18 September 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the encouragement and grace You give Your people to trust You in all circumstances.

Msgr. Pope on Onomatopoeia in Sacred Music

"Do you remember the meaning of the literary term onomatopoeia? In case you've forgotten, it's a word that sounds like the object it describes. Words like oink, meow, wham, sizzle, and my personal favorite: yackety-yak are examples of onomatopoeia.

"There are times when music, including sacred music, has an onomatopoetic quality; they sound like what their words are describing. For example, there are songs that describe the crucifixion featuring hammer blows in the background, and songs about the resurrection and ascension that feature notes soaring up the scale.

"The best way to understand musical onomatopoeia is to listen to examples of it. So, consider the eight examples of sacred music I present below, which powerfully take up the very sound of what the words are describing."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the role of onomatopoeia in some sacred music.

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

Community in Mission: The Genius of Sacred Music as Heard in Seven Musical "Onomatopoeias" (11 SEP 16)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Let us ask for a faith that allows us to have trust in God no matter what the circumstances of life." - Pope Francis

17 September 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of uplifting music.

Stumbling on the Road to Salvation

It's not always easy to wrap our heads or hearts around the concept of God's unconditional love and His willingness to help us carry our burdens. Sometimes music can help us better absorb those truths. That's the kind of music that Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Sarah Hart creates on a regular basis, writing songs for artists like Amy Grant, Matt Maher and Audrey Assad. But she also does the same thing on her own albums, including her latest Til the Song is Sung.

I've interviewed Hart many times on Christopher Closeup, and she's always a delightful and honest guest with a lot of wisdom to share. Our most recent conversation was no exception. Though she's grounded in her Catholic faith, she admits that she struggles with doubt and runs from God at times, a topic she addresses in the song "Constant."

Hart explained, "I am comforted by the knowledge that all of the saints that we know and uphold in the Catholic Church have been runners, and have found themselves, at times, reluctant. That's such a gift to us as Catholic Christians . . . If I stopped doubting and I stopped making mistakes and then coming back and asking God's forgiveness, it means '’m no longer in a relationship with Him. So I bless the doubting and the stumbling because it's all part of working on my salvation."

Scripture is one of Hart's greatest inspirations, both in terms of her spiritual life and her songwriting. The song "Good," for instance, issues a wake-up call about how long humanity has kept messing up, and how God keeps giving us another chance. Interestingly, a lot of atheists' arguments against God hinge on the idea that He's a vengeful bully in the Bible. Hart, meanwhile, points out how great God is throughout Scripture.

She said, "In all those circumstances where you see God's wrath in the Old Testament, you also see a God who, over and over again, loves. After the people are wandering in the desert, God says, 'I love you and you're starving. Let Me give you some manna, and I'll lead you to the Promised Land.' . . I always equate the Old Testament God with a father who puts his kids in timeout. [That] doesn't mean He's banished them forever. He puts them in timeout to learn a lesson and then goes into their room, puts them on his lap, gives them a hug and says, 'I really love you so much.'"

I pointed out to Hart that a Christopher-type theme runs through "Til the Song is Sung," because her lyrics promote an attitude of lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness. She laughed and said that when she told her mother she was going to do an interview with The Christophers, her mom started singing our old 1950's theme song, "One Little Candle." Then, Hart agreed that the idea of that light appeals to her.

She said, "This is my ninth record, and I thought to myself, 'How long am I gonna do this?' I felt like God said to me, 'Sarah, you will do this till your song is sung.' . . . But the song's not sung yet, so I'll continue to do music and ministry and traveling until God says otherwise. I think that's the point of sharing the Gospel. Even when music stops for me, I will still be sharing the song because I'll be doing what you guys do: lighting one little candle and carrying the light of God as long as I live, until my song is completely sung."

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:

Sarah Hart Music

The Christophers

Reflection Starter from G. K. Chesterton

"You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink." - G. K. Chesterton

11 September 2016

A 9-11 Remembrance

"The favors of the Lord are not exhausted. His mercies are not spent. Every morning, they are renewed. Great is his faithfulness. I will always trust in him." - Lamentations 3:22-24

Over the past few days, people around this region and this nation have been, individually and special ceremonies, remembering the tragic events of September 11, 2001. As part of his remembrance, Deacon Greg Kandra shared the homily given by Father Michael Duffy, OFM, (director of Saint Francis Inn, Philadelphia, PA) at the funeral of Father Mychal Judge, OFM, on 15 September. Father Mychal, a chaplain of the New York City Fire Department, was one of the 343 department members killed on September 11th at the World Trade Center (127 members have subsequently died due to illnesses related to their work in the rescue and recovery effort). The quote from Lamentations was included in the homily.

To access Fr. Duffy's complete homily, please visit:

Franciscan Friars, Holy Name Province: Homily Preached at Funeral Mass for Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM

Father Michael Duffy
Father Michael Duffy

"God of Mercy and Compassion"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of the Daughters of Mary Mother of Our Savior presenting "God of Mercy and Compassion":

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; and Luke 15:1-32. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 51 (Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 51 "The Miserere: Prayer of Repentance and Hope in God"

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." So to them he addressed this parable. "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

"Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.' In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Then he said, "A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, 'Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.' So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, 'How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.'' So he got up and went back to his father.

"While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.' But his father ordered his servants, 'Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.' Then the celebration began.

"Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, 'Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, 'Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns, who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.' He said to him, 'My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.'" 

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 11, 2016)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 11, 2016)

Community in Mission: Crazy! A Homily for the 24th Sunday of the Year (10 SEP 16)

The Sacred Page: Prodigal Son Sunday: 24th Sunday in OT (7 SEP 16)

The Sacred Page: Lost Sheep, Lost Coin & Lost Son: Mass Readings Explained (The 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time) (9 SEP 16)

Word on Fire: A Coin, A Sheep, A Son (Cycle C * Ordinary Time * Week 24)

Catholic World Report: The Dispatch: The Parable of the Perfect Father (10 SEP 16)

Spirituality of the Readings: The Prodigal Us (24th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Prodigal Father, Two Lost Sons (24th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

The Word Engaged: Prodigal Love (24th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Historical Cultural Context: Offensive Behavior (24th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Peter Chrysologus (24th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your grace that inspires a contrite heart within us.

Msgr. Pope on Kindness to Animals

"We live in times when excess is common. There is an old Latin saying Abusus non tollit usum (abuse does not take away the use).

"This certainly applies to our treatment of animals. There are some extremists who would equate the dignity of animals with that of humans, failing to understand that human abilities are exceptional and unique due to the capacities of our soul, made in the image of God. Others think it immoral for us to make use of animals as beasts of burden or for necessary food. Still others think that animal companions can replace healthy human relationships (rather than merely augment them).

"But whatever the extremes and errors of our time, our animals do have important roles in helping us to become more human. St. Thomas Aquinas set forth the paradoxical notion that animals can help us to be more humane and more human. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on why kindness to animals is an important virtue to cultivate.

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

Community in Mission: On Kindness to Animals and Why It Is an Important Virtue to Cultivate (6 SEP 16)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"The Lord presents himself each day and knocks at the door of our heart." - Pope Francis

10 September 2016

Aardvark Jazz Orchestra: "The Mooch"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra presenting "The Mooch":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for awesomeness of Your creation and the ways in which the various parts fit together so well, usually in ways we are not aware of at our level.

Kathy Schiffer on the Murder of Fr. Leo Heinrichs

"When you read a headline about priests being murdered at Mass, who comes to mind? Almost certainly, you think of Fr. Jacques Hamel, who died last month at the hands of Muslim terrorists during Mass in the small French town of Saint Etienne-du-Rouvray, in Normandy.

"If your mind stretches beyond the horror of Fr. Hamel's death, his throat slashed by ISIS sympathizers, then you probably think next of Blessed Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador. Archbishop Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass in the chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence on March 24, 1980. Just one day before his death, Romero had called on Salvadoran soldiers, as Christians, to stop aiding the government's repression and violation of basic human rights, and to instead obey the laws of God. For that, he was shot while praying at the altar.

"The priest I have in mind, though, is not Father Hamel, not Archbishop Romero, but a humble Franciscan priest who served as pastor of St. Elizabeth's in Denver, Colorado in 1907-1908.

Fr. Leo Heinrichs was born in Germany but fled persecution under Otto von Bismarck's Kulturkampf, arriving in the United States in the 1880s. With his fellow seminarians, he settled at St. Bonaventure's Friary in Paterson, New Jersey. He professed his final vows on December 8, 1890, and was ordained to the priesthood in July 1891."

In a recent commentary, writer Kathy Schiffer reflected on the murder (martyrdom?) of Father Heinrichs as he was distributing Holy Communion at Mass on Sunday, 23 February 1908, at Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church, Denver, Colorado.

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

National Catholic Register: Blogs: Kathy Schiffer: 108 Years Ago, This Priest's Murder at Mass Shocked the U.S. (23 AUG 16)

Reflection Starter from Albert Schweitzer

"Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf." - Dr. Albert Schweitzer

09 September 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of beauty in our lives.

Dr. Michael Pakaluk on Contemplation of Beauty

"Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in one of his Gulag books tells of how he and other prisoners were kept in buildings without any windows, yet each day, when they were being marched from one prison bloc to another, they passed through a hallway with a small window opening to the sky. And they would pause and stare at that sliver of sky in wonderment, lingering there until the guards pushed them along.

"One can similarly read, in many of the stories of unfortunate persons sent by the Nazis to concentration camps, that when they were transported from one camp to another they would stare in amazement at the beauty of the mountains or countryside they were passing through.

"Here is another story: a mother who was born blind but gained her sight as an adult was asked what most affected her when she finally could see. 'My children,' she said, 'I had no idea how beautiful they were.' Before she could only hear their voices but could not see the beauty of their hair, visage, expression, complexion.

"These stories and others like them teach us that beauty is something that we can hunger after, the way a famished person hungers after food. Also, that beauty is hopeful, because it points us toward something higher and better, a world different from our own, where standards of justice and right are always observed. Also, that beauty is nonetheless all around us -- 'consider the lilies of the field' -- and we can take it for granted, because we have lost sensitivity, or have become coarse or uncaring. We are very often not recollected enough to receive it."

In a recent commentary, Dr. Michael Pakaluk, Professor of Philosophy at Catholic University of America, reflected on beauty and its role in our lives, including our faith lives.

To access Dr. Pakaluk’s complete essay, please visit:

Boston Pilot: Echoes: Impoverished without Contemplation (5 AUG 16)

Reflection Starter from Joseph Wirthlin

"The more often we see the things around us - even the beautiful and wonderful things - the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds - even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less." - Joseph B. Wirthlin

08 September 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for opportunities You present us to spend time with You.

Matthew Petesch on Taking Time for Jesus

"I live in a small town where artsy folk love to congregate. Strolling the streets, you come upon a number of art galleries, pottery studios, and (of course) coffee shops. One establishment stands out from among the rest: the General Mercantile.

"Stopping in to this coffee house is nothing like a Starbucks experience. The centuries-old building still bears the marks of its former life, when it served as a mercantile store in the early 1900s. The inside is furnished with a counter and wooden booths that could have found their way into an old Western starring John Wayne.

"But the differences go beyond the look.

"When you go to The General Mercantile - or simply 'The Merc' as locals call it - be prepared to wait. They don't serve drip coffee, but instead do pour-overs, a type of brewing where each cup is made individually, thus taking longer than a regular cup. They also serve loose leaf teas and other specialty coffees, but these too take time. Because of this, the shop tends to draw in the unique individual known as the hipster."

In a recent commentary, writer Matthew Petesch reflected on the importance of approaching our prayer life like the patrons of the General Mercantile - taking time to to relax and spend time with friends - in this case, the Lord.

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

Mountain Catholic: Hipsters, Coffee, and Jesus (7 SEP 16)

Reflection Starter from Romans 8

"We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

07 September 2016

Happy Anniversary, Myrna!

As Myrna and I celebrate the fourteenth anniversary of our marriage, I offer this version of Gene Kelly presenting "Singing in the Rain," from the 1952 movie of the same name:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings You bestow on us though the sacrament of Matrimony.

How Love Provides Wings of Refuge

Chances are that you haven't heard about Samantha Kauffman yet. She's just 17 and graduated earlier this spring from Wayne Hills High School in New Jersey. She turned in quite a record with the Wayne Hills swim team, too, notching three county championships. She's now a freshman at the University of Delaware, planning to take her swimming career to new levels there. But if Samantha has any plans for Olympic stardom, her profile by Sean Farrell in The Record of Hackensack doesn’t mention them. Instead, the headline over that profile lists her biggest talent, and it turns out to be "helping others." An apt headline it proves to be.

Samantha Kauffman's special interest is helping the victims of Haiti's earthquake, and she does so in a direct and personal way. She zeroed in on a children's home, and there she found Fegans, a six-year-old boy left orphan by the storm. The two bonded at once, and thus began a close and enduring friendship. But as close as she is to Fegans, he's only part of the reason that Samantha keeps going to Haiti, again and again.The whole country, it seems, has been devastated by the earthquake, almost daring the impoverished land not to bother rebuilding. Samantha Kauffman is just one of many - visitors from other countries, and most of all, Haitians themselves - who are there to make sure that doesn't happen.

"The earthquake" requires no further identification. It happened in 2010, registered an almost unheard-of measurement of 7.0, and came close to obliterating a country already regarded as the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Billions of dollars followed in humanitarian aid, yet the rebuilding process is painfully slow.

It was three years after the quake, in 2013 that Kauffman made her first visit there, and she almost turned back. The never-ending smell of garbage, the overbearing heat, and the unending poverty were almost too much for a 15-year-old - which she was at the time - to take. But she had been sent by her church, the Powerhouse Christian Church of Wyckoff, and she determined to stick it out. Then she saw the Wings of Refuge children's home, and she quickly changed her mind for good.

"The first time you get there, they latch onto you, and they don't even know you," Kaufmann said of the children. "I wanted to go home so badly. Then I met the kids, and it changed my life."

Nearly three dozen Haitian children are at the Wings of Refuge home, ranging in age from three to 15. They're fed there, learn their lessons, play games. "They're thankful for what they have," she said. A volunteer back in the U.S. put Kauffman's contribution in perspective: "Samantha loves those kids. There's not many teens that I've seen who are willing to give up time, energy and money to go to a really poor place."

The needs of Haiti are immense, enough to try the patience of even the dauntless. But Samantha Kauffman, dauntless by any measure, plugs on. She realizes that she can't change the entire country, but she's making a start. And there are those kids.

"They have nothing," she said. ''But they have everything…because they have each other."

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 G. K. Chesterton

"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." - G. K. Chesterton

06 September 2016

Thank You. Lord

Thank you, Lord, for opportunities You give us to be Your presence to the persons we encounter each day.

Donald McClarey on the First American Cardinal

"Born on March 10, 1810, to Irish immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, John McCloskey when he was seventeen had a life altering accident. Driving a team of oxen pulling a wagon full of heavy logs, the wagon overturned and buried John beneath the logs for several hours. For the next few days, he drifted in and out of consciousness and was blind. He recovered his sight, but his health was permanently damaged by the accident.

"Out of his travail, he decided to become a priest. He was ordained a priest of the diocese of New York in 1834. He wanted to minister to the victims of a cholera epidemic, but his bishop, recognizing rare ability in the young priest, ordered him to Rome where he studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University and the University of the Sapienza."

In a recent commentary, Donald R. McClarey offered a profile of Archbishop John McCloskey, the first cardinal in the United States.

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

Catholic Stand: John McCloskey,The First American Cardinal (6 SEP 16)

Reflection Starter from Billy Graham

"God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with." - Billy Graham

05 September 2016

Happy Labor Day

As we observe Labor Day, I offer my thanks to the working people in this region and throughout the nation.

Whether you work in the building trades, in manufacturing, in agriculture, in transportation, in government, in religious institutions, in education, in retail, in wholesale, in health care and social assistance, in utility services, in publishing or other information services, in arts and entertainment and recreation, in food and accommodation, in finance and insurance, or in any other service, thank you for the work you do and for the good effort you put into it.

To continue my thanks in musical form, I offer this version of Alabama singing “40 Hour Week”:

USCCB 2016 Labor Day Statement

"This Labor Day, we draw our attention to our sisters and brothers who face twin crises - deep trials in both the world of work and the state of the family. These challenging times can pull us toward despair and all the many dangers that come with it.  Into this reality, the Church shares a word of hope, directing hearts and minds to the dignity of each human person and the sanctity of work itself, which is given by God.  She seeks to replace desperation and isolation with human concern and true solidarity, reaffirming the trust in a good and gracious God who knows what we need before we ask him (Mt. 6:8).

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, recently offered the conference's Labor Day Statement for 2016.In this statement he reflected on the challenges being faced by those in the work force and on families "bent under the weight of . . . economic pressures and related cultural problems." In his statement, Archbishop Web=nski reminds us that the Good News is still good and that "[d]ignified work is at the heart of our efforts because we draw insight into who we are as human beings from it."

"Let us always remember in these difficult times the Lord's offer of 'rest' for 'all you who labor and are burdened.'  As Pope Francis writes, the Sabbath Day 'proclaims 'man's eternal rest in God.''  As we advocate for all who are struggling to find sufficient work that honors their dignity, we should also affirm in society the need of all people to rest, and finally to 'rest in God.'  In times of restlessness and discouragement, let us recall the beautiful prayer of St. Augustine, who wrote: 'You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.'

"There is much to be done!  Let us go forth with the hopeful expectation of the Psalmist:

"Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!  (Psalm 90:14-17)"

To access the complete 2016 Labor Day statement, please visit:

USCCB: Labor Day Statement 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of our work.

Fr. Raymond De Souza on Mother Teresa as Patroness of Our Time

"The 75th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Maximilian Kolbe on Aug. 14, falling just a fortnight after the visit of Pope Francis to the starvation bunker where he was killed, brought to mind the characterization of the Franciscan founder, missionary and journalist as the 'patron of our difficult century' by St. John Paul II. The Polish Pope was speaking of how, amidst the brutalities of totalitarian atheism, St. Maximilian allowed the light of Christ to shine in the darkest moments.

"All true enough, but it would seem that when Pope Francis canonizes Mother Teresa of Kolkata on Sept. 4, the 20th century will truly have its patron saint, as no other figure manifested a heroic response to the challenges of the Church in our time."

In a recent commentary, Father Raymond J. De Souza, editor in chief of Convivium Magazine, reflected on the canonization on Mother Teresa and its importance for our times.

To access Fr. De Souza's complete essay, please visit:

National Catholic Register: Mother Teresa, Patroness of Our Time (3 SEP 16)

Reflection Starter from Martin Luther King, Jr.

"No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

04 September 2016

Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for September

The Holy Father's prayer intentions for September are:

Universal Intention (Centrality of the Human Person): "That each may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at the center."

Evangelization Intention (Mission to Evangelize): "That, by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize."

"I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say":

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Wisdom 9:13-18; Philemon 9-10, 12-17; and Luke 14:25-33. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 90 (Psalm 90:3-6, 12-17).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 90 In every age O Lord You have been our refuge

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, "If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers should laugh at him and say, 'This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.' Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 4, 2016)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflection: Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 4, 2016)

Community in Mission: Four Depictions of Discipleship - A Homily for the 23rd Sunday of the Year (3 SEP 16)

Aleteia: Deacon Greg Kandra: 'Find your own Calcutta': Homily for September 4, 2016, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (3 SEP 16)

The Sacred Page: The Cost of Discipleship: 23rd Sunday in OT (2 SEP 16)

The Sacred Page: Did Jesus Teach Us to "Hate" Our Family?: Mass Readings Explained (The 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time) (1 SEP 16)

Word on Fire: The Cost of Discipleship (Cycle C * Ordinary Time * Week 23)

Catholic World Report: The Dispatch: Jesus was not a pop psychologist (3 SEP 16) 

Spirituality of the Readings: My Own Heart (23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Who Is Your Patron? (23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

The Word Engaged: Eternal Vigilance (23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Historical Cultural Context: Risky Behaviors (23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by John Cassian (23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, that (in the words of Psalm 90) you have been our refuge in every age.

Msgr. Pope on the Critical Danger of Unbelief

"I had an interesting discussion with Matt Hadro on EWTN's 'Morning Glory' radio show about the rising number of 'nones' in our country. When asked for their religious affiliation, 'nones' do not identify themselves as atheists or agnostics, but rather check the 'none' box. They tend to be dismissive of 'organized' religion and generally believe that it is acceptable to construct a purely personal religious view and understanding of God.

"Indeed, we live in times when many people make light of the fact that others do not believe in God or relegate their faith to a solely personal and largely irrelevant aspect of life. This attitude exists even among many Catholics who, though believers themselves, don't seem to be overly concerned that others are not. What seems to be of greater concern to most believers - Catholics included - is that a person be 'nice.' If a person is determined to be 'nice,' little else seems to matter.

"Frankly, all of us should be concerned by the rise of unbelief in our culture, whether it is atheism, agnosticism, 'none-ism,' indifference, or the rampant secularism that relegates God to the margins. We should be concerned because unbelief on a wide scale (as is the case today) is not only unhealthy for a culture, it is dangerous to it."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the critical concerns that this rise of unbelief poses for our society and for the individuals involved.

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

Community in Mission: The Critical Danger of Unbelief (29 AUG 16)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"God gave us the earth 'to till and to keep' in a balanced and respectful way." - Pope Francis

03 September 2016

John Denver: Calypso

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of John Denver presenting Calypso:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the light of our Faith as we encounter the world around us each day.

Br. Norbert Keliher, O.P., on Faith-Augmented Reality

"Augmented reality is the cutting edge of mobile games and wearable tech, a fancy term for looking at the world through the lens of technology. You've probably heard about the Pokémon Go app by now, the biggest entertainment craze of the summer. Br. Irenaeus wrote about what he saw in Providence, RI, and similar scenes have played themselves out in cities across the country. In New York's Central Park this summer, some of our brothers were taking a walk and heard someone shout, 'Look, a Psyduck just spawned!' A crowd of gamers coalesced and lurched past them across the grass, cellphones extended in hopes of catching the pocket monster.

"What is it that draws us to games like Pokémon Go? On one level, it’s a desire to enter a reality different than what God has created. For another way to satisfy this longing, we can look at Christian art. Close to Central Park is the Frick Collection, a gem of an art museum that has several world-famous paintings. One of them is Bellini's St. Francis in the Desert, which captures a different version of reality, one that has captivated viewers across the centuries. It's reality 'augmented' by Christian faith."

In a recent commentary, Brother Norbert Keliher, O.P., reflected on how our faith "'augments' the world not by adding something to it, but by revealing that everything is part of God's loving plan for us."

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

Dominicana: Faith-Augmented Reality (2 SEP 16)

Reflection Starter from Psalm 145

"The LORD is just in all his ways, merciful in all his works. The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth." - Psalm 145:17-18

02 September 2016

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of holiday weekends.

Jamey Brown on G. K. Chesterton

"A great writer changes my life. G.K. Chesterton converted me (through Grace) to the Catholic Faith. Dale Ahlquist's new book Way of Wonder: Wisdom from G.K. Chesterton is a masterful collection of rare quotes and excerpts from this titan of English literature. . . .

"He often writes of the devastation of man when he abandons God. His answer is to return to the Lord and the things of God - reverence, gratitude, wonder, sacrifice, and family. The basic simple, and common, and traditional things."

In a recent commentary, writer Jamey Brown reflected on some words of wisdom offered by G. K. Chesterton.

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

Catholic Stand: Take Chesterton's "Way of Wonder" to Jesus (29 AUG 16)

Reflection Starter from Arthur Ashe

"If I were to say, 'God, why me?' about the bad things, then I should have said, 'God, why me?' about the good things that happened in my life." - Arthur Ashe

01 September 2016

Thank You, Lord

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

A Priest's Gift of Laughter

Recently-ordained Redemptorist Father Aaron Meszaros has a secret weapon he brings to his priesthood. It's called laughter, and Father Meszaros - who became a priest last April - dispenses it with a suitcase and a stuffed chicken. That's right; a stuffed chicken. The suitcase is for the props he carries wherever he goes; the stuffed chicken - well, read on.

Father Meszaros is assigned to St. Alphonsus parish in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota (the only Redemptorist parish in the archdiocese) and was the subject of a story by Dave Hrbacek in The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

After he works his youthful audiences with an honest-to-goodness chicken dance with the stuffed you-know-what in a lead role - as he did in the spring at St. Alphonsus School - they're usually howling with laughter. Then he gets down to business, taking placards with words written on them from his suitcase and using them to convey important concepts. They're about things like love, forgiveness, kindness, friendship, joy and peace. Despite all the hoopla, the message gets through.

"It's a real gift to be present to the students, to bring a little laughter, to walk with them in their journeys," said Father Meszaros, age 30. And somehow it works both ways. "As much as I want to bring a sense of hope or laughter or a sense of joy to them, they do the same to me. It's mutual."

Actually he had used many of the same words before, in an all-school Mass the day before, and he was anxious to know if they had retained any of the "magic" he had taught them. Indeed they had, and, in Hrabcek's words, they made "short but insightful comments" on the words he had brought to them.

The new priest comes to Brooklyn Center from his home town - Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was ordained and where his parish is also named for the founder of the Redemptorists, St. Alphonsus Liguori. The new parish serves as a spiritual home to many Latinos and Africans, something Father Meszaros finds "beautiful."

"I don't do as much with the Latino population because I don't speak Spanish," he said. "But my encounters with the Spanish-speaking people of the parish have been very, very positive, very fruitful." The gift of laughter that he brings to his ministry undoubtedly has a lot to do with that.

There are eight Redemptorist priests at St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center; four serve in the parish and another four are on an evangelization team that reaches out beyond its boundaries. Father Meszaros has not been assigned to one or the other as yet, but he finds himself drawn to the school, with his suitcase and that chicken.

"Working with the students, seeing them grow gives me a sense of hope for the future, a sense of hope for the Church," he said. "These children have such talent and so many gifts. Sometimes, it's just helping them to see that, to see the gifts that they have. That is one of the powerful moments of working with these kids."

And by the way, Father, don't forget the stuffed chicken. You've shown that it comes equipped with a lot of smiles.

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:

Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (C.Ss.R.) (The Redemptorists)

Saint Alphonsus Church, Brooklyn Center, MN

The Christophers

Reflection Starter from St. Josemaría Escrivá

"We live poverty by filling the hours of the day usefully, doing everything as well as we can, and living little details of order, punctuality and good humor." - Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer