that ‘fasting and other forms of self-denial, as spiritual practices of materially subduing and controlling the physical appetites of the body, helps us, by God’s grace, to enable the soul to more perfectly and freely pray. This leads to a deeper union with God and thus we become better stewards of the gifts God has given to us, freeing us to more effectively care for our neighbor, especially those in greater need than we.’
“Today, I want to provide the biblical teaching on why such practices are not just a good idea, but a necessary one.”
In a recent commentary, Deacon Mike Bickerstaff (Editor in chief and co-founder of the Integrated Catholic Life eMagazine) reflected on the Scriptural roots for the Catholic practice of fast and abstinence.
To access Deacon Mike’s complete reflection, please visit:
18 March 2014
This week, the week of 16-22 March, is being observed as Flood Safety Awareness Week.
The National Weather Service (NWS) advises that it floods somewhere in the United States or its territories nearly every day of the year. Flooding causes more damage in the U.S. than any other weather-related event . . . with an average of eight billion dollars a year in the past thirty years.
NWS also advise that flooding is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., claiming on average nearly one hundred lives a year. Most of the deaths occur in motor vehicles when people attempt to drive through flooded roadways. Many other lives are lost when people walk into or near flood waters. This happens because people underestimate the force and power of water – especially when it is moving.
For specific flood safety awareness information, please visit:
“I remember once, years ago, writing a Christopher column about a nun who made a project of sorts out of Gregory Peck, the actor. She had been on an NBC tour when he was a page and was taken with his voice, and now, a few years later, when he had two or three movie roles behind him, she wrote to tell him she was praying for his success. The point of the column was his reply. Instead of sending a form letter he wrote warmly that her prayers were appreciated, and that he would try to justify her confidence in him. In short, he seemed like a nice and thoughtful guy.
And that, it appears, is something that must run in the family. Stephen Peck, his son, bypassed a movie career of his own to devote his life to veterans of Vietnam, especially those who have been homeless or otherwise down on their luck.
“My Dad was quite pleased with the career choice I’d made,” the younger Peck told Brian Williams of NBC’s Nightly News. “He was certainly socially aware.”
Peck made his choice out of personal experience. A Marine officer who had served in Vietnam himself, he went on to study film at the college level and eventually made documentaries. But it wasn’t exactly what he wanted. In 1990 he directed a film that focused on war and on those who fought them, and in his talks to veterans’ groups he knew he had found his vocation.
“In the film business you have to sell yourself, and I wasn’t very good at that,” he said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “But I’m good at helping other people.”
He was even blunter with Brian Williams. “I find Hollywood to be a little shallow,” he said. In addition, he continued, the business of making films is “notoriously unstable.” Instead he turned to military families, and his activism there led to a position of president of U.S. VETS, a California-based organization that has helped thousands of veterans – with an emphasis on those who were homeless.
When Peck returned home from Vietnam, there was no diagnosis called post-traumatic stress syndrome. In those days you were a veteran, period, and if you acted out at all it was simply due to the horrors of war. Some people decided they would help, Peck among them. Now, as the Los Angeles Times article indicates, he can rattle off statistics that help to make his point.
He said that an estimated 20 per cent of all combat veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and that of that percentage only about four out of 10 seek any help. Again, from the Times: “The demand for services nationwide is bound to grow dramatically, given thousands of multiple deployments to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and there’s no way the Department of Veterans Affairs will be able to answer the need.”
Admittedly Peck can’t solve the problem all by himself, but his organization is doing more than its part. Its outreach, connected to a prominent California hospital, finds veterans who need help and provides them with housing, jobs and counseling. It’s satisfying work, Peck said, and probably stemmed from the documentaries he made as a form of therapy.
“My father was extremely interested in what I was doing,” he told Brian Williams.
Maybe the rest of us should be as well.
(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.)
“Our actions have a tongue of their own; they have an eloquence of their own, even when the tongue is silent. For deeds prove the lover more than words.” – Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (whose memory the Church celebrates today)
17 March 2014
This week, the week of 16-22 March, is being observed as National Poison Prevention Week, an initiative designed as a means for local communities to raise awareness of the dangers of unintentional poisonings and to take such preventive measures as the dangers warrant.
For additional information related to National Poison Prevention Week, please visit:
As we celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, I offer this presentation by the Boston, MA, Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums:
For more information about this group, please visit:
Media report (from 2014 Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade):
“The Second Vatican Council calls the Eucharist the ‘Source and Summit’ of the Christian life. Yet we must keep in mind that the same council makes clear that the Eucharist is not the sum total of the Christian life.
“Indeed, the Eucharist, and all the sacraments, are memorials of a dramatic act of mercy that occurred not in the serene majesty of the temple liturgy, but in history, amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
“Let’s pause for a moment to recall the reason for the Ultimate Work of Mercy. The first members of the human race had renounced their freedom and dignity as sons and daughters of God and had fallen into bondage to a tyrannical master. Suffering and death were the fruit of this slavery. The price to redeem themselves from this miserable situation was beyond their means. So in bondage they stayed, forging heavier chains for themselves with every passing generation.
“Until, that is, the God of Justice manifested Himself as the Father of Mercy. Justice renders to each their due and calls each to assume responsibility for themselves. Mercy goes beyond the issue of who is responsible. Mercy is simply love’s response to suffering. So the Father of Mercy, to relieve our suffering, sent his Eternal Son to be made flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit. God the Son, by nature incapable of suffering, became vulnerable for us. He bound the strong man who had tyrannized the human race and paid the debt that the human race hadn’t been able to cover. His rescue mission succeeded at the cost of his life.”
In a recent commentary, Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio reflected on mercy and its role in our lives.
To access Dr. D’Ambrosio’s complete post, please visit:
“I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s host to secure me
against snares of devils
against temptations of vices
against inclinations of nature
against everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and anear,
alone and in a crowd.” – Saint Patrick (whose memory the Church celebrates today)
16 March 2014
Today the Church celebrates the Second Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings are Genesis 12:1-4, 2 Timothy 1:8-10, and Matthew 17:1-9. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 33 (Psalm 33:4-5, 18-20, 22).
For one version of the Responsorial Psalm set to music, please visit:
The Gospel reading is as follows:
Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Reflection on this feast:
“If, on the way to court, you received advice on how you could influence the judge to be less severe in your case, would you not consider following that advice? Surely you would, unless the ‘way’ involved bribery, or something corrupt.
“And in fact Jesus, our very judge, has described an upright way that we can avoid severity on the Day of Judgment. Simply put, the way is for us to show mercy.”
In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the importance of having a merciful and forgiving heart.
To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:
15 March 2014
“Random House asked me to write The Future of Catholicism after Pope Francis’ election in an attempt to explain to an often ill-informed and hostile media (and a public eager for knowledge) what could and could not change in Catholicism. The media’s questions were always the same: Would the Pope change Church teaching concerning abortion, same-sex ‘marriage,’ contraception, and female ordination? In spite of wishful thinking from the usual anti-Catholic coalition, the answer is No. What is contained in Scripture, the deposit of faith, and natural law is written in perfectly formed, ancient, timeless stone.
“The Church is not a product of fashion but an institution given to us by God and rooted in truth rather than time. The Church may change the way the message is delivered, may emphasize certain aspects over others, may even reform certain non-fundamentals, but it exists not to reflect but to shape the world.”
In a recent commentary writer Michael Coren reflected on Pope Francis and Church teachings.
To access Mr. Coren’s complete essay, please visit:
“The best Christians and the most vital are by no means to be found either inevitably or even generally among the wise or the clever, the intelligentsia or the politically-minded, or those of social consequence. And consequently what they say does not make the headlines; what they do does not come to the public eye. Their lives are hidden from the eyes of the world, and if they do come to some degree of notoriety, that is usually late in the day, and exceptional, and always attended by the risk of distortion.” – Cardinal Henri de Lubac, S.J., in The Splendor of the Church
14 March 2014
“When Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran walked onto the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, telling the crowds in Latin: ‘I announce to you a great joy. We have a pope!’ not many people recognized the name of then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“Now, just one year since his March 13, 2013, election, there are still many things most people do not know about the 265th successor of Peter.”
A recent Catholic News Service article reported ten things that many people do not know about Pope Francis, including his way with birds, the colorful work experience on his résumé, and his ministry as a “Jesuit Oskar Schindler.”
To access the complete report, please visit:
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” – George Washington Carver
13 March 2014
“Thomas More was a brilliant lawyer, humanist and devout Catholic. He held positions of great rank and import, authored numerous books, and counted the celebrated European humanist, Erasmus and the charismatic King of England, Henry VIII among his friends. More would rise quickly to various judicial and political posts due, in equal part, to his scintillating intellect and his unimpeachable integrity. In time, he would accede to the post of Lord Chancellor to aid his friend and Sovereign, King Henry VIII, in the wise and judicious administration of the state. However, the timing would prove inauspicious as the deeply Catholic Thomas More found himself struggling against the currents of a Europe afire with the Protestant Reformation and a King adrift from the Catholic Church. The King sought spiritually convenient arguments to circumvent his marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon in favor of an illicit relationship with the young Anne Boleyn. But that is not all the King wanted. He wanted Thomas More to agree with him. It was something Thomas More simply could not do.
“And so would begin Thomas More’s Lenten journey of suffering in the wilderness.”
In a recent commentary, writer Tod Worner reflected on Robert Bolt’s play about Saint Thomas More, A Man for All Seasons, with its suffering and sacrifice in the name of uncompromising principles of faith, as a story of Lent.
To access Mr. Worner’s complete post, please visit:
12 March 2014
It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Peter Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.1 in G minor (op.13, “Winter Daydreams”), as played by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (The Netherlands), conducted by Vladimir Jurowski:
“Here we are, at Lent once again. Lent: that oh-so-Catholic time of year for practicing the art of sacrifice; not to perfect it, but to be perfected by it. For 40 days we are encouraged to lay aside every encumbrance to our faith, and take up the ancient disciplines that mark the true disciples of Christ. And for 40 days, we suffer the stuff we're made of -- and not made of.
“Lents come and Lents go. But while the season may be pretty much the same, my annual experience of it isn’t. There are years I manage to live Lent much more deeply than others. And there are years it has felt as if I’ve hardly lived it at all. I don’t want this year to be one of those. This year, I want to experience Easter as a promise kept, as the answer to the deepest longings I’ve rediscovered. This year, I want to be fully prepared to renew the vows of my baptism. I want to walk out of the Easter Vigil Mass completely empowered for a life of total immersion. The question is, ‘How?’
“. . . St. Francis de Sales, my very favorite spiritual guide, had some great advice about Lent. ‘Lent is the autumn of the spiritual life’ he wrote, ‘the time during which we gather fruit to keep us going for the rest of the year ... I am accustomed to say that we will not spend Lent well unless we are determined to make the most of it. Let us, therefore, spend this Lent as if it were our last, and we will make it well’ (Letters 329).”
In a recent commentary, writer Jaymie Stuart Wolfe reflected on living this year’s observance of Lent as if it were the last Lent we will ever experience.
To access Ms. Wolfe’s complete post, please visit:
11 March 2014
“The themes of early Lent are pretty basic. The ashes of Ash Wednesday announce the simple truth that we are going to die, and thereafter we will face judgment. Hence we need to repent and come to believe the good news the Jesus (alone) can save us.
“The reading for Thursday after Ash Wednesday features Moses laying out the basic reality that we all have a choice to make. He says to us:
“Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom…
“I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse. (Dt 30:15, 20)
“So there it is, our choice, life or death, prosperity or doom. An old Latin expression says, Tertium non datur (no third way is given). We often like to think we can plow some middle path. But in the matter of the last things, there is no middle path, no third way. Either we choose God and his kingdom, and then back-load that decision into all of our smaller decisions, or we do not.”
In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the choices each us have before us – choices for the Kingdom of Light or for the kingdom of darkness. And a choice must be made – even if by default.
To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:
10 March 2014
“I propose some possibly unordinary ideas of mortifications for Lent, of the sort that may not have occurred to you, but which are likely more difficult, and cut closer to places where you need spiritual improvement, than some other alternatives.”
In a recent commentary, Dr. Michael Pakaluk, Chairman and Professor of Philosophy at Ave Maria University, reflected on some sacrifices a person may offer up for Lent. These suggestions include giving up time that one usually keeps for oneself, eating too much, electronic distractions, and talking about others.
To access Dr. Pakaluk’s complete essay, please visit:
In George Lucas’ first-ever Star Wars film, Episode IV: A New Hope, there’s a compelling scene late in the movie where our heroes, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, escape from their captors in the Death Star using Han’s spaceship, the Millennium Falcon. Their speedy exit is impeded by the evil Empire’s enemy ships shooting at them, so Luke and Han rush to the Falcon’s gun turrets to fight back.
Luke is a farm boy who’s always dreamed of fighting in a war, but this is his first time in battle. When he shoots down his first ship, he gets excited and yells, “I got him!”
Han, a veteran of space battles, responds, “Great, kid! Don’t get cocky.”
To me, that line symbolizes the message of Ash Wednesday.
Though some priests use the words “Turn from sin and follow the gospel,” when putting ashes on people’s foreheads, I was raised when the Scripture cited was Genesis 3:19, “Remember, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.”
In other words, “Don’t get cocky.”
It’s easy for us to get so wrapped up in ourselves and life in general that we forget about the bigger picture. That bigger picture includes the fact that each person is known, loved and created by God. Not just you, not just me. Everybody. Like it says in Psalm 139:13, “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.”
We’re also each given different gifts and talents to play a role in God’s plan. Father James Keller, the founder of The Christophers, once wrote, “God wishes you to be His instrument in renewing the face of the earth…Your efforts will bear fruit from now into eternity.”
Then someday, we will pass from this life into that aforementioned eternity, hopefully to a place of union with God as opposed to the “wretched hive of scum and villainy” that is the other option (to keep the Star Wars analogy going).
Ash Wednesday is the reminder of that last step in the process because we often get detoured in the middle step. Human beings have a tendency to get hung up on power and possessions. That’s not just true for politicians, celebrities, business leaders or the super-rich; it’s true of us all. Sometimes just a little bit of power or material advantage over others can turn someone to the dark side. We need constant reminders to be humble, and Ash Wednesday fills the bill every winter.
It’s also important to remember that the Falcon ultimately gets away from the enemy ships not because of Luke and Han’s fighting and flying abilities, but because the chief bad guy, Darth Vader, lets them get away so he can track them to their secret rebel base. So our heroes could potentially be responsible for the destruction of an entire planet full of people. Pretty humbling, no?
As we begin another Lent, keep this in mind. No matter what we accomplish on this earth, no matter how powerful we are, no matter how much cash we have in the bank, our physical bodies will eventually all meet the same end. Therefore, strive to live the best life possible in the knowledge that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
That’s great news! But don’t get cocky.
(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.)
“Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable. However, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable.” – Lord Chesterfield