30 January 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of our Catholic faith.

Br. Hyacinth Grubb, O.P., on Living (or Not) Living Our Catholic Faith

"Wouldn't it be nice if being Catholic didn't make us so annoyingly different from everyone else? If we didn't have such a strong emphasis on sacraments and hierarchy, while those around us rely on egalitarianism? If Sundays meant football and not church, if Fridays meant hamburgers and not fish? If we could follow a comfortable relativism in which each religion was equally valid, instead of espousing the politically incorrect claim that there is one true religion and every other is in some way erroneous? Wouldn't it be nice to be like them?

"This is, in one sense, what the Israelites sought from Samuel when they asked for 'a king to govern us like all the nations' (1 Sam. 8:5). They wanted to be like everyone around them, to have the earthly stability and security of a monarchy. They found it inconvenient to be governed by the Judges, charismatic leaders chosen extraordinarily by God - it cut against the established customs of the world. Who would foreign leaders approach? When a war needed to be fought, who would lead them? In times of prosperity, who would they bestow honor and affection upon? God would raise up leaders and judges when necessary, but the Israelites desired to have a ruler of the same kind as everyone else."

In a recent commentary, Brother Hyacinth Grubb, O.P., reflected on some of the consequences of living/not living our Catholic faith.

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

Dominicana: To Be Like Them (24 JAN 18)

Reflection Starter from Tim Tebow

"I pray to start my day and finish it in prayer. I'm just thankful for everything, all the blessings in my life, trying to stay that way. I think that's the best way to start your day and finish your day. It keeps everything in perspective." - Tim Tebow

28 January 2018

The Ball Brothers: "I Sing the Mighty Power of God"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of The Ball Brothers presenting "I Sing the Mighty Power of God":


Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Deuteronomy 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, and Mark 1:21-28. 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 - Psalm 95 "If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts"


The Gospel reading is as follows:

Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.

In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!"

Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!" The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.

All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 28, 2018)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 28, 2018)

Community in Mission: A Portrait of Jesus the Preacher - A Homily for the 4th Sunday of the Year (27 JAN 18)


Aleteia: Deacon Greg Kandra: Hearing the voice that matters: Homily for January 28, 2018, 4th Sunday in Ordinary Tim (27 JAN 18)

The Sacred Page: Listen to the Ultimate Prophet: 4th Sunday in OT (25 JAN 18)

The Sacred Page: Jesus the Exorcist (The Mass Readings Explained) (22 JAN 18)

St. Paul Center: The King’s Authority: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Word on Fire: A Prophet Like Moses (Cycle B * Ordinary Time * Week 4)


Spirituality of the Readings: Listen (The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

In Exile: Five People Who Helped Give Me Some Self-Understanding (The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time B)


Let the Scriptures Speak: Teaching With Authority (The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

The Word Encountered: Expressions of the Call (The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time B
)

Historical Cultural Context: Authority and Honor (The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by John Henry Newman (The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Christian joy.

Msgr. Pope on Pain

"All of us ponder why God permits suffering. By faith we acknowledge that God never permits it except that a greater good may come from it. Perhaps He permits that we suffer loss in order to bestow some new gift in its place. Even beautiful relationships may hinder some new growth that God wants to bestow. For example, the death of a loved ones creates a space for the new and different while not canceling the gifts of the one who passed. 

"Suffering brings sobriety by reminding us that this world is not Heaven and its joys can neither last nor ultimately satisfy. 

"In addition, in the crucible of suffering we are tested and our faith can be strengthened and purified."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the role of pain in our lives.

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

Community in Mission: A Short Reflection on Pain (23 JAN 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Christian joy cannot be bought. It comes from faith and from meeting Jesus Christ, who is the reason for our happiness." - Pope Francis

25 January 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of The Christophers and its ministry.

God’s Mouthpiece for Vulnerable Children

Jen Lilley didn't just play a mom in her recent Hallmark Channel movie Harvest Love, she became a foster parent in real life because of her passion for children in the most vulnerable circumstances. Growing up, her family's home sometimes served as a "safe house" for youth because her father was a judge, and her mother ran a crisis pregnancy center that helped young women going through unplanned pregnancies choose life for their unborn babies - or offered them counseling if they had already chosen otherwise.

As Lilley gained fame for roles on General Hospital and Days of Our Lives, she made charity work a vital part of her life, focusing at first on water charities overseas. But then she felt the Holy Spirit asking her, "Who in your own neighborhood needs help?" After investigating non-profits, she discovered the Innocent Justice Foundation, which goes after child pornographers. That's when she learned that the United States is the number one supplier of child pornography in the world. "The average victim is under the age of four," she told me during a Christopher Closeup interview. "I remember being in my home office and just weeping…[and asking], 'How is no one talking about this?'"

That's why Lilley decided to speak up, which led her publicists to tell her to stop it because the general public doesn't want to hear about such unpleasant things. Her response: "You can either get behind me on this or you're fired. I'm sorry, but that's who I am. I'm God's mouthpiece.” (Note: those people no longer work for her.)

Once she became known for children's issues, her new publicist got a call from the organization Childhelp USA, which assists victims of child abuse through education, treatment, and prevention programs. They asked if Lilley would be a celebrity ambassador for them. She told me, "I research every charity that I endorse because in Proverbs it says you only have your name. You shouldn't just lend your name willy-nilly to these charities that [might be] deceptive…I told my publicist, 'Tell them I want to see their tax returns for the last four years.'" Lilley was happy to discover that Childhelp has been around for 60 years and has provided safety and healing to 11 million children.

Motivated by James 1:27 - the Scripture verse that says, "Pure religion that's undefiled before the Lord is this: caring for orphans and widows in their distress" - Lilley and her husband Jason joined Childhelp's mentoring program, which includes "children who have been so abused and neglected that the government renders them [unable to be rehabilitated]. They're at their last stop before they go into Juvenile Hall. And I'm talking Juvenile Hall at eight years old!"

Childhelp's founders, Sara O'Meara and Yvonne Fedderson, refused to give up on these kids because they believed God made us all 'a new creation' and that redemption was possible. With a great deal of love and therapy, notes Lilley, "these kids go on to become teachers and senators and amazing people." Lilley and Jason soon decided to become foster parents themselves, welcoming a baby boy into their home. The joy and fulfillment he has brought into their lives has reminded the admittedly "workaholic" actress about the importance of family.

One thing is certain about Jen Lilley. She has her priorities straight, and she won't let anyone stop her from speaking up about and living her faith in a selfless, loving way.

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 

Childhelp USA

Innocent Justice Foundation

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

"We must never undervalue any person. The workman loves not that his work should be despised in his presence. Now God is present everywhere, and every person is His work." - Saint Francis de Sales

23 January 2018

Thank You, Lord

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

Anthony Stagnaro on Charles Dickens Meeting the Blessed Virgin Mary

"I'’ve never been one for Dickens.

"There! I've admitted it!

"I feel more relieved than ashamed. Actually, I'm bewildered why anyone likes his writing. And now that I've outed myself as a philistine, I will however admit I enjoyed his A Christmas Carol. It's a magnificent commentary on Victorian morals and the spirt of love and compassion that, all too often, lies dormant in our hearts. However, Dickens is pedantic and plodding and wordy and there's room for only one author like that in my life and Charlie will have to go.

"Oh! I forgot. He also didn't like Catholics, as was the norm for the majority of English Protestants of the Victorian Era. Hatred, of course, is anti-Christian at any time but it's somehow worse when it's considered fashionable as it is today in some strange, unthinking climes. . . .


"Despite this, G. K. Chesterton claimed in his biography of Dickens that Dickens was at heart a Catholic.

"As Chesterton pointed out in his biography on Dickens, the author was hostile to Catholicism and saw no worth in it whatsoever and thus was intentionally ignorant of it, having little, if any, understanding of how Protestantism came about. Chesterton wrote that Dickens 'supposed the Middle Ages to have consisted of tournaments and torture-chambers, he supposed himself to be a brisk man of the manufacturing age, almost a Utilitarian. But for all that he defended the medieval feast which was going out against the Utilitarianism which was coming in. He could only see all that was bad in medievalism. But he fought for all that was good in it.' . . .

"In Dickens' defense, I hasten to add that he hated anti-Catholicism more than he hated the Catholic Church. He denounced the monstrous anti-Catholic riots of his era. In 1841, he wrote Barnaby Rudge, describing the hatred and foolishness common to that anti-Catholic period and those who fanned the flames of hatred against Catholics."

In a recent commentary, writer Anthony Stagnaro reflected on Charles Dickens, his attitude toward Catholics, and an apparition he experienced. 

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

National Catholic Register: Blogs: Anthony Stagnaro: When Charles Dickens Met the Blessed Virgin Mary (28 DEC 17)

Reflection Starter from Henry Ward Beecher

"A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It's jolted by every pebble on the road." - Henry Ward Beecher

22 January 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the guidance and encouragement given by coaches and mentors.

Cristina Montes on Athletics and Sanctity

"My high school batch at St. Paul College of Pasig, a Catholic school for girls here in the Philippines run by the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres, just celebrated its homecoming.  We prepared for it for a year, a year that was spent reminiscing about high school memories and organizing a grand celebration dinner.

"Among the fond memories of our high school days, a favorite is that of the Intramurals. The Intramural athletic competitions were, and still are, a big thing in our school. Rivalry between batches in volleyball, softball, track-and-field, swimming, and chess events was intense, although everyone played fair and clean most of the time. Even members of the non-athletic majority, such as I, were expected to take the Intramurals seriously as we formed part of their batches' pep squads in the cheering competitions. The cheering competitions were the biggest events in the Intramurals. We practiced hard for hours amidst the demands of high school homework, and each batch tried to outdo each other in coming up with the most sophisticated and most artistic pep squad and cheer dance routines. . . .

"It seems that sports competitions were a big thing, too, to our school's patron saint. In St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he used athletics as an example to illustrate the determination and sacrifice it takes for a Christian to reach the highest goal in life, which is union with God. . . .

"I like the way St. Paul viewed the struggle for sanctity as a sport.

"Often, we balk at the suggestion that we should aim to be saints.  We tend to think that sanctity is reserved for an elite few, and that the rest of us are doomed to either spiritual mediocrity or damnation. We want to be good but we find it hard. . . .

"Perhaps it is because he knew how discouraging the struggle against oneself can be, that he wrote about it in terms of sports to encourage his readers.  Sports are tough and demanding. They involve pain and hard training. But they are fun, too. They are all about a sense of accomplishment when one wins, hope for another second chance of victory when one loses, and camaraderie with one's teammates in any case."

In a recent commentary, writer Cristina Montes reflected on the parallels between striving to be a good athlete as one prepares for athletic competitions and striving to improve one's spiritual life as one lives her/his life.

To access her complete post, please visit:

Ignitum Today: On St. Paul, Sports, and Sanctity (17 JAN 18)

Reflection Starter from Epictetus

"It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters" - Epictetus

21 January 2018

Mormon Tabernacle Choir: "Come, Follow Me"

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir presenting "Come, Follow Me":


Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; and Mark 1:14-20. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 25 (Psalm 25:4-9).

The Gospel reading is as follows:

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."

Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 21, 2018)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 21, 2018)

Community in Mission: Working for the Kingdom - A Homily for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (20 JAN 18)


The Sacred Page: Come Now! Readings for 3rd Sunday of OT (20 JAN 18)

The Sacred Page: The Call of the Disciples: "Fishers of Men" (The Mass Readings Explained) (15 JAN 18)

St. Paul Center: Following Him: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Word on Fire: Radical Christianity (Cycle B * Ordinary Time * Week 3)


Spirituality of the Readings: Responding (The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

In Exile: Understanding Grace More Deeply (The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time B)


Let the Scriptures Speak: The New Age: 2,000 Years Old (The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

The Word Encountered: Ambivalences of the Call (The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time B
)

Historical Cultural Context: A Common Venture (The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Caesarius of Arles (The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of life You have given each of us.

Msgr. Pope on Marching for Life and Acknowledging Those Who Have Died

"Today’s March for Life focuses on the tragic issue of abortion, but of course abortion emerges from other moral choices and attitudes that are sinful. 

"One common 'moral' standard that many apply today, especially regarding sexual matters, goes something like this: 'Two consenting adults should be able do what they please as long as nobody gets hurt.' Of course the sinners who talk like this think that they get to determine whether anyone gets hurt. Generally, their notions are egocentric, mostly considering only themselves, and in addition their conception of what constitutes getting hurt are often misguided.

"Today, I marched with many who tried to give a voice to the at least 50 million who didn't just get hurt by the behavior of certain 'consenting adults' - they got killed."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on his reasons for participating in this year's National March for Life, which was held on Friday (19 January).

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

Community in Mission: Marching for Life and Acknowledging Those Who Have Died (19 JAN 18)

Other media reports related to the March for Life:

Catholic News Agency: Warm weather greets marchers at the 45th annual March for Life (19 JAN 18)

EWTN News: Pro-life strength lies in love, speakers tell March for Life (19 JAN 18)

National Catholic Register: Blogs: Susie Lloyd: Take Heart - The March for Life is Worth It (19 JAN 18)

The Pilot: 'My mother was told to abort me', priest says to March for Life youth (20 JAN 18)

National Catholic Reporter: Cardinal invokes Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in march vigil homily (19 JAN 18)

Background information:

March for Life

National Prayer Vigil for Life

Walk for Life West Coast

Related media reports:

Timothy Cardinal Dolan: National Prayer Vigil for Life 2018 Opening Mass Homily

The Atlantic: Science Is Giving the Pro-Life Movement a Boost (18 JAN 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"The Gospel message is a source of joy: a joy that spreads from generation to generation and which we inherit." - Pope Francis

20 January 2018

Jimmy Durante: "Young At Heart"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Jimmy Durante presenting "Young At Heart":


Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for inspirations to pray, to fast, and to minister to Your people via almsgiving and other means.

Paul Kniaz on Why Christans Pray and Act

"We have all been flooded by posts on social media telling us to pray for Mexico, Puerto Rico, and other areas hit by disaster. I was surprised by the ones I got from secular and liberal acquaintances and friends, who suddenly seemed to believe that it was worth praying, or, at least worth posting about prayer on Facebook. When disaster strikes, it often appears as if everyone starts to believe in the power of prayer. Not only do the words 'God bless you' slide so easily off the tongue, they also sound more impacting than 'I'm thinking of you'. It is nice to think, even if it is just a fantasy, that there might be a being who could just fix it all.

"Not to my surprise, a few articles have begun to appear on social media criticizing the glibness with which we offer our prayers. They complain that prayer is an excuse not to act . . .  Certainly, these responses hit at some basic truth. Prayer should not be a way out of acting, especially if we feel called to act.

"In fact, Catholics speak of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. . . . The Church teaches the importance of prayer, fasting, penance, and almsgiving with the knowledge that without these three things working together, the words 'I'll pray for you' run the risk of becoming the intentionless words of well-wishers.

"However, prayer exists as more than a prelude to almsgiving. I would argue that prayer is itself an action. Prayer certainly affects the individual. It can lead to real change in the world, and it prevents us from having the hubris to believe that we alone can fix all our own problems."

In a recent commentary, writer reflected on the power of prayer to change hearts and to change the world and of the importance to make prayer meaningful.

To access his complete post, please visit:

Catholic Stand: Social Media Takes on Prayer: Why We Pray and Act (20 DEC 17)

Reflection Starter from A. A. Milne

"You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes." - A. A. Milne

19 January 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings and protection You offer us as we make the Sign of the Cross.

Br. Bartholomew Calvano, O.P., on the Sign of the Cross

"St. Anthony of the Desert is considered the Father of Monasticism. Not because he was the first monk but because he was the first to venture deep into the wilderness. St. Athanasius reports that although there were monks in Egypt before Anthony, they all remained near their homes. Anthony lived with an old man for a time to learn how to be an ascetic. When he resolved to head into the deep desert, he asked this same old man to join him. The old man, however, 'declined on account of his great age, and because as yet there was no such custom.' So Anthony set off into the desert alone.

"By his journey into the desert, St. Anthony models the fuga mundi (flight from the world) that characterizes true monastic life. This flight from the world is not the flight of a coward nor the avoidance of hardship or the total abandonment of all people. The monk who flees the world cares deeply for those in the world. In fact, by fleeing the world the monk enters into a spiritual combat for those still in the world. . . .

"Although he had few worldly cares, St. Anthony had many tribulations from evil spirits. The monk fights more intensely the spiritual battle that all Christians must fight. Indeed, whenever each of us, be we monk or layman, advances in holiness, the demons increase their temptations and hinder us by evil thoughts. . . . One of the helps that St. Anthony recommended in this spiritual combat is to make use of the sign of the cross."

In a recent commentary, Brother Bartholomew Calvano, O.P., reflected on the great power present in the Sign of the Cross.

To access Br. Pier’s complete post, please visit:

Dominicana: Spiritual Warfare and the Sign of the Cross (17 JAN 18)

Reflection Starter from Charles Swindoll

"Today is unique! It has never occurred before and it will never be repeated. At midnight it will end, quietly, suddenly, totally. Forever. But the hours between now and then are opportunities with eternal possibilities." - Charles Swindoll

18 January 2018

" The Atlantic" Staff on Things That "Blew Our Minds in 2017"

"This past year, reporters on The Atlantic's science, technology, and health desks worked tirelessly, writing hundreds of stories. Each of those stories is packed with facts that surprised us, delighted us, and in some cases, unsettled us. Instead of picking our favorite stories, we decided to round up a small selection of the most astonishing things we learned in 2017. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did . . ."

To access this list from The Atlantic, please visit:

The Atlantic: 74 Things That Blew Our Minds in 2017 (30 DEC 17)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord for the individual beauty of each snowflake.

Paul Kniaz on the Virtues of the Magi

"The prominent virtues of the Magi are piety and wisdom (in recognizing Christ as universal king and the light of the world), faith, fortitude, hope and humility.

"Matthew's Gospel highlights Christ's kingship through the magi when he writes, '[a]fter Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him' (Matthew 2:1-2). Nativities rightly or wrongly depict the magi as kings; their kingship points to the fact that Christ is to be the king of kings. Though 'born king of the Jews,' his kingdom is to be even wider than Israel. Yet the world - Herod included - has no idea of what has happened; it remains unaware of its new king. Today, the world remains just as unaware, which is yet another reason to celebrate the magi who, though relying on a star themselves, can act as beckons of light to others seeking the new king.

"The magic of the magi lies not in their spells but in the message that all of us can be born into Christ's kingdom. The prologue to John's Gospel describes Christ's followers as children of God but 'children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God' (John 1:13)."

In a recent commentary, writer Paul Kniaz reflected on the virtues exemplified by the Magi (including faith, fortitude, and hope).

To access his complete post, please visit:

Catholic Stand: The Virtues of the Magi (18 JAN 18)

Reflection Starter from Marie Curie

"You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end,each of us must work for our own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think can be most useful." - Marie Curie

17 January 2018

Thank You, Lord

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

How Do You Echo Your Faith?

Catholic singer-songwriter Matt Maher is the dad of three kids under the age of six, and he realizes that they learned to talk by echoing what they heard him and his wife say. With that in mind, Maher came to see that Christianity is similarly spread through the echoes of other Christians' words and actions. Therefore, he named his latest album Echoes, and we talked about it recently on Christopher Closeup.

Maher explained that he was a cradle Catholic, who didn't take his faith seriously until he turned 20. Looking back at the years he spent working for the Church in Phoenix, he said, "So much of my faith was formed by listening to the people around me and the things they said and emphasized. And I turned around and did the same thing."

While affirming the importance of catechesis, Maher believes we have to develop a more personal approach to passing on our faith in everyday life. But the modern world often makes that difficult, especially on social media where people often share articles that appeal to them on an emotional level without fully thinking through whether these pieces fully reflect what the Catholic faith teaches.

Maher encourages us to listen for the authentic call of Jesus instead: "He's the one whispering in your ear the desire to improve yourselves, making your life more fraternal to improve society…telling you to dream the big dreams, to live life abundantly. What [Anglican theologian] N.T. Wright said was, 'All of humanity hears the echo of a voice who calls for the wrong things to be made right.'"

Making things right is something that starts with each of us individually, a message Maher shares in his timely and relevant song "Clean Heart." The lyrics state: "Woke up this morning / The whole world was yelling / I wish I was dreaming / Of all that we've been through. / My soul has been searching / For some deeper meaning / I know there's a kindness / That leads me to the truth. / When everybody's looking for another fight / When trouble’s on the rise, no end in sight / Oh Savior, won't You come and make the wrong things right? / Let me be the place You start / Give me a clean heart."

Maher relates the song to "this age of divisiveness" and our uncertainty about how to respond. He realizes that "you can't change anyone else. You can only change yourself. And even that you can't do without the grace of God. There’s a reason why Mass, after the opening song, begins with the Confiteor. Those are the words in Latin: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maximum culpa - through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. That's not just the starting point for the pagan [or] the atheist [or] the marginal Christian. It's the starting point for everybody."

Though it's the starting point, Maher explains, the humility of admitting our faults should lead us to repentance and mercy: "The second verse of [Clean Heart] talks about mercy. I think there's a reason why Jesus said to St. Faustina that mercy is an ocean. He didn't say 'lake,' he didn't say 'river'...He said 'ocean.' Like, the thing that covers 90% of the Earth. That was in me when the song was written...From the cross, Jesus blessed His persecutors. He blessed those who were mocking Him, and so that's the mandate on the life of every Christian."

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 Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

16 January 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You work through scientists to research and learn about Your creation.

Matthew Becklo on Catholicism as Science-Friendly

"On a recent episode of The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert and frequent visitor Neil deGrasse Tyson joked about the astronomical insignificance of New Year's Day.

"Before long, Tyson was talking about the role the Catholic Church played in creating the calendar as we know it. 'The world’s calendar is the Gregorian calendar after Pope Gregory,' Tyson explains. 'Put that into place in 1582, because the previous Julian calendar was messing up in the year. It was off by ten days. And the pope said, 'We got to fix this…' There's a Vatican Observatory to this day. At the time, before telescopes were invented, these Jesuit priests were put into the service of figuring out why the calendar was shifting in the year.'

"Colbert, known for his openness about his Catholic faith, then asks Tyson if it’s true that a Catholic priest formulated the Big Bang Theory. 'Yes,' Tyson responds. 'Georges LemaĆ®tre. Using Einstein's equations … he deduces that the history of the universe must've started with a bang. So Catholics have been in there in multiple places.'

"This little exchange might have seemed uninteresting in another era, but not today. The rise in the new atheism and Biblical literalism have made it a commonplace that science and religion are in conflict, and young people are absorbing the idea as axiomatic. . . ."

In a recent commentary, writer Matthew Becklo reflected on the evidence showing Catholicism as a science-friendly religion.

To access his complete post, please visit:

Aleteia: Matthew Becklo: Catholicism: The science-friendly religion (12 JAN 18)

Reflection Starter from R. Buckminster Fuller

"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly." - R. Buckminster Fuller

15 January 2018

Boston Children's Chorus: "I'll Fly Away"

As we continue our celebration of the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I offer this version of the Boston Children's Chorus presenting "I'll Fly Away":


Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing each person is.

A Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Reflection from Msgr. Pope

"A priest friend of mine who immigrated to this country from Jordan back in the 1970s is often asked, 'Where are you from?' He humorously answers, 'I am from my mother’s womb.' 

"True enough! There is an even more fundamental answer, rooted in Scripture, which speaks to the origin of every human person: You are from the loving will and heart of God. Before you were ever formed in your mother's womb, God knew you and thought about you (see Jeremiah 1:5). He set into motion everything necessary to create you. He didn't just get your parents to meet, but your grandparents and great-grandparents, going all the way back. All of this so that you could exist just as you are. Having thought of you and conceived you in greatest love, He knit you together in your mother's womb. You were skillfully wrought in that secret place of the womb and you are wonderfully, fearfully made. Every one of your days was written in God's book before one of them ever came to be (See Psalm 139). 

"This biblical answer is true of every one of us. Whatever our nationality, ethnicity, or race, our truest origin is from God, from His heart and His loving 'yes' to our existence. This means that I am your brother and you are my brother or sister. . . ."

In a recent commentary as we observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day,, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on some of the recent tensions this nation has been facing regarding immigration, race, and ethnicity and on a response by Christians.

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

Community in Mission: Where Are You from? A Reflection on Recent Tensions over Immigration, Race, and Ethnicity (14 JAN 18)

Reflection Starter from Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness." - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

14 January 2018

"Create in Me a Clean Heart"

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of "Create in Me a Clean Heart":


Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are 1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19; 1 Corinthians :13-15, 17-20; and John 1:35-42. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 40 (Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-10).

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

YouTube: Psalm 40 - Here I am, O Lord: I come to do your will

The Gospel reading is as follows:

John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God." The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.

Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?"

They said to him, "Rabbi" -  which translated means Teacher - , "where are you staying?"

He said to them, "Come, and you will see."

So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon.

Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah" - which is translated Christ - . Then he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas" - which is translated Peter.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 14, 2018)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 14, 2018)

Community in Mission: A Picture of a Prophet - A Homily for the Second Sunday of the Year (13 JAN 18)


The Sacred Page: The Personal God who Calls Us By Name: 2nd Sunday in OT (11 JAN 18)

The Sacred Page: Peter and Andrew First Meet Jesus (The Mass Readings Explained) (8 JAN 18)

St. Paul Center: Hearing the Call: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Word on Fire: The Call of Samuel (Cycle B * Ordinary Time * Week 2)


Spirituality of the Readings: Called by Name (The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

In Exile: The Christ-Child of the Year (The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time B)


Let the Scriptures Speak: A Paradigm From John (The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

The Word Encountered: The Body Sacred (The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time B
)

Historical Cultural Context: How to Evangelize (The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Basil of Seleucia (The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many varieties of food You make available to us.

Msgr. Pope on Knowing Jesus for Oneself

"Every now and then someone will come to me and request parish services of some sort. Maybe it's to plan a wedding, a baptism, or a funeral; maybe it's to ask for money! Then I look at him or her and say, 'Who are you?' (since I don't recognize the person). 'Oh, you may not know me but my mother and grandparents go here; this is our family church.' 'I see, but where do you go to Mass?' I usually ask. The response is typically something like this: 'Well, you know how it is, Father. I don't get to Mass too often … but my mother comes every week!' 

"Well, I've got news for you: your Mama's faith isn't going to save you. You gotta have your own faith. You have to know Jesus for yourself. There are some things you just can't borrow. Once, you depended on your mother and ultimately the Church to announce the True Faith to you; at some point, though, you have to be able to claim the True Faith as your own. Your mother can't go to Mass for you and she can't believe for you."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the importance of knowing Jesus for oneself, not borrowing someone else's intimacy, relationship, readiness, or holiness.

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

Community in Mission: What Does Jesus Mean When He Says to Some, "I Never Knew You"? (11 JAN 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"We must not wait to be perfect before responding to the Lord who calls us, but rather open our hearts to His voice." - Pope Francis

10 January 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You mold us through the ministry of other people in our lives.

Allow God to Mold You

In a Facebook post this past November, Christopher friend Jim Collins shared that he had just finished his first prison ministry visit with a program called Residents Encounter Christ. He wrote, "I think I learned a lot more than the residents. It is amazing to watch Jesus' hand at work over the weekend with both the residents and myself." A week later, Jim posted a picture with a glorious view of a long field in which an American flag flew in front of a browned autumn tree line framing the horizon. He wrote, "I am cooking this weekend for the women's retreat. Look at my view while cooking eggs this morning."

What a beautiful way to utilize social media, to highlight the fulfillment that comes from service to others. In a recent interview with The Christophers, Jim shared some details about these encounters, recalling lighter moments such as dancing and singing with the inmates during his prison visit - and being given a hard time in the kitchen for all the things he needed to be taught about cooking at the retreat. But he also shared some profoundly moving experiences and insights he gained through the opportunity to serve others.

Jim's prison visit encompassed three days in which volunteers slept at a nearby Franciscan house and rose early to venture to the prison and spend all day ministering to inmates. He noted that some of the men committed horrible crimes yet discovered Christ while in prison and changed their lives.

Jim noted that many prisoners struggle to forgive themselves for the crimes they committed and that was an issue he tried to address, telling them, "If God forgives you, who are you not to forgive yourself?" He gave a talk on taking action, focusing on the command we receive at the end of each Mass: "Go forth to love and serve the Lord." Reflecting on those words, Jim said, "It's telling us to go forth and be apostles of Christ, and to take the Eucharist in our bodies that we've taken during Mass and bring it out to the world."

What motivated Jim to take part in these volunteer opportunities? He said, "The Christophers taught me a lot about bringing my faith out and to be outside of myself, to be an action person. I love being the action-faith guy, and I learned a lot of that from The Christophers."

A week after his prison visit, Jim cooked for the women's retreat as part of a Cursillo palanca, which entails prayers and offerings for the cause of bringing about grace in someone's life. And a week later, he took part in a "midnight run,\"” wherein he joined in bringing food and clothing directly to the homeless on the streets of Manhattan.

Talking about his journey to put his faith into action, Jim said, "I used to just go to Mass on Sundays but then at some point I started to allow God to mold me, just like Pope Francis says, 'Allow Him to mold you, allow Him to form you.'"

When we open our hearts to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we find ourselves bringing our faith out into our communities to meet the spiritual needs of those we encounter. It is a way of life more fulfilling than any other material pursuit. So allow God to mold you today, and the Holy Spirit will transform you and begin to work through you to make the world a better place.

This essay is this week's "Light One Candle" column, written by Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M, of The Christophers' Board of Directors; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.)

Background information:

The Christophers