30 September 2015

Happy Birthday, Myrna!!!

Happy Birthday, Myrna!!!

The celebration of a person's birthday celebrates that person and his/her life. Each such person is a gift of God to the world, and each brings his/her own special touch to this world that He made.

You are a truly blessed person, and I am grateful to have you in my life. The gift that you are has touched me (and a multitude of others) in a variety of good ways. Thank you for the many ways You open yourself to the blessings God sends Your way! Thank you for being a blessing to me and to each person whose life you touch!

May this day and the upcoming year be filled with an outpouring of the Lord's choicest blessings!

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You touch our hearts through Holy Scripture.

The Crib Rescuers

For the Adrians, it started with one crib. Then came another, and then one more. After that came a couple of kids' car seats. A child's mattress or two added to the mix. And then… Well, before you knew it, the Adrians - Margee, 64, and her husband, Denny, 65 - found themselves providing baby supplies to needy children all over the St. Paul-Minneapolis area. Full-time. What's more, they love it; they treasure it.

"When we started all this," says Denny, a retired Minnesota state trooper, "I wanted to help the poorest of the poor because it was a pro-life thing to me . . . to give a car seat and a crib to someone who needed it for their baby."

Margee describes their work as a ministry. "For me it comes down to this," she said. "Are you going to ignore them, or are you going to do the things God wants you to do?"

The Adrians told their story to Bob Zyskowski of The Catholic Spirit, not because they're seeking publicity and certainly not because they're looking for help. Denny says he knows now about all kind of baby cribs. "I learned in my lifetime," he said, "but I still have the Holy Spirit guiding me."

That first crib came their way in 2012, when a man wanted to donate it to the Highland LifeCare Center in St. Paul. Margee, working there as a volunteer, explained that safety requirements no longer made his gift acceptable. Frustrated, the man told her he had already tried giving the crib to three thrift stores, and that he'd probably burn it just to rid himself of what apparently had become an unwanted nuisance.

"Don’t do that," she said. "Put it in my van."

That got the ball rolling, and Denny went to work making the crib code-compliant - and ensuring that it went to a needy family. In Zyskowski's words, that was the first of 500 cribs that the Adrians have "rescued, refurbished, delivered and even set up" for families who needed them. Some 250 were delivered in the past year alone.

Every square inch of the Adrians' home is taken up with cribs, car seats, mattresses, extra crib rails, changing tables. They come from garage sales, thrift stores, even Craigslist. "I'm a very good shopper," says Margee, without a trace of pride in her voice. When a crib is on sale for $30, she'll talk the seller down to $20 - and when she explains how it will be used, she often gets it for nothing at all. Word-of-mouth took care of all referrals at first; now the Adrians are likely to hear from social workers, nurses, hospital staff members, the Missionaries of Charity, organizations like Birthright. There's no shortage, it seems, of families and mothers only too glad to accept a gift for their babies.

Margee likes the way their mission has spurred others' generosity. She puts two crib sheets and a blanket into every crib they deliver; they come from donated articles. A man writes checks in fairly large amounts; she uses them to buy more items.

"It's catching," she said. "People want to be part of it."

Denny Adrian struck a more reflective tone. "If you got the hugs and the tears of gratitude we get, you'd see why we do this," he said. "It's a mission that just fell into our hands."

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

Background information:

The Christophers

Reflection Starter from 2 Timothy

"All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

29 September 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your compassion.

Pope Answers Journalists' Questions on Return Flight

During his return flight to Rome following his apostolic trip to Cuba and the United States, Pope Francis answered a number of questions posed by the journalists who accompanied him on the papal flight.

The Holy Father first commented that he had been surprised in the United States by the warmth and friendliness of the people. He remarked that in Washington D.C. the welcome was very warm but more formal than in New York, where everything was more exuberant, while in Philadelphia it was more expressive. "Three different approaches but the same welcome."

He also explained the reason for his meeting with the United States episcopate in Washington D.C., where he felt the need to express to the prelates his compassion with regard to cases of sexual abuse. 

"A horrible thing," he said, "and many suffer because they did not know about it and are true men of the Church, true pastors. . . . And I spoke to them using words from the Bible, from the Book of Revelation: you are coming from a great tribulation, because what happened was a 'great tribulation.' . . . I would say almost a sacrilege. . . . We all know that abuse has occurred in many places: in families, in the neighborhood, in schools, at gymnasium. . . But when a priest commits abuse it is very serious, because the vocation of the priest is to make that boy or girl grow in God's love, towards emotional maturity. And instead this is crushed, it is damaged. And this must not be concealed: those who have covered up these events are equally guilty. It is dreadful. And the words I spoke were not intended to say, 'Don't worry, it's nothing.' Instead I wanted to say, 'It has been awful and I imagine you have wept a lot.' This was the meaning of what I said, and I spoke firmly."

He affirmed that he understood those victims of abuse and their families who felt unable to forgive the perpetrators. "Yes, I understand them. I pray for them and I do not judge them. Once, at one of these meetings, a woman said to me, 'When my mother discovered I had been abused, she blasphemed against God, lost her faith and died an atheist'. And I understand her. And God, Who is better than me, understands her. I am sure that He welcomed her. Because what was abused, destroyed, was her own flesh, the flesh of her daughter."

With regard to the peace process in Colombia, he expressed his joy at the news that an agreement between the FARC and the government will be signed in March. "When I heard this, I asked the Lord, 'Let us arrive in March, may we arrive with this good intention,' as some small details remain to be clarified, but the will is present on both sides. Even in the small group; all three are in agreement. We must await March for the definitive accord, which is the point of international justice. I have spoken twice with President Santos on the matter. And the Holy See is very open to assisting as far as possible."

Attention then turned to the immigration crisis in Europe. "It has become a state of crisis after a long process. This process began years ago, as the wars from which these people flee have been going on for years. Hunger: there has been famine for years. When I think of Africa, I think of it as the exploited continent. . . . And I believe that instead of exploiting a continent, or a country, or the land, investments should be made so that the people can avoid this crisis. It is true, there is a refugee crisis – as I said in Congress – on a scale we have not seen since the last World War. . . . But you know what happens to walls. All of them. All walls fall down, today, tomorrow, or a hundred years from now. Eventually they crumble. Walls are not a solution. . . . The problem remains, and with more hatred."

Another question addressed the issue of expectations for the upcoming Synod on the family and cases of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, and the recent Motu Proprio facilitating the process of declaring nullity of marriage, considered by some as opening the way to "Catholic divorce." Francis said that, "in the reform of methods and procedures, I closed the door to the administrative route, by which divorce could have entered more easily. And it may be said to those who consider this to be Catholic divorce that they are mistaken, since this last document closes the door to divorce that may otherwise enter – it would have been easier – via the administrative route. . . . The Synod Fathers asked for this: the streamlining of procedures for declaring nullity of marriage. And I stop there. This document, this Motu Proprio, reduces the length of procedures, but it is not a divorce as marriage is indissoluble when there is a sacrament, and the Church cannot change this. It is part of her doctrine. It is an indissoluble sacrament. The legislative procedure is to show that what appeared to be a sacrament was in fact not a sacrament, for instance, due to lack of freedom, or lack of maturity, or mental illness. . . . Then there is the problem of second marriages, of divorcees who make a new union. It seems to me simplistic to say that the solution for these people is that that they can share in Communion. This is not the only solution. What the Instrumentum laboris proposes is far more. The matter of new unions by divorced persons is not the only problem. In the Instrumentum laboris there are many. For instance, young people who do not get married, who do not want to marry. It is a pastoral problem for the Church. Another problem is the emotional maturity necessary for marriage. Another problem is faith. . . . The Synod intends to think very carefully about preparation for marriage, which is on e of the most difficult aspects. "

The Holy Father also replied to a question regarding freedom of conscience for public workers requested to sign documents or carry out procedures contrary to their religious convictions. "I cannot bring to mind all the cases of conscientious objection that may exist. But yes, I can say that conscientious objection is a human right. It is a right, and if a person is prevented from exercising their freedom of conscience, they are denied a right. Conscientious objection must exist in all legal frameworks as it is a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying 'this right that has merit, this one does not.'"

In relation to the bombing of Isis bases in Syria by the French air force, he commented, "I do not have a good knowledge of how the situation will unfold. I heard that Russia took one position and it wasn't clear yet about the United States. I truly don't know what to say because I haven't fully understood the situation. But, when I hear the word bombing, death, blood . . . I repeat what I said in Congress and at the UN, to avoid these things. But, I don't know, I can't judge the political situation because I don't know enough about it."

He went on to answer a question on the relations between the Holy See and China. "China is a great nation that offers the world a great culture and many good things. I said once, in the aircraft flying over China, that I would very much like to visit China. I love the Chinese people. . . . I hope that there will be opportunities to establish good relations. . . . We are in contact and we are talking. For me to have a friend in a great country like China, which has so much culture and has so much opportunity to do good, would be a great joy."

"Will we one day see women priests in the Catholic Church?" was another question. "No, that cannot be done," answered the Pope. "After discussion and long reflection St. John Paul II, said so clearly. Not because women don't have the capacity. In the Church women are more important than men, because the Church is a woman. . . . The Church is the bride of Jesus Christ. And the Madonna is more important than Popes, bishops, and priests. I must admit we are a bit late in developing a theology of women. We have to move ahead with that theology. Yes, that's true."

"In the United States you have become a star. Is it good for the Church for the Pope to be a star?" was the final question. "The title Popes use and must is 'Servant of the servants of God'," replied Francis. "It is different to being a star. . . . Yes, in the media this word is used, but the reality is quite different. How many stars are there whose light goes out, that fall. It is a fleeting thing. Instead, being the servant of the servants of God, this is good. This does not come to an end."

- from the Vatican Information Service        

Reflection Starter from William Jennings Bryan

"Some skeptics say, 'Oh, the miracles. I can't accept miracles.'

"Well consider this then. One may drop a brown seed in the black soil and up comes a green shoot. You let it grow and soon enough you'll pull up a root that is red. Now you cut that red root and you find it has a white heart.

"Can anyone tell me how this comes about - how brown cast into black turns up green with red underneath and white inside? Yet you eat your radish without even thinking of it as a miracle. . . . Everyday is a miracle - a miracle of life that sustains our hope!" - William Jennings Bryan

28 September 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful celestial sights You offer to us.

Fr. Longenecker on Things to Remember About the Pope's Visit

"Somebody has said there are an equal number of people who are delighted by what the pope has said and an equal number who are distressed by what he didn't say."

"Here are ten things to remember about a papal visit which should help put things in perspective."

In a recent commentary, Father Dwight Longenecker (parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Greenville, SC) offered a number of important things to remember about Pope Francis' visit to the United States - including in Congress, at the White House, and at the United Nations, the Pope is speaking as a Head of State (which means that his talks there are diplomatic speeches - designed to "meet his audience where they are, find connecting points, build bridges and speak to matters of shared concern in the realm of politics, economics and culture"); the Pope is a world religious leader, with the attention of the whole world as the single global religious leader, and the Pope is an Evangelist, and, like Saint Paul, he adapts the gospel message to his philosophical hearers.

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

Standing on my Head: Ten Things to Remember About the Pope's Visit (25 SEP 15)

Background information:

Dwight Longenecker - Catholic priest and author

Reflection Starter from Robert Louis Stevenson

"Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life." - Robert Louis Stevenson

27 September 2015

"All Hail the Power of Jesus Name"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of "All Hail the Power of Jesus Name":

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Numbers 11:25-29; James 5:1-6; and Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 19 (Psalm 19:8, 10, 12-14).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 19 The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart

The Gospel reading is as follows:

At that time, John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us."

Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 27, 2015)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 27, 2015)

Community in Mission: Three Principles for Prophets: A Homily for the 26th Sunday of the Year (26 SEP 15)

Word on Fire: Would that Everyone Could be a Prophet (Cycle B * Ordinary Time * Week 26)

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology: To Belong to Christ: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-sixth Sunday Ordinary Time (21 SEP 15)

CWR: The Dispatch: Demons, Sin, Death, and Damnation (26 SEP 15)

Spirituality of the Readings: The Inside Story (26th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Psychic Surgery? (26th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

The Word Embodied: Perils of Wealth (26th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Historical Cultural Context: Importance of Loyalty (26th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Symeon the New Theologian (26th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many good Popes You have placed in Your Church through the centuries and for all You have done for them and through them.

Msgr. Pope on the Office and Charism of the Pope

"[Recently we welcomed] Pope Francis to the United States. In so doing, we welcome more than just a popular public figure. We welcome someone whom the Lord prays for in a very special manner. Simon Peter and his successors enjoy a special charism to unite us, by the Lord's prayer and grace. Let's look at the scriptural foundation of this prayer and charism and see how essential the office of the pope is for us."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the office of Pope and its unifying effect on the Church.

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

Community in Mission: If No One is Pope, Everyone is Pope. A Reflection on the Unitive Dimension of the Pope’s Office and Charism (2 SEP 15)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Do we say 'Thank you' to God every day?" Pope Francis

26 September 2015

Aretha Franklin: "I Say A Little Prayer"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Aretha Franklin presenting "I Say A Little Prayer":

Media Reports on Pope Francis Trip

Media reports:

Washington Post: In New York, Pope Francis issues call to spread God's 'bright light' (26 SEP 15)

Portland Press Herald: Pope Francis brings 'a cool, refreshing peace' to crowd of 80,000 in New York (26 SEP 15)

C-Fam: Pope Speaks Out for Unborn, Natural Family in UN Address (25 SEP 15)

Portland Press Herald: On a pilgrimage to see the pope, Maine Catholics find hope and meaning in their faith (26 SEP 15)

NBC Nightly News: Pope Francis in America: Pope Prays at Ground Zero, Meets 9/11 Families (25 SEP 15)

NBC News: 'God Is in the City': Pope Francis Leads Mass at Madison Square Garden (25 SEP 15)

NBC News: Pope Francis Visit: Pope Issues Call for Tolerance in White House Visit (23 SEP 15)

The Washington Post: Opinions: The paradox of Pope Francis’s power (24 SEP 15)

The Washington Post: Opinions: If you have a problem with Pope Francis's message, you have a problem with Christ (24 SEP 15)

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Today (Saturday, 26 September) the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is again coordinating a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcement agencies (including many agencies throughout New England) to remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from medicine cabinets. The free event will be held from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. These sites include (as of this writing) 66 in Connecticut, 167 in Maine, 173 in Massachusetts, 87 in New Hampshire, 35 in Rhode Island, and 66 in Vermont.


This Tenth National Take-Back Day is designed to provide an opportunity for the public to surrender expired, unwanted, or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications for destruction. These drugs are a potential source of supply for illegal use and are considered an unacceptable risk to public health and safety.

This one-day effort is designed to bring national focus to the issue of increasing pharmaceutical controlled substance abuse. The program is anonymous, and it focuses on prescription and over the counter solid dosage medications (i.e., tablets and capsules). Intravenous solutions, injectables, and needles will not be accepted. In addition, illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine are not a part of this initiative.

To view a list of collection sites in a specific state, please click on the following:

US DEA: National Take Back Initiative Collection Site Search

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You are touching hearts through the visits of Pope Francis to the United States and to other nations.

Pope Francis Addresses United Nations General Assembly

". . . Once again, following a tradition by which I feel honored, the Secretary General of the United Nations has invited the Pope to address this distinguished assembly of nations. In my own name, and that of the entire Catholic community, I wish to express to you, Mr Ban Ki-moon, my heartfelt gratitude. I greet the Heads of State and Heads of Government present, as well as the ambassadors, diplomats and political and technical officials accompanying them, the personnel of the United Nations engaged in this 70th Session of the General Assembly, the personnel of the various programs and agencies of the United Nations family, and all those who, in one way or another, take part in this meeting. Through you, I also greet the citizens of all the nations represented in this hall. I thank you, each and all, for your efforts in the service of mankind.

"This is the fifth time that a Pope has visited the United Nations. I follow in the footsteps of my predecessors Paul VI, in1965, John Paul II, in 1979 and 1995, and my most recent predecessor, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in 2008. All of them expressed their great esteem for the Organization, which they considered the appropriate juridical and political response to this present moment of history, marked by our technical ability to overcome distances and frontiers and, apparently, to overcome all natural limits to the exercise of power. An essential response, inasmuch as technological power, in the hands of nationalistic or falsely universalist ideologies, is capable of perpetrating tremendous atrocities. I can only reiterate the appreciation expressed by my predecessors, in reaffirming the importance which the Catholic Church attaches to this Institution and the hope which she places in its activities.

"The United Nations is presently celebrating its seventieth anniversary. The history of this organized community of states is one of important common achievements over a period of unusually fast- paced changes. Without claiming to be exhaustive, we can mention the codification and development of international law, the establishment of international norms regarding human rights, advances in humanitarian law, the resolution of numerous conflicts, operations of peace-keeping and reconciliation, and any number of other accomplishments in every area of international activity and endeavour. All these achievements are lights which help to dispel the darkness of the disorder caused by unrestrained ambitions and collective forms of selfishness. Certainly, many grave problems remain to be resolved, yet it is clear that, without all those interventions on the international level, mankind would not have been able to survive the unchecked use of its own possibilities. Every one of these political, juridical and technical advances is a path towards attaining the ideal of human fraternity and a means for its greater realization."

During his trip to the United Nations, Pope Francis addressed the United Nations General Assembly, including encouragement for the protection of the environment; encouragement allowing access for all (during development initiatives) to "essential material and spiritual goods: housing, dignified and properly remunerated employment, adequate food and drinking water; religious freedom and, more generally, spiritual freedom and education;" and expression of concerns related to armed conflict and related to the trafficking of narcotics.

To access a media report on the Pope's U.N. visit (including the text of his address), please visit:

Whispers in the Loggia: The Pope Before the World - Laudato Looming, Francis At the UN (25 SEP 15)

Reflection Starter

"Should you ever take a New York helicopter cruise and pass over the majestic Statue of Liberty, pay special attention.

"Lady Liberty's steel-frame-supported copper body stands 305 feet above sea level. As your helicopter circles closer, look down at the top of Liberty's head and see how every strand of hair has been painstakingly formed in careful and minute detail, just as is every area of the statue's gown and body. That delicate metallic coiffure on the top of her head undoubtedly required many hours of extra weeks at Auguste Bartholdi's shop in Paris, weeks that the great sculptor could have saved, because so far as he knew, no one would ever see the top of Lady Liberty's head!

"The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886 by President Grover Cleveland. There were no airplanes in 1886! The Wright brothers wouldn't fly until seventeen years later. Bartholdi was well aware that only a few brave sea gulls would probably ever look down on the statue from above, and certainly no one would ever know if the strands of hair had not been meticulously shaped and polished. And yet, the master craftsman took no shortcuts. Every strand of hair, every curl, is in place." - Anonymous

25 September 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of changing leaf colors in autumn.

Pope Francis Addresses U.S. Congress

"I am most grateful for your invitation to address this joint session of Congress in 'the land of the free and the home of the brave.' I would like to think that the reason for this is that I, too, am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.

"Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.

"Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: You are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face."

The National Catholic Register offered the official text of Pope Francis' address to the United States Congress on 24 September.

To access the complete National Catholic Register report please visit:

National Catholic Register: Pope Francis Congressional Address: A Dialogue with Four Faces of America (24 SEP 15)

Media reports:

National Catholic Register: Marriage and Family Are Being Threatened, Pope Tells US Congress (24 SEP 15)

Whispers in the Loggia: "Mister Speaker, The Pope" - An Epic First, Francis Meets Congress (24 SEP 15)

Catholic World Report: Pope promotes human dignity and the common good in address to Congress (24 SEP 15)

Politico: Pope to Congress: 'Do unto others ...' (24 SEP 15)

NBC Nightly News: In Address to Congress, Pope Francis Urges 'Culture of Care' (24 SEP 15)

The Washington Post: Opinions: Pope Francis’ profound personalism (24 SEP 15)

The Washington Post: Opinions: Pope Francis’s optimistic and embracing message to Congress (24 SEP 15)

The Washington Post: Opinions: The pope’s Capitol Hill miracle (24 SEP 15)

Reflection Starter from Pope St. John Paul II

"The time has come. … It is essential for every baptized person to pass from a faith of custom to a mature faith, that is expressed in clear, convinced and courageous personal choices." - Pope Saint John Paul II

24 September 2015

Christian Science Monitor: Yogi Berra Profile

"Few would dispute the fact Yogi Berra, who passed away Tuesday in New Jersey, was beloved. He was such a cartoon character that Yankee fans often called the former catcher America's Teddy Bear. And over the years, he probably spouted more aphorisms than Will Rogers.

"But as his playing days have receded further into the memory, the skills that first made him famous – the skill of putting bat to baseball and guiding pitchers through nine long innings – has gradually been eclipsed by the lovable persona and the legendary mouth.

"Remembering Yogi Berra, however, requires an understanding of both men. Of the man who finished his education in 8th grade to help feed a family whose combined income was barely above the poverty level. And of the man who was perhaps the most dangerous lifetime .285 hitter in baseball history – who played in 75 World Series games and had a base hit in an astounding 71 of them."

A recent Christian Science Monitor article offered a good profile of Yogi Berra.

To access the complete Christian Science Monitor report, please visit:

Christian Science Monitor: Yogi Berra: much more than baseball's accidental comedian (23 SEP 15)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings You are bestowing on the United States and her people during this week's visit by Pope Francis.

Pop Francis Opens U.S. Trip with Visit with President Obama

"Pope Francis introduced himself to President Barack Obama and all people of the United States as a 'son of an immigrant family' arriving in the United States for the first time to learn from others and to share from his own experience.

"In a country the pope said he knows was 'largely built' by immigrant families, he made his debut speech to Americans Sept. 23 on the South Lawn of the White House with some 20,000 people in attendance.

Obama told him, 'Our backyard is not typically this crowded,' but the attendance on a bright, sunny morning was a reflection of the devotion of U.S. Catholics 'and the way your message of love and hope has inspired so many people, across our nation and around the world.'"

Pope Francis officially opened his visit to the United States with a visit to the White House.

To access a Catholic News Service report on this visit, please visit:

Catholic News Service: Pope, 'son of immigrant family,' tells Obama he's ready to learn in U.S. (23 SEP 14)

To access a transcript of the Holy Father's public remarks at the White House, please visit:

Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland: Welcoming Remarks of Pope Francis at the White House

Reflection Starter from John 14

"I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6

23 September 2015

On Media Goofs While Covering the Papal Visit

". . . Father [James] Martin is well known for his popular books (such as "Between Heaven and Mirth" and "Jesus: A Pilgrimage"), for his analysis work at America magazine and as the official chaplain of the old 'Colbert Report' on Comedy Central. He is also, as you would expect, a skilled observer of religion-beat work in the American press.

"This weekend, he got an early jump on the papal-coverage tsunami by starting a lively hashtag noting some early mistakes made by print and broadcast journalists in their coverage of the Pope Francis stop in Cuba - #PapalGoofs. He was very gentle in this series of corrections, providing no URLs pointing directly to examples of these media mistakes. Surely some of these helpful tips were offered as preemptive strikes?"

In a recent commentary, writer Terry Mattingly reflected on constructive criticism being offered in response to goofs that journalists may or may not make while covering the Pope (as opposed to goofs that observers believe have been made by the Pope).

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

GetReligion: Pope Francis press watch: @JamesMartinSJ kicks off the week with #PapalGoofs (21 SEP 15)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your forgiveness and mercy.

Christian Browne on the Central Gospel Message

"I recently read an article in New York Magazine lauding Pope Francis in anticipation of his visit to the United States. Amongst the many typical inanities and ignorant statements one finds in such pieces was the following quote: 'The pope's religious message - that the Gospel should be joyful, merciful, and embrace everyone, especially the poor - is plain and direct.'

"Here is embodied the notion that 'the Gospel' is a sort of subjective concept such that the pope may tell us what 'the Gospel should be,' as opposed to what the Gospel, in fact, is. Sadly, this abusive conception of 'the Gospel' is not limited to the unschooled liberal media, which is in love with this pope, but is rampant within the Church, perhaps most especially within significant segments of the episcopacy. There is no doubt that this way of looking at Christian teaching - essentially, claiming Christ's message is what modern man wishes it to be - will form the bedrock of the arguments of those seeking to challenge Church doctrine at the Synod in October.

"This being the case, I would like to offer an objective way of looking at the Gospel by actually looking at the Gospel. There are, I believe, four principal themes in the teachings of Christ that I call the "Four Marks of the Gospel."

In a recent commentary, Christian Browne reflected on the Gospel message, including the themes of faith, forgiveness and mercy, humility, and judgement.

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

Crisis Magazine: Recalling the Central Gospel Message (21 SEP 15)

Reflection Starter from Padre Pio

"We must never separate the cross from Jesus; otherwise, it would become a weight which in our weakness, we could not carry." - Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

22 September 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for being an active participant in our lives, whether we are aware of it or not.

On Pope Francis and Faces of Anti-Catholicism in Cuba and the U.S.

"Pope Francis' visit to Cuba and the United States puts the papacy in the middle of two historically anti-Catholic cultures. The communist regime in Cuba followed the atheist ideology of global communism and Catholics were persecuted. Despite the size and significance of the Catholic Church in America it should also be remembered that for most of her history America has also been hostile to the Catholic faith."

To access a National Catholic Register article, by Fr. Dwight Longenecker, on the types of anti-Catholicism being faced in both nations, please visit:

National Catholic Register: Pope Francis and Two Faces of Anti-Catholicism (20 SEP 15)

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

"It is not tranquility that bring our hearts close to God, but the fidelity of our love for Him; it is not the felt experience of His sweetness, but the consent of our wills to follow His holy will. In fact, it is more desirable that this holy will be fulfilled in us than that we follow our will in God. - Saint Francis de Sales

21 September 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many opportunities You give us to encounter You each day.

Kathryn Jean Lopez on Encountering Jesus in Our Lives

"Has anyone mistaken you for Jesus lately?

"It’s a question Matthew Kelly asks early in his new book Rediscover Jesus.

"Jesus, after all, is our life. Do you say you are Christian? This is what it means.

"And, dear heavens, it's what the world needs."

In a recent commentary, Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor-at-large of National Review Online and nationally syndicated columnist, reflected on the radical Gospel invitation to live its the Good News.

To access her complete post, please visit:

Catholic Pulse: The Greatest Rediscovery (18 SEP 15)

Reflection Starter from Psalm 19

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the works of his hands." - Psalm 19:2

20 September 2015

"Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of the Gaither Vocal Band and Ernie Haase & Signature Sound presenting Henry Francis Lyte's "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven":

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; James 3:16-4:3; and Mark 9:30-37. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 54 (Psalm 54:3-6, 8).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm Ps 54:3-4, 5, 6 and 8

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise." But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.

Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all." Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 20, 2015)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 20, 2015)

Community in Mission: Asking a Crucial Question: A Homily for the 25th Sunday of the Year (19 SEP 15)

Word on Fire: The Undoing of Original Sin (Cycle B * Ordinary Time * Week 25)

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology: Servant of All: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (14 SEP 15)

CWR: The Dispatch: By embracing Christ's Passion, we overcome our passions (19 SEP 15)

Spirituality of the Readings: Childish Behavior (25th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Of Pablum and Passion (25th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

The Word Embodied: Perils of Power (25th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Historical Cultural Context: Children (25th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Theophylact (25th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (19 SEP 15)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of cool, clean water.

Msgr. Pope on a Recent Pastoral Letter from Cardinal Wuerl

"Recently Cardinal Donald Wuerl wrote a pastoral letter to the Archdiocese of Washington setting forth the need to be clear on our Catholic identity. It is entitled Catholic Identity in an Age of Challenge.

"His essential message is that in an age of conflict and challenge we must be clearly and comfortably Catholic. In the introduction, he states that he does not refer to a merely superficial identity, but rather to an identity that is essential, enduring, and true. We must talk about the identity we receive in Baptism. It cannot be taken away from us.

"For indeed there are many who would pressure us to be less than fully Catholic, or bid us to seek our identity in other sources. We cannot do so if we are to remain faithful to the call we have received."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on Cardinal Wuerl's pastoral letter and on our call to be wholly, entirely, and integrally Catholic, proclaiming the faith the Lord has given us in its entirety, charitably, but without compromise.

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

Community in Mission: The Challenges Are Many but the Charge Remains the Same: Be Authentically Catholic - A Reflection on a Pastoral Letter of Donald Cardinal Wuerl (15 SEP 15)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"God loves the lowly. When we live humbly, he takes our small efforts and creates great things." Pope Francis

19 September 2015

The Sons Of The Pioneers: "Cool Water"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of the Sons Of The Pioneers presenting "Cool Water":

On Seeing Art in Trash

". . . There are some people who can see beauty in anything. I want to be one of those people, though I admit I struggle to remain grounded in such a mindset. Life is filled with trash. No doubt trash fills our landscape everyday through our constant consumption of stuff. But physical trash is the least of our problems. Worse, we are barraged by idea-trash and this is even more tragic because our imaginations are stolen. Through our televisions, through our smart devices, through our work place banter, through our own inward self-talk... we are surrounded by and filled with junk--and encouraged to keep throwing out more and more of it.

"And then come along those rare dreamers... who see a work of art in all this trash. We call these dreamers "artists" because they remind us that our greatest purpose in life is to have our eyes opened--to see the art hidden in everything, even seeming disappointment."

In a recent commentary, Monty Hobson, a songwriter and worship leader, reflected on the importance of recognizing art in the trash around us and on how we are treasured by God - regardless of our trash.

To access his complete post, please visit:

Creatively Spiritually Funny: One Person's Trash...

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of our families.

Pope Francis on the Importance of Families

In the catechesis of Wednesday's general audience, Pope Francis concluded his series of reflections on marriage and the family, on the eve of events directly linked to this theme: the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and the Synod of Bishops in Rome. "Both have a global reach, which corresponds both to the universal dimension of Christianity and to the universal scope of the fundamental and indispensable human community of the family."

"Our civilization currently appears marked by the long term effects of a society managed by economic technocracy. The subordination of ethics to the logic of profit is sustained by substantial means and enjoys enormous media support. . . . A new alliance of man and woman would seem not only necessary, but also strategic for the emancipation of peoples from their colonization by money," he continued. "This alliance must once again guide politics, the economy and civil coexistence. It decides the habitability of the earth, the transmission of the sentiment of life, and the bonds of memory and hope."

"Of this alliance, the matrimonial-familiar community of man and woman is its generative grammar, its 'golden bond', so to speak. Faith draws upon knowledge of God's creation: He entrusted to the family not only the care of intimacy for its own sake, but also the project of making the entire world domestic. It is precisely the family that is at the origin and the base of this worldwide culture that saves us: it saves us from many attacks, many forms of destruction, and many forms of colonization, for instance by money and ideologies, that so threaten the world. The family is a base from which we defend ourselves."

"The Biblical Word of creation has provided us with the fundamental inspiration for our brief reflections on the family during the Wednesday audiences. . . . God's creation is not simply a philosophical premise: it is the universal horizon of life and faith. The divine plan consists only of creation and its salvation. It is for the salvation of the creature - of every creature - that God became man. . . . The world He created is entrusted to man and to woman: what happens between casts the die for all that follows. Their refusal of God's blessing leads them fatally to the delirium of omnipotence that ruins all things. It is what we call 'original sin'. And we all come into the world with the legacy of this disease. "

However, "we are not cursed or abandoned to our own devices. 'I will make you and the woman enemies to each other. Your descendants and her descendants will be enemies', God says to the deceitful and enchanting snake. With these words God bestows upon the woman a protective barrier against evil, to which she may resort, if she wishes, for every generation. This means that the women bears a secret and special blessing, for the defense of her creature against the Evil One. . . . Many stereotypes exists, often offensive, regarding the woman as temptress who inspires evil. Instead, there is space for a theology of the woman worthy of this blessing from God, for her and for her generation."

"God's merciful protection of man and woman never ends. . . . The symbolic language of the Bible tells us that before casting them out of the Garden of Eden, God gave them animal skin tunics and dressed them. This gesture of tenderness means that, even in the painful consequences of our sin, God does not want us to remain naked and abandoned to our destiny as sinners. This divine tenderness, this care for us, we see incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God 'born of woman'. . . . It is God's caress to our wounds, our mistakes, our sins. But God loves us as we are and wants to lead us ahead with this plan, and the woman is the strongest at taking it forward."

"The promise God makes to man and woman, at the origin of history, includes all human beings, up to the end of history. If we have enough faith, the families of the peoples of the world will recognize themselves in this blessing. In any case, may whoever allows him- or herself to be moved by this vision, regardless of the people, nation, or religion to which he or she belongs, walk with us and become our brother or sister, without proselytism. Let us walk together under this blessing and with God's aim to make us all brothers and sisters in life in a world that goes ahead and that is born precisely of the family, the union of man and woman."

- from the Vatican Information Service

Reflection Starter from John Bunyan

"In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without heart." - John Bunyan

18 September 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty You have instilled in each flower and for the many ways in which these flowers reflect Your glory.

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, on Facing Our Overstimulated Grandiosity

"There are now more than seven billion people on this earth and each one of us feels that he or she is the center of the universe. That accounts for most of the problems we have in the world, in our neighborhoods, and in our families.

"And no one's to blame for this, save God perhaps, for making us this way. Each of us is created in the image and likeness of God, meaning that, each of us, holds within a divine spark, a piece of infinity, and an ingrained knowledge of that unique dignity. We are infinite souls inside a finite world. To paraphrase St. Augustine, we are made for the divine and our hearts aren't just dissatisfied until they rest there again, they're also grandiose along the journey, enflamed by their own uniqueness and dignity. God has made everything beautiful in its own season, Ecclesiastes tells us, but God has put timelessness into the human heart so that we are out of sync with the seasons from beginning to end. We're overcharged for this planet, and we know it."

In a recent commentary, Father Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I., president of the Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, TX, reflected on how, although people have always faced these issues, they currently have less tools (religious and societal) to handle restlessness, grandiosity, and frustration.

To access Father Ron's complete post, please visit:

The Boston Pilot: Echoes. Our Overstimulated Grandiosity -- and our Impoverished Symbols (15 SEP 15)

Reflection Starter from Fr. Brian Cavanaugh, T.O.R.

"In life, the higher you want to go, the deeper you must dig your foundation." - Father Brian Cavanaugh, T.O.R.

17 September 2015

Thank You, Lord

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

A Vision of Heaven at iHope

You might expect a school for children with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) to be a somber place, but I found a different reality when I visited the International Academy of Hope (iHope) a few weeks ago. In fact, this converted nightclub offers a vision of heaven in New York City's Central Harlem.

I've written previously about iHope's founder, Patrick Donohue, who we recognized with a Christopher Award earlier this year. His own daughter, Sarah Jane, is a student there because in 2005, at five days old, her baby nurse shook her so violently that 60 percent of the rear cortex of her brain was destroyed.

The challenges faced by Sarah Jane and the other children at iHope are not easy ones. Many have a seizure disorder; others are confined to a wheelchair and unable to talk; and some need to be fed through a special feeding tube. That's why it was a surprise for me to discover an environment of palpable joy there, a joy that originates with the incomparable iHope staff.

For instance, there's occupational therapist Laura Romanelli. Originally from Nebraska, she joined the iHope team two years ago, and embraces the school's holistic approach to its students. They're not simply defined by their disability, but treated as human beings with individual needs and potential. Romanelli adds that she doesn't consider her job hard or depressing, though that's how many people see it when she tells them what she does. "The children make my day brighter," she says. "I get to improve their quality of life. It's generally incremental. Maybe they can't reach something or walk a step, and then, after a lot of therapy, they CAN do those things. It's uplifting, and this job is a blessing."

While a standard day at iHope involves five hours of therapy (occupational, physical, speech and vision) along with academics and conductive education, July 30 and 31 served as a break from the norm with the first ever iHope Summer Olympics. With the Olympic theme song playing in the background, cheering family members and staff lined the hallway as therapists wheeled each child past them in an enthusiastic opening ceremony.

Several parents were present, including Linda, who was there to support her son Marco. She told me that in his previous school, he received a few minutes of therapy every day, but spent much of his time in his wheelchair simply watching videos put on by the staff. iHope was a complete turnaround because everyone's skills and "positive spirit" are developing Marco's potential.

It's not an overstatement to say that the staff genuinely loves all the kids. I could see it in the easygoing way they all interacted with each other; in the visible happiness of family members, who feel secure in the knowledge that their children are receiving great care instead of being left behind by society; and in the smiles of the students. They know instinctively who's being real. As speech therapist Zimmad Imam told me, "If you give up on the kids, they can sense it. You have to come in here every day and be their hope."

So how is iHope a vision of heaven? Well, heaven is the place where the lowly will be exalted, where all our brokenness will be healed, and where love will be all-encompassing. The school is providing a this-worldly taste of that divine objective, a taste that reminds us all that the plans God has for us are "plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope."

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:

International Academy of Hope (iHope)

The Christophers

Reflection Starter from St. Augustine

"God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering." - Saint Augustine of Hippo

15 September 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for those people who pray for us and the ways in which You deem to answer their prayers.

Pope to Governments: Work to Stop the Persecution

"'Do something to put a stop to the violence and oppression,' Pope Francis asked the international community after calling attention once again to the fate of persecuted Christians, especially in the Middle East.

"After reciting the Angelus Aug. 30, Pope Francis told thousands of people in St. Peter's Square that, the previous evening in Lebanon, martyred Syriac Bishop Flavien-Michel Malke was beatified.

"'In the context of a tremendous persecution of Christians, he was an untiring defender of the rights of his people, exhorting all of them to remain firm in their faith,' the pope said.

"'Today as well, in the Middle East and other parts of the world, Christians are persecuted,' the pope said. 'May the beatification of this bishop and martyr fill them with consolation, courage and hope.'

"Departing from his prepared text, Pope Francis told people in the square, 'There are more martyrs (today) than there were in the first centuries' of Christianity. . . ."

To access a Catholic News Service report on Pope Francis' exhortation, please visit:

CatholicPhilly: Pope begs governments to act to stop anti-Christian persecution (31 AUG 15)

Reflection Starter from C. S. Lewis

"Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching." - C. S. Lewis

14 September 2015

"Lift High the Cross"

As we continue our celebration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, I offer this version of the Norwich Cathedral Choir (Norwich, Norfolk, England) presenting "Lift High the Cross":

Bob Rosen on the Leadership Lessons Offered and Lived by Pope Francis

"Isn't it ironic that the leader of an antique, conservative religion would become an icon for progressive change in the digital age? It's not often a leader catapults to the Forbes Top 10 list, especially a religious leader. We expect to see these lists filled with titans of business and politics, maybe a handful of entrepreneurs and, occasionally, a rockstar here or there.

"The phenomenon we have witnessed over the past two years is none other than the leader of the Catholic Church, the Bishop of Rome, and Sovereign of the Vatican City, Pope Francis. He's holding steady to his No. 4 position on Forbes' list of the World's Most Powerful People -- right between China's Xi Jinping and Germany's Angela Merkel.

"Pope Francis rose to his leadership position essentially unknown and untried. He was not particularly notable as a reformer in his home country of Argentina and gave little indication that he'd be any kind of change agent. He has surprised many, though, by quickly and easily moving on to the world stage and becoming not only a media darling but a social media savant as well. Francis literally touches the minds and hearts of millions of followers, every day, through direct contact on social media.

"So how does a relatively inexperienced leader in an inertia-filled organization grab the reins of change while cautiously protecting and reinvigorating the Church? By leading from his heart, and from the knowledge of who he is, Pope Francis has been able to transform himself as he adapts to new environments and to the ever-changing demands of his job. The first big, strategic decision in that job was his selection of the name Francis, in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the environment and the poor."

In a recent commentary, Bob Rosen, founder & CEO of Healthy Companies International, reflected on how Pope Francis is "making haste slowly, changing nothing while changing everything about the Church," and, in doing so, is offering leadership lessons for those who are paying attention.

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

Huffington Post: Business: The Blog: @Pontifex Is Rocking the Charts at Forbes (25 AUG 15)

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The assigned readings are Numbers 21:4-9, Phillipians 2:6-11, and John 3:13-17. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 78 (Psalm 78:1-2, 34-38).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 78

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Exultation of the Holy Cross (September 14, 2014)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Terrorism and the Victory of the Cross

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for September 14, 2014: Exaltation of the Holy Cross (13 SEP 14)

The Sacred Page: "For God So Loved the World": Readings for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (10 SEP 14)

Dr. Scott Hahn: The Promised Land (September 14th 2014 - Exaltation of the Holy Cross)

Spirituality of the Readings: Look at the Cross (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)

The Word Embodied: Being Saved by God’s Kind Favor (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)

Historical Cultural Context: The World’s Darkness (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Bede (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for taking upon Yourself, through Your sufferings and death on the cross, our sins.

Br. Albert Thomas Dempsey, O.P., on the History of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

"When the people of Israel complained against God during their wandering in the desert, God sent saraph serpents among them. It was not until Moses, at the Lord's command, raised a serpent on a pole that all who looked upon it were cured (Num 21:6-9). The Church Fathers saw in this a prefigurement of Christ's mounting on the cross, a promise that future generations would be saved by considering His passion and contemplating its instrument, the cross. From this belief arose both the practice of concentrating on a crucifix when praying and today's feast, the Exaltation of the Cross, which honors the cross’ instrumental role in the salvation of the world. Yet, if Christ's crucifixion occurred during the Feast of Passover in the springtime, why does the Church celebrate His cross on September 14, roughly five months later? To discover the answer, one must look to the earliest centuries of Christianity.

"The hostility of Jewish leaders and the persecution of Roman authorities made it difficult for Christians to frequent places associated with the life of Christ. Moreover, the province of Judea was thrust into turmoil by three revolts against Roman authority in the century following Christ's ascension (Jerusalem was razed in 70 AD and rebuilt as a Roman city in 135 AD). Nevertheless, the Christians of the Holy Land strove to preserve orally their knowledge of the locations associated with Christ’s life. Their efforts would bear fruit two centuries later.

"Born of humble parentage in the middle of the third century in Asia Minor, St. Helena married an ambitious Roman soldier named Constantius and bore him a son, Constantine, in 272 AD. Though Constantius, who eventually became emperor, cast aside his wife for a more advantageous match, his son nevertheless remained faithful to her. When Constantine himself became the first Christian emperor of Rome, he honored his mother with the title of 'Augusta' and converted her to Christianity. The saint took to her new religion zealously, impressing her contemporaries with her abundant virtue. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Brother Albert Thomas Dempsey, O.P., reflected on the history of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

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

Dominicana: Splintered History (14 SEP 15)

Reflection Starter from St. Andrew

 "Therefore, the cross is something wonderfully great and honorable.  It is great because through the cross the many noble acts of Christ found their consummation. The cross is both the sign of God's sufferings and the trophy of his victory...the cross is called Christ's glory; it is saluted as his triumph."  -  Saint Andrew

13 September 2015

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir: "Take Up Your Cross"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir presenting "Take Up Your Cross":

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Isaiah 50:5-9, James 2:14-18, and Mark 8:27-35. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 116 (Psalm 116:1-6, 8-9).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 116 I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?"

They said in reply, "John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets."

And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?"

Peter said to him in reply, "You are the Christ."

Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 13, 2015)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 13, 2015)

Community in Mission: Not Your Average Messiah - A Homily for the 24th Sunday of the Year (12 SEP 15)

Word on Fire: Faith Perfected by Love (Cycle B * Ordinary Time * Week 24)

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology: Following the Messiah: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (7 SEP 15)

CWR: The Dispatch: A Spiritual Triptych: Jesus the Christ, Son of Man, Suffering Servant (12 SEP 15)

Spirituality of the Readings: Suffer? Be Killed? (24th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Faith and Works (24th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

The Word Embodied: Faith Doing Justice (24th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Historical Cultural Context: Attaching to Jesus (24th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Caesarius of Arles (24th Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (12 SEP 15)