27 March 2017

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for opportunities and inspirations to spend time with You.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe on Transforming Prayer

"Most of us spend a lot of what we think of as 'prayer time' trying to talk God into seeing things our way. We beg and plead, whine and remind, and generally push as hard as we can to get whatever it is we want. This is pretty much the case, even when we are praying for someone else. We show up before the throne of the Almighty with our dukes up and our terms prepared. We want God to intervene, but only if he is amenable to our details. Otherwise, we'd rather just keep praying, or say that God didn't answer us at all.

"Let's get something straight: that really isn't prayer, and God's answer to it is often a very big, very loud 'No.' I know the kind of desperation and fear that is behind that one-way, my-way-or-the-highway approach. Who doesn't? But I also know that prayer is never aimed at changing God's mind; prayer is about changing our hearts. Genuine prayer gives us a glimpse at things - and at ourselves - from God's perspective. The whole point of it is to see things his way so that we can do things his way."

In a recent commentary, writer Jaymie Stuart Wolfe reflected on deepen our prayer by opening ourselves, a little bit a a time, to God's grace.

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

The Boston Pilot: Echoes: Transforming prayer (24 MAR 17)

Reflection Starter from Zig Ziglar

"During the days of the Berlin Wall some East Berliners decided they were going to send their West Berlin adversaries a little 'gift.' They loaded up a dump truck with all sorts of garbage, broken bricks, old tires, building materials, and any-thing else of zero value. They drove the truck across the border, gained clearance, and dumped it all on the West Berlin side.

"Needless to say, the West Berliners were incensed and were going to 'get even' with them. Fortunately, a very wise man intervened giving entirely different counsel. As a result, they responded by loading a dump truck with bags of food (scarce in East Berlin), clothing (also scarce), medical supplies (even more scarce), and a host of other essential items. They drove the truck across the border, carefully unloaded it all, and left a sign that read neatly: 'Each gives according to one's ability to give.'" - Zig Ziglar

26 March 2017

"God of Mercy and Compassion"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of "God of Mercy and Compassion," as sung by the Daughters of Mary:

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Today the Church celebrates the Fourth Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings are 1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13; Ephesians 5:8-14; and John 9:1-41. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 23 (Psalm 23:1-6).

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

YouTube: The Lord Is My Shepherd, Psalm 23 ~ Keith Green (w/ lyrics) 

The Gospel reading is as follows:

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Jesus answered, "Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, "Go wash in the Pool of Siloam" - which means Sent - .

So he went and washed, and came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, "Isn't this the one who used to sit and beg?" Some said, "It is," but others said, "No, he just looks like him."

He said, "I am."

So they said to him, "How were your eyes opened?"

He replied, "The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, 'Go to Siloam and wash." So I went there and washed and was able to see."

And they said to him, "Where is he?"

He said, "I don't know."

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, "He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see."

So some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath." 

But others said, "How can a sinful man do such signs?" And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, "What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?" 

He said, "He is a prophet." 

Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight. They asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?"

His parents answered and said,  "We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself."

His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, "He is of age; question him."

So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, "Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner."

He replied, "If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see." 

So they said to him,"What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"

He answered them,"I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?"

They ridiculed him and said, "You are that man's disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from."

The man answered and said to them, "This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything."

They answered and said to him, "You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?"

Then they threw him out. When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

He answered and said, ":Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?"

Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he."

He said, "I do believe, Lord," and he worshiped him.

Then Jesus said, "I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind."

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, "Surely we are not also blind, are we?"

Jesus said to them,"If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, 'We see,' so your sin remains."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 26, 2017)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 26, 2017)

Community in Mission: I Went, I Washed, and Now I Can See – A Homily for the 4th Sunday of Lent (25 MAR 17)

The Sacred Page: Anointed with Light: Readings for Laetare Sunday (22 MAR 17)

The Sacred Page: The Spit of Jesus and the Man Born Blind (The Mass Readings Explained) (20 MAR 17)

Word on Fire: And Now I Can See (Cycle A * Lent * Week 4)

Catholic World Report: The Dispatch: "The blind man is the human race" (25 MAR 17) 

Spirituality of the Readings: Eye Witness (4th Sunday of Lent A)

In Exile: Purgatory as Seeing Fully for the First Time (4th Sunday of Lent A)

Let the Scriptures Speak: We're All Blind (4th Sunday of Lent A)

The Word Embodied: Escape from Plato's Cave (4th Sunday of Lent A)

Historical Cultural Context: Blindness (4th Sunday of Lent A)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Ambose (4th Sunday of Lent A)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Your constant presence, whether we are aware of it or not.

Msgr. Pope on Why God Makes Us Wait

"One of the most common frustrations in the spiritual life is the fact that God often makes us wait. Many of our requests are made with an elevated sense of urgency. Frankly, we are in a big hurry about many things - but God is not. Although He could fix every problem in an instant, He does not, and He has His reasons for this.

"While the reasons for God's delay may be somewhat mysterious, we can certainly understand some of them. For example, any parent knows that giving a child whatever he wants precisely when he wants is to spoil him. Learning to wait is beneficial. It humbles us, keeps us vigilant, helps us to clarify our desires, and aids us in developing self-control."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on some of the reasons why God may make us wait to receive the gifts He is offering.

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

Community in Mission: Why Does God Make Us Wait? (19 FEB 17)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word." - Pope Francis

25 March 2017

Yanni: Aria (Ode To Humanity)

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Yanni presenting Aria (Ode To Humanity), recorded live at El Morro (Castillo San Felipe del Morro), San Juan, Puerto Rico (in 2012):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord for the beauty and other attributes of good religious art.

On Catholic Faith Communities Inspiring Catholic Art Work

"Joe Malham's studio is distinctive not only for what's inside it, but also its location - a former convent converted into a parish center. Malham, a professional iconographer, is a permanent artist in residence at St. Gregory the Great, a parish in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago - perhaps the only such arrangement of its kind in the area.

"Since the fall of 2015, Malham has been painting a series of murals in the icon style that depict scenes from the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Another wall displays the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary that Malham has done with another artist. The murals are transforming what was once a large, unused space in the parish into the 'Chapel of Consolation.'

"The idea, Malham says, arose out of a tragedy: A parishioner's wife died while pregnant with twins. 'Her loss was transformed into a vision to create a chapel of healing and meditation for families of all faiths who have lost children. It is a tremendously powerful and important sacred space that is evolving; a sort of homegrown Sistine Chapel - and to our knowledge, there is nothing like this in the Archdiocese of Chicago, and we hazard the guess that there is nothing like it in the country,' Malham wrote in an email to the Register.

"Malham has done all the work at no charge to the parish. In return, the parish gives him studio space onsite. It's where Malham writes his icons and, most recently, wrote a book about the art and theology of icons. But Malham says St. Gregory's has given him much more than just material goods."

A recent National Catholic Register article reported on Saint Gregory's "Evangelization Through the Arts" initiative and the community support it has given to Mr. Malham and other artists, The article also reported on the effect of an art project at Xavier College Preparatory High School, Phoenix, AZ, on artist Ruth Stricklin.

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

National Catholic Register: How Community Inspired Two Catholic Artists (25 MAR 17) 

Background information:

Saint Gregory the Great Parish, Chicago, IL

Trinity Icons, Chicago, IL

Xavier College Preparatory High School, Phoenix, AZ

New Jerusalem Studios, Phoenix, AZ

Reflection Starter from Fr. James Keller

"What this country needs is more people to inspire others with confidence, and fewer people to discourage any initiative in the right direction; more to get into the thick of things, fewer to sit on the sidelines merely finding fault; more to point out what’s right with the world, and fewer to keep harping on what’s wrong with it, and more who are interested in lighting candles, and fewer who blow them out." - Father James Keller, M.M. (founder of The Christophers)

21 March 2017

On One Way to Save Some Local Jobs

"Here’s a suggestion for practical and almost painless charity: In the grocery store, go to the checkout line with a real person at the cash register. It costs you only a little time and it may help save the job of someone who'll otherwise be thrown out into a difficult labor market.

"About 10 years ago, our local grocery store, part of a big local chain, installed several self-checkout machines. We live northwest of Pittsburgh, and because this is still a union, Reagan Democrat area, people lined up for the few checkout counters with a person. Very long lines formed. People complained about the store not putting enough people on duty.

"A few days later, the management put up signs saying that people weren’t losing jobs because of the machines. They claimed they couldn’t get enough people to work the checkout counters. That was generally thought to be a lie and, given how many people I knew who wanted jobs and would happily have worked a cash register, I have no reason to think it wasn’t. . . . "

"Many people still go to a person. I do, because the demand helps people keep their jobs - the chain would cut them without a second thought if it could. It costs so little, just a few extra minutes at the most crowded times. Those minutes one can spend fruitfully thinking or observing or praying. And, as a friend said, if you don't want to think or observe or pray, you have your cell phone."

In a recent commentary, writer David Mills reflected on a simple step each of us can do to help save jobs.

To access his complete post, please visit:

Aleteia: Want to save some local jobs? Get in line! (15 MAR 17)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the coming of the season of spring.

On the Catholic Churches of Hollywwod

"I'm as jaded a New Yorker as they come, and it takes a great deal for me to look up from my weekend bagel, coffee and newspaper. Though my out-of-town friends are thrilled whenever they spot a star pounding the pavement along with us, their pedestrianism doesn't impress me as much. However, I am thrilled to find out a star of stage, screen or tube is a devout Catholic - or, even better, a convert to the one, true, holy, catholic and apostolic faith.

"The list of Catholic actors is seriously impressive, even if we missed a couple here and there. For example, it's too bad Groucho Marx wasn't Catholic. Just imagine how funny that'd be! With Oscar season upon us, here's a look at Hollywood's famous Catholic churches, where stars and their fans pray side by side."

In a recent article, writer Angelo Stagnaro offer a quick look at seven Hollywood area parishes (and some of their parishioners).

To access her complete article, please visit:

National Catholic Register: Where the Stars Go to Pray: The Churches of Hollywood (26 FEB 17)

Reflection Starter from Mother Teresa

"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." - Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa)

20 March 2017

Saint Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The assigned readings are 2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16; Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22; and Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 89 (Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29).

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.

Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

"Saint Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care. May he always guard, protect and enlighten families." - Pope John Paul II

"St. Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life." - Saint Josemaria Escriva

Background information:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, maple syrup and for those who work to produce it for us.

Kathryn Jean Lopez on the Message of a Snowstorm

"It was the day before St. Patrick's Day, and the crowd was a little calmer on the approach to St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue early in the morning than it would be for the parade, as commuters trekked through snow banks left by winter's last hurrah.

"Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in one of his brief weekday homilies at 7 a.m. Mass, simply pointed to the gospel reading of the day: It was the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, and the title, the Catholic archbishop of New York said, says it all. Jesus knew the poor man's name. Not so the rich man's.

"He preached the morning after a frigid evening commuting scene across town to the west. Outside St. Francis Assisi Church, right down the block from Penn Station, there was a man named Robert with a single tear falling from his eye. The tear glistened, as did his skin, in the wind. He asked for money to buy something to eat. I gave him a measly dollar as we exchanged a few words. He seemed hungry for something so much more than food. Imagine standing on a busy city street, asking for help, and being ignored as hundreds of people walk by every minute. That's got to wear you down. People tell me he might use the money for drugs or alcohol. Thinking of that parable, I know I've been to dinner parties and I had better not miss - or ignore - the poor man in front of me. And who among us has been a perfect steward of every precious dollar? I sure haven't."

In a recent commentary, Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor-at-large of National Review Online and nationally syndicated columnist, reflected on a Gospel message highlighted by a recent snowstorm.

To access her complete post, please visit:

National Review: Snowstorm's Tender Message (20 MAR 17)

Reflection Starter from Allan Bloom

"We are like ignorant shepherds living on a site where great civilizations once flourished. The shepherds play with the fragments that pop up to the surface, having no notion of the beautiful structures of which they were once a part." - Allan Bloom

19 March 2017

"I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say"

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

Third Sunday of Lent

Today the Church celebrates the Third Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings are Exodus 17:3-7; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; and John 4:5-42. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 95 (Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Third Sunday in Lent 

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.

The Samaritan woman said to him, "How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?" - For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans. - 

Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you,'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

The woman said to him, "Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?" Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water."

Jesus said to her, "Go call your husband and come back."

The woman answered and said to him, "I do not have a husband."

Jesus answered her, "You are right in saying, 'I do not have a husband.' For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true."

The woman said to him, "Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem."

Jesus said to her, "Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth."

The woman said to him, "I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything."

Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one speaking with you."

At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, "What are you looking for?" or "Why are you talking with her?"

The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, "Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?" They went out of the town and came to him.

Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat."

But he said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know."

So the disciples said to one another, "Could someone have brought him something to eat?"

Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, 'In four months the harvest will be here'? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. The reaper is already receiving payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work."

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me everything I have done." When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, "We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Third Sunday of Lent (March 19, 2017)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Third Sunday of Lent (March 19, 2017)

Community in Mission: Just a Little Talk with Jesus Makes It Right - A Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent (18 MAR 17)

Aleteia: Deacon Greg Kandra: A woman with a message she cannot contain: Homily for 3rd Sunday of Lent (19 MAR 17)

The Sacred Page: The Bridegroom Messiah Suddenly Arrives: Readings for the 3rd Sunday of Lent (16 MAR 17)

The Sacred Page: Jesus and the Woman at the Well (The Mass Readings Explained) (13 MAR 17)

Word on Fire: A Master Class in Evangelization (Cycle A * Lent * Week 3)

Catholic World Report: The Dispatch: Lent: a journey, an encounter, and a time of purification (18 MAR 17) 

Spirituality of the Readings: Thirsty (3rd Sunday of Lent A)

In Exile: On Being One With The Saints In Praising God (3rd Sunday of Lent A)

Let the Scriptures Speak: What We Thirst For (3rd Sunday of Lent A)

The Word Enbodied: Water and Bread (3rd Sunday of Lent A)

Historical Cultural Context: Shocking Behavior (3rd Sunday of Lent A)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Augustine (3rd Sunday of Lent A)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing You offer to us, through Your priest, at the end of each Mass.

Msgr. Pope on "Church-speak" and the Tendency to be Obscure

"Many groups have a tendency to use words that make sense to their members but are unintelligible to outsiders. I have sometimes had to decode 'Church-speak' for recent converts.

"For example, one time I proudly announced, 'RCIA classes will begin next week, so if you know anyone who is interested in attending please fill out an information card on the table just outside the sacristy door.' I thought I'd been perfectly clear, but then a new member approached me after Mass to inquire about the availability of classes to become Catholic and when they would begin. Wondering if she'd forgotten the announcement I reminded her what I had said about RCIA classes; she looked at me blankly. 'Oh,' I said, 'Let me explain what I mean by RCIA.' After I did so, I mentioned that she could pick up a flyer over by the sacristy door. Again I got a blank stare, followed by the question 'What's the sacristy?' Did I dare tell her that the classes would be held in the rectory?"

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the importance of using less jargon and more plain language when we are explaining the Church and its teaching to those who are not aware of the terminology.

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

Community in Mission: On "Church-speak" and the Tendency to be Obscure (7 FEB 17)

(Editorial note: The same advice also applies to work and other situations.)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"God is always faithful and never stops for a moment loving us, following our steps, and running after us when we have strayed from him.." - Pope Francis

18 March 2017

Sir James Galway: Music from "The Lord of the Rings"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Sir James Galway playing music from "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy:

Public Safety Line of Duty Death

A New England public servant servant recently died in the line of duty, a reminder of the hazards and stresses faced by the members of the region’s public safety services.

Firefighter Joseph A. Toscano, 54, a 20-year veteran of the Watertown, MA, Fire Department, died as a result of firefighting operations at a two-alarm fire at 29 Merrifield Avenue on Friday, 17 March. May he rest in peace.

Media reports: 

Boston Herald: Firefighter, father of 5 killed in blaze (18 MAR 17)

NECN: Firefighter Dies Battling Watertown, Mass. Blaze (17-18 MAR 17)
Boston Herald: Fire witness: 'Heroics are unbelievable' (18 MAR 17)
Background information:

Watertown Fire Department
Facebook: Watertown Fire Department
Town of Watertown
Wikipedia: Watertown, Massachusetts

Google Map: 29 Merrifield Avenue, Watertown, MA