30 April 2017

The Table Singers: "O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee"

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of the The Table Singers presenting "O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee":

Third Sunday of Easter

Today the Church celebrates the Third Sunday of Easter. The assigned readings are Acts 2:14, 22-33; 1 Peter 1:17-21; and Luke 24:13-35. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 16 (Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 16 "Hymn to the life-giving presence of God" 

The Gospel reading is as follows:

That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, "What are you discussing as you walk along?"

They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?"

And he replied to them, "What sort of things?"

They said to him, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see."

And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.

As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over."

So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?"

So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Third Sunday of Easter (April 30, 2017)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Third Sunday of Easter (April 30, 2017)

Community in Mission: Mass on the Move - A Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter (29 APR 17)

Crossroads Initiative: Emmaus Road - from Despair to Joy

The Sacred Page: Burning Hearts and Open Scriptures: 3rd Sunday of Easter (26 APR 17)

The Sacred Page: The Road to Emmaus (The Mass Readings Explained) (24 APR 17)

Word on Fire: The Pattern of Love (Cycle A * Easter * Week 3)

Catholic World Report: The Dispatch: The road to Emmaus and the reality of the Eucharist (29 APR 17) 

Spirituality of the Readings: On the Way (Third Sunday of Easter A)

In Exile: Nothing is Ever Really Ours (Third Sunday of Easter A)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Easter's Freedom (Third Sunday of Easter A)

The Word Embodied: The Testing of Faith (Third Sunday of Easter A)

Historical Cultural Context: Emmaus (Third Sunday of Easter A)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by a Twelfth Century Author (Third Sunday of Easter A)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of beautiful spring days.

Msgr. Pope on the Four Basic Pillars of the Christian Life

"On Sunday we read from the Acts of the Apostles and we do well to look back at the opening verse of that passage (Acts 2:42). There we discover a four-point plan that describes the Christian life. Of the life of the early Christians it is said,

   They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the
   fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42). 

"Here then are the four pillars of the Christian life. Before looking at them in detail, recall the context of this verse. Peter has just preached a sermon in which he warns his listeners to repent and believe the Good News. He says to them,

   "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Those who
   accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand
   were added to their number that day (Acts 2:40-41).

"Now they are baptized and in the Church of the Living of God. (Notice that the verse does not say that they said the 'sinners' prayer” to be saved; it just says that they were baptized.) Unlike some of our Protestant brethren, who hold a kind of 'once saved, always saved' mentality, we see that the text does not stop there. These new disciples now have a life to lead that will prepare them to meet God and help them to set their house in order."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the four basic pillars of Christian life as reflected in the Acts of the Apostles (Apostolic teaching, the sacred gathering of the faithful, reception of the sacraments, and prayer). 

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

Community in Mission: The Four Basic Pillars of the Christian Life (24 APR 17)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"He died, He was buried, He rose and He appeared. Jesus is alive! This is the heart of the Christian message." - Pope Francis

29 April 2017

Earth, Wind & Fire: "Devotion"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Earth, Wind & Fire presenting "Devotion":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You touch hearts to draw them to You.

The Case for Christ

God had plans for Lee Strobel, plans that Strobel himself couldn’t comprehend or even conceive of at the time since he was an avowed atheist. But in 1980, Strobel, then the legal editor at the Chicago Tribune, set out on an investigation to disprove Christianity. Instead, he wound up converting to the Christian faith. He shared his story in the best-selling book The Case for Christ, and it's now being told in a new way in a feature film with the same title.

Recently on Christopher Closeup, I interviewed Brian Bird, the screenwriter of The Case for Christ and creator/executive producer of the Christopher Award-winning Hallmark Channel series "When Calls the Heart." Bird explained that Strobel's problem started when his wife Leslie became a Christian, a religion he likened to "a cult." It led to deep conflict in their marriage.

Bird said of his movie, "The Case for Christ is as much an investigation of Christianity as it is a love story between Lee and Leslie. He deeply loved his wife and didn't want to lose his marriage. But he felt like this newfound faith that Leslie had undertaken was like an affair. He literally said to her, 'You have another man. His name is Jesus.'"

Strobel's antagonism toward Christianity stemmed from his own background, which is explored in the movie. Bird said, "Lee had a deeply painful relationship with his own father. He discovered along the way that all of the most famous atheists in history had a huge father wound . . .[They] either had fathers who were abusive, or who died prematurely when they were young, or who were cold to them. So he discovered that his bias was rooted in his own upbringing as much as it was in his own skepticism."

It says a lot about Strobel's ethics and commitment to truth that he was able to go against his bias and follow the facts where they led. He interviewed many Bible scholars who convinced him that the gospels are reliable pieces of history that affirm the theological view of Jesus as the Messiah. And instead of seeing Jesus as a rival to his marriage, he came to view Him as a partner on which both he and Leslie could rely. Bird calls this movie "the most meaningful thing that I've done in 30 years of doing this work."

Bird's Hallmark Channel series When Calls the Heart, which he created with Michael Landon Jr., is faith-affirming in its own way. It takes place in 1910 and tells the story of a wealthy, young woman who leaves the safety of her family to teach school in a coal mining town called Hope Valley.

Bird says, "The town is a throwback to the values of yesteryear: the great virtues of hope, faith, love, courage, nobility, redemption, forgiveness, sacrifice, and communities pulling together to help each other in times of need. It's in the tradition of Michael's father’s show, Little House on the Prairie, in that family, faith, and community are the most important things in our lives."

Millions of viewers are tuning in to When Calls the Heart every Sunday night at 9/8C, and watching the show together as a family because it's one of the few TV series that can be enjoyed by viewers ranging from age eight to 80. It may not be making a case for Christ exactly like Lee Strobel does, but it beautifully captures the heart of what it means to live the Christian values we believe in.

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 Psalm 33

"Our soul waits for the LORD, he is our help and shield. For in him our hearts rejoice; in his holy name we trust. May your mercy, LORD, be upon us; as we put our hope in you." - Psalm 33:20-22

28 April 2017

Darlene Zschech: "Shout to The Lord" and Michael W. Smith: "Agnus Dei"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of Darlene Zschech presenting "Shout to The Lord" and Michael W. Smith presenting "Agnus Dei":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of awe.

Elizabeth Scalia on Mary, mystery, and the Minds of Children

"As we head toward the centenary of the Fatima apparitions, during which the Blessed Virgin appeared to three children (two of whom are about to be canonized), it's a good time to ask, Why does Mary so frequently appear to the very young, like Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta in Fatima, or Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes?

"To ponder it, perhaps we have to remember what it is like to be that young, again.

"Because my mother was devoted to Our Lady, and also susceptible to Catholic kitsch, my childhood home was filled with small plastic statues of saints and devotional artwork that fascinated for the sheer incongruity of it.

"On my bedroom wall, she had hung an image that looked for all the world as if Mary had brought the Baby Jesus in to a local photographer's studio and posed for a portrait. The model, whose unnatural eyebrows seemed to have been inspired by Joan Crawford, wore lipstick and was dressed in Marian-blue robes, with a veil that vaguely suggested the starchy architecture of old-fashioned nun gear. Both she and Jesus were so rosy-cheeked they looked feverish, and the whole thing suggested something a middle-class Joseph would place on a desk in the backroom of his carpentry shop."

In a recent commentary, writer Elizabeth Scalia reflected on some of the reasons why, in various apparitions, our Blessed Mother usually appears to children instead of adults.

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

Aleteia: Elizabeth Scalia: Mary, mystery and the minds of our children (23 APR 17)

Reflection Starter from Billy Graham

"A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable." - Rev. Billy Graham

27 April 2017

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of the good humor.

Catholic Chaplain's Ministry to Circus Workers on Final Tour

"The congregation, numbering about 50, gathered for their last Easter Mass together on the DCU Center's arena floor.

"The chaplain, Father George 'Jerry' Hogan, borrowed one of their colorful boxes to use as an altar. The altar cloths and his chasuble sported circus images. Costume designers had sewn pieces of old elephant blankets together to make his stole.

"The backdrop suggested the reason for such an unusual liturgical environment: The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had come to town to offer shows on Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.

"But it isn't all 'fun and games' for performers and other circus workers, some of whom attended the Mass before the Easter shows. While 'they've always performed during Holy Week,' they are now going through the paschal mystery themselves, Father Hogan told The Catholic Free Press, newspaper of the Diocese of Worcester.

A recent Catholic News Service article carried by the Boston Pilot, the weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston, profiled Father Hogan's ministry.

To access the article in the Boston Pilot, please visit:

Boston Pilot: Catholic chaplain accompanies anguished circus workers on final tour

Reflection Starter from Grenville Kleiser

"Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment." - Grenville Kleiser

26 April 2017

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony No. 28 in C Major

It's time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Symphony No. 28 in C major by the Danish National Chamber Orchestra (conducted by Ádám Fischer):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings You are bestowing on us as we continue to celebrate the Easter season.

Fr. Longenecker on Danger Signs of (and Antidotes for) Cult-Like Behavior

"One of the creepiest things about religion is the tendency for those involved to drift into cult-like behaviors. When I say 'cult-like behavior' I don't simply mean a crazed, enclosed group who commit mass suicide, set up a 24/7 watch for aliens or who live on berries, granola and meditation.

"Those are the wacky extremes. The underlying behaviors can manifest in every sort of religion. A subgroup develops and the members and leaders start behaving in a particularly recognizable way. They may not be extremists outwardly, but their group behavior is still cult-like.

"How can you tell if a religious group is operating like a cult? It's difficult because the people in a religious group can behave like a cult without them becoming a full-blown, identifiable religious cult." 

In a recent commentary, Father Dwight Longenecker (parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Greenville, SC) reflected on some of the danger signs that may indicate the presence of a cult or a cult-like attitude. He also offered a number of antidotes for this type of behavior.

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

National Catholic Register: Blogs: Fr. Dwight Longenecker: 4 Danger Signs of Cult-Like Behavior, and 4 Antidotes (23 APR 17)

Background information:

Dwight Longenecker - Catholic priest and author

Reflection Starter from Charles Schultz

"If I were given the opportunity to present a gift to the next generation; it would be the ability for each individual to learn to laugh at himself." - Charles Schultz

25 April 2017

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings associated with gardens and with gardening.

John Cuddleback on the Benefits of Gardening

"The literature on millennials is extensive. And I have not read it. But as a college professor, I have lived and worked with them day in and day out for many years. More and more I realize that I face the same challenges they do.

"I offer no precise diagnosis of the problems millennials face. It is obvious that the current cultural climate has serious consequences for all of us - though often more serious for those who have known nothing else. We experience disintegration and disconnection; we are distracted and bored. We form addictions. We are often not at peace.

"For years I have suggested to my students that they start a garden over the summer. This year I am going to be more insistent. Gardening is not, in my judgment, just one healthy hobby among many others. Rather, I am convinced that this is the strong medicine directly fitted to address our worsening ailment."

In a recent commentary, writer John Cuddleback, professor of Philosophy at Christendom College, reflected on the (spiritual) opportunity that gardening offers as it calls gardeners to work, to wait, and to worship.

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

The Catholic Gentleman: Gardening as Medicine for Millennials, and the Rest of Us (12 APR 17)

Reflection Starter from Mahatma Gandhi

"Nearly everything you do is of no importance, but it is important that you do it." - Mahatma Gandhi

24 April 2017

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Joy.

Randy Hain on Ways to Be a Catholic Rebel

"Come on, we know better than the Church, don't we? After all, this is the 21st Century and times have changed. Modern man is fully capable of deciding what is moral on his own, right? All the really smart people in the media, government and academia who encourage us to embrace abortion, contraception, euthanasia and gay marriage can't be wrong, can they? After all, everyone knows that new and fresh ideas must clearly trump over two millennia of Church teaching. Right?


"Unfortunately, my facetious opening paragraph represents how many Catholics view the Church's teaching these days. Many have bought into the lies the world is feeding us that we should rebel against the authority of the Church and the Pope while instead deciding on our own which teachings we will and will not follow. Our increasing apathy and moral relativism, heavily influenced by a culture drunk on materialism with no moral compass, is putting the Church and the world in grave danger. The Catholic Church is one of the last lines of defense against evil and we must not allow a misguided rebellion to destroy it from the inside. The Church must never conform to or be assimilated into the world. We are in the world, but not of the world and we must keep our eyes firmly on our heavenly home." 

In a recent commentary, writer Randy Hain, Senior Editor for The Integrated Catholic Life, offered a number of suggestions designed to help is channel our energy in a more positive direction, a direction that leads to Heaven: "It is easy to criticize the Church and conform to the world's various influences, but perhaps today's true Catholic rebel can stand out by embracing Church teaching, not rejecting it and following the Pope’s leadership, not undermining it." 

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

Integrated Catholic Life: Five Positive Ways to Be a Catholic Rebel (30 MAR 17)

Reflection Starter from C. S. Lewis

"God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing." - C. S. Lewis

23 April 2017

"There's a Wideness in God's Mercy"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of "There's a Wideness in God's Mercy":

Second Sunday of Easter (Sunday of Divine Mercy)

Today the Church celebrates the Second Sunday of Easter (also known as the Sunday of Divine Mercy). The assigned readings are Acts 2:42-47, 1 Peter 1:3-9, and John 20:19-31. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 118 (Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24).

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

YouTube: Psalm 118 - "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love is everlasting." 

The Gospel reading is as follows:

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you."

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord."

But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe."

Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Second Sunday of Easter (April 23, 2017)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Second Sunday of Easter (April 23, 2017)

Community in Mission: From Fear to Faith - A Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter (22 APR 17)

The Sacred Page: Living the Life of Mercy: Readings for Divine Mercy Sunday (20 APR 17)

The Sacred Page: The Origins of Confession (The Mass Readings Explained) (17 APR 17)

Word on Fire: The Mystical Union of Christ and His Church (Cycle A * Easter * Week 2)

Catholic World Report: The Dispatch: The blueprint of mercy: preparation, proclamation, perseverance, purpose (22 APR 17) 

Spirituality of the Readings: A Broken Heart (Second Sunday of Easter A)

In Exile: The Flavor of God's Energy (Second Sunday of Easter A)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Being Saved (Second Sunday of Easter A)

The Word Embodied: The Trying of Faith (Second Sunday of Easter A)

Historical Cultural Context: Commission (Second Sunday of Easter A)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Cyril of Alexandria (Second Sunday of Easter A)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your mercy.

Msgr. Pope on the Hiddenness of the Resurrection

"There is something of a hidden quality to the resurrection appearances that has always puzzled me. St. Peter gives voice to this when he says to Cornelius,

God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:41 to 42). 

Note that Jesus did not appear openly to all but rather only to some. Why is this? It is so different from what most of us would do."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on why Jesus did not rise from the dead in a dramatic fashion.

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

Community in Mission: A Meditation on the Hiddenness of the Resurrection (16 APR 17)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Since Christ is resurrected, we can look with new eyes and a new heart at every event of our lives, even the most negative ones." - Pope Francis

22 April 2017

ABBA: "Dancing Queen"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of ABBA presenting "Dancing Queen":

Self-driving cars and Left Turns

"In a perfect world, cars and trucks would never turn left. Left turns waste time, gas, and are dangerous for drivers, oncoming traffic, and crossing pedestrians. So imagine teaching a machine to turn left - in Boston's infamous traffic, no less? A driverless car has to read human psychology - the subtle signals from other drivers and pedestrians - to navigate one of the hardest maneuvers on the road.

"As engineers race to build self-driving cars, they've found that making them safely turn left is one of their toughest problems. 'I see a lot of challenges every day, and left turns are near the top of the list,' said John Leonard, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specializes in self-driving vehicles.

"Left turns are so tough because they involve psychology as well as technology. Drivers and pedestrians read subtle signals from each other as they approach an intersection. We've come to learn how to read those signals to make pretty good guesses about when it is safe to turn left in a variety of traffic conditions. . . .

"But today's automated cars don't know how to read people - and people don't know how to read them. As a result, said Pratt, building cars that can safely negotiate all kinds of left turns will take years - perhaps more than a decade."

A recent Boston Globe article reported on this challenge in developing safe self-driving cars.

To access the complete Boston Globe report, please visit:

The Boston Globe: Teaching a driverless car to turn left

Ministry to Stem Drug Addiction in East Greenwich, RI

"Bob Houghtaling has been fighting substance abuse in East Greenwich for 33 years. In that time, he's seen 'hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who have gone on to live quality lives' after struggling with addiction.

"He has also seen plenty of ugly endings: prison, death and devastated families.

"'When I first got in, the major problems were teenage drinking and marijuana,' he said. 'I remember when the cocaine phase came in. When the Grateful Dead would come around, people would start dropping acid.'

"For the last 10 to 12 years, the big change has been the proliferation of prescription medications. 'We have a culture now where there's a pill for everything,' he said. Some have brought 'tremendous advances,' but some are overprescribed.

"Fighting stereotypes has been one of his biggest challenges. East Greenwich is wealthy, and its schools are ranked as the state's best or near best. High achievement expectations, stress, anxiety and access to money and cars can bring their own problems."

A recent Providence Journal article profiles Mr. Houghtaling and his ministry as Director of the East Greenwich, RI, Drug Program.

 To access the complete Providence Journal report, please visit:

Providence Journal: In East Greenwich, one man's effort to stem drug addiction (22 APR 17)

Background information:

Town of East Greenwich

Wikipedia: East Greenwich, Rhode Island

Earth Day

Today, 22 April, is the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, a day that was established to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment. Initially the focus on Earth Day was on the United States, but, twenty years later, it became an international event.

This year there were and are a number events that have been or will soon be held throughout New England, the rest of the United States, and numerous other nations throughout the world. Some of these are sponsored by local (or other) governments, others by non-profit organizations, others involve citizens doing specific projects on their own.

Background information:

Earth Day Network: A Billion Acts of Green

Wikipedia: Earth Day

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Earth Day

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources: Earth Day Every Day: Ten things you can do to help keep Vermont green

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You touch hearts to draw them to You.

On the Conversion of an Ex-atheist

"Leah Libresco Sargeant, once a prominent atheist blogger, converted in 2012 to Catholicism after engaging and challenging her readership to present an intellectually rigorous, spiritually rewarding response to her questions on life. Sargeant continues to blog, only now from a Catholic perspective, and also is a contributing editor at America magazine.

"She is the author of Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers That Even I Can Offer. Sargeant recently spoke with the Register about what motivated her conversion and the surprising changes she experienced in her life afterward, including how she learned to pray through the Rosary. The following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity."

A recent article in National Catholic Register profiled Ms. Libresco and her faith journey.

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

National Catholic Register: Ethics, Mathematics and the Rosary: An Ex-Atheist Discusses Her Conversion (20 APR 17)

Reflection Starter from St. Teresa of Avila

"What a great favor God does to those He places in the company of good people!" - Saint Teresa of Ávila (Saint Teresa of Jesus)

21 April 2017

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of beauty, in all its many forms, in our lives.

David Mills on the Importance of Becoming Catholic

"On Saturday, we went to the Easter Vigil not to our parish but to the one in which we entered the Church 16 years ago. The church is very ugly and the liturgy very suburban, and I went grudgingly. Our youngest wanted to go there, for reasons he couldn't explain, so we went.

"As the Mass began, I was still pondering what led the architects to design something so plain and yet so ugly, and why anyone paid to build it. As the pastor came down the aisle with the paschal candle, I remembered that first night, as I knelt with my family and our sponsors, up there in the front row on the left.

"As I had that night, I started tearing up. I choked up completely during the litany, at the lines 'All you holy men and women, pray for us.' That had been the point I really felt that I had entered the Church, because I knew I had made new friends of the saints. And then I teared up again at the end as we sang 'Christ the Lord is risen today.' Then, I suddenly felt I could sing this in a new way, because I was singing it within the Church the risen Lord had created.

"It had been a great night 16 years ago, and was a great night this year. . . .

"This raises something Catholics don't often talk about, because bringing it up can end in tears, if not rage. Usually someone else's rage, though maybe your tears too as well as his. Here is what we want to say to all our family and friends outside the Catholic Church:

"We really do think we are where you belong. We have it as a gift, not because we're better than you. But still, we know something you don’t yet see. We really think that being outside the Church, you're not settled, or complete, or at home, and you won't be till you too enter the Church. You may not see it, you may think you definitely belong somewhere else, but we think - we know - you're wrong."

In a recent commentary, writer David Mills (former executive editor of First Things) reflected on why people who are not Catholic really belong in the Church.

To access Mr. Mills' complete post, please visit:

Aleteia: Attention, everyone: Catholics really do think you belong with us (19 APR 17)

Reflection Starter from Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

20 April 2017

Arbor Day

Friday, 28 April, 2017 marks the 145th celebration of Arbor Day, an observance first celebrated in the United States on 10 April 1872 in Nebraska City, Nebraska. On that date, an estimated one million trees were planted in Nebraska.

A number of Arbor Day events are being planned throughout New England, including a tree planting ceremony in Wethersfield, CT (students will help plant a tree in a prominent location in the town); the City of Boston, MA, will have a tree maintenance event at Franklin Park during which arborists will prune and remove hazard trees in an effort to restore the park; presentations to second grade students in Needham, MA, about the importance of trees and Arbor Day (Following the talk, students and town officials will plant trees; each student will take a seedling home to plant.); and the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program is sponsoring the Vermont Arbor Day Conference, a one-day conference designed to give forestry professionals an opportunity to enhance technical skills, engage in urban forestry hot topics, and network with other professionals (The conference is open to anyone caring for tree canopies at the local level.).

Background information:

Arbor Day Foundation

Trees Across America: Arbor Day 2017

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the greeting ministry offered at Your churches and shrines and for the many ways in which this ministry touches the hearts of Your people.

On the Funeral of St. Anthony Shrine's Unofficial Doorkeeper

"For seven years, Tom Turner spent nearly every day holding the door open for members of the St. Anthony Shrine community in downtown Boston, offering warm greetings. When the homeless man died at the age of 57, the friars held a special funeral Mass.

"Since its founding in 2003, the St. Anthony's Lazarus Ministry has provided more than 170 free funerals for homeless people who die alone or without known next-of-kin. In rare cases, the ministry will provide services for deceased homeless whose families are also in extreme poverty.

"'All of us deserve a homecoming,' said Friar Barry Langley. 'Whether we had lots of friends or didn't have lots of friends, whether we lived in a really great place or we lived on the streets.'"

A recent Boston Herald article reported on the ministry of Tom Turner and on the Lazarus Ministry of Saint Anthony Shrine, Boston, MA.

To access the complete Boston Herald report, please visit:

Boston Herald: Love overflows for shrine's unofficial doorkeeper (20 APR 17)

Background information:

Saint Anthony Shrine

Reflection Starter from Psalm 8

"O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!" - Psalm 8:2

19 April 2017


As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of "Majesty":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the ministry of those who responsibly care for manuscripts, books, periodicals, and other printed media.

The Manuscript Ministry of Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB

"It all began with one of the most ambitious smuggling operations of modern times.

"Back in 2012, the year Islamist militants linked to al-Qaida occupied Timbuktu, in the West African country of Mali, hundreds of volunteers packed a few small, nondescript metal lockers into their cars and headed for the city of Bamako, a 12-hour drive away, much of it through the Sahara Desert.

"Inside the metal boxes were priceless, centuries-old manuscripts that were in danger of being destroyed by radicals who had demonstrated their contempt for the sacred and literary treasures in Libya, where they had sacked and destroyed so many of the country's libraries.

"To keep a low profile, when they reached checkpoints manned by the terrorists, these 'manuscript-traffickers,' as The Economist characterized them, did everything in their power not to make the guards suspicious - hence, the small load they carried. If there was a crackdown at checkpoints out of Timbuktu, the ever-resourceful smugglers packed their treasures onto boats and sailed down the Niger River to Bamako. Thanks to this low-tech, low-profile rescue effort, more than 370,000 manuscripts were spirited out of Timbuktu to safety.

"Once these treasures reached their destination, the 'smugglers' turned them over to Abdel Kader Haidara, an expert in Islamic manuscripts, who stashed them in safe houses. There is no counting how many drivers were involved in the operation or how many people in Bamako are concealing in their homes a treasure trove of irreplaceable books.

"But more was still needed to ensure that the Timbuktu collections would be preserved, and for that task, Haidara turned to a Benedictine monk of St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.

"Benedictine Father Columba Stewart heads up the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML) at the abbey. When he heard from Haidada, Father Stewart was already in charge of a collection of 100,000 rolls of microfilm of what the monk describes as 'basically the manuscript culture of Europe.' In fact, the HMML - where Father Stewart has been director since 2003 ' is 'blind' when it comes to the provenance of a manuscript. Country of origin and faith of the author - these things are not important.''

A recent National Catholic Register article reported on Fr. Stewart, OSB, and his manuscript ministry.

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

National Catholic Register: A Minnesota Monk Takes on ISIS (19 APR 17)

Background information:

Hill Museum and Manuscript Library

The Order of Saint Benedict