16 April 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of hearing and for the many pleasant sounds You send our way.

The Road to Mercy Leads to a Life of Adventure

Kerry Weber’s adventurous pursuit of practicing mercy has made her life anything but boring. She volunteered with the Special Olympics in college and taught special education at a Navajo reservation through the Mercy Volunteer Corps after college. It was the idea of practicing all seven corporal works of mercy over the 40 days of Lent, however, that led her to write Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job.

During an interview on Christopher Closeup, Weber explained her approach to living out her faith: “I think that being Catholic [involves] trying to deal with people in the margins, reaching out to people and trying to include them in the body of Christ and the larger Christian community.”

Lent’s focus on giving something up or adopting a new spiritual practice can push us out of our comfort zones, which is one of the reasons Weber is fond of the season. She calls it “a deliberate time to build your relationship with Christ and other people in a supportive community.” That doesn’t mean Lent is a joyride. Weber admits that fasting can make her crabby. But it also causes her to say, “If I’m hungry for one day and this is how crabby I get, imagine if I was hungry every day . . . That discomfort forces you to think about why you’re doing what you’re doing” and hopefully move forward prayerfully.

Weber learned an important lesson about the homeless while volunteering at the St. Francis Breadline in Manhattan, which hands out sandwiches and drinks every morning at 7. She said, “I tended to look at people who are homeless as either Christ figures or criminals. It was, ‘Oh, they are Jesus’ or ‘I’d better stay away because I don’t want to get attacked.’ But it was like interacting with any group of people. They are examples of Christ, like everybody else. But they are also just people, like everybody else, who have good days and bad days.”

The ability to look beyond the surface to see people’s humanity also came into play when Weber visited San Quentin State Prison to write a feature for America magazine, where she serves as managing editor.  She was surprised at how normal the prisoners seemed.

She explained, “When I went in, I didn’t know any of the crimes of the men that I spoke with. When I left, I couldn’t help but look up some of these things, and it was such a strange disconnect to think these people that I spoke with were really nice and welcoming in this context. They have done other things that are truly horrific. To reconcile those two things takes some work . . . I don’t think any of us are inherently evil. A different upbringing or a different set of circumstances, and we could be people who are in prison. I think the line between that is a lot thinner than most people think.”

Weber is heartened that her book is already inspiring other works of mercy. She said, “I got a nice email from a priest who said he talked about the book in his homily. Two of his parish secretaries came in the next day and said they cleaned out their closets and are donating all these clothes because they were inspired. It’s nice to hear those things, to feel like we’re all in this together, that we’re building a more merciful world through the little actions that we do in our daily lives.”

(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

Kerry Weber's Blog

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

“How beautiful it is to stand before the Crucifix, simply to be under the Lord’s gaze, so full of love.” – Pope Francis (is his tweet on 12 APR 14)

15 April 2014

Thank You,Lord

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

Reflection Starter from Saint Francis de Sales

“There are some people who, desiring to become perfect by the acquiring of virtues, want to acquire them all at once, as if perfection consisted merely in desiring it. Certainly it would be wonderful if we could become humble immediately and as soon as we desired it. It would be nice if we could put on this virtue as easily as we put on a coat. Since this is impossible, we must be content to acquire perfection by following the usual ways, with tranquility of heart and determination. Whether the realization of our desires comes sooner or later, we must not get upset, but leave all to Divine Providence. God will console us in His own good time.” – Saint Francis de Sales

14 April 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for being our light and our salvation.

Sarah Reinhard on Being Still and Knowing

“It’s been a long haul. I’ve been facing a couple of challenges that have stretched me and pulled me and forced me to really lean back into God.

“And it hurts.

“As I sat in Mass this weekend, listening to a missionary priest speak about the work that Cross Catholic Outreach does, near tears because of a number of things, I felt this strong peace.

“‘Be still and know that I am God.’”

In a recent commentary, writer Sarah Reinhard reflected on Psalm 46 and its relevance to us as we face the various challenges before us each day.

To access Ms. Reinhard’s complete post, please visit:

The Integrated Catholic Life: Being Still and Knowing (7 APR 14)

Reflection Starter from Archbishop Fulton Sheen

“The Lord hears us more readily than we suspect; it is our listening to God that needs to be improved. When people complain that their prayers are not heard by God, what often has happened is that they did not wait to hear God’s answer.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

13 April 2014

Notre Dame Folk Choir: “Jesus the Lord”

As our Palm Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of the University of Notre Dame Folk Choir presenting (at the Abbey of Gethsemani, Trappist, KY) “Jesus the Lord” (by Roc O’Connor, S.J.):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings You have prepared for us throughout this Holy Week.

The Blessing of Catholic Converts

“Do you want to know the best way to ensure your child grows up to be a faithful, knowledgeable, and active Catholic? It’s simple: 1) Raise them as a Protestant AND 2) Only let them date Catholics and promise to pay all their wedding and honeymoon expenses if they get married in the Catholic Church. That second step is key.

“All kidding aside (...that was not a serious attempt at Catholic parenting advice!), there are hundreds of thousands of non-Catholic parents in the United States today raising children who will one day grow up to be extraordinary Catholics (...as shown below). Some will join in the coming week as the Catholic Church in the United States will welcome more than 100,000 new adult Catholics into the faith through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

“There aren’t a lot of data sets available to study this sub-group. One notable exception is Dean R. Hoge’s Converts, Dropouts, Returnees: A Study of Religious Change Among Catholics (1981). Hoge, a Presbyterian sociologist, noted that ‘past research on Catholic converts and dropouts is sketchy, since few studies have been done’ (p. 8). In recent years much new attention has been given to the dropouts – those who are raised in the faith but do not remain Catholic as adults . . . . In this post we focus on the converts joining the Church by compiling all of the recent research available to produce a robust and often surprising portrait.”

A recent post in the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) research blog offered an overview of recent adult converts to Catholicism. Among other findings, research shows that adult converts are more likely than all other Catholics to:

  • Attend Mass at least once a month (62% of converts compared to 48% of all other Catholics),
  • Go to confession at least once a year,
  • Regularly contribute to parish offertory collections (59% compared to 43%),
  • Be “somewhat” or “very” involved in their parish beyond Mass attendance (31% compared to 14%)
  • Agree that their faith is either “the most important” or “among the most important” things in their daily life (59% compared to 40%),
  • Regularly read religious or spiritual publications (29% compared to 18%) or books (10% compared to 6%), and
  • Believe in the Real Presence (81% of adult converts believe in the Real Presence compared to only 55% of all other Catholics).

To access the complete post, please visit:

1964: Portrait of the American Catholic Convert: Strength in New Numbers (11 APR 14)

Msgr. Pope on the Role of Anger in Prayer

“Among the struggles that many face in their spiritual lives is one in which we at times feel angry with God. While the sources of this anger can be varied, they tend to be focused in three areas: the existence of evil and injustice in the world (which God seems to permit), God’s seeming delay in answering our prayers, or some personal setback or trial in our life.

“The thought that God can prevent bad things, often leads to expectations that he should prevent them. And then when such expectations are not met, resentment, disappointment, or anger can follow.

“Sometimes our anger at God is obvious to us. But other times, it can take more subtle forms, such as depression or a kind of spiritual sadness, avoidance of God and spiritual things, a loss of hope, or a reduction in asking things of God at all in prayer. Sometimes too, we like to hide our anger with God by using understatements such as saying we are simply ‘disappointed,’ or ‘frustrated.’”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on anger and exasperation expressed in prayer and God’s understanding, even respect, for it.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: “How Long O Lord!” A Meditation on the role of anger in prayer. (9 APR 14)

Reflection Starter from Romans

“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose”- Romans 8:28

12 April 2014

The Browns: “The Old Lamplighter”

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of The Browns singing “The Old Lamplighter”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for inspirations for the food, clothing, shelter, and other gifts You provide for us.

On the Blessing Before a Meal as a Public Act of Faith

“Several weeks ago, I had lunch with one of my new clients, a senior human resources executive of an Atlanta-based company. Our working partnership had been very business-focused since the beginning, and I wanted to forge a stronger personal connection, which I enjoy with most of my other clients.

“We made small talk about a number of subjects until our food arrived. I said I was going to say a blessing over our meal and that she was welcome to join me. As I made the Sign of the Cross and started to pray, I noticed that she also made the Sign of the Cross. I smiled to myself and said a quiet prayer of thanks for the opportunity I had been given.

“Between bites of salad, I asked her which parish she attended. She gave me a funny look before responding with the name, then added, ‘That’s a long story.’ I told her I would love to hear about it, and for the next half hour, we talked about her faith journey, how much she loved her parish, her devotion to the Blessed Mother and her prayer life. The awkward business-focused exchange at the beginning of the meal had been replaced by a warm conversation about our shared Catholic faith. I certainly achieved my goal of a stronger personal connection!”

In a recent commentary, writer Randy Hain, Senior Editor for The Integrated Catholic Life and National Catholic Register correspondent, reflected on the Sign of the Cross and the blessing over a meal as a simple and public ac of faith.

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

National Catholic Register: A Simple and Public Act of Faith (29 MAR 14)

Reflection Starter from Shigenori Kameoka

“Find a seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth a flower.” – attributed to Shigenori Kameoka

11 April 2014

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

This week, the week of 6-12 April, is being observed as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Observed since 1981, NCVRW was initiated as an observance to promote awareness of victims’ rights and services and to honor crime victims and survivors.

The theme for NCVRW 2014 is “30 Years: Restoring the Balance of Justice.”

2014 NCVRW Logo

For more information about National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, please visit:

U.S. Department of Justice: Office for Victims of Crime: National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

Presidential Proclamation:

Presidential Proclamation – National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for hearing us when we call upon You.

Pope: The Poor Are the Center of the Gospel of Jesus

“In a March 31 interview with communications students, Pope Francis responded to previous accusations of being a communist, explaining that his preference for the poor is in fact based in the Gospel.

“‘I heard two months ago that a person referred to my preference for speaking about the poor, saying: ‘This Pope is a communist, no?’ And no, this is the banner of the Gospel, not of communism – of the Gospel,’ the Pope explained during the meeting.”

A recent National Catholic Register article reported on this interview, in which the Pope observed that “in this moment of history, man has been cast down from being the most important; he has been drained to the peripheries, situated in the center of power, of money. . . . We have entered into a throwaway culture, and whatever doesn't serve this globalization is discarded: the elderly, children and the youth.”

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

National Catholic Register: Pope Says ‘Poor Are the Center of the Gospel of Jesus’ (4 APR 14)

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

“If you find that you have wandered away from the shelter of God, lead your heart back to Him quietly and simply.” – Saint Francis de Sales

10 April 2014

National Public Health Week

This week, the week of 7-13 April, is being observed as National Public Health Week. This year’s theme is “Public Health: Start Here.”

nphw arrows

For more information about National Public Health Week and this year’s observance, please visit:

National Public Health Week

YouTube: National Public Health Week 2014 Leaders

YouTube: APHA: National Public Health Week – Public Health is ROI

Presidential Message: National Public Health Week

Background information:

National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council: National Prevention Strategy: America’s Plan for Better Health and Wellness (June 2011)

American Public Health Association

Surgeon General of the United States

King’s College Choir: “Abide with Me”

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of the King’s College Choir (Cambridge, U.K.) singing “Abide with Me”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You touch the hearts of Your people as they participate in religious pilgrimages.

Out of a Dark Place Through God’s Grace

Everyone knows that Hurricane Sandy is still having catastrophic effects on the lives of many in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area – but Hurricane Katrina? Yep, Hurricane Katrina. The storm that pulverized the Gulf area back in 2005 was nothing less than a disaster for many people, including Barry Lyons, a one-time New York Met. With the help of organized baseball he’s managing to recover from all the sadness it caused, but it brought a lot of heartache along the way. There’s quite a story that goes with it, and sports writer Anthony McCarron told it in the pages of New York’s Daily News. It goes something like this:

Barry Lyons was not quite a household name with the Mets, but true fans will recall him as a backup catcher for the unforgettable Gary Carter in the late ’80s. Lyons nonetheless made his own mark, though, especially as a battery-mate for pitcher David Cone, his roommate and still his friend. He called it a career after 253 big-league games, 212 of them with the Mets, and ultimately settled with his family in Biloxi, Miss., near his aging parents.

When Hurricane Katrina barreled in on the Gulf Coast, Lyons decided to ride it out in his ranch-style home. That proved to be a bad mistake. With water rapidly rising inside the house, the family went to a neighbor’s home, and when that too proved untenable, they ultimately found safety in a boat tethered to a trailer. And when the waters finally receded, they assessed the damage.

Complete devastation surrounded Lyons. His home was wrecked beyond repair, and after a time a FEMA trailer served as their house. But the ordeal proved too much for the family. His brother who lived nearby killed himself, and Lyons himself started drinking. Heavily. His marriage was in a shambles.

David Cone, who never abandoned his buddy, could hardly believe it. “It looked to me like he got sicker and sicker,” he said. Finally, when Lyons hit bottom, he recommended rehab. And Cone mentioned something else: the BAT, the Baseball Assistance Team. Both would play major roles in giving Lyons a new life.

Something else was all-important. The rehab institution Lyons chose was the Home of Grace, a Christian center, and in McCarron’s words it’s where Lyons “broke the vise grip of booze, marijuana and painkillers.”

Lyons himself reflected on the long-term aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina.

“For a long time,” he said, “I was in a very dark place and it affected me horribly for about five years. By God’s grace I have come out of that and now there are some amazing things going on in my life.”

One of them is talking about the ordeal he went through, and how finally it came to a halt. “By God’s grace,” the man said, and he meant it. Baseball is coming back to him as well; he’ll be the hitting coach for Biloxi High School and it looks as if the town will get a Double-A minor league team in which he’ll play some kind of role. And there are his friendships, plus the BAT – an association he freely acknowledges.

If Barry Lyons sounds like a happy man, he is. Just ask him – and he’ll tell you all about it.

(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

Wikipedia: Hurricane Katrina

Major League Baseball: Baseball Assistance Team

Home of Grace, Vancleave, MS

Reflection Starter from Pablo Picasso

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”- Pablo Picasso

09 April 2014

Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 100 in G major

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Joseph Haydn’s “Symphony No. 100 in G major” (also known known as the Military Symphony), as played by the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra (conducted by Adam Fischer):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of free will You have given us and the angels.

Marcel LeJeune on Wolves and Evangelization

“The Biblical image of wolves is that of dangerous predators who devour the sheep, which are part of Jesus flock (Matt 7:15, 10:16; Luke 10:3 Acts 20:29). True, this is the prevailing metaphor for wolves in Sacred Scripture, but there are other traits to wolves that can be used in a different way.”

In a recent commentary, evangelist Marcel LeJeune reflected on the similarities between evangelism and the effects of wolves on their habitat.

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

Aggie Catholics: When Wolves Evangelize (1 APR 14)

Reflection Starter from St. Gregory Nazianzen

“Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could.” – Saint Gregory Nazianzen

08 April 2014

American Catholic Radio’s “Saint of the Week”

American Catholic Radio, a ministry of Franciscan Media Productions, offers a weekly “Saint of the Week” presentation. This week’s presentation is about a learned man (called the “Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages”) who wrote an encyclopedia that he used as a textbook.

To access this week’s presentation, please visit:

American Catholic Radio: Saint of the Week

Elise Hilton on Government Toleration of Religion

“I am not concerned how my meat is butchered. I prefer my meat to be raised organically, and I like it cooked. Other than that, I’m not too fussy, but I don’t have to be. My religious faith doesn’t have anything to say about how meat is butchered.

“If a person is Jewish or Muslim, however, this is a big deal. And many Jews and Muslims take it as seriously as I take the tenets of my faith. And while they do not ask me to eat only meat that has been prepared in the way prescribed for them, I do believe they have the right to prepare their food the way they see fit.”

In a recent commentary, Elise Hilton reflected on how governments tolerate religions – until they don’t.

To access Ms. Hilton’s complete post, please visit:

Acton Institute PowerBlog: Religion: Fighting For Tolerance Or Existence? (1 APR 14)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the may graces You our bestowing on us during our Lenten journey.

Msgr. Pope on Setting Our Houses in Order

“There’s a Gospel song, written back in the 1950’s, called ‘Jesus Hits Like an Atom Bomb!’ It is a warning to be prepared for death. Here are a few of the lyrics:

Everybody’s worried ’bout that Atom Bomb. No one seems worried about the Day my Lord shall come! Better set your house in order, He may be coming soon, and He’ll hit like an Atom Bomb when He comes!

“Playful yet clear. But what does it mean to set your house in order? If we’re not careful, we might come up with a long list of things to which we should attend. A long list might tend to overwhelm us and be difficult to remember.”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on a Scripture-based four point plan for setting our house in order: studying and basing our lives on the teaching of the Apostles, participating in the “Fellowship” (the Mass), receiving the sacraments, and prayer.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: Set Your House in Order (in four easy steps). (2 APR 14)

Reflection Starter from George Eliot

“The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.” – George Eliot

07 April 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your mercy and Your love.

Pope Francis on Real Prayer

“During [a recent] daily Mass Pope Francis reflected on the prayer of Moses to God in the first reading, saying that true prayer should be like speaking to a friend – with boldness and without fear.

“‘The Bible says that Moses spoke to the Lord face to face, like with a friend. This is how prayer should be: free, insistent, with debate. And also scolding the Lord a little,’ the Pope said April 3.

Speaking to those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse, the pontiff centered his address on the encounter between Moses and God in the day’s first reading, taken from Exodus, in which Moses intercedes for the people of Israel, asking the Lord not to destroy them as he threatens for worshipping idols.

“Moses’ prayer he noted, ‘is a real struggle with God. A struggle (on the part of) the leader of a people to save his people, who are the people of God.’”

A recent Catholic News Agency article reported on the Pope’s reflections, during this homily on the Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent, on prayer that invigorates us and helps us change our hearts.

To access the complete Catholic News Agency report, please visit:

Catholic News Agency: Pope: Real prayer is courageous, frank dialogue with God (3 APR 14)

Reflection Starter from St. Rose of Lima

“Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.” – Saint Rose of Lima

06 April 2014

“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this Bill & Gloria Gaither version of singing “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”:

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Today the Church celebrates the Fifth Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings are Ezekiel 37:12-14, Romans 8:8-11, and John 11:1-45. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 130 (Psalm 130:1-8).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 130 “With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption”

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to him saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.”

When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?”

Jesus answered,“Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.”

So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep.

So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.”

So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother.

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.”

Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.”

As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.

When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?”

They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept.

So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”

But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.”

Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone.

And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Fifth Sunday of Lent (April 6, 2014)

Msgr. Charles Pope: I’ll Take Back what the Devil Stole from Me. A Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent (5 APR 14)

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio: For the Love of Lazarus

The Deacon’s Bench: Homily for April 6, 2014: 5th Sunday of Lent (5 APR 14)

The Sacred Page: “I’m Back!”: The Raising of Lazarus, 5th Sunday of Lent (2 APR 14)

The Quiet Corner: History shows defense of life a thankless task (3 APR 14)

Word on Fire: Sermon 691: Treating Death As A Trifle: 5th Sunday of Lent

Dr. Scott Hahn: At Lazarus’ Tomb (April 6th 2014 – Fifth Sunday of Lent)

The Catholic World Report Blog: Staring Death in the Face (5 APR 14)

Servant and Steward: Homily - 6 April 2014 (6 APR 14)

Spirituality of the Readings: Love and Death (5th Sunday of Lent A)

The Word Embodied: Release from the Tombs (5th Sunday of Lent A)

Historical Cultural Context: Eyes of Faith (5th Sunday of Lent A)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Fifth Sunday of Lent (4 APR 14)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You give us glimpses of Your glory.

Fr. Longenecker on the Pope’s Call to Repentance

“In The Godfather, Vito Corleone famously told his son to make his rivals ‘an offer they can’t refuse.’ It was an understated direction for the gangsters to use force to get their own way.

“Speaking at a prayer service for victims of organized crime, Pope Francis made the mobsters an offer they can refuse: Hell. After comforting family members who are victims of mob violence, Pope Francis spoke forthrightly to the criminals: ‘This life that you live now won’t give you pleasure. It won’t give you joy or happiness. Blood-stained money, blood-stained power, you can’t bring it with you to your next life. Repent. There’s still time to not end up in hell, which is what awaits you if you continue on this path.’

“The clear clarion call of the Christian message is that hell can be avoided. It’s an offer that can be refused. Refusing the path to hell and choosing the path to heaven is the choice at the heart of the call to repent.”

In a recent commentary, Father Dwight Longenecker (parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Greenville, SC) reflected on Pope Francis’ call to repentance – a call extended to each of us.

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

Aleteia: The Pope and the Mobsters (26 MAR 14)

Background information:

Dwight Longenecker - Catholic priest and author

Reflection Starter from St. Teresa of Avila

“Look for Christ Our Lord in everyone and you will then have respect and reverence for all.” – Saint Teresa of Avila (Saint Teresa of Jesus, OCD)

05 April 2014

Tennessee Ernie Ford: “Sixteen Tons”

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing “Sixteen Tons”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the graces You give us as we strive to live our Faith.

Randy Hain on Positive Ways One Can Be a Catholic Rebel

“Come on, we know better than the Church, don’t we?  After all, this is the 21st Century and times have changed.  Modern man is fully capable of deciding what is moral on his own, right?  All the really smart people in the media, government and academia who encourage us to embrace abortion, contraception, euthanasia and gay marriage can’t be wrong, can they?  After all, everyone knows that new and fresh ideas must clearly trump over two millennia of Church teaching.  Right?


“Unfortunately, my facetious opening paragraph represents how many Catholics view the Church’s teaching these days.  Many have bought into the lies the world is feeding us that we should rebel against the authority of the Church and the Pope while instead deciding on our own which teachings we will and will not follow.  Our increasing apathy and moral relativism, heavily influenced by a culture drunk on materialism with no moral compass, is putting the Church and the world in grave danger.  The Catholic Church is one of the last lines of defense against evil and we must not allow a misguided rebellion to destroy it from the inside.  The Church must never conform to or be assimilated into the world.  We are in the world, but not of the world and we must keep our eyes firmly on our heavenly home.”

In a recent commentary, writer Randy Hain, Senior Editor for The Integrated Catholic Life, reflected on a number of positive ways in which Catholics can “rebel against the world.” These recommendations include avoiding cafeteria Catholicism, practicing personal holiness, and being joyful.

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

The Integrated Catholic Life: Five Positive Ways You Can Be A Catholic Rebel (27 MAR 14)

Reflection Starter from St. Vincent Ferrer

“Do you wish to study to your advantage? Let devotion accompany all your studies. Consult God more than your books. Ask Him to make you understand what you read. Never begin or end your study except by prayer. Science is a gift of God. Do not consider it merely the work of your own mind and effort.” – Saint Vincent Ferrer (whose memory the Church celebrates today)

04 April 2014

Walter Brennan: “Old Rivers”

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of Walter Brennan presenting “Old Rivers”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways (as noted in Psalm 34) that You assist those who are in distress.

Three Catholic Youth Ministries Collaborate to Extend Reach

“Three Catholic youth-ministry organizations that together serve more than 300,000 Catholic youth and young adults nationwide are joining forces to bring the Gospel to greater numbers of youth and to offer parishes resources to help teens continue their faith development into adulthood.

“Already longtime supporters of each other’s work, representatives of National Evangelization Teams (NET) Ministries, Life Teen and Steubenville Conferences agreed recently to begin partnering, in order to leverage each other’s strengths and promote all three ministries. One of their first joint objectives is to present parishes with resources aimed at engaging youth in the faith throughout the year, not just at a once-a-year event.”

A recent National Catholic Register article reported on this collaborative initiative and some of the anticipated benefits.

To access the complete report, please visit:

National Catholic Register: Youth Ministries Partner to Reach More Young People for Christ (29 MAR 14)

Background information:

NET Ministries

National Life Teen

Steubenville Conferences

Reflection Starter from George W. Bush

“Sometimes in life we are called to do great things. But as a saint of our times said, every day we are called to do small things with great love. The most important tasks of a democracy are done by everyone.” – George W. Bush (in his Inaugural Address, 20 January 2001)

03 April 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of light and its many attributes.

Life Isn’t Just About the Journey

In my last column, I introduced you to writers Amy Andrews, a convert to the Catholic faith, and Jessica Mesman Griffith, who re-embraced Catholicism as an adult after a childhood in which her parents became evangelical. To help work out their beliefs – and their struggles with their beliefs – they started handwriting letters to each other as a Lenten discipline several years ago. Those letters have now been collected into the book Love and Salt: A Spiritual Friendship Shared in Letters.

For Griffith, one of the biggest reasons she returned to the Church was the fact that we have a suffering savior. Specifically, the Way of the Cross helped her deal with the losses she’d endured in her life, especially the death of her mother when she was a child. During an interview on Christopher Closeup, Griffith told me, “I needed to acknowledge death, to acknowledge that suffering was a reality and something I had endured. I wasn’t getting that from the churches I had been in during my high school years with my family . . . .I needed a way to feel that this story was not over with my mother and the other people we had lost – that we were going to be able to have some connection with them. It’s not something we’re waiting for, it’s not something that’s going to happen when we die. It’s something that we have access to right now. There’s not a wall between us and heaven. It’s much more permeable than we might believe.”

The challenge of dealing with death became a painful reality for Andrews and her husband when their baby died. She recalled, “I felt empty, like the hopes of my marriage, the hopes my parents had for me, the plans I had for my own life – everything was gone, and I was grieving this person.”

Thankfully, Andrews found hope and consolation through her church community and friendship with Griffith: “Seeing Jess beside me, weeping when I was weeping, was more comforting than almost anything else. That’s the incarnational nature of our faith. I was seeing God suffering through her, and that absolutely lightened my burden. It didn’t make it go away, but it redeemed it.”

As they chronicle in Love and Salt, Andrews and Griffith have traveled a rewarding, profound, difficult road together, and they know their successes and stumbles through life will continue, like they do for everybody. They’re firmly committed to keeping their endpoint in sight, however.

Andrews explained, “The reason I think it’s unsatisfying to say that [life is] all about the journey is that you don’t recognize that we, as Christians, believe in a destination. We believe that we are headed for union with God in eternity. It’s not that I don’t think the journey’s important – I absolutely do. It’s just that it’s a journey with a specific destination in mind that then casts meaning back on the rest of life. If we just say it’s all about the journey, we’re lying to ourselves. There is something coming that is helping us make sense of what we are doing as we’re walking down the road.”

As we move through Lent, those are important insights to keep in mind. None of us escapes suffering. But with God’s grace and the support of good people, that suffering can be redeemed and bring us one step closer to our final destination with the risen Jesus.

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

Background information:

The Christophers: Christopher Radio & Video

Reflection Starter from St. Isidore of Seville

“Study as if you were to live forever. Live as if you were to die tomorrow.” – Saint Isidore of Seville (whose memory the Church celebrates tomorrow, 4 April)

02 April 2014

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E minor

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5 in E minor” (Op. 64) as played by the Wiener Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic), conducted by Herbert von Karajan:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings You have bestowed on Your Church.

Msgr. Pope on Who Needs the Church

“I was asked to go to a neighboring parish and address some fundamental questions related to the necessity of the Church. Many today question the need for a church or The Church and claim they can have Jesus without the Church. And thus the fundamental question ‘Who needs the Church?’ ought to be addressed. . . .

“[T]he fundamental answer I offer to “Who needs the Church?” is that everyone does, because the Church is the Body of Christ.

“To the related questions ‘Why do I need to come to Church?’ and ‘How can the Church possibly be relevant to me?’ the fundamental answer is because it is in the Church that Jesus is first and foremost to be found.”

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:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Who Needs the Church? You might as well ask, “Who needs Jesus?” (17 MAR 14)

Reflection Starter from Art Linkletter

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – Art Linkletter

01 April 2014

“Christ Be Our Light”

As we continue living this week and continue our Lenten observance, I offer this version of Bernadette Farrell’s “Christ Be Our Light”:

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions for April

The Holy Father’s prayer intentions for April are:

General intention (Ecology and Justice): “That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.”

Mission intention (Hope for the Sick): “That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.”

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the graces You give us to meet the needs You entrust to us.

Entering the Story of Christianity

So a rationalist and a mystic walk into a bar. Okay, it wasn’t a bar; they walked into a writing class.

That’s not the opening of a weird joke. It’s the way a life-changing bond was formed between two talented young writers whose personal journeys – told in the book Love and Salt: A Spiritual Friendship Shared in Letters – offer relevant, relatable and theologically-rich examples of growing in faith.

When Amy Andrews (the rationalist) and Jessica Mesman Griffith (the mystic) met in a writing course, they each had different religious experiences in their pasts. Griffith was raised Catholic in southern Louisiana and surrounded by the overt religious practices native to the region. When her mother developed a terminal illness, her parents defected to an evangelical church in search of a healing miracle that never came. Griffith’s father became vehemently anti-Catholic, so she grieved both the loss of her mother and the loss of her childhood faith. Yet the soulprints of Catholicism never left Griffith, so she returned to the Church when she got older.

Andrews grew up with an agnostic mother and atheist father, yet she always felt naturally drawn to God. And though her parents weren’t believers at the time (they’ve since converted), they held to a lot of the values of Christianity. Andrews was further attracted to God in college through her interest in literature and writing.  During an interview on Christopher Closeup, she told me, “I think God is everywhere, so of course I love reading theology, but it’s not like that’s the only place you can see God.”

Griffith had a similar experience, saying, “I was reading so widely at the time because I was in graduate school in a writing program. Reading theology and the Bible alongside all of these other great works of literature, all of it seemed to be pointing in the same direction – the Church.”

Following those literary lines, it was Andrews’ desire to enter into the “story” of Christianity that eventually led her to the Catholic Church. She said, “Part of it was getting married. I realized that you can’t know something 100 percent ahead of time; you have to do it. Then you have the transformation and knowledge that come from actually being married. With that example, I started to think about faith in the same way – that this was not a matter of knowing everything ahead of time; it was a matter of entering a story. And the story had become so beautiful, so true and so desirable to me that I thought, ‘This is as much as I’m going to be able to know from the outside. What I need to do now is enter the story and see what happens.’”

Re-embracing Catholicism’s rituals and traditions was also a boon for Griffith, especially on days when she didn’t feel connected to God. She said, “Going through the motions and rote prayer, these things were very helpful to me because on days when I could not come up with the language to talk to God, the words were there for me in beautiful, ancient prayers.”

When Andrews and Griffith met, they found an ideal, complementary friendship. Griffith agreed to be Andrew’s sponsor into the Catholic Church, and they decided to write daily letters to each other as a Lenten discipline that could help them work out their beliefs on paper. And working out those beliefs became a true blessing when life’s troubles eventually arose. I’ll tell you about those next time.

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

Background information:

The Christophers: Christopher Radio & Video

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

“We all have a vocation. We believe that God has placed us in this life to fill a special need that no one else can accomplish.” – Saint Francis de Sales