31 October 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the spiritual armor You provide us.

Pope Francis on the Devil and Fighting Against Him

"In his homily on Thursday, Pope Francis said that the devil is more than an idea, and in order to fight him, we must follow St. Paul's instructions and put on the armor of God which protects us.

"'In this generation, like so many others, people have been led to believe that the devil is a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil. But the devil exists and we must fight against him,' the Pope told those present in the Vatican's Saint Martha house for his Oct. 30 daily Mass."

A recent Catholic News Agency report on the Holy Father's homily on the readings for the Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time.

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

Catholic News Agency: The devil is no myth – he's real and we must fight him, Pope says (30 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from Albert Einstein

"Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day. . . . Never lose holy curiosity." - Albert Einstein

30 October 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for songs that inspire and/or encourage.

Br. Pier Giorgio Dengler, O.P., on Personal Contact and Evangelization

"Even though St. Columbanus or St. Frances of Rome are the patron saints of motorcyclists, you’re far more likely to see St. Jude riding a Harley – generally on a biker’s bicep.  With the exception of Jesus himself and his Blessed Mother, St. Jude is the saint most likely to appear on tattoos.  Maybe this has to do with St. Jude’s penchant for bling – he is usually depicted wearing or holding a huge medal bearing the image of Jesus.  As the patron of 'hopeless cases,' of lost causes, of the impossible, many of us embrace devotion to St. Jude when we are most desperate, when we cannot outrun or out-ride reality's most dreadful grief. St. Jude offers hope to the hopeless, a ray of light to those most beset with darkness – he offers nothing less than Jesus himself.

"Yet why should only St. Jude be shown holding the image of Christ?  Holding a medallion recalls the question he asked Jesus in the gospel: 'Lord, what has happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?'  (John 14:22).  Essentially, St. Jude asks Jesus why he is not manifesting himself to everyone in the world at once; why Jesus is choosing to allow the relatively small number of apostles to get to know him, and then rely on them to spread the word about who Jesus is.  Indeed, it would seem that a simple media blitz, broadcast to everyone in the world would be the most efficient way to let everyone on earth know Jesus.  Why shouldn't Jesus have come in the current millennium, at a time when he could broadcast the Beatitudes over Twitter or post a photo of his Transfiguration to Instagram so that everyone would get the point already?"

In a recent commentary, Brother Pier Giorgio Dengler, O.P., reflected on why individual contact is necessary in the evangelization process..

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

Dominicana: Tatts and Talismans (28 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from Henry Ford

"I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn't need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about." - Henry Ford

29 October 2014

As End of Daylight Saving Time Approaches, “Change Your Clock Change Your Battery” Reminder Issued

Daylight saving time will end on Sunday, 2 November. As families change their clocks, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) advises that it is a good time also for them to replace smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector batteries and to make fire safety an ongoing priority.

change clock change battery logo

Background information and resources:

International Association of Fire Chiefs

IAFC: Simple Home Fire Safety Tips

Energizer: Change Your Clock Change Your Battery®

Paul Abraham Dukas: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Paul Abraham Dukas’ The Sorcerer's Apprentice (L'apprenti sorcier) as played by the Moscow City Symphony - Russian Philharmonic (conducted by Michail Jurowski):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your gift of laughter.

Powerful in Their Simplicity

I usually use this column to share with you the stories of people who I’ve interviewed on our Christopher Closeup radio show, but today I’m changing my approach. You see, we’ve got other projects that encourage people to light a candle rather than curse the darkness - and we receive mail about them on a daily basis.

For instance, our longest running ministry is our Christopher News Notes. These pamphlets address a variety of social and spiritual issues that are relevant to people’s lives: from overcoming loneliness to building an active prayer life.  Single issues are mailed out free-of-charge 10 times a year, and readers find they often bring the right words at just the right time.

A longtime subscriber named Marylou recently wrote to us saying, “Thank you for your faithfulness in sending the Christopher News Notes. They transform what is ‘ordinary’ to ‘extraordinary,’ from the secular to the sacred. They are powerful in their simplicity.”

Then, there’s also our annual Three Minutes a Day book, the latest of which - Volume 49 - has just been published and sells for $10. This collection of daily stories and reflections is so popular that people called our office in August asking if the new book was done yet! We appreciate the enthusiasm and are grateful that you, our readers, rely on the book to provide you with a daily dose of moral and spiritual guidance.

Consider this story which serves as our January 1st entry: When TV host Mike Rowe met retired Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills at the Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., he was astonished at the condition of the man standing in front of him.  It wasn’t just the fact that Mills was a quadruple amputee with two prosthetic arms and two prosthetic legs, but also that his spirit was shockingly upbeat.

When Rowe inquired what happened to him, Mills said an IED in Afghanistan had destroyed his limbs.  Despite that, Mills said, “I’m not a victim, Mike, and I refused to be portrayed that way.”  Instead, Mills focuses on his wife, his child, and on helping wounded veterans adjust to life with their injuries.

On Facebook, Rowe wrote, “Travis is missing more than a few original parts; he’s missing all traces of self-pity. And that presents a challenge for mortals like me…[to] listen to a guy with no arms or legs tell me how lucky he is.  That’s called a gut-check, and I could use one from time to time.”

The power of stories like that even extend behind prison walls, as our friend Sister Rosemary let us know a few weeks ago. In case you’re not aware, The Christophers send free donations of our News Notes and books to various diocesan prison ministries around the country. Sister Rosemary, who ministers to inmates in Chicago, wrote us a note saying the following:

“This week, an older man asked if I could give him anything to read that would ‘lift his spirits.’ I was able to find a [Three Minutes a Day] book to bring him (they are so popular that they aren’t always available)…I am so grateful for the goodies you send. The men love everything I put out for them on a ‘Take if you wish’ table when we have our twice-weekly Communion services. [They say], ‘If it is from The Christophers, it is good!’”

Thank you to everyone who sends us words of encouragement like that. We’re happy that you allow us to play some small part in bringing Christ’s light to the world.

(This essay is this week's “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

Reflection Starter from Pope Paul VI

"Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows." - Pope Paul VI

28 October 2014

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is designed to be a time of raising awareness of domestic violence throughout the United States and its devastating effects on families and communities. It is also a time to remember those who have died because of domestic violence and to recommit to efforts to end violence within homes and communities.

Domestic violence refers to a violent confrontation between family or household members involving physical harm, sexual assault, and/or fear of physical harm. Family or household members include spouses, former spouses, those in (or formerly in) a dating relationship, adults related by blood or marriage, and those who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship.

Domestic violence may include acts of violence intimidation, threats, psychological abuse, and/or isolation to coerce and to control the other person. Violence itself may not happen often, but it may remain a hidden and constant terrorizing factor. Domestic violence may also include psychological violence, such as intense and repetitive degradation, creating isolation, and controlling the actions or behaviors of the spouse or other individual through intimidation or manipulation to the detriment of that individual.

Although a look at statistics indicates that domestic violence is a major problem, we don’t really know how common it is because people often do not report it. Domestic violence occurs among women and men of all ages and all levels of income and education. Many times victims of violence suffer in silence because they do not know where to turn, where to find guidance and support.

Presidential Proclamation:

Presidential Proclamation – National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, 2014

In a related initiative, a number of celebrities, athletes, corporate leaders, and advocates are collaborating, via a series of public service announcements, to generate awareness for domestic violence and sexual assault and encourage bystanders to help. This NO MORE campaign is designed to galvanize greater awareness and action to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

For more information about this initiative, please visit:


Background information and resources:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Awareness Project

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Maine Coalition To End Domestic Violence

Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Vermont Network Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful gift of poetry.

Christopher White on Father Groeschel

"On Friday, Oct. 3, the eve of St. Francis Assisi’s feast day, Father Benedict Groeschel passed away, completing his earthly work that was so motivated by St. Francis himself.

"While his professional resume includes a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University and his longtime service as spiritual director for the Archdiocese of New York, he will probably best be remembered for his instrumental work in founding the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a community of men who live and work among the poor and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to those most in need. Yet he also was known widely by many Catholic faithful for his many books on the spiritual life, his work as a retreat master and conference speaker, and his popular 'Sunday Night Prime' television broadcast on EWTN."

In a recent commentary, Christopher White reflected on on the life and ministry of Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. (May he rest in peace.).

To access Mr. White's complete post, please visit:

Catholic Pulse: Father Benedict Groeschel and the Joy of the Gospel (23 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from Maya Angelou

"While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God's creation." - Maya Angelou

26 October 2014

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Exodus 22:20-26, 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10, and Matthew 22:34-40. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 18 (Psalm 18:2-4, 47, 51).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 18 I love the Lord my strength

The Gospel reading is as follows:

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"

He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."

Reflections on these readings:

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

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 26, 2014)

Msgr. Charles Pope: The Whole Law, standing on one foot! A Homily For the 30th Sunday of the year (25 OCT 14)

The Sacred Page: How Do Law and Love Relate? The 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (24 OCT 14)

Word on Fire: Pier Giorgio Frassati and Social Justice (Cycle A * Ordinary Time * Week 30)

Dr. Scott Hahn: Love Commanded (October 26th 2014 - Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Spirituality of the Readings: Look What Love Is Doing (30th Sunday of Ordinary Time A)

The Word Embodied: All You Need Is Love (30th Sunday of Ordinary Time A)

Historical Cultural Context: The Law of Love (30th Sunday of Ordinary Time A)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Augustine (30th Sunday of Ordinary Time A)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Word to Life Radio Broadcast: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (24 OCT 14)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for good priests who proclaim Your Gospel message.

Msgr. Pope on the Importance of Priests Speaking Out

"A former Archbishop of Washington was known to often remark, 'There’s nothing deader than a dead priest.' Some wondered as to the meaning of this expression, and those who knew him the best explained that it was a sort of version of the old Latin expression Corruptio optime pessima (The corruption of the best is the worst thing of all).
"Of all the men on the planet who need to be alive, vocal, clear, and active, the priest is one of the most critical. For if he is doing as he should, and like a herald, summoning the faithful to be true to the gospel. He can reach thousands, who in turn can reach thousands more. But if he fails, the whole chain of the gospel is broken at the critical link and falls to the ground.
"The same Archbishop also told us priests that if we did not go to bed tired most nights, something was wrong. There is nothing deader than a dead priest."

In a recent commentary (using examples from Pope Saint Gregory the Great's Pastoral Rule,), Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the importance of priests working hard and speaking/preaching the Good News.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: A Silent Priest is a Dead Priest – A Meditation on a Teaching of St. Gregory the Great (22 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"If faith is to be strong and healthy, it must be constantly nourished by the Word of God." - Pope Francis

24 October 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You guide and encourage us as we face any issues before us.

Simcha Fisher on Discernment

"This year, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to give a decision over to God -- how to discern what God wants us to do, when we have a choice before us. It's one of the more widely misunderstood areas of our practical spiritual life, and I'm still figuring out what it means to live this way. Here are a few things I've figured out about what to expect when I pray for guidance in a decision:

"It doesn't mean: You're no longer responsible for your behavior or your behavior's consequences. Prayer is not divination, where you split open the dove before the battle, and then become enemies with Athena if you lose. When we pray about something, that doesn't absolve us from using our brains to figure out what makes the most sense, and it doesn't mean that we don't have to do any mop-up afterwards, if we do make a mess. Sometimes, the biggest struggle comes after the thing that we originally thought was the major event; and that means you need to keep on praying.

"It does mean: The Holy Spirit works kind of like MSG, enhancing and heightening the 'flavor' of the virtues that you've already worked to develop -- virtues like self-control, prudence, mercy, and self-sacrifice.  After you pray for guidance, you're probably not going to find yourself doing something utterly foreign to your normal nature or inclinations; but you may find that you have deeper reserves of patience than you expected, for instance, or a temporary ability to work harder than you're normally able to work.

"Or it may occasionally mean that God just swoops in and does something amazing and unpredictable, something you really can't give yourself credit for at all.  Sometimes He does that -- who knows how He decides to choose when! -- and all you can do is give Him thanks, and credit."

In a recent commentary, writer Simcha Fisher reflected on what one may expect to happen when he/she asks for God's help in making a decision.

To access her complete post, please visit:

National Catholic Register: Blogs: Discernment: What It Does and Doesn't Mean (21 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from Fulton Sheen

"Criticism of others is . . . an oblique form of self-commendation. We think we make the picture hang straight on our wall by telling our neighbors that all his pictures are crooked.” - Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

23 October 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the distinctive scents that come with each season - fall, winter, spring, and summer.

Fr. James Schall, S.J., on Extraterrestrials and the Fundamental Question

"Recently I watched a pretty good local television program in which the possibility and probability of intelligent life in other locales in the universe besides our own were discussed. In addition, I read a very good essay by Brad Miner on The Catholic Thing website titled 'Godless Space' on why God appears so seldom in the many novels and discussions about space travel and space warfare. The status of man in the universe is a subject that has long fascinated me. In my first book, Redeeming the Time (Sheed and Ward, 1968), there is a chapter entitled 'The Cosmos and Christianity.'

"No doubt the apparent size and multiplicity of stars, and presumably planets, in the universe is so large that it is easy, by the laws of probability, to conjecture that there must be many other planets in the cosmos that are fit for the habitation of creatures like ourselves. We do not actually know of any, but we cannot or will not accept the proposition that we are possibly the only 'rational' and still-physical beings in the universe. It seems odd to many that we might, in fact, be alone in the universe. Whether only one human race or many exist in the universe presents the same issue in either case: How did 'they' come to be at all? What is 'their' purpose for being rather than not being?

"In Christian theology, at least, the cosmos itself did not 'need' to exist. God would not become more 'godlike' whether he created or did not create. God was not so internally deficient, as many ancient thinkers seemed to think, that he 'needed' the world to complete himself. Christian theology and philosophy have tended to see the cosmos in terms of play or abundance, rather than in terms of necessity. The universe cannot have 'caused' itself. The existence of life on this planet, in fact, seems to require cosmic laws so precise and exact that the only explanation for our existence is that it was the result of an intelligence itself outside the physical universe, a cause that is not itself part of the same universe."

In a recent commentary, Father James V. Schall, S.J., professor emeritus of Georgetown University, reflected on the potential for extraterrestrial life and on what its origin would be.

To access Fr. Schall's complete post, please visit:

Catholic Pulse: Extraterrestrials and the Fundamental Question (10 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from C. S. Lewis

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither." - C. S. Lewis

22 October 2014

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony No. 29 in A major

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 in A major:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your loving care for Your people.

Msgr. Campion on The Roosevelts as Friends to Catholics

"Prominent among this fall’s television offerings was The Roosevelts, produced by Ken Burns for PBS, providing 14 hours about the lives and careers of Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt.

"Taken together, or individually, they made enormous impressions upon life in this country. Theodore Roosevelt was president from 1901 to 1909. Franklin Roosevelt was President from 1933 to 1945, the longest presidential tenure in U.S. history. Eleanor Roosevelt, Theodore’s niece and Franklin’s wife, by any historical measure was the most influential, engaged and controversial first lady in history.

"They were Episcopalians, but they all intersected in many ways with the Catholic Church, with Catholic leaders and with ordinary Catholic citizens."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Owen F. Campion, associate publisher of Our Sunday Visitor, reflected on the effects of these three Roosevelts on the lives of Catholic Americans.

To access Msgr. Campion's complete essay, please visit:

OSV Newsweekly: Friends to Catholics (8 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from St. John Paul II

"The future starts today, not tomorrow." - Pope Saint John Paul II

20 October 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for inspirations to praise and thank You and to thank others who encourage us or assist us in anyway.

Burke Ingraffia on Gratitude

"Everyone likes to hear the words, 'Thank you.' It is uplifting when someone directs gratitude your way. When you say these two short words, you are really saying, 'You could have made a different choice, and yet the choice you made was in my best interest.'"

In a recent commentary, writer Burke Ingraffia reflected on gratitude and our relationship with God..

To access her complete post, please visit:

Ignitum Today: Gratitude, Whos, and Whats (19 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from Fulton Sheen

"The proud man counts his newspaper clippings, the humble man his blessings." - Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

18 October 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your kind and loving Providence.

Msgr. Pope on God's Providence and Its Timing

"One of the great mysteries of God’s providence is that He often leaves things unresolved or unattended to for a very long time. Often, despite our fervent prayers, He doesn’t rush to fix everything, and He has His reasons for this.
"Perhaps it is that we often grow through struggles. We discover strengths that we did not know we had.
"Sometimes, suffering brings wisdom, and we learn more by living our questions for a while, rather than getting quick answers."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on why God often seems to fix things slowly.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: God leaves many things unresolved. Here are some reasons why. (17 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from Psalm 117

"His mercy for us is strong; the faithfulness of the LORD is forever." - Psalm 117:2

17 October 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of clouds.

Pope's Message to Catholic Charities USA

"Poverty, in particular understanding its root causes and finding innovative ways to reduce it, was the focus of Catholic Charities USA's annual national gathering Oct. 4-7 in Charlotte.

"Discussions had extra urgency given the stagnating number of Americans living at or below the poverty line. . . .

"A message from Pope Francis could not have been more fitting for the 500-plus people from Catholic Charities agencies and partners across the United States as they opened their proceedings.

"'Be merciful,' the pope said, speaking in his native Spanish in a personalized video message. 'I ask you to place the poor ahead of yourselves in everything you do.'. . .

"He commented on the NASCAR-tinged theme, 'Setting the Pace, Changing the Course.' Charlotte is home to one of the auto racing association's main offices.

"'I really like the theme . . . because it's really fitting with what I wanted to share with you,' Pope Francis said.

"'You are the very hands of Jesus in the world. Your witness helps change the course of many people, many families and many communities,' he continued. 'You are the engine of the church that's responsible for the church's love, or caritas. You set the pace for the church to be present in the world, day in and day out.'"

A recent article in the Boston Pilot reported the Catholic Charities USA's conference and the Pope's message to conference participants.

To access the complete report, please visit:

The Boston Pilot: 'Place the poor' ahead of everything, Catholic Charities workers told (17 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

"When something happens and we cannot understand the reason for it, we are inclined to think that there is no reason behind the events of this world. However, it is a matter of faith that since God is the Creator and Master of everything, He guides everything carefully by His Providence; He directs and embraces all creation. Especially as regards ourselves, God often allows our lives to be turned upside down by many setbacks. He desires us to walk by faith and not by sight, so that we might seek peace in Him alone." - Saint Francis de Sales

16 October 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your gift of Joy.

Randy Hain on Developing Catholic Joy

"I recently had coffee with a fellow Catholic who gloomily shared his ongoing struggles with overtly living out his faith in the real world and reluctance to discuss his faith with others. He made it clear that going to Mass on Sunday was all he could or should be doing. Unfortunately, this is a very common tale. The conversation became really interesting and a little uncomfortable when we discussed why people become apathetic about their faith, hesitate about converting or leave the Church altogether.

"It became obvious to me after a few minutes that how my coffee companion presented his faith to the world and how others view the Catholic Church may be connected.

"Why do some of our Catholic brothers and sisters lose their enthusiasm for the Faith? Why do some leave the Church? Why do those curious about the Church have reservations about converting? The unfortunate truth is that many (not all) of us make being Catholic look about as exciting as having a root canal. Each of the groups identified in these questions may be looking for inspiration from people who are truly joyful about Christ and the Church He founded. They want to see us have genuine passion for the Eucharist and the other Sacraments. They would love to see us have prayer lives worth emulating. Does the thought ever occur to us that our actions as well as our words are being observed by others and this places an important burden on our shoulders?"

In a recent commentary, writer Randy Hain, Senior Editor for The Integrated Catholic Life, reflected on the importance of Catholics being "islands of joy" reflecting the light of Christ to others. He also offered a number of suggestions designed to open oneself to Catholic joy (including giving burdens to Jesus in daily prayer and being thankful for blessings.

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

The Integrated Catholic Life: Six Practical Steps to Catholic Joy (16 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from Brian Tracy

"Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation." - Brian Tracy

15 October 2014

Richard Strauss: An Alpine Symphony (Op. 64)

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Richard Strauss’ An Alpine Symphony (Eine Alpensinfonie), Op. 64, as played by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Bernard Haitink):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of the leaves changing color in the season of autumn.

A Father Brings Hope to Brain-Injured Children

When Sarah Jane Donohue came into the world on June 5, 2005, she was a happy, healthy newborn. Five days later, she had two broken collarbones, four broken ribs, and a traumatic brain injury that destroyed 60 percent of the rear cortex of her brain. Why? Because she was shaken violently by the baby nurse that her parents had hired to help care for her.

Doctors told Sarah Jane’s father Patrick that she would never be able to do much of anything, not even walk or talk. But Patrick wouldn’t accept that prognosis as the final word. Though he worked as a lawyer, he started reading whatever he could about the human brain and soon learned how little medical science actually knows about it. Part of the reason for that has to do with funding. Despite the fact that 80,000 American youth are hospitalized each year with brain injuries - and 11,000 of those young people die - the federal government only spends $10 million annually on research for effective treatment.

To remedy this situation, Patrick created the Sarah Jane Brain Project. During an interview on Christopher Closeup, he said, “The idea was to establish this National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury plan, the PABI Plan, which develops a seamless, standardized, evidence-based system of care that’s universally accessible for millions of American families.” Doctors and scientists from all over the world came on board and established a PABI plan that Patrick is now trying to implement through political channels.

In the meantime, he saw the need for kids like Sarah Jane to get an education in an environment uniquely suited for them. With the help of experts in the field of brain injury treatment and rehabilitation, he helped launch the International Academy of Hope - or iHope. It’s “the first and only school for kids with brain injuries and brain-based disorders here in New York City. The response that we’re getting with these kids is incredible. We have one girl, Hannah, who’s 14. When she started in September 2013, she could barely stand and she was nonverbal. She’s now walking around the school. And three months ago, she said to her mother for the first time, ‘I love you.’” Sarah Jane hasn’t come that far, but she is also making progress.

With all his work, Patrick’s number one priority remains his daughter—and it has been since a moment in the hospital back in 2005. He said, “She was less than two weeks old, and they were trying to get an IV into her. Her mouth was wide open, she had tears coming down her face, but she couldn’t [vocally] cry because of the brain injury. I’ll never forget looking at her and saying, ‘It’s my job to be the voice for her.’”

Patrick’s Catholic faith has enabled him to continue moving forward with a positive attitude, and he notes that he sees divine intervention in daily activities with Sarah Jane. He doesn’t spend time questioning why this happened to her, but instead takes a cue from the Serenity Prayer by focusing on the things he can change.

Where does Patrick hope to be five years from now? “My job is to change the world for Sarah Jane and the millions of kids like her. So five years from now, we better be a good way into implementing the PABI Plan. Our intentions are to develop an iHope in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Mumbai, Shanghai…My philosophy is pretty simple: things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.”

(This essay is this week's “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:

Reflection Starter from St. Teresa of Ávila

"Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul.” - Saint Teresa of Ávila (Saint Teresa of Jesus)

14 October 2014

Hartford, CT, Firefighter Dies, 3 Others Injured in 2-Alarm Fire

Another New England public safety servant 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.

Firefighter Kevin L. Bell, 48, of the Hartford, CT, Fire Department (Engine Company 16) was killed in the line of duty while fighting a two alarm fire at 598 Blue Hills Avenue on Tuesday, 7 October. May he rest in peace.

Media reports:

WFSB-TV: Hartford firefighter leaves behind wife, daughter (8 OCT 14)

WTNH-TV: Firefighter dies in Hartford, another critical (8 OCT 14)

WVIT-TV: 1 Firefighter Killed, 3 Hurt Battling Hartford Blaze (8 OCT 14)

Hartford Courant: Investigators Work To Determine How City Firefighter Died (9 OCT 14)

Hartford Courant: Thousands Gather To Mourn Hartford Firefighter (14 OCT 14)

Background information:

Hartford Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 760

Hartford Fire Department

City of Hartford

Wikipedia: Hartford, Connecticut

Google Map: 598 Blue Hills Avenue, Hartford, CT

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You lead us to Truth.

Mark Shea on Mary, Evolution, and Michaelangelo's Chisel

"Two of the most controversial topics among Catholics and Protestants are evolution and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Great quantities of ink and electrons are expended in print and on the Internet each day, arguing about these things. 'Catholics call Mary the cause of salvation!' complain our Evangelical friends. 'Not only that, their Pope caved in on evolution and thereby denied God is the Creator!' Meanwhile, secularists complain of the exact opposite thing against Catholics. Not only do we deny pure materialism and hold that God is the Creator, we also credulously believe in the Virgin Birth, when science has supposedly disproven the miraculous, according to the Richard Dawkinses and Carl Sagans of the world.

"How do Catholics manage with such frequency to be at the center of flatly contradictory accusations? In the case of Mary and evolution, I think it is paradoxically because of a common philosophical muddle shared by both secularists and many Evangelicals which lands them in opposing and contradictory difficulties with the Faith: the failure to grasp the reality of First and Secondary Causes."

In a recent commentary, writer Mark Shea reflected on First Causes, Secondary Causes, and their role in the creation of mankind and the role in our redemption.

To access Mark's complete post, please visit:

National Catholic Register: Mark Shea: Mary, Evolution, and Michaelangelo's Chisel (12 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Every individual has a place to fill in the world and is important in some respect whether he chooses to be so or not." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

13 October 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your gift of redemption through the sufferings and death of Jesus.

Kathryn Jean Lopez on Fulton Sheen's Message of the Life and Death of Jesus

"'Every other person who came into this world came into it to live. He came in it to die.'

"These words from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's Life of Christ rocked David Limbaugh's world, as he writes in Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel (which I talk to him about here on National Review Online).

"Early in his 'Christian walk,' the best-selling author, who worships at a Methodist church in Cape Girardeau, Mo., discovered Sheen's book and was struck by one of his primary points - if not the primary point. Sheen writes:

"'If we leave the Cross out of the Life of Christ, we have nothing left, and certainly not Christianity. For the Cross is related to our sins. Christ was our 'stand-in' on the stage of life. He took our guilt as if He were guilty and thus paid the debt that sin deserved, namely, death. This made possible our resurrection to 'new life' in Him. Christ, therefore, is not just a teacher or a pleasant revolutionist, but our Savior. Our modern world does not like the word 'sin.'"

In a recent post, Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor at large of National Review Online and nationally syndicated columnist, reflected on Archbishop Sheen's message on the life, passion, and death of Jesus and on what this means for His people and all people who are looking for answers in why and how to live their lives.

To access her complete post, please visit:

Catholic Pulse: It's All About Christ: Archbishop Sheen's Ecumenical Reach (10 SEP 14)

Reflection Starter from C. S. Lewis

"If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this." - C. S. Lewis

12 October 2014

Tree63: "Blessed Be Your Name"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of Tree63 presenting "Blessed Be Your Name":

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Isaiah 25:6-10; Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20; and Matthew 22:1-14. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 23 (Psalm 23:1-6).

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

YouTube:  Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 23 I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those invited: 'Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.'' Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready,but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, 'My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?' But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, 'Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 12, 2014)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 12, 2014)

Msgr. Charles Pope: Party or Perish! A Homily for the 28th Sunday of the Year (11 OCT 14)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: The Wedding Feast

The Sacred Page: Food and Clothing at God's Banquet: The 28th Sunday of OT (8 OCT 14)

Word on Fire: The Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Cycle A * Ordinary Time * Week 28)

Dr. Scott Hahn: Dressing for the Feast (October 12th 2014 - Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Spirituality of the Readings: All Good Gifts (28th Sunday of Ordinary Time A)

The Word Embodied: Dressed for the Banquet (28th Sunday of Ordinary Time A)

Historical Cultural Context: Ancient Table Manners (28th Sunday of Ordinary Time A)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Augustine (28th Sunday of Ordinary Time A)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (10 OCT 14)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for encouraging our prayers and for the ways in which You answer these prayers.

Msgr. Pope on Humility in Prayer

"I, perhaps like you, have to see folks I love and care about through some difficult periods in their lives. One neighbor and parishioner just lost her eight-year-old daughter to cancer. A number of parishioners are seeking work and praying daily for it, but no work offers seem to be forthcoming. Still others cry out for relief from any number of different crosses. I, too, have lots of things for which I pray and sometimes I get discouraged or even angry when God seems to say, 'No,' or 'Wait.'

"One thing I have surely learned about true prayer is that I have to be humble - very humble. The Scriptures say, we do not know how to pray as we ought (Romans 8:26). Many other translations of this text say even more emphatically, We do not know what we ought to pray for. Yes, it is true, and yet we are often so sure of what is best for us or best for others. But what we find is that our desired outcome is not necessarily the best outcome. And this insight requires of us great humility. We see so little and understand even less. When we ask for some particular outcome, and it is not wrong to do so, we need to ask humbly. We must recognize that God alone knows the best answer and when to answer. This is humility.

"There is an old teaching that basically says that although many think of prayer as trying to get God to do your will, true prayer is trying to understand what God’s will is and then doing it. I heard an African-American preacher put it this way: 'You got a lotta people that talk about naming and claiming, and calling and hauling … But there’s just something about saying, 'THY will be done!' that we've forgot.'"

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the importance of praying with humility because we really do not know what is best

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: Humility in Prayer (8 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"The spiritual power of the Sacraments is boundless. With grace, we can overcome every obstacle." - Pope Francis

11 October 2014

Sha Na Na: "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Sha Na Na singing "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You encourage us to reach out to persons in need.

Vatican Expresses Concern over Displaced Migrants

"Noting an alarming increase in forcibly-displaced migrants around the world, the Holy See has asked the United Nations to take a more proactive role in working to prevent displacements.

"'Today we have reached the highest number of forcibly displaced persons since World War II. It is not merely an increase in quantity, but there is also a concomitant increase of complexity due to non-state actors in current conflicts and unpredictable massive displacement as a consequence,' stressed Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, Holy See Permanent Observer to the U.N. office in Geneva."

A recent Catholic News Agency article reported on Archbishop Tomasi's presentation, including his encouragement of  a "cultural shift, in which the human person, with his inviolable dignity and inalienable human rights."

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

Catholic News Agency: Vatican to the world: Displaced immigrants deserve your attention (9 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from Pope St. John XXIII

"Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do." - Pope Saint John XXIII, whose memory the Church celebrates today

09 October 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many treasures You placed and/or guided the development of in each of our communities.

Fr. Peter Martyr Yungwirth, O.P., on Power of Priestly Ministry

"The Catholic chaplaincy at the University of Maryland has thrived in recent years. A series of good chaplains have faithfully brought the Gospel to the campus and invigorate the spiritual lives of many 'Catholic Terps.' A large number of individuals who have received vocations to the priesthood and religious life, including five Dominicans, as well as many men and women who have entered into good and holy marriages owe thanks to the Lord for pouring out His graces during those formative years of college.

"Many of these Catholic alumni acknowledge the formative influence of Fr. Bill Byrne, an alumnus of the Angelicum in Rome, who was chaplain for about a decade. His outgoing personality and dynamic preaching were instrumental in helping so many Catholic Terps to be attentive to the Lord's call during those years. At a recent reunion of the Catholic Terps, this was strikingly clear. With a number of former students, now ordained as priests, and tons of babies and young children running around, it was clear that the Gospel had borne fruit."

In a commentary earlier this year, Father Peter Martyr Yungwirth, O.P., reflected grace and its workings through the ministry of college chaplains and other priests.

To access Fr. Peter Martyr's complete post, please visit:

Dominicana: The Power of a Priest and a lot of Grace (8 OCT 14)

Reflection Starter from Bl. John Henry Newman

"Nothing would be done at all if one waited until one could do it so well that no one could find fault with it." - Blessed John Henry Newman, whose memory the Church celebrates today

08 October 2014

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 "Pathétique" in B minor

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 "Pathétique" in B minor, Op. 74, as played by the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra (Moskow Radio Symphony Orchestra) (conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for guiding the development of the various colors and for the many ways You work through color.

The Holy League and the Battle of Lepanto

Ever heard of Lepanto? Not many have. Yet it was the epic naval Battle of Lepanto, fought with bloody effect in 1571, that saved the world for Catholic Christianity and stemmed the Ottoman tide in the Mediterranean. In gratitude, Pope Pius V, who attributed victory to the power of prayer, designated the day it took place—October 7--as the Feast of the Holy Rosary, and so it has been observed to this day.

This was no run-of-the-mill ocean encounter, one ship against another. Each side in the fight manned at least 200 galleons, and the list of casualties was enormous. Both combatants risked everything on its outcome.

A battle for the island of Cyprus served as a precursor to Lepanto, and when Christians at home heard how the winning Ottomans had treated the losers they were horrified. The Christian commander surrendered at Cyprus and the victors seemed to accept at face value his terms: fair treatment for him and his men. Once in control, however, the Ottomans reneged, and that commander died an excruciatingly painful death.

That set the stage for Pope Pius’ response. Although the real battle would be mainly spiritual—a “clash of creeds,” one historian called it—the pope knew that it would take seamen and leaders to win the day. He cobbled together a “Holy League” from southern Europe—Spain, Venice, Austria, Malta (with its fabled Knights) among its membership. The overall enterprise would be under the command of the 24-year-old Don Juan of Austria.    

Meanwhile the Ottomans, fresh from their victory on Cyprus, were spoiling for a fight. They were especially encouraged by the divisions in Christianity brought on by the Reformation, in full swing at the time. Their main base was at Lepanto, in Greece’s Gulf of Corinth, and it was there that the Ottoman commander, Ali Pasha, boarded his ship. It was there too, at Lepanto, that the battle would be joined.

The Holy League’s fleet had set sail from Messina in Sicily, and met the Ottomans not far from shore. The contest was cataclysmic; the fighting (much of it hand-to-hand) vicious. When it was over, the Holy League was victorious, even recovering thousands of Christian galley slaves aboard the Ottoman ships. But the cost in human life was staggering: some 15,000 Ottomans dead, 7,000 Christian sailors lost. The wounded were beyond counting (and, in a strange twist of fate, included the Spaniard Miguel de Cervantes, who would go on to writeDon Quixote).

Pope Pius V, though deeply saddened by the loss of life, was elated by the overwhelming victory. Not only would it spell an end to Ottoman expansion in the Mediterranean; it would ease implementation of the Council of Trent—which had ended nine years before. A holy man who would be declared a saint, he greeted the news enthusiastically: “Our great task at present is to thank God for the victory which he has just given to the Christian army.” Crediting the Blessed Mother for the triumph—and specifically the prayers he had urged upon all Catholics—he declared a permanent remembrance of the date. At first known as Our Lady of Victory, eventually it became the Feast of the Holy Rosary.    

The men who fought at Lepanto, forgotten though they might be, were heroes in every sense of the word. This year’s feast would be more worthy if we remembered their courage once again.

(This essay is this week's “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:

Reflection Starter from Allen Klein

"Your attitude is like a box of crayons that color your world. Constantly color your picture gray, and your picture will always be bleak. Try adding some bright colors to the picture by including humor, and your picture begins to lighten up." - Allen Klein

07 October 2014

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You touch our lives through the fine arts.

Msgr. Pope on Art and the Glory of the Human Soul

"One of the more common modern themes is that the human person is really nothing more than a smart ape or an above-average animal. To this I must reply, 'Nonsense!,

"It is true that we have many similarities to primates and, really, to all mammals. But the similarities stop there.

"At the level of the soul the differences could not be greater! Animals do not compose symphonies; they do not write great works of literature or create magnificent art. They do not build cities or form bicameral legislatures.  They do not pass laws or even ponder right and wrong. They do not punish crime or reward virtue. They have no museums or libraries to collect their great works. They do not invent telescopes to look to the stars; they have not been to the moon and back or even wish to go there. They do not speak or sing, not because they lack a larynx, but because they have nothing to say, nothing to sing joyfully or to lament. They may suffer physical pain but they do not cry out in anguish, Why?' They do not have cemeteries or religious rites. They may form packs to hunt but they do not form brotherhoods to assist the widows of dead members. They do not send their children to school to learn and they do not desire something greater for them. They do not ponder the Pythagorean theorem and its relationship to music theory. They do not build hospitals, theaters, or sports arenas.  They do not hold contests or celebrate weddings. They do not debate rights or justice or have courts. They do not have armies or go to war."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the fine arts and how these gifts reflect, in some way, God's presence in our lives.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: The Magnificent Mystery of Art and the Glory of the Human Soul (29 SEP 14)

Reflection Starter from John Muir

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." - John Muir

05 October 2014

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Isaiah 5:1-7, Philippians 4:6-9, and Matthew 21:33-43. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 80 (Psalm 80:9, 12-16,19-20).

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

YouTube:  Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 80 The Vineyard of the Lord is the House of Israel)

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: "Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near ,he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, 'They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance. 'They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?"

They answered him, "He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times."

Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?' Therefore, I say to you ,the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 5, 2014)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 5, 2014)

Msgr. Charles Pope: Sinner Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass – A Homily for the 27th Sunday of the Year (4 OCT 14)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Walls Come Tumbling Down

The Sacred Page: "The stone rejected by the builders": Readings for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (30 SEP 14)

Word on Fire: Peace Beyond Understanding (Cycle A * Ordinary Time * Week 27)

Dr. Scott Hahn: Living on the Vine (October 5th 2014 - Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Spirituality of the Readings: The Real Story (27th Sunday of Ordinary Time A)

The Word Embodied: The Vineyard Church (27th Sunday of Ordinary Time A)

Historical Cultural Context: Tenants and Owners (27th Sunday of Ordinary Time A)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Basil the Great (27th Sunday of Ordinary Time A)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Twenty-seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (3 OCT 14)