31 January 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the inspiration You give us through the lives of Your saints.

Fr. Longenecker on the Little Way Through Middle Earth

"'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.' Tolkien admitted that he wrote these words absentmindedly on the back of an exam paper he was marking.

"Such spontaneous inspiration suggests the work of the subconscious mind, and if the subconscious mind, then a more mysterious source of inspiration may well be at work. Peter Kreeft has suggested that The Lord of the Rings is a divinely inspired work, and in the broadest sense this has to be true. Inspiration comes from earthly experience just as much as from heavenly guidance, and Tom Shippey has shown how the very word 'hobbit' emerged from the context of Tolkien's lifelong interest in words and language.

"The idea of little people who turn out to be the greatest would also have sprung from Tolkien's devout Catholic faith. Not only does the gospel say that we have to be little to get into the kingdom, (Matthew 18:4) but the apostle John constantly refers to the faithful as 'little children'. (e.g. I John 2:28) Furthermore, Tolkien would have been well aware that one of the Catholic saints most in the ascendant during his lifetime was the apostle of the 'little way.' Thérèse of Lisieux teaches that, 'To be little means recognising one's nothingness, expecting everything from the good God, as a little child expects everything from its Father.'

"Now Tolkien was not writing a book about saints and going to heaven. Apart from a minor character saying grace before a meal, there is nothing in The Lord of the Rings which is remotely religious in the conventional sense of the word. Nevertheless Tolkien was clear that his Christian faith provided the underlying matrix for the story. In 1953 he wrote that The Lord of the Rings, 'is of course; a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.'"

In a commentary written some months ago, Father Dwight Longenecker (parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Greenville, SC) reflected on how Frodo's humility and obedience, like these virtues as reflected in the life of Saint Thérèse, are "an inspiration to every soul who attempts the little way."

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

Standing on My Head: The Little Way Through Middle Earth

Background information:

Dwight Longenecker - Catholic priest and author

Reflection Starter from St. John Bosco

". . . The model which every Christian has to copy is Jesus Christ. No one can boast that he belongs to Jesus Christ if he does not endeavor to imitate Him. Consequently, in the life and in the actions of a Christian, the life and the actions of Jesus Christ Himself should be revealed." - Saint John Bosco, whose memory the Church celebrates today (31 January)

30 January 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You draw our hearts to You.

Joseph Pearce on His Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love

"Many good and worthy people in the past have found the experience of imprisonment a crucial and definitive period on their road towards faith and religious conversion, or as a means of deepening an already existing faith. Saint John of the Cross springs to mind, as does Miguel Cervantes, and the great Nicolae Steinhardt, whose book on his time in prison is called The Happiness Diary. We could also add the French poet, Paul Verlaine, the Irish writer, Oscar Wilde, and the iconic Russian Nobel Prizewinner, Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

"As was the case with these illustrious figures, my own experience of prison exemplified the paradox that prison can be a liberator. It can free us from ourselves and our pride-ridden prejudices. In many ways, prison serves as a metaphor for the role and purpose of suffering in our lives, which is to remind us of our mortality and prompt us to ask deep questions about the meaning of life, suffering and death. Prison can serve as a memento mori pointing us toward the Four Last Things: death, judgment, heaven and hell. Thinking of these things is the beginning of wisdom. As Oscar Wilde put it, speaking of his own experience in prison, 'how else but through a broken heart may Lord Christ enter in?' It is for this reason, echoing Solzhenitsyn, that I can truly thank God for my time in prison."

In a recent commentary, writer Joseph Pearce reflected on his transition from racism to Christian love.

To access his complete post, please visit:

Catholic Exchange: Finding Freedom in My Prison Cell: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love (28 JAN 15)

Reflection Starter from St. Francis of Assisi

"Blessed is the servant who would accept correction, accusation, and blame from another as patiently as he would from himself. Blessed is the servant who when he is rebuked quietly agrees, respectfully submits, humbly admits his fault, and willingly makes amends." - Saint Francis of Assisi

29 January 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which Your grace works in our lives.

Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, F.S.P., on God's Grace and Our Humanity

"Can one calculate grace missed?

"Sometimes I wonder if life in the convent is more difficult for me because I was away from the Church for so long.

"My logical mind calculates the number of communions, Masses and prayer times that I missed in those ten plus years of running away from God and I think, 'How does one make up for lost time?'

"Of course, I know God does not work this way. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, F.S.P., reflected on God's grace and our humanity.

To access her complete post, please visit:

Pursued by Truth: Can One Calculate Grace Missed? (28 JAN 15)

Reflection Starter from Plato

"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light." - Plato

28 January 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings You bestowed on our region as we faced the yesterday's blizzard.

Kathy Schiffer on Edgar Allan Poe’s Hymn to Our Blessed Mother

"Did you know that Edgar Allen Poe once penned a hymn to Our Lady?

"Poe, the tortured poet of the American Romantic Movement, is best known for his stories of mystery and the macabre – stories like 'The Pit and the Pendulum' and 'The Fall of the House of Usher' and 'The Tell-Tale Heart,' and famous narrative poems like 'The Raven' and 'Annabel Lee.' . . .

"But amidst the haunting poetry and prose which characterize the work of the troubled artist, one poem stands alone as evidence of his spiritual hunger.

"Poe wrote 'Hymn' after a noon-time stop into a church staffed by the Jesuits. While walking along the noisy street, Poe heard the clear ringing of a church bell. 'Why,' he wondered, 'would the bell be ringing at this time of day?' A Jesuit explained that the bell rang at noon, as well as at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., to call the faithful to pray the Angelus, the prayer which reflects on the Incarnation of Christ and on Mary's 'fiat,' her 'yes' to the announcement of the archangel Gabriel

In a recent commentary, writer Kathy Schiffer reflected on Poe's poetic response to this experience.

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

Seasons of Grace: Edgar Allan Poe’s Hymn to Our Lady (24 JAN 15)

Reflection Starter from St. Thomas Aquinas

"If, then, you are looking for the way by which you should go, take Christ, because He Himself is the way." - Saint Thomas Aquinas, whose memory the Church celebrates today (28 January)

26 January 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of our Catholic schools.

Catholic Schools Week

This week, the week of 25-31 January, is being observed as Catholic Schools Week. The theme for Catholic Schools Week is "Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service."

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

2014 Catholic Schools Week Logo

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

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

NCEA: National Catholic Schools Week

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, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

25 January 2015

"The Summons"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of "The Summons:

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; and Mark 1:14-20. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 25 (Psalm 25:4-9).

The Gospel reading is as follows:

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.

He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 25, 2014)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 25, 2014)

Msgr. Charles Pope: I Keep So Busy Workin' for the Kingdom, I Ain’t Got Time to Die - A Homily for the 3rd Sunday of the Year (24 JAN 15)

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for January 25, 2015: 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (24 JAN 15)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Detachment from the World

Word on Fire: Radical Christianity (Cycle B * Ordinary Time * Week 3)

Dr. Scott Hahn: Following Him (January 25th 2015 - Third Sunday in Ordinary Time)

CWR Blog: Jonah and the Call to Constant Conversion (24 JAN 15)

Spirituality of the Readings: Running Away (3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

The Word Embodied: Ambivalences of the Call (3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Historical Cultural Context: A Common Venture (3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Caesarius of Arles (3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (24 JAN 15)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for inviting us to an intimate relationship with You.

Msgr. Pope on "Knowing" as Understood in Scripture

"Every now and then someone will come past my door and request parish services of some sort. Maybe it's to plan a wedding, a baptism, or a funeral; maybe it's for money! And then I look at him or her and say, 'Who are you?' (since I don't recognize the person). 'Oh, well Father, you don't know me but my grandmother goes here; this is our family Church.' 'Oh, I see, but where do you go to Church?' I usually ask. The response is usually something like, 'Well, you know how it is Father, I don't get to Church too often … but my mother goes here.'

"Well, I've got news for you: your Mama's faith isn't going to save you. You gotta have your own faith. You have to know Jesus for yourself. There are some things you just can't borrow. Once, you depended on your mother and ultimately the Church to announce the True Faith to you. But at some point you have to be able to claim the True Faith as your own. Your mother can't go to Church for you and she can't believe for you."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on "knowing" as understood in Scripture (implying "an intimacy, a personal experience of another person, thing, or event") and on what this means for us

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: What Does Jesus Mean When He Says to Some, "I Do Not Know You"? (19 JAN 15)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Practicing charity is the best way to evangelize."- Pope Francis

24 January 2015

Chicago Chamber Choir: "Jabberwocky"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of the Chicago Chamber Choir presenting Samuel Pottle's "Jabberwocky":

Saint Francis De Sales

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

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

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

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

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

For additional information, please visit:

Doctors of the Church: Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Francis de Sales: An Introduction to the Devout Life

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

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

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

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You are encouraging a greater unity among Your followers.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2015

This week,the week of 18-25 January, is being observed as the 2015 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The octave ends on the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle. This year's theme is "Jesus said to her, 'Give me a drink'" (based on John 4:7).

Background information:

Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute

Graymoor: History of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Additional information:

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

World Council of Churches: Commission on Faith and Order

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

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

23 January 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the good examples set by good public servants.

Br. John Thomas Fisher, O.P., on Virtue and School Bus Drivers

"In his book called Reality, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange explains in simple detail the difference between acquired and infused virtue. Acquired virtue is that which we practice and obtain insofar as men practice anything and perfect a skill, art, etc. Infused virtue comes from God’s grace, primarily through the sacraments. Acquired virtues facilitate the use of the infused ones, as finger exercises facilitate playing a piano. For example, though abstaining from alcohol is part of acquired temperance, the alcoholic may receive infused temperance in confession. Even if he altogether lacks acquired virtue in this area, he may still receive sanctifying grace from a valid confession.

"I say all this because I’m convinced that there is a group of people in society, so used to practicing a variety of virtues and full of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, that they may be the best example of patience we have today: school bus drivers.

"When my friends and I took the bus and were lucky enough to get a seat in the back of the bus over the wheel, we'd prepare ourselves for a daily sensation of a proto-bounce-house. Sitting on our feet and bracing ourselves just right would allow every hillcrest or bump in the road to send us flying up to the roof and crash back down in our seats, cackling and convulsing in pure, six-year-old demoniacal laughter. These moments were sandwiched in between shouting to the kid next to us – our idea of conversation – and yelling out the window every time we caught a glimpse of the native wildlife, namely, squirrels or deer.

"In short, we were absolutely obnoxious.

"Yet each day, that sweet old bus-driving lady would give each kid a hug and well wishes for a good afternoon, waiting patiently until the little terrors would totter off into their houses before she peeled away to the next stop. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Brother John Thomas Fisher, O.P., reflected on the patience shown by school bus drivers and the meaning this has for each of us.

To access Br. John Thomas' complete reflection, please visit:

Dominicana: Nature, Virtue, and Bus Drivers (23 JAN 15)

Reflection Starter from Charles Dickens

"For the rest of his life, Oliver Twist remembers a single word of blessing spoken to him by another child because this word stood out so strikingly from the consistent discouragement around him." - Charles Dickens (in Oliver Twist)

22 January 2015

"Oh God, You Search Me and You Know Me"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of Bernadette Farrell's "Oh God, You Search Me and You Know Me":

Praying and Marching for Life

Throughout this week the nation remembers the 42nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion at any stage of the preborn baby’s life in his/her mother's womb. To sadly commemorate this decision and its tragic consequences, a number of observances have been taking place in this region and throughout the nation.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is sponsoring, a special novena, Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage, from 17 through 25 January.

The National March for Life was held today, 22 January in Washington, DC. As in previous years, the Solemn Vigil Mass for Life/National Prayer Vigil for Life was held in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Boston (and Chairman-elect, USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities) was the Principal Celebrant and Homilist at the Vigil Mass.

Media reports on the March and related issues:

Catholic News Agency: March for Life 2015 unites 'pro-life generation'

National Catholic Register: Cardinal: There’s No Pro-Life Victory Without Reaching the Marginalized

Catholic News Agency: Democrat, feminist, atheist - the growing face of the pro-life movement

USA Today: 'Roe v. Wade' turns 42; thousands march in opposition

National Catholic Register: New Poll: Most Americans Support Abortion Restrictions

Life News: Black Pro-Life Senator Says Black Lives Matter, So He's Fighting Abortion

USA Today Column: The ultrasound generation

USA Today Video: 2 Annual March for Life draws crowds in Washington

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the precious gift of life.

K. V. Turley on (Re-)Reading Introduction to the Devout Life

"Recently I came across an article on the joys of re-reading. All the contributors waxed lyrical on its pleasures. It appeared to be of little relevance, feeling I had neither the inclination nor indeed the luxury of time to re-read. Once read, it was on to the next volume sat waiting for me, or, so I imagined.

"Later that same day, however, whilst visiting friends just outside London, and during a convenient break in the afternoon, I was left in the drawing room facing a cabinet of antiquarian books. Unable to resist, I cast my eye over the treasures contained therein. On spying one of the titles, the aforementioned article returned to my mind, and it was at this point the realization dawned that for years I had in fact been re-reading. And, with that, I opened the glass-fronted door and reached for Introduction to the Devout Life.

"Pause here, just for a moment, and consider the publication year: 1609. This was the date when that classic text by the then 41-year-old Francis de Sales was published. Across the Channel, King James I continued to rule having recently foiled the Gunpowder Plot, while Shakespeare was still busy at the Globe Theatre having just staged A Winter's Tale. In Rome, Galileo had demonstrated the first telescope. Elsewhere, this time across the Atlantic, it was the year that Henry Hudson set eyes on a piece of land that would one day become New York. Introduction comes from another world, one long since gone. But it also comes from a world all too familiar to us, that being the struggle in each soul of concupiscence and grace.

"It is a short book. But like all really great ones, it is not a sentence too long, its short themed chapters never outstaying their welcome. I have only ever read it in English, but am reliably informed that the French of de Sales is as graceful as the sentiments expressed therein. Even in translation, and if the book was devoid of any other qualities, it has one quality that is enough to endear it to any reader, namely, charm. It is not the affected charm of certain writers whose mannered attempts at this trait merely mask other aspects of their character. No, this is the real thing, and more besides, for sanctity has its own charm. Of course some saints had character faults, just like the rest of us, but a characteristic common to all of them was something as compellingly attractive as it was indefinable - a certain 'something.' Now, we know that the source of that is not of this world - if still recognized by it - nevertheless, the Introduction is essentially this 'something' in written form."

In a recent commentary, writer K. V. Turley reflected on this special work of Saint Francis de Sales (whose feast day is Saturday) and on what Introduction to the Devout Life offers it readers.
To access Mr. Turley’s complete essay, please visit:
Crisis Magazine: On Re-reading St. Francis de Sales (22 JAN 15)

Reflection Starter from Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Every person must have a concern for self, and feel a responsibility to discover one’s mission in life. God has given each normal person a capacity to achieve some end. True, some are endowed with more talent than others, but God has left none of us without talent. Potential powers of creativity are within us, and we have a duty to work assiduously to discover these powers." - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

19 January 2015

R.I.P. Sister Ann Keefe

Sister Ann C. Keefe, SSJ, who was stationed at Saint Michael the Archangel Parish in Providence, RI, recently passed away.

Sister Ann was active in a number of ministries in the Providence area, and, over the years, I had the privilege of working with her on issues related to housing and other matters.

May she rest in peace.

Media reports:

Providence Journal: Sister Ann Keefe, tireless advocate for social justice, dies at 62 (19 JAN 15)

Background information:

Rhode Island Monthly: Sister Ann Keefe (January 2013)

Boston Children's Chorus: "One Day"

As we continue our observance of Martin Luther King's Birthday, I offer this version of the Boston Children's Chorus presenting "One Day":

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Today, 19 January, is being celebrated as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, an observance designed to honor the legacy of Dr. King and to provide an opportunity for Americans from all walks of life to work together to serve their neighbors and communities.

As part of this observance, organizations and individuals around New England and across the rest of the nation are participating in a number of initiatives throughout the weekend. These initiatives include delivering meals, refurbishing schools and community centers, collecting food and clothing, signing up mentors, promoting nonviolence, supporting veterans and military families, and much more.

For more information about Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, please visit:

Corporation for National and Community Service: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Background information:

Corporation for National and Community Service: United We Serve

Corporation for National and Community Service

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You touch our lives, our hearts, though fine paintings.

Br. Gabriel Torretta, O.P., on Language and Evangelization

"A friend from another country once came up to me and ceremoniously handed me a folded-up piece of paper. Bemused and somewhat trepidatious, I opened it to find a five-verse hymn that he had translated from his native language, which began:

     "'Welcome nutrition in which immeasurable
     Maker of heaven and earth is enclosed/confined
     Welcome beverage totally adipsous
     mind panting after'

"Well, I thought, so this is what it feels like to be nonplussed.

"I hope I never forget the feeling of looking at my friend's eager face - 'Isn't it beautiful?' he was asking - and my own total incomprehension of what I was holding. From his excited seriousness I could tell that I was supposed to be deeply moved by the words on the page, but all I could see was the world's strangest piece of refrigerator-magnet poetry. I guess it's true what they say: one man's trash is another man's welcome nutrition.

"Looking back on the verse later, I realized that this was nothing less than a hymn about the Eucharist. 'Welcome nutrition' was surely some sort of reference to the life-giving food of the Lord's Body, in which Christ himself is 'enclosed/confined.' 'Welcome beverage' must be a reference to the Precious Blood - an insight I later confirmed by discovering via the Oxford English Dictionary that 'adipsous' is in fact an obsolete medical term meaning 'thirst-quenching.' And, sure, the mind could pant after a totally adipsous beverage, if that beverage is the Blood of the God-man."

In a recent commentary, Brother Gabriel Torretta, O.P., reflected on the effectiveness (or not) of the words we use in proclaiming the Gospel message.

To access Br. Jordan's complete reflection, please visit:

Dominicana: Welcome Nutrition: It’s Totally Adipsous (19 JAN 15)

Reflection Starter from Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

18 January 2015

"O God, You Search Me and You Know Me"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of Bernadette Farrell's "O God, You Search Me and You Know Me":

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are 1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19; 1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20; and John 1:35-42. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 40 (Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-10).

The Gospel reading is as follows:

John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God." The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.

Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?"

They said to him, "Rabbi" - which translated means Teacher -, "where are you staying?"

He said to them, "Come, and you will see."

So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon.

Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah" - which is translated Christ -. Then he brought him to Jesus. 

Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas" - which is translated Peter.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 18, 2015)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 18, 2015)

Msgr. Charles Pope: The Formation of a Great Prophet – A Homily for the Second Sunday of the Year (17 JAN 15)

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for January 18, 2015: 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (17 JAN 15)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Called and Consecrated - So Who has a Vocation?

Word on Fire: The Call of Samuel (Cycle B * Ordinary Time * Week 2)

Dr. Scott Hahn: Hearing the Call (January 18th 2015 - Second Sunday in Ordinary Time)

CWR Blog: Christ's question for everyone: "What are you looking for?" (17 JAN 15)

Spirituality of the Readings: Called by Name (2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

The Word Embodied: The Body Sacred (2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Historical Cultural Context: How to Evangelize (2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Basil of Seleucia (2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (16 JAN 15)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You call us and encourage us to follow You.

Msgr. Pope on Lessons We Should Learn from Science and Tradition

"There is a great reverence for science in our culture. On the one hand, rightly so. Science has made enormous strides that have changed life as we know it. Profound discoveries have eradicated diseases, improved health, increased the world’s food supply, led to a computer revolution, drawn us higher into outer space and deeper into inner space, revealed hidden mysteries of nature, and produced technologies unimaginable to even our recent ancestors.

"On the other hand, the reverence of science has tipped perhaps too far in the direction of a religious substitute. Indeed it is arguable that the robes of the priest, once admired and revered, have now been replaced in our culture's esteem by the lab coat. Many regard the findings of science with an almost blind faith that many (often unfairly) attribute to religious believers. 'Scientists say … ' has become a kind of mantra wherein all dissent must stop and a slight bow of the head might also be appropriate. The matter is settled since 'scientists say … ' And while religious believers base their faith on some connection to unchanging Divine utterances, 'believers' in science too often couch their belief on the utterances of mere human beings, learned to be sure, but fallible and subject to changing their theories (rightly) when new evidence comes in. Hence the sort of religious reverence that many today give to scientists is problematic, both for them and for science.

"While many will deny they have such religious adherence or reverence, try questioning (not even outright disputing) a pet theory like Darwinian evolution or global warming and observe the religious fervor of their anger and their shock that you have the nerve to question 'settled science' (read 'dogma'). Rival thoughts must be scoured from the public schools and from newscasts with as much zeal as the Inquisition ever had (at least the inquisition involved an extensive questioning of dissenters)! Threats of legal action and ridicule, exclusion and defunding, boycotts and loss of professorships, follow the mere questioning of whether the scientific data really support such dogmatic conclusions.

"I love science and have great respect for the scientific method, which is why the reactionary tactics of the last paragraph are so objectionable to me. True science should crave peer review and the challenges that help harden the data or refine the theories. New information is always coming in; there is no 'settled science.' There are few if any permanent dogmas (other than to respect the data and method), and a consensus achieved in this decade may melt away in the next. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the need for adherence to the scientific method and on the appropriate roles of tradition and science.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: When Science is Betrayed – and What Lessons We Should Learn (14 JAN 15)

Background information:

Live Science: What is Science & the Scientific Method?

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"How often we forget to dedicate ourselves to that which truly matters! We forget that we are children of God."- Pope Francis

17 January 2015

Dinah Shore and Peggy Lee: "I've Got Rhythm"

As this bless week comes to a close, I offer this version of Dinah Shore and Peggy Lee singing "I've Got Rhythm":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for inviting us to share in an ever deepening relationship with You.

Fr. Najim Offers a Spiritual Lesson from Groundhog Day

"Many people spend their lives searching. Young people search for meaning, for love, for fulfillment. For many, that search continues into adulthood. At one point or another, we've all searched. We've searched - or maybe are still searching - for the meaning of life, for happiness. We search and desire to know our purpose. We might find ourselves asking, 'Is this all there is? Is this what life is about?'

"I love the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, which brilliantly illustrates this life-search. He plays an egocentric TV meteorologist whose life is turned upside down when he begins to relive the same day, Groundhog Day, over and over again. He can't get out of the same day. Each morning when he wakes, it's Groundhog Day all over again.

"When he realizes Groundhog Day is going to happen again and again and that no one knows but him, he begins to indulge in things that he believes will bring him happiness: he indulges in food and drink; he seduces a woman; he tries riches and material things. But none of these bring him fulfillment. What ultimately fulfills him is when he finally learns what life and love are all about: being selfless, not selfish; being compassionate, not egocentric. And when he learns this lesson, it's then that he awakens to a new day." 

In a recent commentary, Father Michael Najim (Director of Spiritual Formation at the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence and chaplain at La Salle Academy, both in Providence, RI) reflected on human nature and on the same search being experienced by the apostles and on how they (and many others) have found this answer in Jesus - who is "the answer to the question that is every human life." 

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

Live Holiness: A Spiritual Lesson from Groundhog Day, the Movie (15 JAN 15)

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

16 January 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of language and for the many ways in which You guide its development.

Msgr. Pope on the Christian Meaning of Mystery

"In the secular world, a 'mystery' is something which baffles or eludes understanding, something which lies undisclosed. And the usual attitude of the world toward mystery is to solve it, to get to the bottom of it, or to uncover it. Mysteries must be overcome! The riddle or 'whodunit' must be solved!

"In the Christian and especially the Catholic world, 'mystery' is something a bit different. Here, mystery refers to the fact that there are hidden dimensions in things, people, and situations that extend beyond their merely visible and physical dimensions.

"One of the best definitions I have read of 'mystery' is by the theologian and philosopher John Le Croix. Fr. Francis Martin introduced it to me some years ago in one of his recorded conferences. Le Croix says, 'Mystery is that which opens temporality and gives it depth. It introduces a vertical dimension and makes of it a time of revelation, of unveiling.'"

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the Christian meaning of mystery and its unfolding as something to be appreciated and reverenced.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: Mystery Is Deep and Yet Vertical – A Brief Meditation on the Christian Meaning of Mystery (13 JAN 15)

Reflection Starter from Mortimer Adler

"You have to allow a certain amount of time in which you are doing nothing in order to have things occur to you, to let your mind think." - Mortimer Adler

15 January 2015

Thank You, Lord

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

Pope Francis on Christian Values and the Economy

Two La Stampa writers, Andrea Tornielli and Giacomo Galeazzi, recently collaborated to write a book profiling the social teaching of the Church under the direction of Pope Francis. The book includes an October 2014 interview with the Pope in which he addressed issues related to Christian values and the economy, Excerpts of this were recently published by the newspaper.

To access the complete article, please visit:

Vatican Insider: Francis: To care for the poor is not communism, It is the Gospel (11 JAN 15)

Reflection Starter from William Arthur Ward

"God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say 'thank you?'" - William Arthur Ward

14 January 2015

Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 94 in G major

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Joseph Haydn’s “Symphony No. 94 in G major" ("Surprise Symphony") as played by the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra (conducted by Ádám Fischer):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of good literature.

How Catholics Built a Better Church and Society

What do Regis Philbin, Dorothy Day, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and I have in common? We're among the 76 people profiled in historian Pat McNamara's book New York Catholics: Faith, Attitude, and the Works. I’m not in that illustrious company because of anything I've done, but rather because McNamara appreciates what The Christophers mean to Catholic culture - and culture in general.

In New York Catholics, he serves as a historian who makes the past relevant by sharing the timeless stories of real people whose devotion to their faith led them to serve the poor, fight racism, battle anti-Catholicism, and build up the Church in America.

The first figure McNamara highlights is Sir Thomas Dongan, a member of Ireland's Catholic aristocracy who England's Charles II appointed as governor of New York in 1682. Dongan went on to battle the bias against Catholics that was present in the city. Actually, "bias" is too mild a word. McNamara quotes Thomas Shelley, author of the history of the New York Archdiocese, as writing, "Protestant colonists may not have been especially fervent churchgoers, and they were themselves divided into rival denominations. Yet there was one common element in their religious beliefs that united them, and that was a detestation of Roman Catholicism."

During an interview on Christopher Closeup, McNamara explained, "Dongan created a charter of liberties in 1683, which said that anyone who belongs to a Christian denomination has complete freedom. This is revolutionary. Dongan was the first to do it in a Northern colony. And the charter was later amended to say all persons of any religion whatsoever [had freedom too], because New York had a Jewish community."

McNamara noted that some Catholic authors argue that Dongan's charter influenced the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and simply promoted greater tolerance in American life. That didn't happen quickly or easily, though. Into the 1840s and 50s, there were still want ads running in the newspaper that stated, "Neither Irish nor Catholic need apply." Members of the anti-Catholic Know-Nothing party were elected to office throughout the country - and there were even anti-Catholic riots that broke out in Brooklyn. So how did Catholics finally become accepted in their adopted home?

McNamara said, "Eventually the Catholics just wore them down. They just kept coming! They kept building churches and schools…and the hospital system and old age homes…and they started these orphanages, where they welcomed children of all denomination or none, of all races, of all backgrounds. [At the time], you had denomination-specific orphanages, like Protestant-friendly orphanages and Catholic orphanages. But one of the great pioneers of Catholic childcare was a priest named John Drumgoole, who I talk about in the book. And John Drumgoole said, 'I'll take any kid from any religion, background, race.' And he did. He created Mount Loretto in Staten Island, which at the time was the largest childcare institution in the United States."

McNamara believes that Catholics helped "the least of these" because it was a gospel mandate, but also because "the Catholic immigrants who came over were 'the least.' First the Irish, the Italians, the many and the various groups that came after them. They were poor immigrants, and they weren't always treated very well. But rather than sticking it to the people above them, what they did was help the people who came after them."

I'll share more of McNamara's stories in my next column.
(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: 

Reflection Starter from John Milton

"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world." - John Milton

13 January 2015

"To God Be The Glory"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of "To God Be The Glory" being sung at Royal Albert Hall, London:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of the sunrise.

Pope Francis Presents "State of the World Address"

"Following up a year that saw a reinvigorated Vatican diplomacy flex its clout to achieve a breakthrough in US-Cuba relations and attempt one in the Holy Land, this morning brought the Pope's traditional New Year greeting to the ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, long known as the Vatican's 'State of the World' speech.

"Historically esteemed as a key 'listening post' given the church's sprawling apparatus of charitable, educational and humanitarian works in practically every corner of the globe, as Catholicism's sovereign entity, the Holy See currently maintains full bilateral relations with 180 countries. Since Russia agreed to full relations in 2011, the most conspicuous absence from the list remains mainland China as the Vatican recognizes Taiwan – a situation the Communist authorities in Beijing have maintained as an insurmountable obstacle to a concordat, while concerns over religious freedom in the People's Republic loom large on Rome's end. The few other states lacking a Nunciature include North Korea, Vietnam, most of the Arabian Peninsula and the Palestinian State."

In a recent commentary, writer Rocco Palmo reported on the Pope's address, and he included its full text.

To access the complete report, please visit:

Whispers in the Loggia: The Pope's "State of the World" - Amid Cuba Triumph and Diplomatic Bulk-Up, Francis Spins the Globe (12 JAN 15)

Reflection Starter from J. R. R. Tolkien

"It's a job that's never started that takes the longest to finish." - J. R. R. Tolkien

12 January 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty You instilled in Your created world.

Basketball and the Catholic Role in Civil Rights

"In the locker room beneath the packed bleachers of the Municipal Auditorium here, Bill Derrick gathered the basketball players he coached at Father Ryan High School. They recited “The Lord’s Prayer” and said a “Hail Mary,” as they always did before tipoff. Then, with unusual emphasis, Mr. Derrick intoned two or three times, “Lady of victory, pray for us.”

"On that night, Jan. 4, 1965, he was seeking intercession for more than one kind of triumph. In a racially polarized city, Father Ryan was fielding an integrated team. And in this particular game, his team was playing one from Pearl High School, which because of segregation was entirely black.

"Nearly 9,000 spectators filled the arena to watch the first two high school teams to breach the color line in Nashville. They wondered which of these basketball powerhouses would win. They wondered, too, if the violence that had been rumored would erupt, especially as the two teams were in a tight game in the final seconds."

A recent New York Times article offered a look at one aspect of the Church's role in the struggle for civil rights in the U.S.

To access the complete New York Times "On Religion" article, please visit:

New York Times: Tense Scene on Basketball Court 50 Years Ago Recalls Catholic Role in Civil Rights (9 JAN !%)

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

"He who is fretted with his own failings will not correct them. All profitable correction comes from a calm, peaceful mind." - Saint Francis de Sales

11 January 2015

"When Jesus Comes to Be Baptized"

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of "When Jesus Comes to Be Baptized":

YouTube: When Jesus comes to be baptized

The Baptism of the Lord

Today the Church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord. The assigned readings are Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Acts 10:34-38; and Mark 1:7-11. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 29 (Psalm 29:1-4, 3, 9-10).

The Gospel reading is as follows:

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed: "One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Baptism of the Lord (January 11, 2015)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Baptism of the Lord (January 11, 2015)

Msgr. Charles Pope: Wading in the Troubled Water Saves You, Not Taking a Bridge Over It - A Homily for the Baptism of the Lord (10 JAN 15)

The Deacon's Bench: The "3 c's" of Baptism: A Homily for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (10 JAN 15)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: The Baptism of the Lord and the Sacrament of Confirmation

The Sacred Page: "He Will Baptize You With the Holy Spirit": Readings for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (8 JAN 15)

Word on Fire: Priest, Prophet, and King (Solemnities * Baptism of the Lord)

Dr. Scott Hahn: The Anointing (January 11th 2015 - The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord)

CWR Blog: The Baptism of Jesus Christ: Cosmic Blessing and Invitation to Divine Life (10 JAN 15)

Spirituality of the Readings: The Covenant (Baptism of the Lord)

The Word Embodied: Transformations of the Body (Baptism of the Lord)

Historical Cultural Context: Recognizing Jesus (Baptism of the Lord)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Ephrem (Baptism of the Lord)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Baptism of the Lord (9 JAN 15)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You strengthen us as we face the challenges of each day.

Msgr. Pope on Overcoming Life's Storms

"In the midst of a great storm in Acts 27, St. Paul finds himself among desperate and defeated people. Though the storm is from nature, their problems are of their own doing and are rooted in a foolish refusal to listen to either natural warnings or God. . . . Is there a way out of their situation? With God there is, but only with God and only by turning to Him in obedient faith. As long as we live, conversion is possible and things can change. Let's consider how St. Paul, good pastor that he is, shepherds his doomed shipmates through the storm and to God, who can make a way out of no way."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the process of Saint Paul describing the problem faced by the sailors and the steps involved in the strengthening of their faith.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: Overcoming Life's Storms: A Teaching From St. Paul to Some Storm-weary Souls (5 JAN 15)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Sunday is the Lord’s Day. Let us find time to be with him." - Pope Francis

10 January 2015

Jonathan and Charlotte: "Once In Royal David's City"

As our celebration of Christmas winds down, I offer this version of Jonathan Antoine and Charlotte Jaconelli singing (with orchestra and massed choirs at the Royal Albert Hall in London) "Once In Royal David's City":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many good people You have placed in our lives.

Open Doors Releases Annual Watch List on Persecution of Christians

"While the year 2014 will go down in history for having the highest level of global persecution of Christians in the modern era, current conditions suggest the worst is yet to come."

Open Doors USA recently released its annual World Watch List, which ranks the top 50 countries where it is most dangerous and difficult to be a Christian. This year, the threshold was higher for a country to make the list, indicating that worldwide levels of persecution have increased. Topping the 2015 list for the 13th consecutive year is North Korea. Africa saw the most rapid growth of persecution, while the Middle East saw targeted attacks, resulting in a mass exodus of Christians.

Approximately 100 million Christians are persecuted worldwide, making them one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. Islamic extremism is the main source of persecution in 40 of the 50 countries on the 2015 World Watch List. While persecution can take many forms, Christians throughout the world risk imprisonment, torture, rape and even death as result of their faith.

The Middle East remains one of the most violent areas of the world for Christians. Violence against Christians by the Islamic State and other Islamic terrorist groups increased in countries like Iraq (3) and Syria (4). More than 70 percent of Christians have fled Iraq since 2003, and more than 700,000 Christians have left Syria since the civil war began in 2011. Afghanistan (5) and Pakistan (8) have both increased in persecution.

For the third year in a row, the majority of African nations on the World Watch List have increased in rank due to Islamic extremism. Kenya made the largest jump, moving up from number 43 to number 19. With no functioning government, Christian persecution remains severe in Somalia, which retained the No. 2 spot on the list. Both Sudan (6) and Eritrea (9) reentered the top 10 and Nigeria (10) appeared in the top 10 for the first time.

North Korea remains the most dangerous and difficult place to be a Christian. An estimated 70,000 Christians remain in prison for their faith. The conditions are also worsening for Christians throughout the rest of Asia. Countries such as Uzbekistan (15), Vietnam (16) and India (21) have all seen increases in persecution. Of particular note is India (21), where persecution is driven by Islamic extremism and Hindu fundamentalism.

Christian persecution is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of one's identification with Christ. Recent examples include imprisonment, torture, beheadings, rape, and loss of home and assets.

While violent persecution is most often reported by media, nonviolent persecution is also on the rise. Violence has increased dramatically in Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, but Christians in other countries are experiencing persecution in their personal lives through family, community and national spheres of life. Christians are often ostracized by family exclusion, the loss of a job or even rejection from a community.

"The goal of the World Watch List is to keep Christian persecution on the radar of those enjoying the privileges of freedom," said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, in a prepared statement. "The perpetrators of persecution need to know that the world is watching and stands in opposition to persecution. And for the persecuted, we want them to know that they are not forgotten."

To access the complete 2015 Watch List, please visit:

Open Doors USA: World Watch List, Where Christian Persecution Is Worst

Background information:

Open Doors USA

Reflection Starter from Albert Einstein

"A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labours of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received." - Albert Einstein

09 January 2015

"Silent Night"

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this Mannheim Steamroller presentation of "Silent Night":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of laughter.

Upcoming Papal Visit to the Philippines

"'Mercy and compassion' will be the theme of Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines, where devastation from Typhoon Haiyan is still being felt more than a year later, along with the earthquake that hit the region of Visayas one month earlier.

"The theme of the Jan. 15-19 visit refers to Matthew 9:36, where Jesus, after 'seeing the people, felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.'

"The official website for the papal visit states that the pontiff's message is a challenge 'to imitate Christ, the Good Shepherd, who is Mercy and Compassion.'"

A recent Catholic News Agency report offered an advance look at the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines.

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

Catholic News Agency: Mercy and compassion at heart of papal visit to the Philippines (7 JAN 14)

To access the official website related to this visit, please visit:

Papal Visit to the Philippines 2015 - The Theme: Mercy and Compassion

Reflection Starter from Blessed Julian of Norwich

"Our Lord did not say, 'You will not be troubled, you will not be tempted, you will not be distressed.' He said, 'You will not be overcome.'" - Blessed Julian of Norwich

08 January 2015

Mahalia Jackson: "Go Tell It On The Mountain"

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of Mahalia Jackson singing "Go, Tell It On The Mountain":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for guiding the development of the Holy Scriptures and for the many ways in You work through them.

Pope Francis on The Magi and Conversion

"On the solemnity of the Epiphany, Pope Francis said that the journey of the three wise men reflects a path of conversion taken by each person, in which God breaks the norm of our human expectations.

"'The crib points us to a different path from the one cherished by the thinking of this world: it is the path of God's self-abasement, his glory concealed in the manger of Bethlehem, on the cross upon Calvary, in each of our suffering brothers and sisters,' the Pope told Mass attendees on Jan. 6.

"On their journey to the manger where Jesus was laid, the wise men realized, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that 'God’s criteria are quite different from those of men,' the pontiff continued."

A recent Catholic News Agency article reported on the Pope's Epiphany homily, in which he encouraged us to undergo the same journey of conversion experienced by the wise men.

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

Catholic News Agency: True models of conversion: wise men believed in love, not worldly power (6 JAN 14)


Zenit: Pope's Homily for Today's Feast of the Epiphany (full text)

Reflection Starter from Anne Frank

"How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment, we can start now, start slowly changing the world!" - Anne Frank

07 January 2015

George Frideric Handel: "Messiah - A Sacred Oratorio"

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of George Frideric Handel's "Messiah - A Sacred Oratorio," as presented by the London Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Sir Colin Davis):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the little treats You send us each day, whether we are aware of them or not.

National Migration Week

National Migration Week is being observed in dioceses around the U.S. during this week, the week of 4-10 January. This year’s theme is "We Are One Family under God."

The celebration of National Migration Week is designed to provide an opportunity to raise awareness about the hardships faced by migrants, including children, refugees, and victims of human trafficking.

"Migrants - including children, immigrants, refugees, and victims of human trafficking - are our spiritual brothers and sisters" said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, in a prepared statement. "They often find themselves isolated, alone and separated from family, their ability to live out their lives in fullness severely restricted. Often family members are separated from one another because of deportation, detention, or related immigration laws that inhibit family reunification."

As part of the 2015 National Migration Week celebration, the USCCB established a small grant program that will provide Catholic parishes, schools, and other organizations funding to help them better integrate the Church's teaching on migration into new or existing programs, materials, events and other activities.

"We are all created equal in God’s image," said Bishop Elizondo in his statement. "There is no such thing as an illegal human being. During National Migration Week we should not only pray for our brothers and sisters who are marginalized but also advocate that protections are provided to them, for they need them most."

The observance of National Migration Week began over 25 years ago by the U.S. bishops to give Catholics an opportunity to take stock of the wide diversity of peoples in the Church and the ministries serving them. The week serves as both a time for prayer and action to try and ease the struggles of immigrants, migrants,  and vulnerable populations coming to America and a time for reflection on the Church's call to “welcome the stranger." The 2015 National Migration Week marks 50 years of service by USCCB Migration and Refugee Services.

For educational materials and other resources for National Migration Week, please visit:

USCCB: National Migration Week