21 March 2018

Thank You, Lord

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

Bishop Tobin on Ceasing Doing Evil and Learning To Do Good

"Wash yourselves clean! Put away misdeeds from before my eyes. Cease doing evil, learn to do good. (Is 1: 16-17)

"Every once-in-a-while you come across a scripture verse that seems to summarize the Christian life in just a few words, and during this Lent these two verses from Isaiah have spoken to me.

"'Cease doing evil, learn to do good.' Those seven simple words, though drawn from the Old Testament, capture one of the primary goals of the Christian life: to do good and avoid evil; to grow in holiness."

In a recent commentary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on the importance of ceasing doing evil and learning to do good during Lent and throughout our lives.

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

Without A Doubt: Cease Doing Evil, Learn To Do Good (8 MAR 18)

Reflection Starter from Laozi

"To know yet to think that one does not know is best; not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty." - Laozi

20 March 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the kind words You send our way through the people You place in our lives.

An Actor’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

With his role as Frasier Crane's father Martin on the hit TV series Frasier, John Mahoney entered the pantheon of lovable and comical curmudgeons that viewers welcomed into their living rooms week after week. The down-to-earth, Ballantine beer-loving Martin served as the perfect foil to Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and Niles' (David Hyde Pierce) more upper crusty tastes. For 11seasons, Mahoney was the "everyman" in that cast, and he played it to perfection.

What you may not know about the actor, who passed away due to cancer on Feb. 4 at age 77, is that his Catholic faith was a key factor in his life. During an extensive interview he did with award-winning religion journalist and author Cathleen Falsani for her book The God Factor, Mahoney said, "I'm more spiritual than anything else, and Christianity is probably the most important facet of my life."

Falsani, who knew Mahoney from their Oak Park, Illinois neighborhood, describes him as "truly the kindest man I know." That kindness likely stemmed from his background and the wisdom he learned over the years. Mahoney was born in Manchester, England, the sixth of eight children. After coming to the U.S. at age 19, he served in the Army and became a citizen. During college, he worked as a hospital orderly, which shaped his views on life. Mahoney said, "Being around all that sickness and illness, yet seeing people's resilience and faith, I noticed that the people to emulate were the people who loved, and loved God, and loved their fellow man, and weren't selfish."

Despite that lesson, it didn't actually take right away. Mahoney didn't pursue an acting career until age 37, and admitted that he was self-absorbed in those early days. But he experienced a major change when he went to Mass at Chicago's St. Peter’s Church one day, an experience he described as "the intercession of the Holy Ghost."

Mahoney recalled, "I don't know where it came from, I just had a little breakdown of some sort, and after that, made a conscious effort to be a better person...and to try to revolve around everyone else in the world instead of expecting them to revolve around me…I've always prayed to the Holy Ghost for wisdom and for understanding and knowledge. I think he answered my prayers when I stopped in the church that day. My life was totally different from that day on. I saw myself as I was, and I saw into the future and saw what I wanted to be. And I sort of rededicated myself to God and begged him to make me a better person…And I think I am now. I like myself."

Part of that devotion to God played out in his career. Before every performance, Mahoney would say this prayer: "Most glorious blessed spirit, I thank you for all the gifts and talents that you've given me. Please help me to use all these gifts and talents to their fullest. And please accept this performance as a prayer of praise and thanks to you."

Mahoney also told Falsani that prayer is the first thing he does when he wakes up in the morning and the last thing he does at night. And about 20 to 30 times a day, he would simply pray, "Dear God, please help me to treat everybody - including myself = with love, respect, and dignity."

John Mahoney has now met the God he prayed to for all those years. May his devotion grant him eternal reward.

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 Harriet Martineau

"You had better live your best and act your best and think your best today; for today is the sure preparation for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows that follow." - Harriet Martineau

18 March 2018

"Unless a Grain of Wheat"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of Bernadette Farrell's "Unless a Grain of Wheat":

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Today the Church celebrates the Fifth Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings are Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 5:7-9, and John 12:20-33. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 51 (Psalm 51:3-4, 12-15).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 51 Create in me a clean heart

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.

"I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name."

Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again."

The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, "An angel has spoken to him."

Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

Reflections on these readings:
Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Fifth Sunday of Lent (March 18, 2018)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Fifth Sunday of Lent (March 18, 2018)

Community in Mission: The Cross Always Wins - A Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent (17 MAR 18) 

The Sacred Page: The New Covenant: The Fifth Sunday of Lent (17 MAR 18)

The Sacred Page: The Grain of Wheat and Jesus' "Hour" (The Mass Readings Explained) (12 MAR 18)

St. Paul Center: The "Hour" Comes: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fifth Sunday of Lent

Word on Fire: Planting the Law Within Us (Cycle B * Lent * Week 5)

Spirituality of the Readings: Coming to Pieces (The Fifth Sunday of Lent B)

In Exile: Different Kinds Of Glory (The Fifth Sunday of Lent B)

The Word Encountered: Repentance and Eucharist (The Fifth Sunday of Lent B

Historical Cultural Context: Understanding Honor (The Fifth Sunday of Lent B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Cyril of Alexandria (The Fifth Sunday of Lent B)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for setting is free through Your passion, death, and resurrection.

Msgr. Pope on Different Themes Related to the Cross

"When I was young and throughout my seminary years, I usually contemplated the crucifix and Jesus' suffering on the Cross somberly. It was my sin that had put Him there, that had made Him suffer. The Cross was something that compelled a silent reverence in me, and suggested that I meditate deeply on what Jesus had to endure. I would often think of John, Mary, and the other women beneath the Cross, mournfully beholding Jesus' slow, painful death. 

"These were heavy and somber notes, but deeply moving themes.

". . . . I saw the cross - the crucifix - in somber, serious tones. The theme was meant to instill solemnity and encourage meditation on the awful reality of sin and on our need to repent.

"But the Lord wasn't finished with me yet; He wanted me to see another understanding of the Cross.

"He wanted me to also experience the 'good' in Good Friday, for the Cross is also a place of victory and love, of God's faithfulness and our deliverance. There's a lot to celebrate at the foot of the Cross."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on themes of somber reflection and of joyful celebration and the balance between them as we gratefully remember the sacrifice of Jesus for us on the cross.

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

Community in Mission: A Different Look at the Cross (15 MAR 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Living the encounter with Jesus means allowing yourself to be turned inside out by Grace every day." - Pope Francis

13 March 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of laughter.

Priest's "Need Confession?" Sign Reaches Students and Others

A sign "God Question? Need Confession?" posted by Father Dave Nix as he did some work on his laptop has received a large number of shares on Facebook.

To access a post related to this outreach, please visit:

ChurchPOP: "Need Confession?": Priest's Sign on University Campus Goes Viral (2 MAR 18)

Reflection Starter from John D. Rockefeller

". . . we are never too old to study the Bible. Each time the lessons are studied comes some new meaning, some new thought which will make us better." - John D. Rockefeller

11 March 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the prayers that are offered for us, as individuals and as part of a group, each day.

Msgr. Pope on Facing Mankind's Common Threat

"The commercial [included in this post is humorous, albeit preposterous. Here is the scenario: the earth has stopped rotating on its axis and 'scientists' say that if everyone runs in the same direction we can restart the rotation, much like hamsters running in an exercise wheel." 

"It’s rather amusing and pokes fun at the predictable disaster movie recipe. 

"There is a point to ponder in this standard disaster movie plot. Peter Kreeft once said, 'When a maniac is at the door, feuding brothers reconcile.' Many disaster movies use this insight and present us with some sort of universal threat, some outside enemy that threatens all of mankind. Suddenly, partisan politics disappear; nations stop fighting one another and unite to solve the shared problem or repulse the common enemy."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the necessity of focusing on the common enemy we all have - Satan and his minions.

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

Community in Mission: Our Common Threat, as Seen in a Commercial (9 MAR 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Let us learn to recognize that which leaves a good and lasting mark on our hearts, knowing that it comes from God." - Pope Francis

10 March 2018

Burl Ives: "Cool Water"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Burl Ives presenting "Cool Water":

Helping Heal Veterans via Outdoor Athletic Activities

"Sitting at the bar at The Wort Hotel, Cam Fields can feel his social anxiety creep in as patrons pass by. It can be hard to talk to people who don't understand his experiences as a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

"Mr. Fields, originally from the Lake Tahoe, Calif., area, moved to Jackson in 2015 after six years as a corpsman in the Navy. He works at JH Sports in Teton Village, as a ramp agent for Skywest Airlines, and as a server at Hand Fire Pizza. He juggles three jobs to support his passion: a nonprofit to help fellow service members and veterans use sports to cope with internal wounds and reintegrate after war.

"Fields has been skiing since he was 2 and snowboarding since he was 5. Even on deployment and during training, sports provided a sense of hope."

A recent Christian Science Monitor article profiled and his Front Country Foundation, with its ministry of helping veterans deal "with wounds both visible, and invisible, by teaching them to ski, board,surf and climb."

To access the complete Christian Science Monitor report, please visit:

Christian Science Monitor: Veterans find community, healing through outdoor sports (9 MAR 18)

Background information:

Facebook: The Front Country Foundation

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of spring flowers.

On YouTube's Lizzie Estella Reezay's Conversion to Catholicism

"YouTube star Lizzie Estella Reezay of the YouTube channel LizziesAnswers has announced that she’s converting from Protestantism to Catholicism.

"'I want everyone to know that I hated that this was happening,' she explains in a recent video. 'I fought so hard to get out of this intellectually. I did not want to be Catholic. Not only did I think Catholicism was wrong, I just didn't like the vibe of Catholicism. I wanted to be anything but Catholic.'

"She explains how hard it was for her to make her announcement video because she knew many of her Protestant family and friends would perceive it to be a betrayal. But, she explains, she was obliged to become Catholic by the force of one simple fact: it was true."

A recent ChurchPOP post offers a look at her conversion and at how she reached her decision.

To access this post, please visit:

ChurchPOP: Major Protestant YouTube Star Announces She's Converting to Catholicism (19 FEB 18)

Reflection Starter from George Washington Carver

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in." - George Washington Carver

08 March 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your presence in each person we encounter each day.

God Is in the Recycling Business

On the surface, the movie Same Kind of Different As Me (now on DVD and home video) seems like standard inspirational fare, sharing the true story of an affluent couple, Ron and Debbie Hall (Greg Kinnear and Renee Zellweger), befriending a homeless man named Denver Moore (Djimon Hounsou) and changing his life. But when you look closer, the movie is actually a love story, both in terms of the renewed commitment inside a troubled marriage,scarred by Ron's infidelity - and the ways in which we as human beings can live out the divine love which God bestows upon all of us.

For instance, when Debbie confronts Ron about his infidelity, Zellweger plays the moment beautifully, conveying anger, woundedness, and confusion. Ron notes they haven't been intimate in two years. Debbie cries, "We haven't slept together in two years. We haven't been intimate in 10 years." In a culture that automatically equates sex with intimacy, that line is a wake-up call.

Instead of seeking revenge against Ron and his mistress, Debbie chooses a humble strength to fight for her marriage. With Ron present, Debbie calls his mistress, says she forgives her and that she hopes she finds someone to love. Ron is humbled by Debbie's grace and tells her, "I choose you."

Debbie’s willingness to see the good in Ron is also what leads the two of them to volunteer at the local Mission for the homeless. It's in a bad part of town and not the cleanest facility, so Ron wants no part of it. "Are there any infectious diseases floating around this place," he asks Jimmy, the manager. Jimmy answers, "Absolutely. We try to infect them all with love."

That sure reflects Debbie's approach as she's serving food to the patrons. She introduces herself to each of them by name, and asks their names in return. Instead of looking through them, she looks at them with a tenderness that affirms their inherent dignity.

Ron slowly discovers how easily an unlucky turn in life or a couple of bad decisions can spiral into homelessness. But that still doesn't prepare him for when he meets an angry, violent man who calls himself Suicide. His real name is Denver, and despite his rage, Debbie isn't scared of him. She senses that there is pain behind his anger, so she repeatedly pushes Ron to get to know him. These scenes demonstrate the depths of Ron's repentance because most men would have seen Denver and run the other way. But out of love for Debbie, Ron reaches out - and finally has his kindness returned by Denver, who opens up about his past growing up on a plantation, being beaten by the KKK, getting baptized in his youth, and more.

Denver commends Ron's efforts at the Mission, telling him that when he gives a homeless person a plate of food, he's saying, "You ain't invisible. I see you." But once again, this all stems from Debbie. Denver comments, "God is in the recycling business of turning trash into treasure. I believe Miss Debbie must be his best employee." While Denver means this to refer to himself and the other patrons of the Mission, it also applies to Ron, who has been turned from trash to treasure by Debbie's love, which is grounded in God's love.

In the end, Same Kind of Different As Me presents a meaningful story about how individuals can improve their communities and personal lives by practicing the life-changing power of love.

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 Maya Angelou

"While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God's creation." - Maya Angelou

07 March 2018

Pyotr Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E minor

It's time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 in E minor (Op. 64) by the Boston Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Leonard Bernstein):

Thank You, Lord

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

Reflection Starter from Henry Ward Beecher

"Let us pity those poor rich men who live barrenly in great bookless houses! Let us congratulate the poor that, in our day, books are so cheap that a man may every year add a hundred volumes to his library for the price of what his tobacco and beer would cost him. Among the earliest ambitions to be excited in clerks, workmen, journeymen, and, indeed, among all that are struggling up from nothing to something, is that of owning and constantly adding to a library of good books. A little library, growing larger every year, is an honorable part of a young man's history. It is a man's duty to have books. A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessaries of life." - Henry Ward Beecher

05 March 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for inspirations to praise You and thank You.

Mary Beth Bonacci on Relativism vis-à-vis Objective Truth

"When I was a kid, my favorite television show was The Partridge Family. Mostly because I was completely enamored of the late David Cassidy, whom I was convinced I would marry some day. But also because the show featured just the kind of mildly corny humor a seven year old is inclined to enjoy.

"I remember one joke in particular. Keith (David Cassidy) is trying to give big brotherly advice to Danny (Danny Bonaduce). He says 'If you just believe, you can be anything you want to be.'

"Danny responds, 'Great! I want to be a black woman.' Laugh track ensues. Because everybody knows that a pale white, red-headed, freckle-faced kid cannot grow up to be a black woman.

"I was thinking about that scene as I was listening to Bishop Robert Barron Feb. 6, giving a riveting talk on relativism to a packed house here in Denver. As he spoke about the philosophical underpinnings of relativistic thinking, I realized that joke couldn't be told today. Because, as a society, we don't seem to agree that race, gender, or just about anything else, are based in any kind of objective truth. . . .

"Relativism, boiled down, is essentially the belief that there is no 'objective' truth that is true for all. Rather, we as individuals, each establish our own subjective 'truths,' and we live 'authentically' to the extent that we honor these individual 'truths.'"

In a recent commentary, writer Mary Beth Bonacci reflected on concerns related to a growing focus on relativism in addressing societal issues (as opposed to searching for truth).

To access Ms. Bonacci's complete essay, please visit:

Denver Catholic: Relativism: An obstacle to the pursuit of truth (22 FEB 18)

Reflection Starter from Calvin Coolidge

"Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil; our great hope lies in developing what is good." - Calvin Coolidge

04 March 2018

"I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say"

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

Third Sunday of Lent

Today the Church celebrates the Second Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings are Exodus 20:1-17, 1 Corinthians 1:22-25, and John 2:13-25. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 19 (Psalm 19:8-11).

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

YouTube: Psalm 19 Lord You Have the Words of Everlasting Life

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, "Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace." His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, 'Zeal for your house will consume me.'

At this the Jews answered and said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?"

Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up."

The Jews said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?"

But he was speaking about the temple of his body.Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Third Sunday of Lent (March 4, 2018)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Third Sunday of Lent (March 4, 2018)

Community in Mission: The Ten Commandments Are a Picture of the Transformed Human Person - A Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Lent (3 MAR 18)

The Sacred Page: Jesus, the Law of God: Readings for 3rd Sunday of Lent (1 MAR 18)

The Sacred Page: Jesus Cleanses the Temple (The Mass Readings Explained) (26 FEB 18)

St. Paul Center: Spiritual Sacrifice: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday of Lent

Word on Fire: Cleansing the Temple (Cycle B * Lent * Week 3)

Spirituality of the Readings: Why So Angry? (The Third Sunday of Lent B)

In Exile: Overcoming the Divisions That Divide Us (The Third Sunday of Lent B)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Livestock, Whip, and Zeal (The Third Sunday of Lent B)

The Word Encountered: Imperatives of Faith (The Third Sunday of Lent B

Historical Cultural Context: A New Temple (The Third Sunday of Lent B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Augustine (The Third Sunday of Lent B)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of life in all its wondrous forms.

Msgr. Pope on Lack of Readiness for Spiritual Combat

A disturbing report came from the Pentagon in 2014 that speaks to the overall condition of our country. Here is a summary:

"Nearly 71 percent of the 34 million 17-to-24-year-olds in the U.S. do not qualify for military service for reasons related to health, physical appearance, and educational background, according to the Pentagon.

"Obesity is the most common reason for being turned away, but others are disqualified because they lack a high school diploma/GED, are convicted felons, or are taking prescription drugs for ADHD. From a cosmetic standpoint, ear gauges and certain tattoos. While some requirements can be waived, others cannot. . . .

"There are of course many standards by which to judge the health of a nation, but military readiness is surely one of them. As Rome declined something similar happened. The Roman Army was increasingly staffed by mercenaries, many of whom were barbarians or slaves. Roman citizens lost interest in defending their land, but they also lost their fitness for such duty through luxurious living, weight gain, alcoholism, and sexually transmitted diseases. . . .

"Of course I am a priest, not a sociologist, nutritionist, or doctor; but nothing in this report bodes well for us. On a spiritual level, it also speaks to our difficulty in accepting and being ready for sacrifice. Indeed, there is more than a physical war to be fought; there is also a spiritual one."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the necessity of lamenting the lack of readiness for spiritual combat as we mourn the loss of battle-readiness in our nation and of the opportunity Lent provides to "do some spiritual pushups and to take up the fuller armor of God."

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

Community in Mission: Are You Battle-Ready for the Army of the Lord? (23 FEB 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"When you meet other people in the Lord, you can be sure God's surprises will follow." - Pope Francis

03 March 2018

Johnny Cash: "Ghost Riders In The Sky"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Johnny Cash presenting "Ghost Riders In The Sky":

Philip Kosloski on Saints Who Have Bilocated

"The latest chapter in the Star Wars saga presented many unexpected twists. One of them was Luke Skywalker's ability to bilocate, fighting Kylo Ren on Crait while strenuosuly meditating on Ahch-To.

"Surprisingly, while this may seem like a strange piece of science-fiction, it is not. There have been countless saints in the Christian tradition who were able to bilocate, including one famous saint in the past century (who looks very similar in appearance to Luke Skywalker).

"The Catholic Church itself does not have an official stance towards bilocation. However, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, 'Catholic philosophers maintain that there is no absolute impossibility in the same body being at once circumscriptively in one place and definitively elsewhere.'

"The basic consensus is that if bilocation is possible, it is a miracle that God ordains and brings about."

In a recent commentary, writer Philip Kosloski offered some real-life examples of bilocation.

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

Live a Legendary Life: Luke Skywalker wasn't the first to bilocate (here's a few real people who did) (2 MAR 18)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the signs of spring You are sending in our direction.

Rick Becker on Snow White and Our Christian Pilgrimage

"'What do you remember about Snow White?' I asked Cecilia.

'"You mean the Disney princess movie?' she asked in turn. 'It was the first one, I think. Wasn't it made a long time ago?'

"'Right,' I said. 'In the 1930s. But what do you remember about the story? What was it about?'

"Cecilia, my high-school sophomore daughter, had homework to do, but she still indulged me with a brief synopsis. 'Well, it's a princess, of course, and her evil step-mother is jealous of her beauty, so she has some guy take her out in the woods to kill her. She escapes and ends up at this house in the woods where the dwarfs live. They let her stay there, but the step-mother tracks her down and tricks her into eating a poison apple. She dies, and the dwarfs put her in a glass coffin - which is weird - but a prince comes and wakes her up and they get married. That's pretty much it.'

I nodded approval - not bad for a quick overview on the fly - but I wanted a bit more. 'That's the story; what's it about?'

'"What do you mean?' she came back impatiently. 'I just told you.'

"'You don't think it's about conversion?'

"She gave me the teenager's 'look' - as in, 'Yeah, right, dad' - but I was serious. Even the Disneyfication of the classic Grimm brothers' tale can’t obscure the fact that Snow White's travails parallel the contours of the spiritual journey template. Baptismal purity and flight from the world, succumbing to temptation and grace restored, Snow White's story is a portrait in miniature of what happens to all of us as we stumble along toward heaven."

In a recent commentary, writer Rick Becker reflected on the parallels between the story of Snow White and our Christian pilgrimage.

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

National Catholic Register: Blogs: Rick Becker: Snow White and the Seven Monks: A Fanciful Lesson in Humility (3 MAR 18)

Reflection Starter from St. Maximilian Kolbe

"Be a Catholic: When you kneel before an altar, do it in such a way that others may be able to recognize that you know before whom you kneel." - attributed to Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe

02 March 2018

Help with Planting Potatoes

"A bright young farmer serving in the army oversees received a letter from his wife. She wanted to know how she was going to plant the potatoes in the north 40 without any help.

"The soldier wrote back, 'Whatever you do, dear, do not dig up the north 40. That's where the guns are buried.'

"As is customary, his letter was censored. Not long after, he received another letter from his wife, saying, 'A company of soldiers swarmed over the north 40 and dug it all up. Now what shall I do'

"The soldier/husband/farmer wrote back, 'Plant the potatoes!'" - Source Unknown

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many unexpected blessings that come our way each day.

Joy Unburdened By Envy and Jealousy

In an address to the people of Rome early in his pontificate, Pope Francis said, "A jealous heart is a bitter heart, a heart that instead of blood seems to have vinegar." He also noted that jealousy is the root cause of much violence in the world, saying, "It is the beginning of war. War does not begin on the battlefield: wars begin in the heart,with this misunderstanding, division, envy, with this fighting among each other."

Francis' grave warning about the dangers of envy and jealousy echoes the centuries-old proscription against this sin, which is considered one of the seven deadly sins due to the corruption it causes the human soul. We must fight against the impulse to envy others in order to free ourselves from the hatred it sows within our hearts.

The Christophers' News Note "Overcoming Envy and Jealousy" recounts a story told by the prophet Nathan in the Second Book of Samuel. Nathan tells of a rich man who had many flocks and herds of animals but who became envious of a poor man who had only one lamb. The rich man's disordered passions led him to steal the poor man's lamb in order to slaughter it for a feast. What a poignant story demonstrating the irrationality of the sin of jealousy. In contrast to the materialism that leads to envy and jealousy, Christ calls us to embrace a spirit of poverty, saying, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3) The poor man in Nathan's story embodies this spirit. He cherished the one lamb he had been blessed with and treated it with great care. Instead of envying the poor man, the rich man would have done well to emulate him, but his materialism would not allow him to be grateful to God for the many gifts he had been given.

Aside from fostering gratitude to God, poverty of spirit also frees us to appreciate the gifts that others have been given because we are not consumed by comparing ourselves to them. How wonderful it is to be free from the sin of envy so that we might delight in the happiness of our neighbor. Christ calls us to abandon materialism in favor of a radical trust in the providence of God, saying, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these." (Matthew 6:28-29)

In our efforts to overcome the discord that results from jealousy, we can pray for the intercession of Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, who is the patroness of victims of adultery, jealousy and unfaithfulness. She suffered from false accusations as a result of her husband's jealousy and also bore much pain due to his unfaithfulness to her. Elizabeth's response was to simply live a holy life, inspiring those around her and eventually winning the conversion of her husband. Her story demonstrates how to overcome the hate that results from envy and jealousy. We must begin by forgiving because forgiveness unburdens us from hatred so that we might live lives of joy.

Joy unburdened by envy and jealousy is the reward that awaits all who let go of their own cares and trust in the providence of God. It is a joy we can carry into the world with confidence, clothed like the lilies of the field in the love of God.

This essay is a recent "Light One Candle" column 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.

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The Christophers

Reflection Starter from Eric Butterworth

"Life for each of us has its defeats and frustrations. No one ever bats a thousand. No one wins in every encounter. But the really interesting thing is the way in which even bad breaks, or terrible mistakes, can and often do lead to unexpected blessings with the help, of course, of a little resilience and resourcefulness." - Eric Butterworth