29 April 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many good ways in which You touch our lives through works of art.

New John Paul II Mural in Bridgeport, CT

"After naming a street corner after Pope John Paul II, the city's Polish community wanted to do a little more to celebrate their favorite saint.

"They did just that Sunday when church members and others dedicated a mural of the late pontiff on the wall of a towing company in a section of the city in need of a little sprucing up.

"'We wanted to show off our saint,' said Tomek Moczerniuk, a member of the St. Michael The Archangel parish, who helped organize the effort to create the mural.

"The painting takes up one wall and a side of the large building at the corner of Pulaski and Kossuth streets, an area previously renamed as John Paul II Corner."

A recent article in the Connecticut Post reported on this initiative in the city of Bridgeport.

 To access the complete Connecticut Post report, please visit:

Connecticut Post: Bridgeport mural dedicated to Pope John Paul II (27 APR 15)

Background information:

Saint Michael the Archangel Parish, Bridgeport, CT

Wikipedia: Bridgeport, Connecticut

Reflection Starter from Josh Billings

"It's not the things you don't know that fool you. It's the things you do know that ain't so." - Josh Billings

28 April 2015

Air Quality Awareness Week

This week, the week of 27 April-1 May, is being observed as Air Quality Awareness Week.

For more information about this observance, please visit:

EPA: Air Quality Awareness Week

National Weather Service: Air Quality

Background information:

AIRNow: Air Quality Index (AQI) – A Guide to Air Quality and Your Health

AIRNow: You Can Help Keep the Air Cleaner — Every Day!

Facebook: Air Now

For more information about the current and forecast air quality in New England, please visit:

EPA: New England Air Quality Index

EPA: Connecticut Air Quality

EPA: Maine Air Quality

EPA: Massachusetts Air Quality

EPA: New Hampshire Air Quality

EPA: Rhode Island Air Quality

EPA: Vermont Air Quality

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You touch our lives in ways we are unaware of.

Each of You is a Hero to Someone

The note came straight from the heart.

It came after 30 years or so, but no question about it: the note came straight from the heart. "You were my hero," it said, and the once-young woman who wrote it is now in her middle years. It made you wonder what the man had done, the man who inspired those words.

Actually he was a priest, and he was simply doing his job. An important job, as it turns out:  At the time Father Joe Breighner did a nationally syndicated radio program called the Country Road, and station WPOC carried it locally in Baltimore. That's where the writer of the note "found" Father Joe all those years ago. He recalled the incident recently in his column, "Wit and Wisdom," in the Catholic Review, newspaper of the Baltimore Archdiocese.

The column was about the importance of gratitude, and Father Joe quoted from the writer's note to help drive home a point:

"Still after all these years, I have the cassette tapes from running your show back in the 1980s. I can honestly tell you that I would not be writing this card had you not been in my life to help me through my teenage years. My heart has always had love and gratitude for you in my life. You were my hero and through you I understood faith and love."

The priest hastened to explain that he was quoting from the note not to point at himself, but instead to point at his readers. He went on to explain:

"Each of you reading this column is a hero to someone, perhaps to many someones. As parents and grandparents, as aunts and uncles, as brothers and sisters, as teachers and helpers, you have impacted others in ways you may never know this side of heaven…a thank-you has power that we never know."

Proving his point, Father Joe referred to a second note he had received at roughly the same time, and like the first it mentioned an incident that had happened long, long ago. Stationed then at a parish, he found his regular parking space blocked and pulled into another, quite a distance away.

Then, walking to the church, he explained, "I met a wonderful young woman who needed to talk. She had just lost a baby, and was in deep grief. In those few moments together I was able to be of help to her. She never forgot it." And, as you may have guessed by now, it was that woman who wrote him that note.

When we do touch someone else's life as Father Breighner did on those two occasions, it's really God who is at work through us. "I wasn't aware that I was anyone's hero, as in the first note," he said. "I wasn't aware that someone needed to talk at the precise moment that I parked in a different place." He added:

"God is living in us and through us at every moment, and all we have to do is to surrender to God."

Now couldn't that incident that inspired the second note be explained away by chance; couldn't that regular parking spot that was already taken be a matter of coincidence?

Father Joe had the answer for that one, too. Coincidence, he said, happens when God chooses to remain anonymous. Darned if that doesn't make sense too.

(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:

The Christophers

Father Joe Breighner's website

Reflection Starter from Psalm 118

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his mercy endures forever." Psalm 118:29

27 April 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for opportunities to offer acts of kindness.

Randy Hain on Living Intentionally

"'Will-power. A very important quality. Don't despise little things, for by the continual practice of denying yourself again and again in such things - which are never futile or trivial - with God's grace you will add strength and resilience to your character. In that way you will first become master of yourself, and then a guide, a chief, a leader: to compel and to urge and to inspire others, with your word, with your example, with your knowledge and with your power.' (St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way 19)

"Do you ever catch yourself in a moment of candid realization that you have developed bad habits, neglected your faith and created distance between yourself and Christ? This happens to me all too frequently and after realizing I was off course during a recent visit to Eucharistic Adoration, I decided to do something about it. What I needed was to toughen my resistance and develop new 'muscles' to fight my patterns of spiritual failure. I committed to introduce more intention into my life and show stronger willpower.

"In essence, I committed to break my sinful habits by immediately introducing good or 'virtuous' habits after I caught myself going down the wrong path. It has been a struggle at times, but I have slowly been able to see improved patterns of behavior, more focus on authentically living out my Catholic faith and a vast improvement in my relationship with Christ.  A very helpful tool in this endeavor has been the Daily Examen, which I have written about before.  The Examen forces us to stop five times a day to reflect on what is happening in our lives, offer up a brief prayer and make adjustments. . . ."

In a recent commentary, writer Randy Hain, Senior Editor for The Integrated Catholic Life, reflected on the power of exercising a little more intentional behavior around the practice of good habits.

To access his complete post, please visit:

Integrated Catholic Life: On Living Intentionally (23 APR 15)

Reflection Starter from Eric Hoffer

"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer

26 April 2015

"The King of Love My Shepherd Is"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of "The King of Love My Shepherd Is":

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Today the Church celebrates the Fourth Sunday of Easter. The assigned readings are Acts 4:8-12, 1 John 3:1-2, and John 10:11-18. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 118 (Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28-29).

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

YouTube: Psalm 118 The stone which builders rejected has become the cornerstone

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus said:"I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Fourth Sunday of Easter (April 26, 2015)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Fourth Sunday of Easter (April 26, 2015)

Msgr. Charles Pope: The King of Love My Shepherd Is - A Homily for the 4th Sunday of Easter (25 APR 15)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: The Way, The Truth, and The Life - Jesus Only

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for April 26, 2015: 4th Sunday of Easter (25 APR 25)

Word on Fire: The Good Shepherd (Cycle B * Easter * Week 4)

Dr. Scott Hahn: The Shepherd’s Voice (April 26th 2015 - Fourth Sunday of Easter)

CWR Blog: One Christ, One Savior, One Shepherd (25 APR 15)

Spirituality of the Readings: Is Greed a Virtue? (4th Sunday of Easter)

The Word Embodied: Other Sheep (4th Sunday of Easter)

Historical Cultural Context: From Sheep to Shepherd (4th Sunday of Easter)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Basil of Seleucia (4th Sunday of Easter)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Fourth Sunday of Easter (24 APR 15)

Thank you, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You encourage us and guide us in our search for You and all that You are offering to us.

Msgr. Pope on the Perspective of Word "Consider"

"Every now and then a word just catches your ear. Several times in a day it jumps out at you and you're tempted to say, 'There it is again!'

"A few days ago it was the word 'consider,' a very ordinary word. Or is it? Why did it suddenly strike me so?

"With my knowledge of Latin, it occurred to me that 'consider' has something to do with the stars, for the Latin word sidera means 'stars' or 'heavenly bodies.' How interesting! I have used the word for about fifty years now and that had never crossed my mind. But as sometimes happens I was too busy to check it out right away and moved on to other things, the insight forgotten."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on "consider" and the possibilities that open up when one reflects on the meaning of this word.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: On the Mysticism of the Simple Word "Consider" (19 APR 15)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"We need to care for the earth so that it may continue, as God willed, to be a source of life for the entire human family."- Pope Francis

25 April 2015

The Doo Wop Shop: The Disney Medley

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of UMass Amherst's The Doo Wop Shop presenting The Disney Medley:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many graces You give us as we try to exercise a good stewardship of the environment You entrusted to us.

Catholics and Care of the Environment

"What does it mean to be truly pro-life? Amid debates over abortion and the death penalty, Catholic ecologists say that one issue is often overlooked in discussions involving human life and dignity – the environment.

"'Environmental truths are very much linked to and related to human life issues. They're really one in the same,' said Bill Patenaude, a special lecturer in theology at Providence College and founder of the website 'Catholic Ecology.'"

"He explained that recent Popes have drawn a clear connection between the dignity of the human person and the surrounding environment.

"'The Church has had a fundamental respect for nature since the very beginning and has brought it to the world,' Patenaude told CNA.

"Discussions abound regarding environmental problems, their causes and a proper Catholic response. . . ."

A recent Catholic News Agency article reported on environmental issues facing the world and why, as Pope Francis said, care for the environment is "part of our principal goal of trying to live a holy life."

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

Catholic News Agency: Why no Catholic is exempt from caring about the environment (22 APR 15)

Background information:

Catholic Ecology

Reflection Starter from Psalm 117

"Praise the LORD, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples!" - Psalm 117:1

23 April 2015

Major League Baseball Bats from Maine

"What do Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, Chicago White Sox infielder Tyler Saladino, Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez and Cleveland first baseman Carlos Santana have in common?

"They are a few of the 25 Major League Baseball players who are using wooden bats manufactured in Shirley, 8 miles south of Greenville.

"If you're a devoted baseball fan and have never heard of Dove Tail Bat Co., don't feel bad. Owner Paul Lancisi, who also operates Designed Living Kitchen Showroom with his wife, Theresa, said that he doesn't mind. . . .

"Thanks to the growing number of players using his product, Lancisi is busier than ever and hopes to expand the bat-making operation, including adding at least three positions at the mill. 'We shipped 3.000 bats out of here all of last year, and we've already shipped that many this year,' he said recently."
A recent Bangor Daily News article profiled the Dove Tail Bat Company and its expanding presence in the world of baseball (thanks to its quality products).
To access the complete article, please visit:
Background information:

Earth Day

Yesterday, 22 April, was the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, a day that was established to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment. Initially the focus on Earth Day was on the United States, but, twenty years later, it became an international event.

This year there were and are a number events that have been or will soon be held throughout New England, the rest of the United States, and numerous other nations throughout the world. Some of these are sponsored by local (or other) governments, others by non-profit organizations, others involve citizens doing specific projects on their own.

Presidential Proclamation:

Presidential Proclamation – Earth Day, 2015

Background information:

US EPA: Earth Day

Earth Day Network: A Billion Acts of Green

Wikipedia: Earth Day

EPA: Earth Day Take Home Kit

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources: Earth Day Every Day: Ten things you can do to help keep Vermont green

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for creating us and continuing to hold us in existence.

Br. John Thomas Fisher, O.P., on the Gift of Being

"If something is truly good, it's better when it actually exists. I don't think it's controversial to say, then, that existence is good. Simple example: fried chicken, collard greens, and craft beer are good things, even if only in my mind, but it's much better if they truly exist on the dinner table tonight.

"Enjoying certain goods presupposes the existence of the one partaking in the good thing, so it seems that our individual act of existing can be the easiest good to take for granted. I posit that we learn to appreciate the fact that we're alive only when we are given time to rest. In fact, I think that's one reason among the many that God gave us the Sabbath in the first place: to quiet down and consider the value of simply being. . . .

"Billions of years ago, while the created universe was in its infancy, the Maker of space and time knew that at a given point, in one small solar system of a particular galaxy, on a small planet at an acceptable distance from its sun to sustain mass varieties of life, on a little trail tucked away in what would come to be known as Virginia, with blistered feet and mud-caked boots, one young, exhausted friar would have to stop on top of a giant rock in pure admiration of his surroundings. Struck by the beauty of creation, my uselessness to it, and its uselessness to me, no amount of time seemed appropriate to attempt to take it al.'"

In a recent commentary, Brother John Thomas Fisher, O.P., reflected on the gift of being and on one's response to this gift.

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

Dominicana: The Gift of Being (23 APR 15)

Reflection Starter from James Whitcomb Riley

"It is no use to grumble and complain;
It's just as cheap and easy to rejoice;
When God sorts out the weather and sends rain -
Why, rain's my choice." - James Whitcomb Riley

22 April 2015

Mark Mickalide and His Ministry as Baker

"The sun is just peeking over the roof line, the dooryard is muddy from the first spring melt and inside the Black Crow Bakery the workday is well underway.

"Standing on the black-and-white tile floor, amid pallets piled with 50-pound bags of flour, a large commercial mixer chugs through the opening act of an age-old process that aims for a satisfying finale before sunset.

"A hooked metal arm tugs and twists the pale mass forming in the 60-quart bowl. Every few turns, the arm hits the side of the bowl, banging out an easy, syncopated rhythm that's familiar to Mark Mickalide.

"Head down, concentrating, Mickalide hears something in the sound, picks up a half-empty brown sack of flour and shakes some into the bowl. He does this several times, looking for the perfect texture and resistance in the dough.

"'I know what it needs,' Mickalide says with confidence and typical brevity.

A recent Portland Press Herald article profiled Mr. Mickalide and his bakery ministry. Although this article specifically looks at this bakery operation and the spirit of excellence that is put into it, it is a reminder of the value and importance of putting excellence into whatever ministry we may have.

To access the complete article, please visit:

Portland Press Herald: Maker of bread discovers a calling that nourishes the soul (19 APR 15)

Background information:

Black Crow Bakery, Litchfield, ME

Thank You, Lord

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

Being a Saint Doesn’t Mean You Were Never a Sinner

Vincent McKenna (Bill Murray) smokes, drinks, gambles, and curses.  He's rude to his neighbors and cavorts with a prostitute.  Despite all these negative qualities, he is the title character in the Christopher Award-winning film St. Vincent. So what exactly is saintly about him?

First, consider this.  There's a book by Thomas Craughwell about actual canonized saints called Saints Behaving Badly: The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil-Worshippers Who Became Saints. In other words, being a saint doesn't mean you were never a sinner.

Vincent's got the sinning down, but it takes a deeper look to find the potential saint within. That potential is eventually spotted by Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), the 12-year-old son of the newly divorced Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), both of whom move in next door to Vincent. They all begin their relationship on a sour note, but fate eventually forces them to become a part of each other's lives.

Though Vincent is a surly loner, Oliver grows on him.  There’s a good-heartedness to the kid that allows Vincent to care about him. Oliver soon learns that there is someone else Vincent cares about: his wife Sandy, who is living in a nursing home due to Alzheimer's. The tenderness and love with which Vincent interacts with Sandy is the antithesis of the persona he shows the world. Oliver sees it too and starts to realize that first impressions aren't always right. When Oliver is given the school assignment to pay tribute to someone he considers a modern-day saint, he chooses Vincent.  And though it may seem a stretch, that tribute becomes the emotional heart of the movie that will leave you nodding your head in agreement and maybe even tearing up a little.

Writer-director Theodore Melfi has created a thoroughly entertaining story with just enough edge to make it acceptable to mainstream audiences who might cringe at the thought of seeing a heartwarming redemption story.  And make no mistake, Vincent never loses his edge - though he becomes more open to the love of the makeshift family that comes to surround him.

On the Catholic front, I can't think of any movies lately that have had as positive a portrayal of priests, Catholic schools, and the faith in general as St. Vincent.  In fact, Melfi was inspired to create this film after his daughter, who attends Catholic school, was given the assignment to write about an established saint and a contemporary one. Melfi makes Oliver's teacher - a priest played by Chris O'Dowd - a funny, self-deprecating, holy man.  It was a refreshing change of pace to watch a story created by someone who has no ax to grind with the Church, but can instead appreciate its finer points and compassionate people.

So does Vincent actually achieve saintly holiness by the end of the film? Well, there's a story from the Christopher News Note "From Sinners to Saints" that makes an important point. St. Callixtus, who died around 222 A.D., was originally an embezzler who lived in Rome. He came under the care and guidance of Pope St. Victor who held him in check but also showed him kindness. This approach gradually led Callixtus to repentance for his sins, then to the priesthood and even the papacy. But before all that happened, someone had to have faith in him, to see the good in him.

Vincent McKenna has those kinds of people in his life at the end of the movie.  His future sainthood may not be so far-fetched after all.

(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 Babe Ruth

"Yesterday's home runs don't win today's games." - Babe Ruth

21 April 2015

National Crime Victims' Rights Week

This week, the week of 19-25 April, is being observed as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Observed since 1981, NCVRW was initiated as an observance to promote awareness of victims’ rights and services and to honor crime victims and survivors.

The theme for NCVRW 2015 is “Engaging Communities. Empowering Victims.”

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

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

Presidential Proclamation:

Presidential Proclamation – National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, 2015

A Renewal of Interest in Barns in Maine

"In the quiet western Maine town of Brownfield, a painstakingly restored 1810 barn that survived the great fire of 1947 has been transformed into a vibrant music venue that draws audiences far and wide.

"Together with its younger sister, a second barn built in 1996, it's home to the Stone Mountain Arts Center, which was created by a veteran folk singer.

"'If these beams could talk,' says Carol Noonan, a traveling songstress and strummer who bought the property 25 years ago with her husband, Jeff Flagg.

"And what a tale the pegs would tell. . . .

"Like many barn owners, she was enraptured by this rustic, traditional, very New England building.

"'It was this barn that made us buy the house,' said Noonan, who reveres these agrarian structures the way some songwriters admire ships or pine for lost loves. . . .

"Why do barns speak to us now?

"'They are a connection to our past and a much simpler time,' said J. Scott Campbell of Maine Mountain Post and Beam in Fryeburg, who restored Noonan's 200-year-old barn. 'You can also feel the soul of an old building. From the way it was constructed by hand, to the generations of use.'"

A recent Bangor Daily News article reported on the Stone Mountain Arts Center and the increasing appreciation for barns in Maine.

To access the complete Bangor Daily News article, please visit:

Bangor Daily News: ‘If these beams could talk’: A story of why Maine barns are having their moment (20 APR 15)

Background information:

Stone Mountain Arts Center: Barn Raising Lobby Project (including lyrics of “The Barn Song”)

Yankee: Slide Show: Barns of New England

Thank You, Lord

Than you, Lord, for the gift of Your Church. and the many ways in which You work through her.

On Carl Loewenstine and the Church

"The 2015 Major League Baseball season is the 42nd for Carl Loewenstine. The Cincinnati native has canvassed the country many times over, mostly for the Los Angeles Dodgers, in search of pitching, hitting and fielding talent. These efforts during his 34-year Dodgers' tenure contributed to 10 division championships and two World Series victories.

"Although Loewenstine has had much to be grateful for in his career, he is most appreciative of his Catholic faith. The former Lutheran learned about Catholicism from EWTN programs and entered the Church with his wife, Gayle, in April 2000."

A recent National Catholic Register article profiled Mr. Loewenstine and his Catholicism.

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

National Catholic Register: Longtime MLB Scout Honored to Be Catholic (21 APR 15)

Reflection Starter from St. Anselm

"Remove grace, and you have nothing whereby to be saved. Remove free will and you have nothing that could be saved." - attributed to Saint Anselm

19 April 2015

Third Sunday of Easter

Today the Church celebrates the Third Sunday of Easter. The assigned readings are Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; 1 John 2:1-5; and Luke 24:35-48. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 4 (Psalm 4:2, 4, 7-9).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm (3rd Sunday of Easter) Psalm 4

The Gospel reading is as follows:

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Third Sunday of Easter (April 19, 2015)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Third Sunday of Easter (April 19, 2015)

Msgr. Charles Pope: Becoming Witnesses of the Resurrection and the Truth of the Gospel – A Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter (18 APR 15)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: The Easter Ghost

Word on Fire: The Strangeness of the Resurrection (Cycle B * Easter * Week 3)

Dr. Scott Hahn: Understanding the Scriptures (April 19th 2015 - Third Sunday of Easter)

CWR Blog: Preachers who are in love with Christ (19 APR 15)

Spirituality of the Readings: The Rest of the Story (3rd Sunday of Easter)

The Word Embodied: Glorified Bodies (3rd Sunday of Easter)

Historical Cultural Context: Alternate Reality (3rd Sunday of Easter)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Augustine (3rd Sunday of Easter)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the examples set for us by Your saints.

Msgr. Pope on the Spiritual Works of Mercy

"During daily Mass we are currently reading through chapter six of John's Gospel. There is of course a glorious focus on the Lord's true presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

"However, there is also another important teaching given at a critical moment in chapter six that is important for us to lay hold of today. It is a call to recover a greater awareness of the importance of the spiritual works of mercy. I will list what they are in a moment, but for now consider that despite living in rather secular times, the corporal works of mercy are still widely appreciated and accepted as both necessary and virtuous. There is little dispute today that we should feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, or bury the dead (the seven corporal works of mercy). . . .

". . . I cannot think of a single individual I know of, religious or not, who thinks that the corporal works of mercy can or should be neglected if within our power to accomplish. This is a great tribute to Christian culture and one of the few of its pillars that remain in the post-Christian West.

"But it is a different matter today with the spiritual works of mercy. Even in the Church they are seldom mentioned. Very few even reasonably catechized Catholics could list all seven of them and many might not even be able to come up with more than one or two. For the record, the spiritual works of mercy are these:

     Admonish the sinner

     Instruct the ignorant

     Counsel the doubtful

     Comfort the sorrowful

     Bear wrongs patiently

     Forgive all injuries

     Pray for the living and the dead

"Here is a great gap in the thinking of many. We tend to reduce charity to caring for people’s bodies, forgetting the needs of their souls. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the spiritual works of mercy and their place in our lives.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: What Ever Happened to the Spiritual Works of Mercy? (16 APR 15)

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

"Let us not forget the maxims of the saints, who teach us to advance a little further each day on the road to perfection. This thought should encourage us not to be surprised or to feel miserable whenever we have something to correct. Each day we must begin again with renewed courage."- Saint Francis de Sales

18 April 2015

Thank You, Lord

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

Br. Innocent Smith, O.P., on Fulton Sheen, Humor, and the Gospel

". . . For St. Thomas Aquinas, the great master of Fulton Sheen and Ignatius Smith alike, the virtue of eutrapelia (playfulness or pleasantness) is necessary in order to have a proper balance in our lives and to avoid the soul becoming overburdened with seriousness. As Sheen writes in his autobiography, '[T]here is a close relationship between  faith and humor. We say of those who lack a sense of humor that they are 'too thick'; that means they are opaque like a brick wall. Humor, on the contrary, is 'seeing through' things like a windowpane. Materialists, humanists, and atheists all take this world very seriously because it is the only world they are ever going to have. He who possesses faith knows that this world is not the only one, and therefore can be regarded rather lightly.'"

In a recent commentary, Brother Innocent Smith, O.P., reflected on the humor of Archbishop Fulton Sheen and his proclaiming the Gospel message.

To access Br. Innocent's complete post, please visit:

Dominicana: Fulton Sheen and the Playfulness of the Gospel (14 APR 15)

Reflection Starter from Fulton Sheen

"There are two ways of waking up in the morning. One is to say, 'Good morning, God,' and the other is to say, 'Good God, morning'!" - Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

17 April 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You are actively working in our lives (whether we are aware of it or not.

Randy Hain on Acceptance of God's Will in Our Lives

"Not long ago a priest shared some guidance with my wife and me that has been the cause of a great deal of conversation and reflection in our home.  In response to learning that we pray every day about our oldest son’s future and that he be healed of his autism, he encouraged us to pray first for acceptance.

"Let me explain.

"He said there was nothing wrong with asking God to heal our son.  But, we first needed to ask for the ability to fully accept the beautiful gift of our child exactly as God created him. By asking for healing first, we were in essence asking God to improve on His creation without first understanding the lessons and blessings His gift has provided our family. We have always viewed our oldest son as a blessing and know we could not possibly love him more than we do now.  But, we may have mistaken love for acceptance as we continued to pray over the years for God to remake him into our vision of a well-formed and perfect child.  We have somewhat selfishly asked God to redo his handiwork when we should be accepting of God's plan for his life and trusting that the Father who loves us wants only what is best for him. 'If you follow the will of God, you know that in spite of all the terrible things that happen to you, you will never lose a final refuge. You know that the foundation of the world is love, so that even when no human being can or will help you, you may go on, trusting in the One that loves you' (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)."

In a recent commentary, writer Randy Hain, Senior Editor for The Integrated Catholic Life, reflected on acceptance of God's will and its role in our lives.

To access her complete post, please visit:

Integrated Catholic Life: On Accepting God’s Will (9 APR 15)

Reflection Starter from Matthew

"One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God." - Matthew 4:4

16 April 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Yourself in the most Holy Eucharist.

Simsha Fisher on Reverence and Gratitude and the Eucharist

"There was a commotion in the communion line. I couldn't hear what the deacon was saying, but the woman who approached him was responding to him in a loud, conversational tone that rose above the reverent murmur in the church. 'What are you talking about?' she called out. 'Is this what you mean? This?'

"Horror: she was waving around a consecrated Host like it was a business card or a cookie. I started to put the baby down, preparing to rush over and tackle this woman before she did something unthinkable.

"Then I realized she was smiling, embarrassed. She gave the Host back to the deacon and said, just as loudly, 'I didn't know! Nobody told me!' And she walked away. As far as I can tell, she was just a newcomer who was at the church for social reasons, or out of curiosity. She had gotten in line because everyone else got in line, and she went up to get her cracker because everyone likes a freebie. Nobody told her that she shouldn't. God bless our deacon for realizing that something was amiss, and for protecting Our Lord.

"For the rest of Mass, I was shaken. Nothing bad had happened; no sacrilege, intentional or not, had occurred. What made me tremble was that phrase she kept repeating: Nobody told me! And I kept telling myself, 'So, what is your excuse?'"

In a recent commentary, writer Simcha Fisher reflected on the attitude of reverence and gratitude we (should) have when receiving our Lord in the Eucharist.

To access her complete reflection, please visit:

NC Register: Simcha Fisher Blog: Nobody told me! (31 MAR 15)

Reflection Starter from Thomas Merton

"By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet." - Thomas Merton

15 April 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for little acts of kindness (often unnoticed and/or unacknowledged) that help encourage/lift up Your people as they face what is before them each day.

The Wisdom and Legacy of Ernie Banks

"His temperament included only two outlooks: sunny and sunnier."

Wow, what a way to be. What a way to live!

The subject was Ernie Banks, and the words were used by Barry Bearak, in his appreciation of Banks for The New York Times - sunny and sunnier. They describe perfectly the way we recall Banks, a baseball star with the Chicago Cubs, remembered as much for his sparkling personality as for his home runs. Banks died earlier this year at the age of 83, his years as a Cub the happiest of memories.

For most of his 19-year career the Cubs were a losing team, but you'd never know it from Banks' performance. He gave his all, day after day, and became known for his mantra: "Let's play two!" Darned if he didn't mean it, too.

Ernie Banks can give all of us a lesson in living. Raised in Dallas, he was one of 12 children whose father sometimes picked cotton for a living. The family was poor, but that mattered little to Banks. He took up baseball in high school, later starred with the Kansas City Monarchs of the old Negro leagues, and then joined the Cubs. That could have been another cause for concern; his arrival as the first black player with the Chicago team came a full six years after Jackie Robinson had broken baseball's color line. Banks didn't let it bother him. He was just happy to be playing ball, period.

Banks had a chance to show his mean streak, if he had such a thing, late in his career, when Leo Durocher ("Nice guys finish last") was the Cubs' manager. Durocher didn't think so much of his one-time star, his glory days long since past, and it got through to Banks. The man known as "Mr. Cub" simply passed right by a chance to zing Durocher, instead calling him the greatest manager of all time. Few agreed with that generous assessment, but few would criticize him for it either.

The numbers certainly speak for themselves. Banks popped 512 home runs, won the National League's Most Valuable Player Award for two consecutive years, and showed up perennially on the National League's All-Star team. But the numbers, compelling though they might be, tell only part of the story. In Bearak's words, Ernie Banks was "a walking billboard for baseball," and that comes closer to it.

Maybe Banks' lasting testimony will be his reaction to the role he played in the great civil rights years of the Sixties - which, in the eyes of his critics, was no role at all. He understood the criticism, but remained unapologetic. As he said at the time: "I care deeply about my people, but I'm not one to go about screaming over what I contribute. I'm not black or white. I'm just a human being trying to survive the only way I know how. I don't make enemies. If I'm not crazy about somebody, he'll never know it. I kill him with kindness."

Barry Bearak concluded his appreciation with these words: "And that's how he lived his life, a genuinely humane man who thought every day was beautiful. He tried to make people happy and wore his kindness like an amulet."

As I said before, what a way to be. What a way to live. And, come to think of it, what a way to be remembered.

 (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 Anne Frank

"I don't think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains." - Anne Frank (in The Diary of a Young Girl)

14 April 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways Your Gospel message is spread through various communications media.

NCR Profiles Brantly Millegan and His Online Ministry

"Brantly Millegan, 27, and his wife, Krista, were received into the Catholic Church in 2010, the year they graduated from Illinois' Wheaton College, which is often called the 'evangelical Harvard.'

"His conversion story, originally published at Young, Evangelical and Catholic has been widely read and linked.

"Currently, he is working on his Ph.D. in moral theology at The Catholic University of America while continuing to spread the Good News on multiple Internet platforms and raising three children."

 A recent National Catholic Register article profiled Brantly Millegan and his online ministry.

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

National Catholic Register: 'There's One Thing That We Will Never Be Able to Do Online: the Sacraments' (13 APR 15)

Reflection Starter from Kate Nowak

"Become a hunter of blessings, actively seeking them out in every experience and person you encounter." - Kate Nowak

13 April 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your gift of grace in all its forms.

Br. Edmund McCullough, O.P., on Christians and Fallen Fuman Nature

"'That car just cut me off! He's turning into the St. John's parking lot? Figures…'

"When we meet rude Christians and polite atheists, are Christianity's high claims debunked? Is the driver of that car guilty of Jesus' harshest charge: hypocrisy?

"There is a strong case for 'yes.' Our motorist was baptized. He sings 'They’ll Know We are Christians' at Mass on Sundays.  In CCD class, he tells fourth graders to share and be kind. But now he has sped in front of me to get a parking spot for 11:00 Mass.


"We reserve special opprobrium for people who don't live up to their own professed standards. We Americans detest the inauthentic.

"Should the driver be judged as falling short of the high bar of imitating Jesus Christ? To complicate the situation, let's say a car with a Humanist Society sticker lets you turn in to a long line of traffic. Is this atheist better than that Christian? Does the creed not make a bit of difference?

"Let’s consider our motorists, theistic and atheistic. We'll assume devotion on the part of both. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Brother Edmund McCullough, O.P., reflected on Christians, fallen human nature, (and opportunities to exercise the virtue of patience).

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

Dominicana: The Good, the Bad, and the Christian (9 APR 15)

Reflection Starter from Psalm 118

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his mercy endures forever." - Psalm 118:1

12 April 2015

Congratulations, Friars!!!

Congratulations to the Men's Ice Hockey team of my alma mater, Providence College, who, last night, defeated Boston University, 4-3, to win the 2015 (and its first) NCAA championship!!!

Second Sunday of Easter - Sunday of Divine Mercy

Today the Church celebrates Second Sunday of Easter - Sunday of Divine Mercy. The assigned readings are Acts 4:32-35, 1 John 5:1-6, and John 20:19-31. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 118 (Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 118 Give Thanks to the Lord for He is Good

The Gospel reading is as follows:

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with You." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord."

But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe."

Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Second Sunday of Easter (April 12, 2015)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Second Sunday of Easter (April 12, 2015)

Msgr. Charles Pope: God's Perfect Mercy – A Meditation for Divine Mercy Sunday (11 APR 15)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Oh Ye of Little Faith - Doubting Thomas

Word on Fire: Divine Mercy (Cycle B * Easter * Week 2)

Dr. Scott Hahn: The Day the Lord Made (April 12th 2015 - Divine Mercy Sunday)

CWR Blog: Faith, Love, and Obedience: Marks of the True Disciple (11 APR 15)

Spirituality of the Readings: Doubt? (2nd Sunday of Easter)

The Word Embodied: Community Transformations (2nd Sunday of Easter)

Historical Cultural Context: Dreams and Visions (2nd Sunday of Easter)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Cyril of Alexandria (2nd Sunday of Easter)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Divine Mercy Sunday (10 APR 15)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the grace of the virtue of humility.

Msgr. Pope on Sins of the Intellect

"When I was in the seminary, my Moral Theology Professor, Fr. Robert Zylla (R.I.P.), encouraged us to meditate on the sins of the intellect during the third sorrowful mystery (The Crowning with Thorns). In his years of teaching he had surely witnessed the intellectual pride that could beset theologians and seminary students who figured they knew a few things. And added to this human tendency to intellectual pride was the rather prideful sense of the 20th century that we had somehow 'come of age.' Dissent from church teaching was rampant and what came to be called the 'hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity was in full flower. Many dismissed things merely because they were 'old' and 'pre-Vatican II.' Our advanced technology, tall buildings, terrifying weapons of war, and astonishing techniques of medicine had mesmerized us; we confused mere knowledge with wisdom. Knowing how to get to the moon and back is impressive, but only wisdom and humility, with lots of grace and mercy, can get us to Heaven."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the role of humility and docility in our faith lives and on how easy it is for us, when we know a few things, to think/believe we know far more than we actually do.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: A Meditation on the Sins of the Intellect (8 APR 15)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"We can bring the Gospel to others only if it has made a deep impact in our lives."- Pope Francis

11 April 2015

Congratulations, Mom!!!

My mother, Jeanne Lopatosky of Southington, CT, was among the recent recipients of the Fourteenth Annual Saint Joseph Archdiocesan Medal of Appreciation. This award was presented to her in recognition of her dedicated service to her parish (Saint Thomas Parish) through the years.

Background information

Archdiocese of Hartford

Saint Thomas Parish

10 April 2015

Reflection Starter from James Russell Lowell

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

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many good bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated men and women, and dedicated lay people You have placed in Your Church.

Profiling Kevin Vann, Bishop of Orange

"Bishop Kevin Vann, dressed in black priest's clothing and sometimes called the Shepherd of Orange, walks through the Christ Cathedral campus discussing the meaning of Easter.

"I can't help but notice Vann is wearing cowboy boots. Could these be the bishop's famous Our Lady of Guadalupe boots?

"Vann grins. He spent the morning in San Juan Capistrano blessing the annual Portola horseback ride. The bishop who still sees himself as a simple parish priest lifts a pant leg.

"Blue, yellow and red stitching appears.

"Then Vann does something unexpected. He whips off a boot.

"It turns out there are layers of meaning in that leather."

Orange County Register columnist (and lapsed Catholic) recently profiled Kevin Vann, Bishop of Orange (CA).

To access his complete column, please visit:

Orange County Register: O.C. Catholic bishop Kevin Vann on tolerance and immigration: 'It's not about issues. It's about people' (5 APR 15)

Thank you, Deacon Greg Kandra, for the tip!

09 April 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for beauty of the change of seasons.

Shroud of Turin Touches Lives

"When the Shroud of Turin goes on display in Turin Cathedral beginning April 19, Pope Francis will be among the millions of visitors expected to see and venerate what is believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. Walking in the footsteps of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Pope Francis will venerate the shroud on June 21, days before the exhibit closes on June 24.

"Surely, countless people will be moved, including those renewing belief in God and those wanting to enter the Catholic Church after seeing the shroud. In the past, others have traveled that road, whether Catholic or not."

A recent National Catholic Register article reported on how the Shroud of Turin has affected the lives of three of the many people who have viewed it over the years.

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

National Catholic Register: Shroud of Turin Inspires Conversion and Deepens Faith (8 APR 15)

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

"Let us not forget the maxims of the saints, who teach us to advance a little further each day on the road to perfection. This thought should encourage us not to be surprised or to feel miserable whenever we have something to correct. Each day we must begin again with renewed courage." - Saint Francis de Sales

08 April 2015

AASA Announces First National Superintendent Certification Program Recipients

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, recently announced the first class of superintendents to earn National Superintendent Certification. The twenty seven superintendents who completed the 18-month certification process were honored at AASA’s 150th anniversary celebration during the organization’s National Conference on Education in San Diego, California.

Launched in 2013, the National Superintendent Certification process is spread over 18 months and is tailored for superintendents who have been in the job five years or less. The forums, seminars, and coaching are designed to provide opportunities to define and examine issues that surface in real life situations. These issues include:
  • providing world-class instructional leadership,
  • building and managing a district budget,
  • mastering effective communication and political skills,
  • using 21st century technology effectively in instruction and management,
  • managing superintendent-school board relations, and
  • designing a career path for oneself.
Superintendents honored for successfully completing AASA’s National Superintendent Certification program include the follow superintendents from New England school districts:
  • Bruce Beasley, MSAD #15, Gray, Maine, and
  • Meredith Nadeau, Cape Elizabeth School District, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
For more information about this initiative, please visit:

AASA: National Superintendent Certification Program

Background information:

AASA - The School Superintendents Association

Cape Elizabeth, ME, School District

Maine School Administrative District 15 (Gray and New Gloucester)

Town of Cape Elizabeth, ME

Town of Gray, ME

Town of New Gloucester, ME

Wikipedia: Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Wikipedia: Gray, Maine

Wikipedia: New Gloucester, Maine

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings You offer us throughout our celebration of Easter.

Br. Leo Camurati, O.P., on the Gifts of Christmas and Easter

"Christmas always stands out. Of course, it's the second highest feast in the Christian calendar, but, still more, it's the head of all feasts for any kid's calendar.

"As the product (and survivor) of the New York City Public School System, I saw this in a very particular way. I was blessed with a very good education, but also, unsurprisingly, a very secular one. Lessons mentioning religion and culture at P.S. 173 were pretty distinct from the daily grind. And so, I learned (and remembered) the Twelve Days of Christmas, which, I learned later, marks the days from Christmas itself through Epiphany, twelve days later, on January 6th.

"Granted, it's Easter, not Christmas, but the connection will soon become apparent.

"However well you remember this hymn (which, despite the beautiful parallels, probably wasn't a secret catechetical device), no doubt you will remember this line: Five. Golden. Rings.

"As catchy as the carol is, it's also very unusual. No 4th-grader I knew ever asked Santa for anything mentioned, whether for day one's partridge, or the eleven lords a leaping. And yet, if the video above is any indication, children everyone loves to belt out five golden rings! on day five.

"Now, tomorrow marks the fifth day of the Easter Octave, and our stockings remain empty. Sure, I snagged a Cadbury egg and a nice glass of wine at the Easter meal, but the goodies petered out after that. As any fellow New Yorker could say: what gives? This Easter, I'm not even close to matching the twelve things I was promised at Christmas. Nor is this anything new. By my (cursory) examination, it seems that all the apostles received at the Resurrection were Christ's old burial garments (head and body cloths), a free breakfast (Jn 21:12), and a charge to preach to the ends of the earth (until the end of the earth). And the giving went both ways: on one occasion, Our Lord even asks the disciples for a fish to eat, to prove He is not a ghost.

"If Easter is the height of the Church’s year (above even Christmas), why do Christmas carols come to us more easily than Easter hymns? Why do they seem to promise us more?"

In a recent commentary, Brother Leo Camurati, O.P., reflected on the parallels and the differences between the celebrations of the Octaves of Easter and Christmas.

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

Dominicana: Giftedness (8 APR 15)

Reflection Starter from Mother Teresa

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." - Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, MC (Mother Teresa)

07 April 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Joy You offer each of Your people.

Randy Hain on Ways to Be a True Catholic Rebel

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


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

In a recent commentary, writer Randy Hain, Senior Editor for The Integrated Catholic Life, offered five positive ways for Catholics to rebel against the world (including avoiding cafeteria Catholicism, putting pride aside, and being joyful).

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

Integrated Catholic Life: Five Ways to be a True Catholic Rebel (2 APR 15)

Reflection Starter from G. K. Chesterton

"Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. And faith means believing the incredible, or it is no virtue at all." - Gilbert K. Chesterton (in Heretics)

06 April 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You reach out with compassion to Your suffering people.

Saving Society’s “Disposable” Children

On June 20, 2011, USC filmmaking student Brian Ivie was eating breakfast and reading the Los Angeles Times when he came across an article titled “South Korean Pastor Tends an Unwanted Flock." It shared the story of Pastor Jong-rak Lee, who had built a drop box for unwanted babies into his home and church. Why?

Many babies born disabled or to single mothers in Seoul, South Korea, were simply abandoned on the streets to die because the culture often views these things as shameful. With a heart full of love for these children, Pastor Lee and his wife started taking them in, finding them homes, and even adopting 18 themselves. To date, over 600 babies have been saved because of their efforts.

Ivie felt that this story cried out to be told so he raised money, traveled to South Korea, and temporarily moved into Pastor Lee's home to shoot a documentary that came to be titled "The Drop Box." The condition of many of the children was shocking to Ivie at first. He observed, "These children were seen as the most disposable kids. They were missing limbs, a lot of times they were missing pieces of their brains, missing eyes."

These children weren't Pastor Lee's first exposure to disability. His own son, Eun-man, was born with a cyst that blocked blood flow to his brain leaving him permanently brain-damaged. This led to a crisis of faith for the man of God. Ivie observed, "I think Pastor Lee did have a crisis, where he said, 'Why wouldn't you give me a healthy baby?' But what ended up happening is he realized his son wasn't a mistake. God put him on earth in this way because the weak shame the strong. He uses people that are weak and helpless to change the world."

Eun-man is 29 years old and he's lived his entire life in bed with twisted limbs, unable to speak. Despite this, Pastor Lee and his staff call Eun-man's room "the happy room." Ivie said, "I think for them, there are two ways to look at this world: that it's pitiless and indifferent - or there's a purpose, and God's going to bring something beautiful out of the ashes. Also, even though [Eun-man] has severe brain damage, he has one of the best smiles. So for Pastor Lee, [calling it the happy room] is a rebellion against what society would call satisfaction or happiness."

That doesn't mean Pastor Lee doesn't feel the pain and suffering around him. His Christian faith remains the cornerstone of how he deals with it, though.

Ivie concludes, "[Pastor Lee] doesn't put on a plastic smile when he sees women come to him with crippling grief, when children die in front of him. It is not the way he deals with it, nor is it the way anyone in the Bible deals with it. That's why we have the Psalms. We need to return to this idea of lament. Christianity offers unrivaled resources for suffering. We have a God who got into the mess with us. So the reason why people are attracted to Pastor Lee is because he embraces the suffering of the people in the world. As a church, that's what we've always been called to do. Not just say, 'Don't have an abortion, don't abandon your child.' It's, 'Bring the children to me. I'll help you. I'll love you and I'll embrace your suffering with you.'"

For more information about where you can see the movie, visit the website www.TheDropBoxFilm.com

(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 Pope John Paul II

"Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song." - Pope Saint John Paul II

05 April 2015

"Ye Sons and Daughters"

As our Easter Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of the Christendom College Choir and Schola Gregoriana presenting "Ye Sons and Daughters":

The Resurrection of the Lord

Today the Church celebrates Easter, the Resurrection of the Lord. The assigned readings for the Mass of Easter Day are Acts 10:34, 37-43; Colossians 3:1-4; and John 20:1-9. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 118 (Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 118 Give Thanks to the Lord for He is Good

The Gospel reading is as follows:

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him."

So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.

When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Easter Sunday (April 5, 2015)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Easter Sunday (April 5, 2015)

Msgr. Charles Pope: Jesus Is Real to Me! A Homily for Easter Sunday (4 APR 15)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: The Meaning of Easter

Word on Fire: The Empty Grave (Cycle B * Easter)

Dr. Scott Hahn: New Morning (April 5th 2015 - Easter Sunday)

The Word Embodied: Rising (Easter Sunday - Resurrection of the Lord)

Historical Cultural Context: Faith (Easter Sunday - Resurrection of the Lord)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Guerric of Igny (Easter Sunday - Resurrection of the Lord)