28 February 2018

Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 104

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Joseph Haydn's "Symphony No. 104 in D major" ("London Symphony") as played by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Bernard Haitink):

Alex Kingsbury on the Disappearance of Handwritten Letters

"The packet of letters became a local curiosity in the city of León, Spain. Not because of what was in them, but because of where they were found: in the secret compartment of a desk. The three dozen missives were sent by a woman named Constance MacBride to her father Paul, who lived at 479 Chestnut Street in the village of Waban in Newton, Mass.

"I first learned about the letters from my mother-in-law, who lives in León, a city four hours north of Madrid. She knows the family who found them and last spring, through a series of WhatsApp messages, she sent me a few photos of the curious, creased letters and the envelopes in which they were found. One glance and I was hooked. During our family trip to my wife's native country this winter, I went to get a first-hand look at the secret chamber and the letters themselves.

"They smell like they've been locked away for a half a century. But the sheets of paper aren't as brittle as you'd imagine, and the words written on them vibrate with life - like memories caught in the wild."

In a recent , Alex Kingsbury, deputy editor of the Boston Globe Ideas section reflected on the challenge of the disappearance of handwritten letters and what this means for historians.

To access Mr. Kingsbury's complete reflection, please visit:

Boston Globe: You've got mail - for now - The Boston Globe (25 FEB 18)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the songs of the birds You have created.

Bishop Tobin on on a Pro-Life Triptych

"According to the dictionary, a triptych is 'a set of three associated artistic, literary or musical works intended to be appreciated together.' And that's my intention here - to highlight three panels of a pro-life triptych, three distinct but related current issues: racism, immigration and abortion. The common theme? Respect for human life." 

In a recent commentary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on the issues of racism, immigration and abortion and their common theme: respect for human life. 

To access Bishop Tobin's complete essay, please visit: 

Without A Doubt: A Pro-Life Triptych (22 FEB 18)

Reflection Starter from John

"Jesus spoke to them again, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" - John 8:12 (Today's Verse Before the Gospel)

27 February 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the the beauty of butterflies.

Deacon Michael Bickerstaff on Understanding Suffering

"One of the things with which we so often struggle is to understand our condition in a fallen world. Each of us, in our own way, has experienced the pain and suffering so often encountered as one journeys through this world on our road to heaven. The road to heaven is a way of suffering and sacrifice; and it leads directly through the cross of Christ. If we are to find and stay on this path, this is a truth that we must come to embrace.

"In a passage from Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus explains to His apostles that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer at the hands of the authorities… that He will need to lay down His life. Peter, so like many in the world - maybe like you and like me - has a different view. Peter objects to what he hears and the Gospel tells us that he takes Jesus aside and actually rebukes Him! And so, Jesus who had just previously called Peter Rock now addresses him as Satan. Jesus accuses Peter of thinking like human beings and not as God. He speaks of the necessity of the Cross… in His life and in ours."

In a recent commentary, Deacon Michael Bickerstaff (Editor in chief and co-founder of the Integrated Catholic Life eMagazine) reflected on the necessity of suffering in this world and on how the Cross gives meaning to suffering.

To access his complete post, please visit:

Integrated Catholic Life: How am I to understand suffering? (4 FEB 18)

Reflection Starter from T. S. Eliot

"Where is all the knowledge we lost with information" - T. S. Eliot

26 February 2018

Erin Kamprath on Spiritual Lessons Exemplified by Olympic Athletes

"The Olympics inspire and showcase true human excellence: rigorous discipline, united patriotism, and even, though otherwise unpopular in contemporary culture, judgement - right judgment against an objective standard, striving to signify with the beautiful precision of numbers exactly how unequal performances are. 

"What is more, as St. Paul testifies, athletic events can motivate us toward supernatural virtue as well as natural: 'Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain it.' The prize he means, of course, is heaven itself. St. Paul advises us, like athletes, to practice self-control, to pommel and subdue our bodies, so that we might avoid disqualification and attain our victory wreaths through lives of Christian charity.

"In other words, we ought to allow the examples of great sportsmen and women to inform our spiritual lives! And in this year's Olympics, there are several athletes who can provide us with spiritual lesson.s"

In a recent commentary, writer Erin Kamprath reflected on spiritual lessons exemplified by Olympic athletes (including Red Gerard, Chloe Kim, Alex and Maia Shibutani, Chris and Alexa Knierim, and
Simon Kreuge.

To access her complete post, please visit:

Aleteia: Erin Kamprath: 7 Olympic athletes teaching us spiritual lessons (23 FEB 18)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of running water.

Jeremiah Poff on Thomas Aquinas College

"When Kiplinger's Personal Finance released its 300 Best College Values list last month, it wasn't Georgetown University or Notre Dame that topped the list among Catholic institutions of higher education.

"It was a tiny liberal arts school, nestled in the hills of Ventura County in southern California, that prizes its Catholic identity too much to accept government money.

"Thomas Aquinas College, ranked 14th on the entire list and seventh among liberal arts colleges, beat out more recognizable Catholic institutions: College of the Holy Cross (25th), Boston College (43rd) and Notre Dame (46th).

"It managed this feat while strictly limiting the amount of debt it allows students to have, and requiring them to work on campus to pay part of their tuition."

In a recent commentary, writer Jeremiah Poff reflected on Thomas Aquinas College and its ministry , with special attention to the college's striving to provide an authentic, faithful Catholic education while keeping costs manageable for its students.

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

The College Fix: Tiny Catholic college that spurns government money ranks near the top of best 'values' (9 FEB 18)

Background information:

Thomas Aquinas College

Reflection Starter from B. C. Forbes

"To make headway, improve your head." - B. C. Forbes

25 February 2018

"How good, Lord, to be here!"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of "How good, Lord, to be here!":

Second Sunday of Lent

Today the Church celebrates the Second Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings are Genesis 22:1-2, 9, 10-13 15-18; Romans 8:31-34; and Mark 9:2-10. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 116 (Psalm 116:10, 15-19).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 116 I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.

Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Second Sunday of Lent (February 25, 2018)

OBlates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Second Sunday of Lent (February 25, 2018)

Community in Mission: From Trials to Transfiguration - A Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent (24 FEB 18)

Zenit: Pope Francis' Angelus Address: On the Transfiguration of Christ (25 FEB 18)

The Sacred Page: Premonition of Calvary: The 2nd Sunday of Lent (22 FEB 18)

The Sacred Page: The Transfiguration (The Mass Readings Explained) (19 FEB 18)

St. Paul Center: Bonds Loosed: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Second Sunday of Lent

Word on Fire: The Mystical Transfiguration of Christ (Cycle B * Lent * Week 2)

Spirituality of the Readings: Light from Light (The Second Sunday of Lent B)

In Exile: Can You Lose Your Vocation? (The Second Sunday of Lent B)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Sign Language Spoken Here (The Second Sunday of Lent B)

The Word Encountered: Seeing God (The Second Sunday of Lent B

Historical Cultural Context: The Test of Honor (The Second Sunday of Lent B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Ephrem (The Second Sunday of Lent B)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for continuing to hold us in the palm of Your hands.

Msgr. Pope on Trust in the Lord

"One of the Five Hard Truths that will set us free is this one: 'You are not in control.' This unnerves us, even terrifies us at times. We like to be in control, but control is an illusion; things you think you control are resting on things you cannot control such as the next beat of your heart or even the continued existence of the cosmos! No, we are not in control. . . .

"The paradox is that accepting this hard, even terrifying truth is what frees us from many fears and anxieties. Uncertainty is not the deepest source of our anxiety, rather it is our desperate clinging to control and our insistence on our own preferred outcomes. We don't always (or even usually) know what is best for us. Abandoning ourselves to God's wisdom and leadership is the only path to true peace."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on trusting in the Lord in each of our life's circumstances.

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

Community in Mission: The Paradoxical Source of Trust in the Lord (8 FEB 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"As we grow in our spiritual lives, we realize how Grace comes to us and to others, and must be shared with everyone." - Pope Francis

24 February 2018

Sachal Jazz and Wynton Marsalis: "My Favourite Things"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Sachal Jazz and Wynton Marsalis presenting "My Favourite Things":

The Boy and the Orange

"During the darkest hours of the Civil War a tall, thin man with very long legs and a frowning wrinkled face walked along a Washington street. His eyes were fixed on the pavement; his lips were moving and he looked crossed.

"There was a ragged young urchin standing barefoot on the curb, his dirty hands clutched behind him, his lips twisting and his big eyes fixed on a pile of oranges in a vendor's cart. The vendor's back was turned while he made change for a customer. The tall man passed the boy, stopped suddenly, plunged his hand in his pocket and bought a large orange. He gave it to the boy and went on.

"The boy was grinning and had already sunk his teeth into the orange, when a passerby asked him if he knew who gave him the orange. The boy shook his head. 'That was President Lincoln,' he was informed. 'Now, hurry and go thank him.'

"The boy ran, caught the tails of Lincoln's long black coat, and as the stern face turned sharply toward him, the boy shouted, 'Thank you, Mr. President!'

"Suddenly that frowned face beamed into a beautiful smile. 'You're welcome, boy. You wanted to steal that orange while the man's back was turned, didn't you? But you wouldn't because it wasn't honest. That's the right way. I wish some men and women I know were more like you."

          - Source Unknown

New England Stone Walls

"Along with lighthouses, covered bridges, and white-steeped churches, New England stone walls are one of our region's most enduring reminders of the past. They line country roads, border cemeteries, mark the edges of fields, and even snake through the woods - sometimes seemingly in the middle of nowhere."

Yankee Magazine recently published an updated version of a photo essay originally published in 2013.

To access the complete photo essay, please visit:

Yankee: New England Today: New England Stone Walls

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many good people who touch our lives in positive ways each day.

An Ordinary Missionary of Everyday Life

Arthur Mirell's love for Jesus originated with free hot dogs, a carnival, and a friendly priest. As recalled by his longtime friend, Sister Ave Clark, O.P., during an interview with me for The Christophers' radio show, Arthur was a young Jewish boy in Brooklyn, New York, when he was walking by a church one day. The parish priest came out and invited Arthur and some other children to come enjoy a carnival the church was having. The other kids quickly accepted the invitation, but Arthur just stood there and responded, "I'm not Catholic." The priest said, "That doesn't matter. There's hot dogs and fun."

That simple welcoming attitude made an impression on Arthur, prompting him to further explore the Catholic faith. Though he always maintained a love for his Jewish heritage, he eventually converted to Catholicism. "He loved to go sit in church quietly," said Sister Ave. "He said he would just look up at the cross and feel Jesus comforting him on his journey with his own cross."

That cross was the mental illness schizophrenia. Arthur read about the disease, said Sister Ave, "and he realized that this would be a lifelong journey. He took his medication. At times, it would help. Other times, it would make him feel weary." Schizophrenia manifested itself in Arthur mostly through fragmented thoughts. Sister Ave noted, "He would be chatting with you, and all of a sudden he would go into his own reality or start talking about things not related to the conversation." When he did this with Sister Ave, she would gently redirect him back to his original point. Arthur would then tell her, "Thank you for getting me back on track so politely."

Sometimes people made fun of Arthur because of this tendency, but he would never get angry. Sister Ave said, "Sometimes someone has hurt us, and we want to ignore the person. Arthur forgave them. . .  . He said, 'If I hold onto the hurt, I become it.' That struck me as [the] radical kindness that we are asked to be."

Later in life, instances of people insulting Arthur didn't happen frequently, especially when he joined Brooklyn's St. Jude parish. Sister Ave said, "I think people sensed Arthur's goodness. They understood that he had differences mentally, but they always welcomed him."

Sister Ave first got to know Arthur over 15 years ago when he attended an evening of prayer she was holding at a Brooklyn church. They started talking by phone every day until his death last year. It was Arthur;s passing that prompted Sister Ave to write a moving and profound book about her friend, called Arthur, Thank You For Being Jesus' Love. His example, she believes, could be a benefit to us all on many levels: "He wasn't Pollyanna about life. He understood that there were hardships. Sometimes he would be disappointed or hurt, but he didn't let that control his life. . . . He chose to have a good attitude."

Arthur spread Jesus' love not only through words, but actions. Sister Ave once told him that he was a missionary. He responded that he'd never been to a foreign country. But she explained, "You're an ordinary missionary of everyday life." She continued, "He'd wave at the garbage man, the mailman. Everybody knew him. I said, 'Arthur, some day you will be like St. Therese. You're going to live your heaven doing good on earth.' I believe he is."

You can contact Sister Ave about the book by emailing pearlbud7@aol.com.

This essay is a recent "Light One Candle" column by Tony Rossi, Director of Communications, 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 Jim Rohn

"All disciplines affect each other. Mistakenly the man says, 'This is the only area where I let down.' Not true. Every let down affects the rest. Not to think so is naive." - Jim Rohn

17 February 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of the holy season of Lent.

Fr. George Rutler on Lent and Our Unfinished Journey

"There are different theories as to why Schubert did not finish the Unfinished Symphony. Although his Symphony in B minor lacks two movements, it has two. And explaining why it began is as challenging as explaining why it did not end. Mozart did not finish his Requiem for the simple reason that he died. That also is why Thucydides did not finish his History of the Peloponnesian War, Raphael’s Transfiguration was incomplete, Giorgione's Sleeping Venus was left for Titian to complete, and Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov had unrealized chapters.

"A Roman soldier's sword prevented Archimedes from resolving a mathematical problem. Chaucer did not finish his Canterbury Tales because he had to go back to work as a clerk in the Port of London, and Spenser did not finish the last six books of The Faerie Queene for political reasons. . . .

"Artists rarely think that they have completed a work. Tolkien, for example, kept re-writing The Silmarillion. At least they have an intuition, a mental sense, of what should be realized with paint or pen. But if life has no goal, there is nothing to complete. Chesterton said that man has always been lost, but modern man has lost his address and cannot return home. Far different was Saint Paul: 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith' (2 Timothy 4:7). His faith was trust that life has a goal, and it is realized in the eternal existence offered by the Creator who made us in his image. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Fr. George Rutler, pastor of the Church of Saint Michael, New York, NY, reflected on the relationship between Lent and our journey toward our goal, Jesus.

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

National Catholic Register: Blogs: Fr. George Rutler: Without Christ, Every Work is an Unfinished Work (12 FEB 18)

Reflection Starter from Charles Schwab

"The best place to succeed is where you are with what you have." - Charles M. Schwab

11 February 2018

"There Is A Balm In Gilead"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of "There Is A Balm In Gilead":

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; and Mark 1:40-45. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 32 (Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 32 Prayer of Contrition and Confession for Sin

The Gospel reading is as follows:

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean."

Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean." The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. He said to him, "See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them."

The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (February 11, 2018)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (February 11, 2018)

Community in Mission: Losing our Leprosy - A Homily for the 6th Sunday of the Year (10 FEB 18)

Aleteia: Tom Hoopes: 7 Lessons lepers teach sinners (9 FEB 18)

The Sacred Page: Spiritual Leprosy and Healing: The 6th Sunday of OT (9 FEB 18)

St. Paul Center: Made Clean: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Word on Fire: The Leper and Evangelization (Cycle B * Ordinary Time * Week 6)

Spirituality of the Readings: Be Made Clean (The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

In Exile: Seeing in a Deeper Way (The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Who Is a 'Leper' Today? (The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

The Word Encountered: Living by Appearances (The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time B

Historical Cultural Context: Restored to Community (The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Paschasius Radbertus (The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

Thnak You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your reminders to be faithful in small matters.

Msgr. Pope on the Importance of Little Things

"I have found that one of my favorite quotes from St. Augustine is not all that well known. Here it is in Latin, followed by my own translation: 

   "Quod minimum, minimum est,
   Sed in minimo fidelem esse,
   magnum est.

   "What is a little thing, is (just) a little thing,
   But to be faithful in a little thing,
   is a great thing.
   (De Doctrina Christiana, IV,35) 
"I first saw this quote on the frontispiece of a book by Adrian Fortescue. Fortescue applied it to the intricate details of celebrating the Old Latin Mass. That form of the Mass has an enormous amount of detail to learn: how exactly to hold the hands, when and how to bow, what tone of voice to use when, what fingers should be used to pick up the host, and so on. Some might see these details as picky and overwhelming, but Fortescue apparently wanted us to think about the fact that love is often shown through attention to the little things."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the importance paying attention to little things.

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

Community in Mission: On the Importance of Little Things (7 FEB 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Christians are called to keep alive the memory of how much God has done through them." - Pope Francis

09 February 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of each new day.

Sarah Teather on Lessons from Benedict XVI on Welcoming Refugees

"This week, as we published a new report at the Jesuit Refugee Service looking at homelessness amongst refugees, words from Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical came flooding back to me. Christian love of neighbour, he said, is a response to and a sharing of God's love. But neighbours aren't only people like me, because the Christian concept of neighbour is a universal, that is, a catholic one.

"Benedict warned that this love is especially important where we are confronted with the idea that we have a 'duty of hatred'. Such a perverse 'duty of hatred', I realised, finds a close parallel in a key aspect of government policy towards certain groups of forcibly displaced people: the hostile environment agenda."

In a recent commentary, Sarah Teather, a former British Member of Parliament and Minister of State for Children and Families, reflected on the message of Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est as it applies to current attitudes toward immigration in the United Kingdom and other nations.

To access her complete post, please visit:

Catholic Herald: What Benedict XVI can teach us about welcoming refugees (26 JAN 18)

Background report:

Benedict XI: Deus caritas est (On Christian Love) (December 25, 2005)

Reflection Starter from William Arthur Ward

"Today is a most unusual day, because we have never lived it before; we will never live it again; it is the only day we have" - William Arthur Ward

08 February 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of Catholic caregivers and for the many ways in which they minister to Your people.

In Praise of Catholic Caregivers

In a 2017 article for the London-based Catholic Herald, Professor David Paton of Nottingham University called the Catholic Church "the largest and most significant non-state organization in the world" and "one of the biggest aid agencies in the world." The numbers internationally are impressive - over 140,000 schools, 10,000 orphanages, 5,000 hospitals and 16,000 other clinics, with spending between two and four billion per year.

"Even these numbers only tell half the tale," writes Paton, who notes that Caritas, the organization that provides the numbers, does not factor in developmental spending by religious orders and other charities, nor do their figures reflect small scale charitable projects undertaken by the 200,000 parishes worldwide. "In much of the developing world," Paton writes, "if the Church was not involved, the services would not be provided at all."

One study found that Catholic hospitals in the U.S. were more efficient than their secular counterparts while also managing to compile a better track record of serving the poor and marginalized of society. In education, an Australian study shows that attending Catholic schools increases students' chances of going to college and getting a good job. And on a heartbreaking yet enlightening note about education in one U.S. city, Paton writes, "The University of Chicago Law Review recently concluded that the closure of Catholic schools in poorer areas of Chicago led to a significant increase in urban social disorder and crime."

So what does this say about the state of Catholic outreach throughout the world? It says that people of faith have been inspired by the gospel to build a worldwide community of caregivers who are currently making a profound impact on society and in the life of each individual they serve. Christ said, "You will know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:16) Faithful Catholics are rising to the call to produce good fruits every day.

As Paton notes, it is important for the Church's outreach to remain firmly rooted in the faith because this is the best way to minister to the full range of human needs when dealing with each individual we serve. The greatest threat to the continuation of a robust Catholic outreach comes from secular governments and institutions that sometimes expect the Church to conform to modern trends in morality in order to administer aid.

It is important that Catholics remain confident in answering the call to serve while also upholding the beliefs that have been handed down to us by Christ. This will ensure the future of our mission to serve those in need throughout the world; and, as Paton writes, "If Catholic institutions are able to carry on delivering their services in the context of an ethos that has at its heart the dignity of every human life from conception until natural death, the Church can continue to be the greatest force for good in the world today."

For those interested in becoming part of the thriving culture of service in the Church, Catholic Volunteer Network is a wonderful place to discover information about opportunities for outreach in our nation and around the world. There is truly so much going on and so many opportunities, including opportunities for young people to earn stipends while exploring their gifts as caregivers to those in need.

So take heart in the wonderful work done by Catholic caregivers around the world, and let us go forth as a people of faith to continue to act on the love we have within our hearts for all God's children.

This essay is this week's "Light One Candle" column; 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 Leo Tolstoy

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." - Leo Tolstoy

05 February 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of clean water and for those who work to provide it.

Bishop Tobin on Giving to the Church

"So, a man died and went to heaven. He was met at the pearly gates by St. Peter who led him down the golden streets. They passed stately homes and beautiful mansions until they came to the end of the street where they stopped in front of a rundown cabin. 'This is where you'll be living,' St. Peter said. But the man protested and asked St. Peter why he got a simple little hut when so many others were living in mansions. St. Peter replied, 'I did the best I could with the money you sent us.'

"It seems that the topic of giving money to the church always evokes a variety of emotions - humor, angst, piety and pride. And questions too. Why should I give to the church? How much should I give? What does the church do with all that money? Why do some members stop giving to the church?

"First, let's state the obvious. Every religious denomination depends on the free will contributions of its members to survive, to carry-out its mission. Where else would the church derive its financial resources? At least in this country, the government doesn't subsidize churches. (Although sometimes the government will enter into a contract with a church to deliver a particular service - affordable housing, or refugee resettlement, for example.)

"But the church needs money and we shouldn't apologize for that. While the church exists for spiritual purposes, it doesn't run on love alone. It lives and functions in the real world and it needs money to do so."
In a recent commentary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on reasons why people or don't give to the Church and on why it is important to do so..
To access Bishop Tobin's complete essay, please visit:
Without A Doubt: Let’s Talk About Giving to the Church (25 JAN 18)

Reflection Starter from G. K. Chesterton

"When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude." - G. K. Chesterton

04 February 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your Real Presence in our churches, at every Mass.

Msgr. Pope on the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

"The moment of the Presentation of Jesus was one of the most dramatic in biblical history, yet almost no one noticed. . . .

"To understand what it is, let's look back to 587 B.C. 

"The Babylonians had invaded Jerusalem and the unthinkable had happened. The Holy City was destroyed and, along with it, the Temple of God. Inside the Temple something even more precious than the building had been housed: the Ark of the Covenant. 

"Recall what the Ark of Covenant was in the Old Testament. It was a box of acacia wood, covered in gold. Inside it were placed the two tablets on which God had inscribed the Ten Commandments. Also in it was the staff of Aaron and a vial of the manna. Even more important, in this box, this ark, dwelt the very Presence of God in Israel. God mysteriously dwelt within, much as is the case today in our understanding of the tabernacle in our Catholic churches.

"The Lost Ark - Incredibly, however, the Ark was lost when the Babylonians destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem in 587 BC. Some thought that Jeremiah had hidden it in the mountains. Others, that the priests had hastily hidden it in the maze of caves beneath the Temple Mount. Still others argued that it was taken to Ethiopia. But the Ark was gone.

"Empty Temple - When the Temple was rebuilt some eighty years later, the Holy of Holies was restored but the Ark was still missing. . . . The Ark, the mercy seat, was gone. Would it ever be found? Would it ever be returned to the Temple? Would the Holy Presence of God ever find its way to the Temple again?"

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the importance of the return of God to the Temple in the Presentation of Jesus and its importance to the people of Israel at that time and its importance to us today.

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

Community in Mission: A Dramatic Biblical Moment That Nearly Everyone Missed (1 FEB 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Goodness, together with love, justice and solidarity, are not achieved once and for all; they have to be realized each day." - Pope Francis