31 May 2016

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today the Church celebrates the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The assigned readings are Zephaniah 3:14-18 and Luke 1:39-56. The Responsorial Psalm is from Isaiah 12 (Isaiah 12:2-3, 4-6).

Today’s Gospel reading is as follows:

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."

And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever."

Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

For a reflection on this celebration, please visit:

American Catholic: Saint of the Day: Visitation

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings You have bestowed on us and on our families over this past holiday weekend.

Cloistered Nuns Visit Inmates in Chilean Proson

"A group of 61 cloistered nuns from six monasteries in Santiago, Chile made an historic visit to the local Women's Prison Center to spend time with the inmates and attend Mass with them.

"'I don't know if in the 400 years of the history of Santiago, there has been another occasion when contemplative sisters from several monasteries joined together to celebrate the Eucharist with a group of women who are incarcerated, but who are sisters in the faith,' said Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, who celebrated the Mass.

"The nuns made the trip to the facility on May 23 to mark the Jubilee of Consecrated Life as part of Pope Francis' Year of Mercy."

To access a Catholic News Agency report on this initiative, lease visit:

Catholic News Agency: These 61 cloistered nuns visited a prison (18 MAY 16)

Reflection Starter from the Gospel According to Saint Luke

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant." - Luke 1:46-47

30 May 2016

Bar Harbor, ME, Makes 2016 Smithsonian Magazine List of Best Small Towns to Visit

Smithsonian Magazine recently released its annual list of the twenty best small towns (population under 20,000) to visit in the United States. This year, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, their selections "are all towns close to America's natural splendors" (one of which is Bar Harbor, Maine - portions of Acadia National Park are located in the town).

To access the complete Smithsonian report, please visit:

Smithsonian: The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2016

Background information:

National Park Service

National Park Service: Acadia National Park ("The First Eastern National Park")

Acadia National Park Centennial 2016

Wikipedia: Bar Harbor, Maine

Town of Bar Harbor

Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf's Good Food Truck Ministry

"Levi Tucker, 3½, ordered dinner Wednesday evening at a food truck in his Burlington neighborhood. Held to truck-window height by his father, Levi asked for beef curry, which was served with vegetables and coconut rice. Levi also wanted salad, and was pleased it came with tomatoes.

"He ate with his parents on a patch of grass at Northgate Apartments in the New North End.

"When the meal was over, or over from the point of a toddler, Levi had this to say: 'I liked some of the food.'  His father, Travis Tucker, also ordered beef curry – and ate every morsel of his dinner and his son's leftovers, too.

"The family’s dinner was courtesy of the Good Food Truck, a venture of the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf that serves free, hot dinners to people who might lack access to nutritional meals."

A recent Burlington Free Press article profiled the Good Food Truck ministry the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, Burlington, Vermont.

To access the complete Burlington Free Press report, please visit:

Burlington Free Press: Food truck serves up a social mission with meals (28 MAY 16)

Background information

Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf

Wikipedia: Chittenden County, Vermont

"Eternal Father, Strong to Save"

As our Memorial Day observance continues, I offer this version of John B. Dykes' "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" (also known as the Navy Hymn):

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, a day designated to commemorate the men and women who died while in the military service.

We lift up to the Lord the souls of each of these men and women. We also thank Him, and them, for their sacrifice.

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
                  – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

YouTube: Memorial Day 2011 - Freedom Isn't Free

Presidential Proclamation: Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2016

Paul Greenberg: Remembering, We Forget (30 MAY 11)

Related posts:

Lop Notes: A Third Grade Song (3 MAY 10)

Lop Notes: Memorial Day Tribute (29 MAY 10)

Lop Notes: Additional Memorial Day Reflections (30 MAY 10)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the sacrifice of those who gave their lives to defend the freedoms and ideals we cherish in the United States.

Msgr. Pope on Memorial Day

"What is honor? The full etymology of the word is debated, but what seems most likely is that it comes from the Latin word honos, which, though translated as 'honor,' also points to the word 'onus,' which means 'weight' or refers to something heavy. Hence, to honor someone is to appreciate the weight, significance, or burden of something he has done. It is to acknowledge that he carried a great burden well, that he withstood a heavy load, that what he did was weighty, significant.

"For many, Memorial Day means the beginning of summer. To others, it's a day off to go shopping. But as I am sure you know, Memorial Day is really a day to honor those who have died in the service of our country, those who carried a great burden so that many of us did not have to."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on Memorial Day and on the importance or remembering those who gave their lives in the service of our nation.

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

Community in Mission: Remember! On Memorial Day (29 MAY 16)

Reflection Starter from John F. Kennedy

"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." - John F. Kennedy

29 May 2016

"Panis Angelicus"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of André Rieu, Mirusia, and the Johann Strauss Orchestra:  presenting "Panis Angelicus":

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The assigned readings are Genesis 14:18-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, and Luke 9:11-17. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 110 (Psalm 110:1-4). 

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

YouTube: You Are a Priest Forever (Psalm 110) - Responsorial Psalm for Corpus Christi Sunday 

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured. As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, "Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here."

He said to them, "Give them some food yourselves."

They replied, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people."

Now the men there numbered about five thousand. Then he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty." They did so and made them all sit down.

Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: The Body and Blood of Christ (May 29, 2016)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: The Body and Blood of Christ (May 29, 2016)

Community in Mission: Jesus Wants to Feed You! Corpus Christi (28 MAY 16)

The Sacred Page: Satisfying Hunger for God: The Feast of Corpus Christi (24 MAY 16)

Catholic Productions Blog: The Body and Blood of Christ - Corpus Christi: Mass Readings Explained (The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ) (26 MAY 16)

Word on Fire: Corpus Christi

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology: Blessed and Given: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ (20 MAY 16)

The Dispatch: The Blessed Sacrament: It's either All or nothing (28 MAY 16)

Spirituality of the Readings: Why Church? (Body and Blood of Christ)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Paul on the Lord's Supper (Body and Blood of Christ)

The Word Embodied: In the Beginning Was Covenant (Body and Blood of Christ)

Historical Cultural Context: Meals (Body and Blood of Christ)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by John Chrysostom (Body and Blood of Christ)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: The Solemnity of Corpus Christi Sunday (28 MAY 16)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of joy.

Msgr. Pope on the Evangelical Quality of Joy

"All of us have wounds and imperfections. Some of us make do, even living joyfully in spite of them. Others of us brood or withdraw.

"An old saying attributed to Abraham Lincoln goes, 'Most folks are about as happy as they decide to be.'"

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on joy and its place in Christianity.

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

Community in Mission: The Evangelical Quality of Joy, As Seen in an Animated Short Film (27 MAY 16)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord. This is the secret of our journey!Pope Francis

28 May 2016

Roy Clark: "Ghost Riders In The Sky"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Roy Clark presenting "Ghost Riders In The Sky":

YouTube: Roy Clark - Ghost Riders In The Sky

Report: How Police Chiefs Can Safeguard Officer Mental Health Before and After Mass Casualty Events

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the National Alliance on Mental Illness recently issued a report related to police officer mental health after tragic incidents.

To access the complete report, please visit:

Preparing for the Unimaginable: How chiefs can safeguard officer mental health before and after mass casualty events (25 MAY 16)

Media report: 

Hartford Courant: Prompted By Sandy Hook, Report Stresses Mental Health Help For Police Officers (27 MAY 16)

Background information:

National Alliance on Mental Illness

U.S. Department of Justice: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

Boat House in Tiverton, RI, Makes OpenTable List of Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America

OpenTable recently released a list of "Our 100 Best Al Fresco Dining list for 2016" (as voted by OpenTable diners), a list designed to highlight restaurants that "offer stunning views, regional cuisine and, above all, fabulous outdoor dining experiences."

One New England restaurant was on the list: the Boat House in Tiverton, RI.

Media report:

Providence Journal: Tiverton's Boat House only New England restaurant on Open Table's best al-fresco dining list (25 MAY 16)

To access the complete list, please visit:

OpenTable: 100 Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America for 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for museums that strive to help us learn about certain facets of history.

On Anti-Catholic Myths

"Dr. Rodney Stark has written nearly 40 books on a wide range of topics, [including] a number of recent books on the history of Christianity, monotheism, Christianity in China, and the roots of modernity. After beginning as a newspaper reporter and spending time in the Army, Stark received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where he held appointments as a research sociologist at the Survey Research Center and at the Center for the Study of Law and Society. He later was Professor of Sociology and of Comparative Religion at the University of Washington; he has been at Baylor University since 2004. Stark is past president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and of the Association for the Sociology of Religion, and he has won a number of national and international awards for distinguished scholarship. Raised as a Lutheran, he has identified himself as an agnostic but has, more recently, called himself an 'independent Christian'.

"His most recent book is Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History (Templeton Press, 2016), which addresses ten prevalent myths about Church history. Dr. Stark recently responded by e-mail to some questions from Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report."

To access Mr. Olson's report on this interview (including myths related to "sins of anti-Semitism" and the relationship between the mythology of the "Dark Ages" and the myth of "secular Enlightenment"), please visit:

Catholic World Report: Why is this non-Catholic scholar debunking "centuries of anti-Catholic history"? (7 MAY 16)

Reflection Starter from St. Philip Neri

"Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits." - Saint Philip Neri

26 May 2016

John Garvey on Mary in Our Increasingly Secular World

"The month of May has been dedicated to the Virgin Mary for centuries -- so long, in fact, that the precise origin of this Catholic devotion is lost in the mists of time.

"Still, it is a fitting devotion during what is arguably the most beautiful and colorful month of the year in most of the Northern Hemisphere.

"Living as we do at The Catholic University of America, with the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at the corner of our campus, our students, faculty and staff have constant reminders of the Marian devotions I grew up with. But I sometimes wonder whether very many of today's young Catholics learn them as we once did."

In a recent commentary, John Garvey (president of The Catholic University of America) reflected on the attitude of today's Catholics toward our Blessed Mother.

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

Boston Pilot: Echoes: Echoes: Mary in our increasingly secular world (27 MAY 2016)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for being our Light..

Reflection Starter from John 8

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." - John 8:12

25 May 2016

National Safe Boating Week 2016

This week, the week of 21-27 May, is being observed as National Safe Boating Week, an initiative designed to educate and inform the boating public about boating safety. This year’s theme (“Wear It!”) is designed to encourage boaters to always wear life jackets to save lives.
For additional information about National Safe Boating Week, please visit:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the good shepherds You send to pastor Your people.

The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run

Stanley Rother was Oklahoma born and bred, a matter of some pride to him. So was his staunchly religious upbringing, typical of the German Catholic farm families he grew up with in rural Okarche, Oklahoma. And so was the extended family that formed a good part of his background. His grandparents lived within a mile of his home, and he was literally surrounded by other relatives.

Not surprisingly, Stanley Rother became a priest, ordained in 1963 for the diocese which served all of the state at the time. The motto he chose at ordination was simple, and in a way prophetic: "For myself I am a Christian; for the sake of others I am a Priest." He would have celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest a few years ago, but he never lived to see it. He was shot to death in 1981 in his mission parish in Guatemala. Stan Rother was a true martyr, dead at 46.

His story is told by Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda in a new book titled The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run: Fr. Stanley Rother, Martyr from Oklahoma, published by Our Sunday Visitor. The front cover features a gently smiling portrait of Father Stan, which must have been familiar to the people he served in the Guatemalan village of Santiago Atitlan.

He had gotten there as a volunteer in 1968, five years after the mission was founded. It had arisen as Oklahoma's response to the famous call of Pope (now Saint) John for a "tithe" - for U.S. dioceses to send 10 per cent of their religious personnel to Latin America.

From the start, Rother took to the work. He liked the simple farming lifestyle of his people - both the descendants of Hispanic settlers, the "Ladinos," and the Tz'utuji Indians who formed the backbone of the parish. He loved them all, making sure he knew their language and their customs. He became one of them, and before long was running the parish. "Padre Francisco," as he was known, had found his heart's calling.

Rother eagerly described his activities in letters to his sister, Sister Marita Rother, a member of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ community. Living among the people was key to his plans, and so was the building - in time a farm co-op, a school, a hospital, and a radio station used for catechesis.

It seemed too good to last. And so, when signs of trouble began to appear, it was hardly surprising. Guatemala was in the throes of a civil war, and before long the conflict made its way into every corner of the country - including the village of Santiago Atitlan. Disappearances, killings and danger became daily occurrences, and soon the name of Father Stan Rother - "Padre Francisco" - turned up on a death list.

He was fond of saying "The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger," and soon it was a byword for his life. After a brief sojourn in Oklahoma, he ignored warnings and returned to his adopted land. He was murdered there in 1981.

"Pray for us that we may be a sign of the love of Christ for our people," Father Stan said. He is now a candidate for canonization, eagerly supported by the people of Oklahoma. It was there he was born and bred - but he made it clear that his heart belongs forever to Guatemala.

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

Reflection Starter from Henry Ward Beecher

"Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith." - Henry Ward Beecher

23 May 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of family meals.

Dominican Order Celebrates 800 Years

"It is not uncommon for Father Patrick Briscoe to be mistaken for anything but what he is - a Dominican priest. His white, ankle-length tunic, the habit of the Order of Preachers, tends to be a dead giveaway.

"Newly ordained to the Catholic priesthood, Father Briscoe is among about 100 Dominicans who live and work in the Washington area as part of the Province of St. Joseph. . . .

"The order is seeing increased vocations, has a vibrant college campus ministry across the country, and even has a celebrity of sorts at Catholic Answers. . . .

"It-s a good time to celebrate 800 years, something Dominicans around the world began doing with the official kickoff of their jubilee last November, which runs through Jan. 21, 2017."

A recent National Catholic Register article reported on the Dominicans and the order's jubilee celebration.

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

National Catholic Register: Dominicans at 800 Years Old: Order Committed to Preaching Piety (23 MAY 16)

Background information:

Order of Preachers

Order of Preachers: Jubilee

Reflection Starter from St. Dominic

"We must sow the seed, not hoard it." - attributed to Saint Dominic

22 May 2016

Armed Forces Day

Yesterday (21 May) was observed as Armed Forces Day, 2016. This year's theme is "America's Military - Guardians of Freedom."

As part of this observance, friend Richard Kless shared this U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Facebook post:

Facebook: Thank you for your service - U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Thank you, Rich, for sharing this.

"Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow"

As our celebration of Trinity Sunday continues, I offer this version of "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow":

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. The assigned readings are Proverbs 8:22-31, Romans 5:1-5, and John 16:12-15. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 8 (Psalm 8:4-9). 

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 8 O Lord our God how majestic is Your Name

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus said to his disciples: "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Trinity Sunday (May 22, 2016)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Most Holy Trinity (May 22, 2016)

Community in Mission: One and One and One Are One - A Homily for Trinity Sunday (21 MAY 16)

The Sacred Page: The Solemnity of the Holy Trinity (20 MAY 16)

The Sacred Page: The Mystery of the Trinity: The Mass Readings Explained (The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity) (19 MAY 16)

Deacon Greg Kandra: Love Among the Ruins: Homily for May 22, 2016, Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (21 MAY 16)

Word on Fire: Begotten Not Made (Solemnities * Trinity Sunday)

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology: Glorious Processions: Scott Hahn Reflects on The Most Holy Trinity (13 MAY 16)

The Dispatch: The Trinity: A Mystery for Eternity (21 MAY 16)

Spirituality of the Readings: Closing the Circle (Most Holy Trinity)

Let the Scriptures Speak: From Experience to Doctrine (Most Holy Trinity)

The Word Embodied: In the Beginning Was Relationship (Most Holy Trinity)

Historical Cultural Context: Spirit of Truth (Most Holy Trinity)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Hilary of Poitiers (Most Holy Trinity)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord for the the uniqueness and "specialness" of each person You have created.

Msgr. Pope on the Power of Metaphors

"Words, while an important part of our toolset, can also get in the way of reality. But how can we live without them? On some level we must allow a deep level of language to help us in sorting out reality; words are something that help us to form a mental picture. In particular, we sometimes turn to metaphors and extended metaphors (parables, allegories, stories, etc.).

"A metaphor is a figure of speech in which two different things are equated for rhetorical effect. It can be used to provide clarity to something unfamiliar by comparing it to something familiar, or to point out hidden similarities between two unlike things. The word comes from the Greek metapherein (meta (beyond) + pherein (to bear or carry)) meaning 'to transfer,t or, more literally, 'to carry something beyond.'

"A metaphor often seeks to capture something deeper by comparing it to something that is more easily grasped. In the metaphor 'All the world’s a stage,' Shakespeare takes a deep concept (the world (or life)) and frames it in the context of something more manageable (a stage). This is not to say that a stage is precisely the equivalent of the world, but rather to capture some truth about the world and highlight it for understanding."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on metaphors, with emphasis on how they help us understand spiritual (and other) truths.

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

Community in Mission: Nine Brief Examples of the Power of Metaphor (19 MAY 16)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"The firm commitment for human rights springs from an awareness of the unique and supreme value of each person.Pope Francis

21 May 2016

Jay Black: "Cara Mia"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Jay Black presenting "Cara Mia":

Connecticut Sherpa Climbs Mount Everest for Seventh Time

"A convenience store worker from West Hartford scaled Mount Everest on Friday for a seventh time, breaking her own record as the most successful female climber of the world's highest peak, expedition organizers said.

"Lhakpa Sherpa was among 18 climbers who reached the peak on Friday morning from the northern side in Tibet, said Rajeeb Shrestha of the 7 Summits Adventure agency based in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu."

To access a report, published in the Hartford Courant, on her achievement, please visit:

Hartford Courant: Sherpa From Connecticut Climbs Everest Record 7th Time (21 MAY 16)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of spring rains.

Brother Guy Consolmagno on the Relationship Between Science and Religion

"Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno finds no conflict between the science he pursues in studying meteorites and the Catholic faith he practices every day.

"Director of the Vatican Observatory, the Michigan native explored the intersection of religion and science in a series of presentations in Utah, saying that the two fields are more similar than they are different.

"A false division exists between faith and science, he told an audience attending the Summerhays Lecture on Science and Religion March 10 at Brigham Young University. 'It's on the basis of both reason and gut feeling that we make all the decisions in our lives,' he said.

"Science and faith share many similarities, including the need for communities that support the work and pass the knowledge onto the next generation, he added. The need for community reveals that God is 'someone who loves to get people together to sing together, to dance together, to pray together, to explore together. A God of community,' he said."

A recent article in The Pilot reported on Brother Guy, his ministry as a Vatican astronomer, and on his explaining the relationship between religion and science.

To access the complete article, please visit:

The Pilot: 'Doing science is an act of worship,' Vatican astronomer says.(18 MAR 16)

Background information:

Vatican Observatory

Wikipedia: Guy Consolmagno

Reflection Starter from Dr. Albert Schweitzer

"Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light." - Dr. Albert Schweitzer

19 May 2016

National Public Works Week

This week, the week of 15-21 May, is being observed as National Public Works Week, a celebration of the men and women who provide and maintain the infrastructure and services collectively known as public works. This year's theme is "Public Works Always There."
2016 Public Works Week Logo
The American Public Works Association initiated the observance of National Public Works Week in 1960 as a means to call attention to the importance of public works in community life.
For more information about National Public Works Week, please visit:
Background information:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for spring flowers.

Recognizing the Ministry of Fr. Bernard Campbell, OFM Cap.

"For 48 years, the Rev. Bernard J. Campbell, OFM Cap., has ministered to the deaf, severely disabled and the incarcerated, and he’s done it with a sense of humor - and music.

"His ministry has spanned New Hampshire and Vermont, and included playing bass guitar for the severely disabled at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield, celebrating Mass and conducting religion classes at the state prison for men in Concord and performing concerts for them on Memorial Day and Christmas with his jazz septet, "Preacher-Teacher Trio and Friends."

"Although he officially retired eight years ago, he continues his ministry today at age 80."

A recent New Hampshire Union Leader article profiled Father Campbell and his ministry.

To access the complete New Hampshire Union Leader article, please visit:

New Hampshire Union Leader: Legacy Awards: Priest serves disabled and imprisoned with wit, music (19 MAY 16)

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

"Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life with fear; rather, look upon them with strong hope that, as they arise, God, whose child you are, will deliver you from them." - Saint Francis de Sales

18 May 2016

Pascal's Wager

"There are countless arguments for and against the existence of God, but one famous argument involves analyzing costs and benefits.

"Blaise Pascal was a brilliant seventeenth century mathematician. He made foundational contributions to statistics and to our understanding of how air pressure works. He was also a devout Catholic, and came up with an interesting argument for why one should believe in God, now known as Pascal's Wager.

"Pascal laid out the wager in part 233 of his Pensées, a series of notes for an uncompleted defense of Christianity that were published posthumously.

"Pascal argued that, while it's impossible to prove whether or not God exists, people should believe in God anyway. The essential component of the argument is the relative payoffs and costs for believing or not believing in God under either the assumption God exists or God doesn't exist."

A recent post read by lovely Myrna referred to this previously published Business Insider post by writer Andy Kiersz.

To access the complete post, please access:

Business Insider: According To Math, You Should Believe In God (18 JUN 14)

Thank you, Myrna, for the tip!

National Emergency Medical Services Week 2016

This week, the week of 15-21 May, is being observed as the 42nd annual National Emergency Medical Services Week. This year’s theme is “EMS STRONG.”
National Emergency Medical Services Week is designed as an opportunity to publicize safety and honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine’s “front line.”
For more information about National EMS Week, please visit:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of good dramatic presentations.

Vengeful God vs. Loving Jesus

A lot of ink gets spilled when TV shows mock or put down Christianity, but ones that treat it respectfully often fly under the radar. Since The Christophers believe in lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness, let me tell you about a recent episode of the Tim Allen sitcom Last Man Standing that handled a religion issue nicely (and comically).

Last Man Standing is currently in its fifth season on ABC, and Tim Allen’s goal was to make it like a modern All in the Family, in which politics and religion would sometimes get discussed. Allen plays the conservative Mike Baxter living in a house with a wife and two of three daughters who are more liberal. His youngest daughter, Eve, is conservative like him. Each point of view gets its share of zingers, so it might actually be the most fair-minded show on TV.

Two of the characters have differing religious viewpoints. There's the innocent and religious Kyle (Christoph Sanders), the store clerk who's dating Mike's daughter Mandy. Then there's Ryan (Jordan Masterson), the atheist who's married to Mike's daughter Kristin.

In this particular episode, Kristin and Ryan believe that their nine-year-old son Boyd has stolen candy from a store, but refuses to admit it. They try to coax the truth out of him in subtle ways to no avail.

One night, Kristin and Ryan go out to dinner, leaving Mandy and Kyle to babysit. They mention their predicament to Kyle before they leave. When they return home, Boyd admits to them that he stole the candy. When they ask why he finally told the truth, Boyd says it's because Kyle told him about Jesus. This makes Ryan angry because he assumes Kyle told Boyd that God would punish him for not telling the truth. He calls Kyle and angrily asks him to come back to their apartment to discuss something. When Kyle arrives, Ryan tells him, "Boyd finally confessed to us that he stole the candy. And he told us it was because you told him about Jesus."

Kyle is confused as to why this makes Ryan angry. Ryan answers, "Look, I want Boyd to tell the truth because it's the right thing to do, not because he thinks he's going to be punished by an angry God."

Kyle responds, "I never said that. Boyd was scared that if he told you what he did, you wouldn't love him anymore. I said you were like my friend Jesus. Even if I do something bad, as long as I'm honest, He still loves me."

A humbled Ryan mutters, "Oh," and learns a religious lesson in the process.

So here you have two perspectives on God. The first is the stereotypical one that some non-believers hold about people acting morally only because they feel threatened by an angry, vengeful God. The other viewpoint demonstrates that love can be the most powerful motivator in doing the right thing - and it goes so far as to invoke the name of Jesus in that argument.

In essence, Kyle's approach is more representative of the heart of Christian teaching than Ryan's. That's not to say there aren't Christians who think like Ryan and emphasize angry, punishing God over merciful Jesus. But Christianity calls us to act in certain ways out of love, not fear. Love is always the ideal, and it was a pleasant surprise to see that argument validated on prime time television. Good job, Last Man Standing.

This essay is this week's "Light One Candle" column, written by Tony Rossi, of The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.

Background information:

The Christophers

Reflection Starter from Pope St. John XXIII

"Do not walk through time without leaving worthy evidence of your passage." - Pope Saint John XXIII

17 May 2016

Portland, ME, Police Department Dashcam Captures Meteor Event

"Portland [Maine] police Sgt. Tim Farris was on patrol early Tuesday morning when he witnessed a speeder he never expected: a spectacular fiery streak that lit up the sky just after midnight.

"The streak was the apparent trail of a meteor burning up as it passed through the earth's atmosphere at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

"Farris was parked in front of the Central Fire Station on Congress Street looking for speeders at the time, and his cruiser's dashcam captured the fireball streaking across the sky behind Franklin Towers. The video was posted on the department's Facebook page Tuesday."

A Portland Press Herald article reported Sgt. Farris' experience and on the meteor. In addition,Sgt. Farris' dashcam's video has been widely shared, including on the American Meteor Society's website.

To access the complete Portland Press Herald report, please visit:

The Portland Press Herald: Videos capture spectacular streaking meteor in Northeast (17 MAY 16)

To access the related Portland Police Department Facebook post, please visit:

Facebook: Portland Maine Police Department

Background information:

American Meteor Society

Facebook: The American Meteor Society

Infrastructure Week 2016

This week, the week of 16-23 May, is being observed as Infrastructure Week 2016, an observance designed to elevate infrastructure as a critical issue impacting all Americans. The 2016 theme,  "Infrastructure Matters," is designed to tell the story of what infrastructure means to Americans.

Infrastructure Week Logo
Media report:

UIM: Infrastructure Week 2016 Puts Spotlight on Value of Water

Background information:

Infrastructure Week

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of reason.

Tamer Nashef on Postive Attributes of the Catholic Church

"First, allow me to start this short article with what might be deemed a startling confession: I am not a Catholic, nor am I even a Christian. In fact, I am a secular Muslim and an avid reader of philosophy and history with an unswerving commitment to the unmitigated truth no matter where it is even, nay especially, if it runs counter to commonly held beliefs.

"I have spent the last few years researching the history of Christianity, especially the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, and was shocked to discover that almost everything we had been taught about Catholicism was erroneous and apparently affected by anti-Catholic bias. In contradistinction to what most people both in the West and Middle East think, the Catholic Church and Church Fathers did not suppress science, reason, and knowledge. Quite the opposite, in many cases they even encouraged the acquisition of secular learning and the pursuit of science, and placed a high premium on man's rational faculties. . . ."

In a recent commentary, researcher Tamer Nashef reflected on a number of positive attributes of the Catholic Church, including many of its accomplishments over the centuries (several of which are unknown by a number of people in our time).

To access his complete post, please visit:

Strange Notions: I'm a Muslim But Here’s Why I Admire the Catholic Church ()

Thank you, John Michael Talbot, for the tip!

Reflection Starter

"Pray to God, but keep rowing to the shore." - Russian Proverb

15 May 2016

"Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blest"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of "Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blest":

Pentecost Sunday

Today the Church celebrates Pentecost Sunday. The assigned readings are Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; and John 20:19-23. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 104 (Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34). 

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 104 "Praise of God the Creator"

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."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Pentecost Sunday (May 15, 2016)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Pentecost Sunday (May 15, 2016)

Community in Mission: The Spirit of the Lord Filled the Earth - A Homily for Pentecost (14 MAY 16)

The Sacred Page: The Gift of the Spirit: Readings for Pentecost (11 MAY 16)

The Sacred Page: Pentecost and the Holy Spirit: The Lectionary Readings Explained (Pentecost Sunday) (11 MAY 16)

Word on Fire: The Holy Spirit and Mission (Solemnities * Pentecost)

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology: Counsel of Jerusalem: A Mighty Wind: Scott Hahn Reflects on Pentecost Sunday (6 MAY 16)

Spirituality of the Readings: The Holy Spirit (Pentecost Sunday)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Have You Sent Your Pentecost Cards? (Pentecost Sunday)

The Word Embodied: The Difference It Makes (Pentecost Sunday)

Historical Cultural Context: Mediterranean Leaders (Pentecost Sunday)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Leo the Great (Pentecost Sunday)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Pentecost Sunday (22 APR 16)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the outpouring on the Holy Spirit on Your Church on Pentecost and for the many ways in which the Holy Spirit continues to work in the Church.

Msgr. Pope on Being Overwhelmed

"One of the paradoxes of our time (at least in the West) is that we have so many creature comforts yet in many ways have never been so uncomfortable. Our high standard of living is accompanied by stress, worry, and a gnawing dissatisfaction. It seems that the more we have the more we worry.

"In a way, we have too much to lose; we want and expect so much that we're never satisfied. There is a kind of slavery that comes with having many possessions. If we're not careful our possessions end up possessing us! Further, they set loose desires in us that can become extreme and difficult to master. In the end our desires expand with each new thing we get. It's like a man who overeats; his stomach stretches so that he must eat more each time in order to feel full. Scripture says,

"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. … The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep (Eccles 5:10,12)."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the fact that we "simply can't have it all" and that we have to decide what is important and make choices that reflect our priorities.

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

Community in Mission: A Meditation on Being Overwhelmed (12 MAY 16)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"If our hearts and actions are inspired by charity, by divine love, then our communication will be touched by God's own power.Pope Francis

12 May 2016

Son Tom Interviewed for The Strongpreneur Nation Podcast

Tom Reber, a business coach for contractors and host of The Strongpreneur Nation Podcast, recently interviewed son Tom (proprietor of Lopco Contracting) about nailing down sales processes, building relationships, charging for estimates, and adding value to one's community.

To access the podcast of the interview, please visit:

The Business Coach for Contractors: SPN50: Nailing Down Your Sales Processes: Tom Lopatosky

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings You poured on us on our recent trip to California and on Ava and her family as she received her First Holy Communion

A Mother Remembers Her Daughter with Down Syndrome

"Love doesn't die." That’s a quote from a letter we received at Christopher headquarters recently from a woman named Jean, and the story she shared ties in perfectly with Mother's Day so I'd like to share it with you. 

Jean is a longtime supporter of The Christophers, who found inspiration in our Christopher News Notes that she then quoted in letters she would write to the sick members of her parish in order to lift their spirits. Today, she is living in a retirement facility herself, but she still keeps a stack of News Notes on hand. Her letter to us was prompted by a recent correspondence we sent her mentioning children with Down Syndrome. That's a topic she knows first-hand, so she decided to tell us about her experience.

In 1950, at age 22, Jean gave birth to Susan, the first of her five children. But she heard the doctor and nurses speaking quietly and sadly, and she wasn't allowed to see her daughter. The doctor soon told her that Susan was "a Mongoloid," the term that was used "before Dr. Down found the cause, an extra chromosome."

Jean recalled, "My husband and I were told to place her in a state institution and tell everyone she died at birth. Days went by and social workers visited me trying to make my husband and I follow the doctor's orders. The final straw was when they said, 'Bringing her home would be an injustice to your neighbors, as she will lower the property value on your street.' My husband and I shed tears and we shared our feelings that this baby was given to us by God, we could not throw her out! We asked my husband's brother, Father Raymond Rolf - a diocesan priest, what we should do.  He went in search of an answer and came back with good news."

It turned out that there was a group of nuns in the Santa Barbara, California area that raised these children once they reached age five. The reason? Jean was told, "These children require the same care as any baby and should have the loving care of their parents for at least the first five years."

That information was enough for the doctor to finally release Susan into her parents' care. Jean said, "When I had her in my arms and was talking to her, she looked at me moving my lips like she wanted to respond and her eyes spoke with love. We knew she would stay with us and not leave us when she was five."

Jean, her husband, and their children built a beautiful life together. While schooling for children with Down Syndrome didn't exist back then like it does today, Jean taught Susan quite a lot and she was considered high-functioning. The one thing that came naturally to Susan was showing love and compassion to others.

Jean said, "Susan taught us all many things. At her funeral three years ago, her four siblings stood up at church and said how they learned unconditional love from her . . . I thank God for the very special experience of having Susan and her brothers and sister who loved her dearly, as she did them. I continue to miss my husband and Susan, but am thankful for the wonderful years we had together. And I believe, 'Love doesn't die.' I feel their love and expect to be reunited with them in Heaven. May the love of God dwell in all our hearts, that we, like [people with Down Syndrome], may share that love."
This essay is this week's "Light One Candle" column, written by Tony Rossi, of The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events. 
Background information: 
The Christophers

Reflection Starter from Mother Angelica

"As children of God, it is our happy privilege to radiate the goodness of our Father." - Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, PCPA

04 May 2016

Rhode Island Independence Day

Today, 4 May, the State of Rhode Island is celebrating Rhode Island Independence Day, a commemoration of the state's independence from Great Britain on 4 May 1776.

This year is the 239th anniversary of the Rhode Island General Assembly's declaration of independence from the British crown.

Fore more information about Rhode Island Independence Day, please visit:

This Day in History: May 4, 1776 - Rhode Island declares independence

Rhode Island Secretary of State: The May 4, 1776, Act of Renunciation

International Firefighters' Day

Today, 4 May, is also observed as International Firefighters' Day, established as a day to  recognize and honor the sacrifices that firefighters make to ensure that their communities and environment are as safe as possible.

Background information:

Wikipedia: International Firefighters' Day

International Firefighters' Day - May 4th

Facebook: International Firefighters' Day

Saint Florian

Saint Florian, whose feast day is today (4 May), is the patron saint of firefighters.

Not a lot is known about St. Florian. He was a high-ranking officer in the Roman army and was stationed in Noricum (now part of Austria) when he was martyred for the faith. Among his other duties, he was in charge of one of the Roman army's firefighting units.

For more information:

Catholic Online: St. Florian

San Diego Paramedics: The Patron Saint of the Fire Service - St. Florian

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Your peace.

Community, Camaraderie, and Lelepali

On May 15, 1942, Edwin Lelepali came to Kalaupapa. He was 14 years old then, victim of a dread disease for which there was no cure at the time. Kalaupapa is an enclave on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, reserved for those who had leprosy and made famous by the life and death of Father Damien de Veuster. One by one, the older residents there are dying out, and when Edwin Lelepali passed away earlier this year he was one of the last, the aging pillar of Kalaupapa. He was 88.

I read about Lelepali in the Hawaii Catholic Herald, where Valerie Monson wrote a loving tribute to his life. He was known for his trademark "God bless," which he invariably used to bid farewell to visitors and friends alike. But, as Monson pointed out, it was he who was God's blessing to the Kalaupapa community and to his multitude of friends. For all of them, it was "Let Pali do it," using a familiar form of his last name. He did indeed - and nobody did it better.

Pali organized the big things and the small. He got the parties going; he was always the first to lead the music. A friend recalled that he got another TV set so everyone could watch the Super Bowl together. And he had a key role to play in Protestant church life in the colony. When the last minister left, he was the one who delivered the sermons. Sometimes they were full of insights; at other times they were full of laughs.

Once again Valerie Monson got it right. "He understood the importance of community and camaraderie in such a remote place," she wrote, "where people with leprosy had been forcibly isolated."

It wasn't always thus. Lelepali recalled his sentiments when he was first sent to Kalaupapa, and they were not happy ones. "I was told I had one week to pack my suitcase," he said. "That was the saddest day of my life. Leaving Honolulu, that was even more sad."

But it took him remarkably little time to adjust. After three months, he decided he never wanted to go back to his old life. And even though medicine was introduced to treat leprosy successfully during his years there, he stuck to his word.

That's not to say that it was always easy. His first wife, Libby, died at an early age. But he found joy - as he invariably did - with his second wife, Rosie, with whom he shared a love for music, bringing people together with his guitar playing. Together, too, they organized the festive Mother's Day celebration, which paid tribute each year - island-style - to all the women of Kalaupapa. "I wanted them to know how much we appreciate them," he said. Hallowe'en parties, New Year's Eve parties, he led them all.

Days before he died, he made sure there was enough food for the Super Bowl party he got together but couldn't make himself.

While he was a pillar of the Protestant church on Kalaupapa, he often stopped at St. Francis to make sure his Catholic friends were well taken care of. That's the kind of man he was.

And to everyone - friend or visitor, neighbor or stranger, Protestant or Catholic - he offered a prayerful message: "God bless." That's the kind of man he was, 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

Reflection Starter from the Gospel According to John

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." - John 14:27

03 May 2016

Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for May

The Holy Father's prayer intentions for May are:

Universal Intention (Respect for Women): "That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed."

Evangelization Intention (Holy Rosary): "That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace."

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for blessings disguised as challenges or as crosses.

Donald McClarey on Anne de Gaulle

"Charles de Gaulle could be a very frustrating man.  Churchill, in reference to de Gaulle, said that the heaviest cross he had to bear during the war was the Cross of Lorraine, the symbol of the Free French forces.

"Arrogant, autocratic, often completely unreasonable, de Gaulle was all of these. However, there is no denying that he was also a great man.  Rallying the Free French forces after the Nazi conquest of France, he boldly proclaimed, 'France has lost a battle, France has not lost the war.'  For more than a few Frenchmen and women, de Gaulle became the embodiment of France.  It is also hard to dispute that De Gaulle is the greatest Frenchman since Clemenceau, 'The Tiger', who led France to victory in World War I.  However, de Gaulle was something more than a great man,  he was also at bottom a good man, as demonstrated by his youngest daughter Anne de Gaulle."

In a recent commentary, Donald R. McClarey reflected on the blessing of Charles and Yvonne de Gaulle and their youngest daughter, Anne.

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

Catholic Stand: Anne de Gaulle (21 APR 16)