31 July 2016

"All People That on Earth Do Dwell"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of "All People That on Earth Do Dwell":

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23; Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11; and Luke 12:13-21. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 90 (Psalm 90:3-6, 12-14,17). 

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 90 "If today you hear His voice" 

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,"Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me."

He replied to him,"Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?"

Then he said to the crowd, "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions."

Then he told them a parable. "There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, 'What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?' And he said, 'This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, 'Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!'' But God said to him, 'You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?' Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 31, 2016)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 31, 2016)

Community in Mission: You Can't Take It with You, But You Can Send it on Ahead! Five Teachings on Wealth (30 JUL 16)

The Sacred Page: Wealth and Poverty: The 18th Sunday of OT (26 JUL 16)

The Sacred Page: The Rich Fool and the Danger of Wealth: The Mass Readings Explained (The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time) (27 JUL 16)

Word on Fire: Bubbles, Everything is Bubbles (Cycle C * Ordinary Time * Week 18)

Catholic World Report: The Dispatch: Money, Vanity, and Eternity (30 JUL 16)

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology: Sunday Bible Reflections: The Fool's Vanity: Scott Hahn Reflects on the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (22 JUL 16)

Spirituality of the Readings: In Vain, in Vain (18th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Hoard, and You Shall Lose (18th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

The Word Embodied: The High and Holy Realm (18th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Historical Cultural Context: Future Plans (18th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Basil the Great (18th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (30 JUL 16)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for those who minister to us in countless ways in each area of our lives.

Msgr. Pope on Gratitude

"In developing gratitude, we do well to remember how intertwined our lives are. None of us lives in isolation - none of us can. We may think we're pretty self-sufficient, but we drive on roads that others built and paid for, and we do so in cars developed and built by others. We use electricity powered by coal that others mined, converted to power in power plants we neither built nor run, and delivered to us over wires that others set in place and maintain. Thousands of people stand behind that little light switch we so causally flip. 

"Think, too, of all the collective knowledge from which we benefit. It stretches back over the generations, one discovery building on another, one insight shared bringing about another, one discipline serving as a foundation for yet another.

"It is overwhelming to consider the astonishing number of other human beings whose collective ingenuity and hard work contribute to our present blessings. And we, too, contribute to the blessings of countless others.

"For all this we can praise God, from whom all blessings first come. But the vast majority of the blessings He gives us come through others. Bless God, the first giver, but also be grateful to those who are the means of His blessings."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the interconnection of our lives and on the importance of gratitude for the people who help a variety of ways - usually unnoticed by us..

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

Community in Mission: Ten Thousand Thanks Could Never Be Enough - A Meditation on the Astonishing Depth of Every Gift (26 JUL 16)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Jesus speaks to you every day. Let His Gospel become yours and let Him be your 'navigator' on life's journey!" - Pope Francis

30 July 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the educational opportunities You provide each of us and for those who teachers, administrators, and support persons in our education facilities.

A Servant to the Entire Community

Bob Hurley is back in the news. Again.

I wrote about Hurley last year in this space. The source then, as it is now, is a column about Hurley by Tara Sullivan in The Record, a leading northern New Jersey newspaper. At issue are his efforts to keep St. Anthony's of Jersey City - his high school - open for business. That was the issue last year, and somehow he managed to pull it off. But that might not be the case year after year.

Hurley takes no salary for his positions at the Jersey City school. Nothing. It's all plowed back in his efforts to keep the school open, an undertaking that occupies his mind day and night. That's "positions" at the school, plural, for he's in his second year as president of St. Anthony's. In addition, he's the school's basketball coach. (You can add the word "legendary" to the coaching part of it; he's got 28 state titles and counting. His list of former players who've made it to the NBA include his sons, Bob Jr. and Dan, now coaching college teams of their own.)

Keeping the school open (the Newark Archdiocese will only guarantee it for the school year beginning in September) has become a mission for Hurley.

"They're coming here because it's a good value for getting yourself to college," he says of his students - many of whom come from disadvantaged neighborhoods. "The mission is to educate the neighborhood kid who wants to go to Catholic school at an affordable price."

That price is now $6,150 per year - a bargain, but well beyond the means of many of Hurley's enrollees. It costs the school about $14,000 a year to educate each student. To make up the difference, Hurley donates not only his salary, but the money he makes from speaking engagements. And he puts together dinners each year, as he did this year, with guest speakers like the two New York Giant quarterbacks, Eli Manning, current holder of the title, and Phil Simms, now a broadcaster. With tickets ranging from $300 to $750, that's a lot - but it may not be enough.

An alumnus of the school, Rashon Burno, now a coach at Arizona State, spelled it out. "Without St. Anthony," he said, "Jersey City would lose a sanctuary. You'd lose a national monument, but that’' the public perception. For the kids, it's a safe haven, like a lottery ticket to better their lives."

Tara Sullivan used her column to describe the attraction of schools like St. Anthony: "A quality education with small class sizes, personal attention and a heavy focus on preparing for college, that struggle to maintain quality amid the labyrinth of church and local politics."

And at the heart of it all is Bob Hurley, president and still coach - as Burno, his former player, explained:

"A lot of people misconstrued it all these years, and for me I realized it years later, that it was never about basketball for Coach Hurley. That was just a vehicle to give back to the community. That he's taken on a role to impact others just solidifies what I already knew about the man: that he's about more than just basketball. He's a servant to the entire community."

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:

Saint Anthony High School

The Christophers

Reflection Starter from G. K. Chesterton

"The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder." - G. K. Chesterton

25 July 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of cool breezes on a hot summer day.

Archdiocese of New Orleans Initiates Movie Theater Outreach

"Roman Catholic Archbishop Gregory Aymond is taking to the big screen with an invitation to all local moviegoers: 'Come join us!' Before each movie starting on July 22, New Orleans area theaters will show a 15-second spot depicting young Catholics participating in the life of the church, and concluding with the archbishop encouraging viewers to learn more about the faith.

"For the next 12 months, the commercials will run in all local movie theaters in rotation with other advertisers, said Sarah McDonald, director of communications for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. 'We don't know of any other diocese that has undertaken this type of campaign,' McDonald said. 'We're excited, and we're hopeful and we are looking forward to seeing what God can do with this.'

"The campaign comes against the backdrop of what has been described as a modest decline in church attendance and participation around the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, the share of U.S. adults who say they believe in God, while still remarkably high by comparison with other advanced industrial countries, has declined from about 92 percent to 89 percent since 2007."

To access a Times-Picayune report on this initiative, please visit:

The Times-Picayune: New Orleans Catholic archbishop hits big screen with church invite (15 JUL 16)

Background information:

Archdiocese of New Orleans

Reflection Starter from Dag Hammarskjöld

"When the morning’s freshness has been replaced by the weariness of midday, when the leg muscles give under the strain, the climb seems endless, and suddenly nothing will go quite as you wish – it is then that you must not hesitate." - Dag Hammarskjöld

24 July 2016

"The King of Love My Shepherd Is"

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

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Genesis 18:20-32, Colossians 2:12-14, and Luke 11:1-13. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 138 (Psalm 138:1-3, 6-8). 

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 138 On the day I called for help You answered me O Lord 

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples."

He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test."

And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.' I tell you, if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 24, 2016)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 24, 2016)

Community in Mission: Three Teachings from the Lord on Prayer (23 JUL 16)

The Sacred Page: Haggling With God: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (21 JUL 16)

The Sacred Page: Jesus Teaches Us How To Pray: The Mass Readings Explained (The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time) (21 JUL 16)

Word on Fire: Abba Father, Bring us Jesus (Cycle C * Ordinary Time * Week 17)

The Dispatch: The Godless Confusion and the God of Justice (23 JUL 16)

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology: Sunday Bible Reflections: Asked and Answered: Scott Hahn Reflects on the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (15 JUL 16)

Spirituality of the Readings: Ask and You Will Receive (17th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Ask and You Shall Receive (17th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

The Word Embodied: Praying and Pleading (17th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Historical Cultural Context: Mediterranean and American Prayer (17th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Venerable Bede (17th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of our intellect and for the many ways in which You work through it.

Msgr. Pope on the Need for the Mystical

"Our intellect is our greatest strength and one of our greatest blessings, yet almost nothing gets us into as much trouble. Our strength is also our struggle. We think we know a few things, and indeed we do - a very few things.

"The greatest intellects, if they have wisdom and humility, know this. St. Thomas Aquinas famously said, 

"In finem nostrae cognitionis Deum tamquam ignotum cognoscimus. (At the end of our knowledge we know God as unknown.) (In Boetium de Trinitate, q. 1, a. 2, ad 1um)."

 In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the importance of our intellect and on the need to keep it in a proper perspective vis-à-vis with a properly directed mystical reverence. 
To access Msgr. Pope's complete post, please visit:
Community in Mission: Don't Think, Look! A Meditation on the Need for the Mystical (17 JUL 16)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"In the world of work today it is essential to educate and follow the luminous and demanding path of honesty." - Pope Francis

23 July 2016

Jackie Evancho: "Music of the Night"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Jackie Evancho and the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra presenting "Music of the Night":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for ideas and other input that challenges our previous practices in ministering to those entrusted to us.

Fr. Longenecker on Ministry to the Poor that Serves Them in a Positive Manner

"A pilgrimage to Rome comes complete with the whole range of Catholic experiences. As you gaze at the splendor of Michelangelo's dome, your coat tail is tugged by an ancient looking crone with a begging cup. As you stroll across St Peter's Square, you might spot (or smell) the toilets and showers for the homeless set up on the sidelines by Pope Francis.

"As you visit the historic basilicas and churches you can bet on the beggars with their pleading expressions, their practiced poverty and their sometimes studied squalor, and if you watch for them, you'll see Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity busily serving the down-and-outs.

"Jesus said, 'The poor you shall have with you always,' and the Catholic Church doesn't disappoint.

"The poor - whether they are genuine or not - congregate around Catholic churches because the needy know we care. Down through the ages Catholics, along with other Christians have rolled up their sleeves and got to work feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, healing the sick, educating the ignorant and tending the dying.

"It is one of the marks of Christian authenticity. We should be proud that the poor populate our porches and parking lots.

"Helping the poor may be one of the most compelling things we do, but it is also one of the most complex. We're supposed to help the poor, but how do we do that? Is the quick handout after Mass or the hastily written check really the answer? . . .

"In America's complex culture, who is poor and what comprises poverty? Is it just a lack of food and decent housing? Anyone who has even started to work with the needy will soon realize that the problems of the poor are bewilderingly complex, and that very often the charity we dish out contributes to the problem rather than curing it."

In a recent commentary, Father Dwight Longenecker (parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Greenville, SC) reflected on options for ministering to the poor, including a need to develop a charity that is "both tough and tender and truly serves those who are in need." 

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

Crux: Do Christians practice too much 'toxic charity'? (10 JUN 16) 

Background information: 

Dwight Longenecker - Catholic priest and author

Reflection Starter from Richard Carlson

"There is something magical that happens to the human spirit, a sense of calm that comes over you, when you cease needing all the attention directed toward yourself and instead allow others to have the glory." - Richard Carlson (in Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. . . .)

20 July 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of Your created natural world and for the many ways in which it reflects Your glory.

Sisters of Life Celebrate 25th Anniversary

The Sisters of Life celebrated an anniversary last month. It was a 25th anniversary, not all that great shakes as anniversaries go. But in this case, with the Sisters of Life, it was huge. Their story began with one man who had an idea - a community of women what would be dedicated to the protection and enhancement of human life. Eight women originally answered his call. And now, 25 years later, in a time that many associate with a decline in religious life, the original eight have grown to nearly 100. Instead of just one convent they now staff 10, and they have a major impact not only in New York, site of their founding, but upon the entire Church.

They said it couldn't be done, but those in the know knew better. The man with the idea was John Cardinal O'Connor, the late Archbishop of New York, and anyone who knew him was familiar with his iron determination. His commitment to the cause of life was so strong that he all but willed to make it happen.

It started off simply enough, with one of his regular columns in Catholic New York, the archdiocesan newspaper. He titled it "Help Wanted: Sisters of Life," and from the start - often a phenomenon with his columns - it attracted lots of attention. The letters he received in response moved him to call a retreat, at which he told those who had written in: 

"I want to invite you to consider joining a non-existent religious community that I may or may not attempt to found. I am but a simple priest…If it is of the Holy Spirit, it will work. If it isn't, it won't."

Work it did, in a major way. Organizational help was acquired from established religious communities; classes in theology and philosophy were taught; Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, SV, was named superior. After Cardinal O’Connor's death in 2000, the organization continued to grow; his successor in New York, the late Edward Cardinal Egan, established the Sisters of Life in 2004 as a religious institute of diocesan right. In 2012, with the help of the present Archbishop, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, a motherhouse in Suffern, New York, became the Sisters' headquarters and home.

Along the way, the Sisters acquired a handsome quarterly publication - Imprint, printed through the generosity of the Knights of Columbus, written and designed by the Sisters of Life - and it is from its pages that the story of the founding Sisters comes to life: 

"…Forward in trust they went - among them an editor, a nutritionist, a professor - all without a day of experience in religious life. And though there were more questions than answers, they clung to the mystery of grace filling their hearts, leaned on the strength of God, and together strived to realize God's dream of a world of charism, and a community, of life."

And Cardinal O'Connor, 70 years old when he founded the Sisters of Life, reflected on the experience four years later: "…What did I know about founding a community of religious women? I was depending on the Holy Spirit. But the one thing I told the Sisters then and I have tried to be faithful to ever since: I ask for your trust. I ask that we muddle through together to do the will of God, as God wants it to be done, and because He wants it to be done."

It now marks 25 fruitful years, still young and still trusting. And still growing.

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:

Sisters of Life

The Christophers

Reflection Starter from Lao Tzu

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." - Lao Tzu

18 July 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for family gatherings and for the events they celebrate.

Msgr. Pope on Straining Out Gnats but Swallowing Camels

"[In a recent daily] Gospel (Mat 12:1-8). . .,Jesus is rebuked for violating the Sabbath, [This] reminded me of the video below. It illustrates how we sometimes follow smaller rules while overlooking bigger ones in the process.

"The Lord Jesus was often scorned by the people of His day, who claimed that He overlooked certain details of the law (often Sabbath observances). But those who rebuked him for this were guilty of far greater violations."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the importance of avoiding the sinful tendency to try to substitute or swap spiritual practices - observing a few things while overlooking others.

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

Community in Mission: Straining Out Gnats but Swallowing Camels, as Seen in a Commercial (14 JUL 16)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

“God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy." - Pope Francis (in Evangelii Gaudium [The Joy of the Gospel])

16 July 2016

Presentation by the Kentish Guards

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this presentation by the Kentish Guards, from East Grenwich, RI (who participated in this year's Deep River Ancient Muster):

Happy Birthday, Tom!

Happy birthday, to son, Tom (Thomas Lopatosky, Jr.) (proprietor of Lopco Contacting)!!!

Deep River Ancient Muster

Myrna and I were blessed today to attend the parade portion of the annual Deep River Ancient Muster, considered to be the oldest and largest gathering of fife and drum participants and enthusiasts in the world (sometimes referred to as "The Granddaddy of All Musters").

It was a beautiful day (a little on the warm side, weatherwise), and all participants appeared to have a great time. Although most of the participating corps were from the Northeast, some came from as far away as West Virginia, North Carolina, Los Angeles, and even Switzerland.

Background information:

Deep River Ancient Muster

Wikipedia: Deep River, Connecticut

Town of Deep River

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for good drama that enhances our lives.

Sr. Anne Murray, O.P., and the Ghostbusters

"When she goes to the new Ghostbusters movie, Dominican Sister Nancy Murray plans on wearing a Ghostbusters jacket.

"But this is no typical fan or jacket, because Murray is the older sister of Bill Murray, the actor who portrayed one of the original Ghostbusters in the 1984 comedy classic, and she plans on wearing a jacket given to cast and crew members, which her brother in turn gave to her.

Interviewed by Crux just before the film’s July 15 release, Sister Murray said she was looking forward to seeing the cast of four funny women taking on the lead roles this time, and she reflected on the original."

A recent Crux report carried this interview with Sister Nancy and her reflections on the Murray family, on religious life (including that of Saint Catherine of Sienna, also a Dominican), and on acting as preaching.

To access the complete Crux report, please visit:

Crux: Nun and sister of original 'Ghostbusters' star says acting is preaching (16 JUL 16)

Background information:

St. Catherine of Siena: Brought to Life by Sister Nancy Murray, OP

Reflection Starter from Archbishop Rembert Weakland, OSB

"The Christian message of peace is this: if God so loved us that he sent his Son to be one of us, then we do have a great value in his eyes. We, too, then, must value others in the same way. Secondly, we must learn how to love in the same way, caring not for the self, but for the other.

"Thus, the Christian message is one of hope against all odds. It is easy to speak of hope when all goes well; but Christian hope is based on the belief that God cares even when all seems lost and every human force seems inadequate.

"We can give others glimpses of such hope by our own example of loving service. Each time we imitate Jesus by a disinterested, loving care for others, we help them overcome violence within them." - Archbishop Rembert Weakland, O.S.B.

14 July 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the rest You offer Your servants.

Sr. Constance Veit, L.S.P., on Joyfulness

"In May I was asked to offer a spiritual reflection at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. I used my moment in the spotlight to share three pieces of advice that helped carry me through the weeks surrounding our appearance at the U.S. Supreme Court: Dare to be of good cheer ... See Christ in each person, whether friend or foe ... Believe that nothing is impossible with God.

"This simple advice seemed to strike a chord with my audience, especially the admonition to be joyful. The crowd actually laughed when I suggested that evangelizers must not be 'sourpusses.' Afterward a gentleman who is highly esteemed in Catholic circles told me that it was the first time he'd ever heard the word 'sourpuss' used in a speech! It might be the first time it ever made it into a papal document as well -- I was quoting Pope Francis!"

In a recent commentary, Sister Constance Veit, director of communications for the Little Sisters of the Poor, reflected on the important role of joy in our lives.

To access Sr. Constance's complete essay, please visit:

The Pilot: Echoes: Dare to be of Good Cheer! (8 JUL 16)

Reflection Starter from Matthew

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." - Matthew 11:28-30 (today's Gospel reading)

13 July 2016

Antonín Dvorák: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Antonín Dvorák’s "Symphony No. 9 in E Minor" (also known as the "New World Symphony") as played by the London Symphony Orchestra:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the graces You bestow on us through our reception of the various sacraments You instituted.

'No Finer Act of Heroism in Military History'

In my last column, I began telling the story of Navy pilot Jesse Brown, who was shot down behind enemy lines during the Korean War and crash-landed on the side of a North Korean mountain. The situation appeared hopeless, but Brown's wingman, Tom Hudner, refused to let his friend die alone. He risked his own life to land his plane next to Brown's. While 1950, when all this occurred, was still a time of racial division in America, the friendship between Brown, who was black, and Hudner, who was white, modeled what race relations could be.

A lot of that had to do with the Christian faith of both men. Adam Makos, whose best-seller Devotion tells their stories, told me, "Jesse would read his Bible before bed. I think Jesse learned from religion that we have to aspire to a higher sense of value. He saw what America could be, and he knew he loved the spirit of this country. I think that faith was his anchor. It gave him that promise that things can be better. [Tom Hudner's Catholic faith] influenced him more from a social justice perspective. I'm a Catholic, Tom is a Catholic, and we're taught to love everyone equally…Tom grew up with that principle. His father told him, 'A man will reveal himself through his character, not his skin color.' That set up his friendship with Jesse."

Makos credits military service during wartime with helping to dispel many prejudices in society. He said, "[Everyone fighting] knows that their lives are intertwined, so true value shines through at that time, true character. Hatred and things like racism go right out the window because we have to rely on each other. So I think those men came home from that war, and they were changed forever in their attitudes about other races."

The character of both Hudner and Brown shone brightly on that fateful day in North Korea. Hudner put out the fire from Brown's plane with his bare hands. Unfortunately, Brown was so badly injured that he died. But he wasn't alone at the end. Hudner comforted him the best he could, and made a promise to his friend that it took him until 2013 to fulfill (though you'll have to read the book to find out what that promise is). The captain of Hudner's ship said of his actions, "There has been no finer act of unselfish heroism in military history."

Hudner is still alive today, and Makos cherishes his friendship with this humble hero who embodies the values of The Christophers. The author hopes that readers of Devotion gain a sense of the character and heroism both Hudner and Brown exhibited throughout their lives. He concludes:

"I hope readers walk away with inspiration and hope for our future because race relations in America seem rocky right now. But I also think the media plays up the worst of it. We're taught to fear each other. But if we look back to the friendship of these two men at a time that was darker in American history, at a time when the races didn't even associate with each other, they can show us the way to the future. I also hope that when we read this book, we discover the Korean War. We don't know what they were fighting for, why they were fighting, but this beautiful story can open our eyes to these forgotten heroes [so] no generation of American veterans will be forgotten."

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 Joel Weldon

"Most people seem to want tremendous improvement, instantly. But you'll probably find it's the little things you do that eventually add up to big results." - Joel Weldon

12 July 2016

Publicly Funded Prekindergarten Education in Vermont

As of this month, all school districts in Vermont are required to provide universal publicly funded prekindergarten education for a minimum of ten hours per week for 35 weeks annually for all 3, 4, and 5 year old children who are not enrolled in kindergarten. Vermont is believed to be the first state require this level of Publicly Funded Prekindergarten Education.
Media reports:
Background information:

Don Moen: "Thank You, Lord"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of Don Moen singing "Thank You, Lord":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for those who work on farms, on the seas, in the transportation field, and elsewhere to help provide us with the food we eat each day.

Parishes Welcoming Those with Special Needs

"When Father David Nuss learned that Sunshine Communities was seeking group-home sites for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, he knew his parish could help.

"Not only did Little Flower Catholic Church in Toldeo, Ohio, have a parcel of unused land on its 19-acre campus that would be suitable for such homes, but as a faith community with a fully accessible church building and a heart for people with disabilities, it was a place where, Father Nuss said, 'We've got a built-in 'welcome wagon.''

"After visiting the parish for a Sunday Mass, Sunshine representatives agreed. Sale of the land - at below-market price - was completed, and ground was broken May 2 for two homes that will house eight people each.

"Betty Holland, Sunshine’s CEO, said the partnership between her organization and Little Flower will give residents immediate social connections with the parish and St. Benedict School, something not always easily achieved, even when sites can be found for such homes: 'People with developmental disabilities too often live in our communities without having a sense of belonging that comes from lasting relationships.'

A recent National Catholic Register article reported on some of the Church's outreach to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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

National Catholic Register: Special Welcome: Parishes Gladly Accommodate Those With a Variety of Needs (9 JUL 16)

Reflection Starter from G. K. Chesterton

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried." - G. K. Chesterton

11 July 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of summer flowers.

On Evangelization on the Internet

"The digital world is the richest, most challenging and limitless territory for evangelization ever devised, but Catholic communicators must be professional, creative and empathetic to realize its full potential.

"That was the view of speakers at a July 6 Catholic Digital Communications Conference at Jesuit-run Fordham University.

"They examined myriad ways to use social media and the internet to spread the faith to nonbelievers and help believers grow in their understanding and practice.

"Digital communicators have the privilege to be missionaries and evangelists, according to Elizabeth Scalia, editor-in-chief of the Catholic online magazine Aleteia.org. 'The internet is the place where everyone thinks they already know everything,' she said. Proselytizing is folly and the most successful missionary efforts are those most like Christ incarnate, where the evangelist is fully present to others, 'even when the presence is so strangely virtual and textual,' Scalia said.

To access a report on this conference and some of its offerings, please visit:

The Pilot: Church urged to 'feed the sheep where they are' -- on the internet. (8 JUL 16)

Reflection Starter from Omar Bradley

"Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount." - General Omar Bradley

10 July 2016

"Make Me a Blessing"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of "Make Me a Blessing":

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Deuteronomy 30:10-14, Colossians 1:15-20, and Luke 10:25-37. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 69 (Psalm 66:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36-37). 

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

YouTube: Psalm 69: Turn To The Lord In Your Need, And You Will Live by Keith Ballentine 

The Gospel reading is as follows:

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?"

He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God,with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live."

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

Jesus replied, "A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, 'Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.' Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers' victim?"

He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy."

Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 10, 2016)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 10, 2016)

Community in Mission: Love Lightens Every Load - A Homily for the 15th Sunday of the Year (9 JUL 16)

Deacon Greg Kandra: "Who is my neighbor?": Homily for July 10, 2016, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (9 JUL 16) 

The Sacred Page: Won't You Be My Neighbor? The 15th Sunday of OT (7 JUL 16)

The Sacred Page: The Jewish Roots of the Merciful Samaritan: The Mass Readings Explained (The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time) (7 JUL 16)

Word on Fire: Hearing the Voice of God (Cycle C * Ordinary Time * Week 15)

The Dispatch: The Noble Heart and the Good Samaritan (8 JUL 16)

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology: Sunday Bible Reflections: What We Must Do: Scott Hahn Reflects on the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (4 JUL 16)

Spirituality of the Readings: Beloved of God (15th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Who Is Your Samaritan? (15th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

The Word Embodied: Freedom on the Journey (15th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Historical Cultural Context: The Good Samaritan (15th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Origen of Alexandria (15th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Word to Life Radio Broadcast: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (9 JUL 16)

Thank You, Lord

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

Msgr. Pope on True Mercy

"This year in particular (the year of mercy), we are summoned to reflect on the concept of mercy. Many think of mercy as an overlooking of sin rather than as a remedy for it. To some, the fact of God's mercy is a sign that He doesn't care about sin and is content to leave us in it. Those who speak to the reality of mercy are often called harsh, mean-spirited, etc. Many set mercy and sin in opposition to one another.

"The Lord Jesus unites these realities together. For the Lord, mercy is necessary because there is sin, not because sin is 'no big deal.' It is because sin is a big deal that mercy is needed and is glorious.

"Bishop Robert Barron aptly states, Many receive the message of divine mercy as tantamount to a denial of the reality of sin, as though sin no longer matters. But just the contrary is the case. To speak of mercy is to be intensely aware of sin and its peculiar form of destructiveness (Vibrant Paradoxes: The Both/And of Catholicism, p. 1).

"So mercy does not deny sin; it acknowledges it and supplies an often-challenging remedy. Jesus shows mercy by calling us from our sin and healing us from its effects."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the message of the mercy offered by Jesus - reckoning us as sinners and regarding us as sick, summoning us to change, and healing sinners of sin.

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

Community in Mission: Beware of Fake Mercy - Behold True Mercy in the Call of St. Matthew (3 JUL 16)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"If God is present in our life, the joy of bringing the Gospel will be our strength and our happiness." Pope Francis

09 July 2016

Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums Presentation

As this blessed week daws to a close, I offer this presentation by the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums (Senior Corps):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing hard working people in the various trades who strive to serve well the people and responsibilities they are entrusted with.

Matthew Petesch on St. John Berchmans and Praying for People Who Annoy Us

"I recently stumbled upon an article on Aleteia, in which the author, Joanne McPortland, proposes making a list of our enemies and intentionally praying for them every day. This isn't a radically new idea, but it is a radical practice that transforms us into people of mercy. As McPortland puts it, 'It changes how we see, transforming enemies into beloved sisters and brothers.' By petitioning our heavenly Father on behalf of those who wrong us, we become like Christ who utters from the cross, 'Father forgive them, they know not what they do' (Lk 23:34). We begin to see our enemies as beloved brothers and sisters precisely because we see them through the eyes of Christ.

"It is this transformative vision that St. John Berchmans embodied during his brief life. He, like McPortland, compiled a list of individuals for whom he would pray, but he took it a step further. He also praised God for a specific quality that each person possessed. Through this practice, St. John Berchmans taught himself to see God in every person, even those who might annoy him."

In a recent commentary, writer Matthew Petesch reflected on this quality of Saint John Berchmans.

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

Mountain Catholic: A Lesson in Loving Our Neighbor From St. John Berchmans (7 JUL 16)

Reflection Starter from Sr. Angélique Arnauld

"Perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, but in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. Neglect nothing; the most trivial action may be performed to God." - Sister Jacqueline-Marie-Angélique Arnauld, S.O.Cist.

07 July 2016

Thank You, Lord

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

Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble on the Power of the Eucharist

"A friend recently told me that her father used to help her mother in the kitchen with the most tedious of tasks. One thing he liked to do was peel walnuts and sort them into buckets. Then, he would give bags of the nuts to friends and family. My friend's father recently passed away and a few months later she reached into her freezer to get some of the walnuts to make banana bread. As she looked at the bag of walnuts she realized that even though her father was gone, he had left her nourishment for her journey.

"At that moment, my friend suddenly had a deeper understanding of the Eucharist. Jesus knew he was going to ascend into heaven, but he left his followers with something to nourish them, and not just earthly food but his own Body and Blood.

"We are looked after.

"We are cared for.

"We have a heavenly Father who knows our every need and goes to great lengths to give us what we require. Our daily bread is not a symbol or mere earthly sustenance; it is true spiritual food, the real flesh and blood of our Savior the God-man. The Eucharist is nourishment that transcends ceremony and finds its power and its essence in the very workings of the Trinity itself."

In a recent commentary, Sister Theresa Aletheia NobleF.S.P., reflected on the Eucharist and its power.

To access Sister Theresa'a complete post, please visit:

Aleteia: 10 amazing facts about the power of the Eucharist (5 JUL 16)

Reflection Starter

"In the late 1700s, the manager of a large hotel in Baltimore refused lodging to a man dressed like a farmer. He turned the farmer away because he thought this fellow's shabby appearance would discredit the reputation of his distinguished hotel guests. The man picked up his bag and left without saying a further word to anyone.

"Later that evening, the innkeeper discovered that he had turned away none other than the Vice President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson! Immediately, the manager sent a note of apology to the famed patriot, asking him to come back and be his guest in the hotel. Jefferson replied by instructing the messenger as follows, 'Tell him I have already reserved a room. I value his good intentions highly but if he has no room for a common American farmer, then he has no room for the Vice President of the United States.'

"How often have you been so blind that you've pushed people aside because you disregarded their humble circumstances? They may seem to have so little to offer you in return, but, remember, we are exhorted to show a little kindness to the least of these." - Source Unknown

06 July 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Faith.

An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship and Sacrifice

What kind of man intentionally crashes his airplane behind enemy lines during wartime to save a friend? That's the question that New York Times best-selling author Adam Makos set out to answer in his book Devotion, about the bond between two Navy pilots during the Korean War: Tom Hudner, a white New Englander from the country-club scene, and Jesse Brown, an African American sharecropper's son from Mississippi.

As Makos recalled during a Christopher Closeup interview with me, "On December 4th, 1950, the Korean War had turned very dire. We had 10,000 U.S. Marines surrounded by 100,000 Chinese communist troops at a place called the Chosin Reservoir, way up in northern North Korea. Men like Tom and Jesse would fly [from their nearby naval carrier ships] to give air support to the Marines. They would drop bombs and strafe, and that's when Jesse Brown was shot down. He was hit by a bullet from the ground, and he crash-landed in the only place he could - on the side of a North Korean mountain."

Brown's wingman, Tom Hudner, witnessed what happened, and then saw smoke rising from the nose of Jesse's plane, which lay 13 miles behind enemy lines. Hudner said, "I'm going in."

Makos continued, "Tom knew his friend was about to die, and he was willing to give his own life to try to change that. With his wheels up, Tom circled around and came to a skidding, screeching stop alongside of Jesse's plane. Tom got out into that deep snow and set out to try to save his friend's life. It had never happened before; it has never happened since."

Makos wasn't solely interested in the incident itself, but what made these two men who they were since they came from such different backgrounds. He knew it had to be special because the seed of this book was planted when the author attended a Veterans History Conference in Washington, D.C. a few years ago, and saw Hudner there wearing his Medal of Honor, "the highest award in the U.S. military."

Hudner, he learned, could have lived a comfortable life following in the footsteps of his father who had opened a chain of grocery stores. But he gave it up to join the Navy because his country was in the midst of World War II, and he wanted to help.

Jesse Brown, meanwhile, had grown up dirt poor in Mississippi. As a child, he fell in love with the idea of being a Navy pilot, even though that was a nearly impossible dream for African Americans at that time.

Racism was a major challenge that Jesse had to face, so he prepared himself while growing up. Makos explained, "Jesse's mother was a missionary and a teacher, his father was a deacon at their local church. They both taught him to let words roll off his back. So when someone called him a slur, when they would say the most hateful thing, his mother would say, 'You can let it get to you, Jesse - or you don't have to give the words any power, and you can just let them go.' So Jesse would stand in front of a mirror at night and he would curse himself in the mirror. And he taught himself to be hardened to it and to just let it go."

Both Brown's and Hudner's Christian faith also plays into the story, and I'll share those details and more in my next column.

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 Helen Keller

"Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light." - Helen Keller

04 July 2016

"America the Beautiful"

As our celebration of Independence Day continues, I offer this version of the United States Navy Band and Sea Chanters presenting "America the Beautiful":

Prayer Celebrating This Nation's Freedom

This was shared with me some time ago:

"Lord God Almighty, in whose name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

(from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979 edition)

Happy Independence Day!!!

As we celebrate Independence Day (which, unfortunately, too many people only know as the Fourth of July), it might be good to reflect on what this holiday is all about.

In the summer of 1776 as the Second Continental Congress was meeting in Philadelphia, several threads were in play. There was already active warfare going on between the colonies and England.

This warfare had been preceded by events such as the burning of the British revenue schooner, HMS Gaspée, in Narragansett Bay, RI, in June 1772, and a raid by colonial militia on Fort William and Mary in Portsmouth Harbor, NH, in December 1774. Then came the event in Lexington, MA, that was to trigger what came to be known as the "shot heard 'round the world" as approximately 77 colonists assembled against a force of some 700 British troops who were marching to seize weapons and munitions they had heard the colonists were storing in Concord. To this day, no one knows who who fired the shot that triggered the exchange of fire (or even whether it was fired intentionally or accidentally), a skirmish that killed eight of the colonists.

This was followed by a larger battle in Concord, where the British troops met a force of approximately 400 colonial militia (the "minutemen" that many of us have read or heard about). After this battle, the British began retreating toward Boston, and, as they did so, they were fired upon along the route by a militia force that had now grown to about 4000.

Thus began the American Revolution in earnest. There was more fighting in New England (in Massachusetts [including Maine, which was then a part of Massachusetts], Rhode Island, and Connecticut). However, the war (and most of the fighting) spread to the Middle Colonies and then to the Southern Colonies.

Initially many of the colonists were not really thinking of independence. Rather, they were protesting unfair British rule of the colonies, while others did not have strong feelings about the conflict. However, as the war dragged on, there was a growing movement for independence. The delegates to the Second Continental Congress were aware of this, and many were part of the movement.

In May of 1776, Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution stating that the United Colonies were free and independent states. The Congress appointed a committee (including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams) to follow up on this. The committee, with Jefferson doing most of the writing came up with a document that put forth a number of reasons for separation from Britain.

Even more than that, this document starts off with a list of natural rights and goes on to state that governments are set up to protect these rights, and that, if a government violates these rights, the people have a right to abolish that government and create a new one.

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . ."

Then this document lists a number of grievances to show that the British government had violated these rights, and, finally, the document declares that the colonies are now free and independent states.

This document, which we now call the Declaration of Independence, was approved by the Continental Congress on the 4th of July and was actually signed by the delegates on the 2nd of August.

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Unfortunately, too few students learn much about this Declaration, what went into its development, and what this means to them. Fortunately, there is a movement in many states, including here in New England, to focus better on civics instruction.

Civics, a branch of social studies, focuses on the role of citizens and their relationship with their government. This includes studying how the system of government works and encouraging students to get involved.

One strong proponent of civics education is retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter. After he retired, I sent him a note to thank him for and to encourage his promotion of civics education.

An excerpt from this note:

"I . . . want to thank you in a special way for your promotion of civics instruction, something I think is so very important.

"I grew up in Southington, Connecticut, and the local high school did offer a civics class. However, the only students required to take the class were those in the 'general' course of studies.  Those of us in the college preparation or other courses did not need to, and very few did.  I chose to because I thought it was important to understand how our government worked on the various levels and with its various related elements, and I am grateful to this day. . . .

"Thank you for your recent encouraging words related to civics education and for your commitment to this cause.  I wish you well in this.  May your efforts bear much fruit for the students and other people of New Hampshire, of New England, and throughout the United States."

During these times a lot of American citizens are taking the country and its leadership to task in many ways - and there are many things that need to be corrected in this country. But we must not forget that there is a lot right with it. There are many good people throughout this great nation who have a lot of good ideas and a lot of enthusiasm. There are many good people who have a strong love for this nation and everything it stands for. There are many good reasons to have hope - and one of the best reasons in the nation's motto (which many people do take to heart): "In God we trust."

Happy 240th Birthday, United States of America!!!

For more information about the Declaration, visit:

National Archives: The Charters of Freedom: Declaration of Independence