30 July 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings You give us as we meet whatever is before us each day.

Shireen Korkzan on Why the World Cup Matters

"Like everyone else in my family, I grew up playing soccer; I went to my siblings' soccer games and was a goalkeeper in the YMCA youth team that my father coached. Some of my most enjoyable childhood memories include playing soccer with my family for hours at a time; all we needed were some random objects to form goal posts and a ball, and we were set for the day. The best part of recess in elementary school was playing the same soccer game every day of the school year without keeping score.

"And that's exactly why soccer is the world's sport. It can be played anywhere, and all that's needed is a ball and something to mark the goal posts. The activity is simple and affordable, yet tons of fun. It is also a great way for families and friends to bond.

"Most important, playing soccer is not just about learning something new or winning, but building new memories that will last a lifetime and being the best that a person can be on and off the field. I thought of our family games while watching Wim Wenders' new documentary, Pope Francis: A Man of His Word. There's a scene where the pope implores straight to the camera: 'Parents, play with your children.' It reminded me that sports isn't just about the game; it’s a place to learn life lessons like teamwork, leadership, etc."

In a recent commentary, writer Shireen Korkzan reflected on soccer, sports in general, and the recent Vatican document "Giving the best of yourself: A document on the Christian perspective on sport and the human perspective".

To access Ms. Korkzan's complete reflection, please visit:

US Catholic: Why the World Cup still matters (July 2018)

Reflection Starter from Plato

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." - Plato

29 July 2018

Mormon Tabernacle Choir: "I Sing the Mighty Power of God"

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir presenting "I Sing the Mighty Power of God":

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are 2 Kings 4:42-44, Ephesians 4:1-6, and John 6:1-15. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm145 (Psalm 145:10-11, 15-18).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 145 Praise to the Goodness and Greatness of God

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, "Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?" He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, "Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little."

One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?"

Jesus said, "Have the people recline."

Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.

When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, "Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted." So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.

When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, "This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world."

Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 29, 2018)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 29, 2018)

Community in Mission: What Are Your Five Loaves and Two Fishes? A Homily for the 17th Sunday of the Year (28 JUL 18)

Crossroads Initiative: Hidden Meaning of the Loaves & Fishes

The Sacred Page: The Bread of Life: 17th Sunday in OT (28 JUL 18)

The Sacred Page: The Feeding of the 5,000 (The Mass Readings Explained) (23 JUL 18)

The Deacon's Bench: 'I am Catholic': Homily for July 29, 2018, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (28 JUL 18)

St. Paul Center: Bread Left Over: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Word on Fire: The Mystery of the Mass (Cycle B * Ordinary Time * Week 17)

Spirituality of the Readings: The Call (Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

In Exile: Feed The Hungry (Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Let the Scriptures Speak: The Prophet-King Will Shepherd His People (Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

The Word Encountered: The Bread of Life (Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Historical Cultural Context: A Need to Know (Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Augustine (Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Thank You, Lord

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

Msgr. Pope on the Hymn "All Praise to Thee My God This Night"

"One of the great night prayer hymns, 'All Praise to Thee My God This Night,' appears in numerous hymnals of the English tradition. Sadly, it is not in our current breviary, but I hope that the new one might feature it. It was written by Thomas Ken in 1709 and is most often sung to the beautiful tune of Tallis' Ordinal. . . . 

"Ideally, night prayer should include acts of thanksgiving and praise to God along with repentance for any sins committed. Night prayer is also a time to ponder death and ask God's graces to be prepared for death and judgment. 

"This hymn does all of that and more. It is beautiful English poetry, edifying and wonderfully descriptive in just a few verses. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the beauty of this hymn and on some of its elements that make it a good night prayer. 

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

Community in Mission: And with Sweet Sleep Mine Eyelids Close - A Meditation on a Beautiful Hymn of the Night (24 JUL 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Prayer is never in vain: it always brings forth something new that, sooner or later, bears fruit." - Pope Francis

28 July 2018

André Rieu & Trio St. Petersburg: "Zorba's Dance"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra, with Trio St. Petersburg, presenting "Zorba's Dance":

Harpist Ministers at Fall River, MA, Hospital

"It's a beautiful moment of calm at a time when many people are anything but, and it's a soothing sound when many people are looking for relief.

"The performance happens in a hospital lobby, courtesy of a volunteer musician and at the tender age of 18, she's not only helping others, she's creating her life’s work."

A recent WBZ-TV report profiled Arilyn Mitchell and her ministry at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, MA.

To access the complete WBZ-TV report, please visit:

CBS Boston: Harpist Calms Nerves At Fall River Hospital (13 JUL 18)

Background information:

Arilyn's website:

Arilyn Mitchell, Harpist

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of recorded music.

A Response to the Addiction Epidemic

Time Magazine recently declared: "The opioid crisis is the worst addiction epidemic in U.S. history." Consider this staggering contrast of statistics: 58,000 U.S. soldiers lost their lives during the Vietnam War, while today in this country we lose 64,000 people every year to drug overdoses. It is an insidious problem that affects people and families from all backgrounds and walks of life.

A few months ago, Bishop Lawrence Persico of the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania, shared details of his pastoral response to the opioid crisis in an article for Erie's diocesan magazine. Bishop Persico wrote, "Each situation comes down to a single person, precious in God's eyes, suffering from addiction. That anguish quickly extends to family members, friends and loved ones who feel helpless in the face of this monster."

Bishop Persico acknowledged that priests of his diocese now find themselves called to minister to those struggling with addiction, as well as parishioners touched by the crisis in their families, social circles, and in the workplace. Most tragic of all, they have had to offer funeral Masses for those who have lost their battle with addiction. He set up a task force last summer to prepare clergy for dealing with this growing crisis, and his priests now have access to information about ministering to those with addiction. They have literature to disseminate in their parishes, and they know where to direct people for professional and clinical help in battling this disease.

Bishop Persico assured members of his diocese that they are not alone. He wrote, "I want to challenge all of us to be merciful to those who are affected by this crisis. In so many cases, the victims were ensnared through perfectly innocent means - legal prescriptions for injuries or post-op pain. They represent all demographics: young and old; wealthy, middle-class and poor; male and female; rural and urban. Those who are addicted may feel abandoned by their families and may be painfully aware of the grief and sorrow they have caused."

The Northern Illinois Catholic magazine The Connection recently addressed the importance of overcoming stereotypes of addiction and mental illness, stereotypes that invariably lead to the misguided perception that those suffering from these problems are inherently dangerous and deranged. This stigmatization only causes people to hide their problems and prevents them from getting help early and often.

Our Christopher News Notes "Recovery from Addiction through God and Service and Mental Illness: Healing the Unseen Wounds" both help to guide people beyond the boundaries of stigmatization to a discovery of the true path to healing. Our News Note on addiction touches on the story of Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time. At the height of his swimming career, Phelps struggled with depression and addiction. While in rehab, a friend gave him a copy of Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life. The book, Phelps says, "turned me into believing there is a power greater than myself and there is a purpose for me on this planet."

Thank God for Michael Phelps' courage in sharing his story and helping to shatter the misconception that addiction only affects the marginalized of society. It is through that example of leadership, combined with the kind of outreach put in place by Bishop Persico, that our nation will find a path to healing. Openness about suffering is the key to building a culture of mercy and can help us to finally come together and guide each other to that higher purpose we are all called to pursue in this world.

This essay is a recent "Light One Candle" column by Father Ed Dougherty, M.M., 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

Reflection Starter from George Washington Carver

"As I worked on projects which fulfilled a real human need forces were working through me which amazed me. I would often go to sleep with an apparently insoluble problem. When I woke the answer was there. Why, then, should we who believe in Christ be so surprised at what God can do with a willing man in a laboratory? Some things must be baffling to the critic who has never been born again." - George Washington Carver

26 July 2018

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano, Violin, and Cello Concerto in C, Op. 56 "Triple"

It's time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Ludwig van Beethoven's "Concerto for piano, violin, cello and orchestra, Op.56" ("Triple Concerto") as played by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Zubin Mehta):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of vacation time.

Br. Michael Solomon, O.P., on Wasting Time Well

"Growing up, as we neared the end of school, the longing for no more homework would rise to a fever pitch as we pictured sleeping in and doing nothing all day. But when it came time to do nothing, I could only stand it for a few days. Before I knew it, my father had put me to work in the yard, where I only longed to be back inside in the A/C doing nothing.

"This tension between having every inch of our schedules taken up with trips and events, especially in the summer, and the desire to do nothing seems commonplace in our day and age. The furious scurrying to fill our schedules seems to come from a fear of  having nothing to do. For most of us, having nothing to do really ends up feeling like a massive waste of time. 

"The solution is not to fill the time with stuff but to waste time well. This phrase involves simply re-learning how to rest and how to be present to the present moment. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Brother Michael Solomon, O.P., reflected on the importance of being present in the moment during times of vacation.
To access Br. Michael's complete post, please visit:

Dominicana: Vacation: Wasting Time Well (9 JUL 18)

Reflection Starter from Henry Ward Beecher

"Mirth is God's medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it." - Henry Ward Beecher

25 July 2018

James Kilbane: "Soul of My Savior"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of James Kilbane presenting "Soul of My Savior":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of candles.

Fr. Robert Spitzer on Prayers in Times of Suffering, Trial, and Anxiety

"In times of suffering, prayer is one of the first refuges of the faithful, but it can be hard to know where to begin. In [an] excerpt from [his article, 'Fr. Spitzer's Spontaneous Prayers'], [Father Robert Spitzer, S.J.,] details what prayers he uses in his own life and how they can help."

In a recent commentary, Fr. Spitzer, President of the Magis Center, offered some prayers that he uses in times of trial and anxiety.

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

Magis Center: Fr. Spitzer's Prayers in Times of Suffering, Trial, and Anxiety

Reflection Starter from Eric Hoffer

"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer

23 July 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for inspirations and opportunities to perform acts of penance.

Msgr. Pope on Mercy, Penance, and Punishment

"There is an old rabbinic story that speaks to the danger of being 'unbroken.' It also illustrates the difference between penance and punishment . . . . 

"Our mercy for others is often conditioned by our experience of our own need for mercy. Having experienced our own brokenness and inability to do what is right on every occasion, our longing for mercy is deepened and the greatness of the gift is more fully appreciated. This equips us to show mercy to others."

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

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

Community in Mission: The Difference Between Penance and Punishment (15 JUL 18)

Reflection Starter from William Arthur Ward

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." - William Arthur Ward

20 July 2018

Jean Sibelius: Symphony No 2 in D Major, Op 43

It's time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Jean Sibelius' Symphony No 2 in D major, Op. 43, as played by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Mariss Jansons):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of good Catholic schools.

Miracle in Motion

"When I saw the priest walk in, I tried to duck him." That’s how David Warden remembers the first time he saw Father Antonio "TJ" Martinez, S.J., at a fundraiser. But Warden's attempt to "duck" the priest was unsuccessful. In fact, it was so unsuccessful that he wound up becoming one of Father TJ's closest friends and even converting to the Catholic faith. And now, in the wake of Father TJ's death in 2014 at age 44, Warden is committed to keeping his legacy alive: a legacy that is helping teens from disadvantaged backgrounds in Houston get a solid education, develop important life skills, and build a foundation for a better future.

Miracle in Motion is the name of the book that Father TJ began writing before his death - and that Warden has since finished. In the Introduction, the priest explains, "Six years ago, I was ordered by my provincial to start a Jesuit college preparatory high school for the underprivileged in Houston, Texas. [He said], 'I know you have no school, no land, no money, no kids, and no idea how to start this process…but go get it done.'"

That's exactly what Father TJ did, becoming the founding president of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. Warden said, "The kids have to be more or less at the poverty level, even to get in, but they also have to be smart, and motivated, so they get a complete first rate Jesuit education in high school with the intention of going to college." In addition, explains the school's website, "a unique Corporate Work-Study Program places students in Houston businesses and nonprofits where they earn up to 50 percent of the cost of their education." Warden is an engineer and lawyer who also teaches at Rice University, so he got involved to help arrange job opportunities for the students through all his connections.

So how did Father TJ get it done successfully in such a short amount of time? Warden said, "He had an uncanny ability to relate to anyone at any place on the socio-economic spectrum. He could be in the barrios of Houston and relate to those people. And then that night, he could be in the most expensive homes in Houston, drinking fine wine and bringing those people closer to God. . . . If you really wanted to put him in a capsule for me and for so many others, he was equal parts friend, hero, and saint."

For Warden, who didn't have a Catholic background, it was Father TJ's approach to life and mystery that ended up converting him: "The more I talked to him, the more I saw room for somebody who approached the mystery in life. He called it the mystery of our faith. We don't need to know how it all is, but we need to know there's mystery out there."

For a man with so much left to do, it's a mystery why Father TJ died so young. The diagnosis of stage four stomach cancer came as a shock, but it led to him writing Miracle in Motion, the miracle being his students. The book is full of life lessons for all of them - and for any reader who has faced challenges or missteps in life.

For Warden, Father TJ will always be a light in the darkness. Warden concludes, "I may be the only conversion to the faith that he had while he was alive, but I suspect that he'll get a few others through reading this book."

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

Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School, Houston

Reflection Starter from Charlotte Whitton

"We all have ability. The difference is how we use it." - Charlotte Whitton
We all have ability. The difference is how we use it. Charlotte Whitton
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/charlotte_whitton

19 July 2018

John Nelson and Amos House, Providence, RI

"Food was often scarce for John Nelson and his siblings when they were growing up in Providence.

"'We would go in the refrigerator and all that was there in the refrigerator was maybe a loaf of bread, butter, or onions or mayonnaise or something like that,' he said.

"Late last month, Nelson, 65, retired from Amos House, a social-services agency on Pine Street for which he worked 35 years - 30 of them spent as the executive chef of the agency's soup kitchen, serving more than 150,000 meals a year to the hungry in Providence.

"Cooking food for people in need was especially important to him because of his background, he said."

A recent Providence Journal article profiled Mr. Nelson as he entered retirement.

To access the complete Providence Journal report, please visit:

Providence Journal: Providence soup kitchen icon reflects on his decades of service (15 JUL 18)

Background information:

Amos House

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of other committed Christians (Catholic and non-Catholic) in our lives.

Rob Marco on the Relationship of Catholics with Other Committed Non-Catholic Christians

"For the past five or six years I have been attending a men's group run by a non-denominational evangelical church. I would have liked to find a Catholic men's group, but whenever I looked into it at the parishes my family has attended, these groups were always scheduled during the middle of a weekday, conflicting with my work schedule. I imagined that the groups were geared more to retired people. The group I attend, however, meets on Tuesdays at 6 a.m., and the men range in age from their late twenties to their late sixties. We are all working and raising families.

"I realize that my attendance at a Protestant men's group is a unique situation, but I am very grateful for this group. These are men of integrity, faithful in prayer, rooted in scripture, charitable in their giving, and strong in their Christian beliefs. Whenever someone was in need, these brothers were right there to provide assistance. When someone needed prayer, they covered them in it. Though I am one of the few Catholics who attend, I have never been made to feel like an outsider. The particulars of my beliefs as a Catholic may not be shared by the men, but they respect my beliefs. And that means a great deal to me."

In a recent commentary, writer Rob Marco reflected on his relationship with other committed Christian men in light of Mark 9:40 and other scripture passages.

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

Catholic Stand: Whoever Is Not Against You Is For You (3 JUL 18)

Reflection Starter from Matthew

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." - Matthew 11:28-30

18 July 2018

McGuire Sisters: "Open Up Your Heart (and Let the Sun Shine In)"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of the McGuire Sisters presenting "Open Up Your Heart (and Let the Sun Shine In)":

Thank you, Myrna!

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of athletic activities - individual and team - in our lives.

Brianna Heldt on Sports and One's Faith Life

"If you had told me even five years ago that I'd be blogging about a new Vatican document related to sports and the Christian person, I'd have laughed in your face.

"Because truth be told I am not, nor have I ever been, any sort of an athlete.

"Aside from my season-long T-ball stint in kindergarten, and a brief foray into freshman tennis in high school (which resulted in little else besides splitting headaches triggered by practicing in the 90-degree California heat), I have played zero sports in my life. Zero. I was a horrible runner, couldn't do a pullup if my life depended on it (hello Presidential Fitness Test alternative of 'flexed arm hang'), and was generally chosen last when it came to picking teams."

In a recent commentary, writer Brianna Heldt reflected on a recent Vatican document that addressed the issue of sports and one's faith life; a document that including a comment by Pope Francis: "The Church is interested in sport because the person is at her heart, the whole person, and she recognizes that sports activity affects the formation, relations and spirituality of a person."

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

National Catholic Register: Blogs: Brianna Heldt: What the Vatican Just Said About Sports (17 JUL 18)

Reflection Starter from Hugh Sidey

"Above all else: go out with a sense of humor. It is needed armor. Joy in one's heart and some laughter on one's lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life." - Hugh Sidey

17 July 2018

Richard Becker on the Appeal of Classic Murder Mysteries

"'Just what kind of movies do you like?'

"We were sitting around the dinner table discussing cinematic tastes. Katharine, my youngest, was being a bit evasive; Benedict, my oldest, was drawing her out.

"Kath paused, looked straight at Ben, and then blurted, 'I like murders.'

"Maybe not the answer you'd expect from a 12-year-old, but I wasn't surprised. I'd been treating my kids to a steady summer diet of sleuthing and homicide. First it was a DVD season of Murder She Wrote from the library, and then on to Agatha Christie - Miss Marple, yes, but especially the ITV version of her Belgian eccentric, Hercule Poirot (David Suchet). His accent and fastidiousness have grown on us, along with the wide-eyed, perpetual bewilderment of his sidekick, Captain Hastings."

In a recent commentary, writer Richard Becker reflected on the appeal of murder mysteries in book form and in dramatic presentations.

To access Richard's complete post, please visit:

Catholic Exchange: The Childlike Appeal of Classic Murder Mysteries (16 JUL 18)

Background information:

Mr. Becker's Blog: God-Haunted Lunatic | Cat and mouse with the Hound of Heaven

National Zoo Keeper Week

This week, the week of 15-21 July, is being observed as National Zoo Keeper Week, designed to be an opportunity to recognize and promote dedicated zoo and aquarium professionals.

Background information:

American Association of Zoo Keepers

Maine Police and Mental Health Interventions

"Maine is seeing a surge in involuntary committals - cases where people are held for mental health issues against their will - that is changing how police do their jobs.

"The number of those committals has risen steadily in the last decade, from 344 in 2009 to 401 last year, an increase of nearly 17 percent. In another measure of mental illness affecting law enforcement and the courts, the number of Mainers found not competent to stand trial has leapt from seven in 2008 to 136 last year.

"As state-provided services for the mentally ill dwindle, more front-line intervention work is performed by Maine's law enforcement community, significantly changing how police train for and perform their jobs."

A recent Portland Press Herald article reported on the challenges being faced by police departments in Maine as they address incidents requiring crisis intervention due to mental health issues.

To access the complete Portland Press Herald report, please visit:

Portland Press Herald: Increasingly, Maine police on front lines for mental illness interventions (15 JUL 18)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many, many blessings You bestow on Your people via Your Church.

Ray Sullivan on Why Belong to the Catholic Church

"So why are we Catholic? The world hates us, with a passion. By just about every indicator, the Catholic Church is losing its rank among people in the world today as a moral force for good. The ratio of parishioners per priest is increasing. There seems to be no end to the scandals within the Church today, with priests, bishops and Cardinals all being accused of sexual improprieties. Jesus even said in Luke 18:8: 'When the Son of Man appears, will He find any faith on earth?' Let's take a look at why we believe what we do."

In a recent commentary, writer Ray Sullivan reflected on some of the reasons why Catholics choose to be Catholic, including the Eucharist, sacramental graces, the Bible, the saints, and the Church being the fulfillment of Jewish tradition.

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

Catholic Stand : Why Do We Belong to the Catholic Church? (16 JUL 18)

Reflection Starter from Robert Louis Stevenson

"Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life." - Robert Louis Stevenson

16 July 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of those who minister to others via food preparation - in families, restaurants, health care facilities, schools, social service agencies, the military, and in countless other ways.

Sr. Constance Vei, LSP, on the Little Sisters of the Poor

"On August 30, the feast of our foundress, St. Jeanne Jugan, we Little Sisters of the Poor will launch a jubilee year celebrating the 150th anniversary of our Congregation's arrival in the United States.

"Our pioneering Little Sisters arrived in in America during a particularly painful period in our nation's history. The nativist movement of the1850s, the Civil War and the failures of Reconstruction left an enormous human toll, vast economic devastation and a profound racial divide in their wake.

"Like a healing balm, the Little Sisters of the Poor brought a much-needed infusion of humble service and merciful love to America."

In a recent commentary, Sister Constance Vei, LSP, reflected on the Little Sisters of the Poor and their contribution to the Church's ministry in the United States.

To access Sr. Constance's complete essay, please visit:

The Pilot: Echoes: Humble service and merciful love to America (11 JUL 18)

Reflection Starter from Norman Cousins

"Just as there is no loss of basic energy in the universe, so no thought or action is without its effects, present or ultimate, seen or unseen, felt or unfelt." - Norman Cousins

15 July 2018

Mormon Tabernacle Choir: "How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir presenting Johannes Brahms' "How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place":

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Amos 7:12-15, Ephesians 1:3-14, and Mark 6:7-13. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 85 (Psalm 85:9-14).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 85 Prayer for Divine Favor

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them."

So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 15, 2018)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 15, 2018)

Community in Mission: Five Fundamental Freedoms for the Christian Evangelizer (14 JUL 18)

Crossroads Initiative: From Disciples to Apostles - the Lay Apostolate & the Mission of the Church

The Sacred Page: Unlikely Candidates for God's Service: The 15th Sunday of OT (4 JUL 18)

The Sacred Page: Jesus Calls the Twelve Apostles (The Mass Readings Explained) (9 JUL 18)

St. Paul Center: The Church’s Mission: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Word on Fire: SummedUp in Christ (Cycle B * Ordinary Time * Week 15)

Spirituality of the Readings: Thanks (Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

In Exile: Our Inability to Cast Out Demons (Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Let the Scriptures Speak: No Bread, Bag, or Money Belt (Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

The Word Encountered: The Burden of Baggage (Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Historical Cultural Context: Spirits, Travel & Hospitality (Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Theophylact (Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the graces You give us to help us focus on our heavenly goal.

Msgr. Pope on Humility in Prayer According to St. Teresa of Avila

"I have written before on humility in prayer as St. Augustine sets it forth. In today's post I look to the same topic, but this time as St. Teresa of Avila presents it in her treatise The Way of Perfection. 

"In setting forth her teaching, I have substantially reworked the order of her reflections. St. Teresa was able to see the 'whole rose' of the topic, jumping from petal to petal without effort. I, being of a vastly inferior intellect and of far less purity of soul, must look to the individual petals in a certain order to understand. If you wish to read the passage in its original order, it is available here: St Teresa on Humility in Prayer.

"Following is my presentation of her teaching as best I am able. In effect, St. Teresa summons us to trust in the Lord's answer to our prayers rather than insisting on our own preferred outcomes and worldly measures of success."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the role of humility in prayer as reflected in the writings of Saint Teresa of Avila. 

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

Community in Mission: Humility in Prayer According to St. Teresa of Avila (9 JUL 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Try reading the Gospel for at least five minutes every day. You will see how it changes your life." - Pope Francis

14 July 2018

Pete Seeger: "This Land is Your Land"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Pete Seeger presenting "This Land is Your Land" (performed at the "We Are One" Presidential Inaugural Concert, 19 January 19 2009):

Thank You, Lord

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

Zelda Caldwell on the Jesuit Origin of George Washington's "Rules of Civility"

"When George Washington was a 16-year-old schoolboy, he sat down to copy a list of 110 'Rules for Civility' in order to improve his handwriting. The list, which was widely circulated in Washington's time, has been traced back to a guide to behavior put together by French Jesuits for their young charges in 1595.

"Painstakingly copying each of the 110 rules had an effect on more than just the future Father of Our Country's penmanship. According to Richard Brookhiser, author of Rules of Civility: The 110 Precepts That Guided Our First President in War and Peace, Washington took the 16th-century Jesuit's rules very much to heart, and relied on them in the course of his military and political career."

In a recent commentary, writer Zelda Caldwell reflected on George Washington's embracement of these rules and offered the full list.

To access her complete post, please visit:

Aleteia: Zelda Caldwell: George Washington's "Rules of Civility" were copied from French Jesuits (4 JUL 18)

Reflection Starter from James Baldwin

"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them." - James A. Baldwin
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. James A. Baldwin
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/james_a_baldwin

13 July 2018

Teachers Making House Calls in Maine

"More high school students in Maine are graduating today as compared to 5 or 10 years ago, but many are still being left behind - some are teen parents, others have been bullied, have experienced trauma or struggle with anxiety. One central Maine charter school is trying to reach those students by bringing school into their homes.

"On an early Tuesday morning, Juliana Rothschild steps out of her car and knocks on the front door of a home in Farmington. Jessica Cousins opens the door. The two sit down at Cousins' kitchen table and pull out a couple of laptops.

"Rothschild is a teacher, and has come for her weekly three-hour class with Cousins, who dropped out of school two years ago at the age of 16. Cousins says she had a turbulent childhood, moving from town-to-town and rarely attending the same school for more than a few years."

A recent Bangor Daily News article reported on the  Threshold program being operated by the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, a charter school in Hinckley, Maine.

To access the complete Bangor Daily News report, please visit:

Bangor Daily News: New program has teachers making house calls to Maine students suffering from anxiety (3 JUN 18)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of good stories and good storytellers.

Ken Burns on Our Better Angels

In May, The Christophers held our 69th annual Christopher Awards ceremony to honor creators of books, film, and television programs that affirm the highest values of the human spirit. Our Life Achievement Award went to documentarian Ken Burns. Having won multiple Christopher Awards in the past, Burns said, "I feel very at home here. I've been here many times over the last three decades, and there is a sense of recognition and comradeship and fellowship that I feel in the impetus behind the Christopher Awards and the people I meet here...We have The Christophers to remind us that the things that we do in this business of ours require something more than the pursuit of the bottom line, the almighty dollar, and some glory in this short passage."

Burns first won a Christopher Award in 1981 for Brooklyn Bridge. He would go on to win six more, telling iconic stories that capture the essence of the American experience, including: The Statue of Liberty, The Civil War, Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Jazz, Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip, and The War.

Talking about the power of stories, Burns noted that as a historical documentarian he is interested not just in those old stories that glorify our nation's past, nor in those newer takes that, as he said, "seem to suggest that American history is only a catalogue of white European crimes." Instead, Burns said, "I'm interested in listening to the voices of the true, honest, complicated past that's unafraid of controversy and tragedy but equally drawn to those stories and moments that suggest an abiding faith in the human spirit and particularly the unique role this remarkable but sometimes also dysfunctional republic seems to play in the progress of mankind."

Burns reflected on the recurring question his documentaries always seem to ask, "Who are we?" - and on the even more complicated question this inevitably raises, "Who am I? What am I doing here? What am I supposed to be doing?"

He concluded on a hopeful note by quoting what he called his "second favorite sentence in the English language." (The first is, "I love you.") He said, "On the eve of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln...still hoping to keep his country together, he's speaking to the mostly southerners in his audience: 'We must not be enemies, we must be friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break the bonds of affection.' But, then this poet president went on in one of the greatest sentences ever constructed. He said, 'The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.'"

It has been such a privilege for The Christophers to have the opportunity to honor Burns' work from the outset of his career. Our recognition of great storytellers provides everyone the opportunity to discover and support those creators who strive to bring a message of hope to the world. I would also encourage everyone to consider the great storytellers of the future who might be in your family or parish community. Offer them support and guidance, and one day they may join the ranks of the storytellers we honor and bring a message of hope to our nation and the world.

This essay is a recent "Light One Candle" column by Father Ed Dougherty, M.M., 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

Reflection Starter from Elie Wiesel

"For me, every hour is grace. And I feel gratitude in my heart each time I can meet someone and look at his or her smile." - Elie Wiesel

12 July 2018

Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 6 in D, "Morning"

It's time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Joseph Haydn's “Symphony No. 6 in D" ("Morning") as played by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra (conducted by Steven Isserlis):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you,Lord, for the many ways in which You actively participate in our lives.

Pope Francis: God Meets Us in Surprising Ways

"Pope Francis said Sunday that God always surprises people with the way he works, and because of this, believers should be open to the Lord's way of thinking and acting, rather than expecting him to conform to their aspirations.

"'Today the Lord invites us to assume an attitude of humble listening and docile waiting, because the grace of God often presents itself to us in surprising ways, which don't line up with our expectations,' the pope said July 8.

"He noted how certain 'prejudices' can be nurtured in Christians which prevent them from accepting the reality of how God works, however, 'the Lord does not conform to prejudices. We have to force ourselves to open the mind and heart to welcome the divine reality that comes to meet us.'"

A recent article in The Pilot reported on Pope Francis' presentation of this message.

To access the complete article, please visit:

The Pilot: Pope: God doesn't meet our expectations -- he surprises us instead. (9 JUL 18)

Reflection Starter from Henry David Thoreau

"An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." - Henry David Thoreau

11 July 2018

National Parks and Recreation Month

Since 1985, July has been observed as Park and Recreation Month. During this July, communities are being encouraged to share what they love about parks and recreation, including the many benefits parks bring to their neighborhoods (including health and wellness, nature, community spirit, and social equity).
Background information:

National Recreation and Park Association

Facebook: National Recreation and Park Association

Connecticut Recreation and Parks Association

Maine Recreation & Park Association

Massachusetts Recreation and Park Association

New Hampshire Recreation and Park Association

Rhode Island Recreation and Parks Association

Vermont Recreation and Parks Association

Thank You,.Lord

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

Dawn Eden Goldstein on Chip Taylor's Faith Life

"It's dangerous to call a performer a national treasure, for too often the term is used to imply something precious that should be taken out and displayed only on special occasions. So I won't call Chip Taylor a national treasure, if only because, after more than 50 years as a singer and hit songwriter, he continues to make vital music, the kind that can change your life.

"If Taylor's only claim to fame were composing "Wild Thing," the Troggs smash hit with power chords that became a showcase for Jimi Hendrix's pyrotechnics and, ultimately, the foundation of punk rock, his place in music history would be assured.

"But his name is also on country hits, such as the oft-recorded "Son of a Rotten Gambler," soul classics such as "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)" (best known in Janis Joplin's version) and pop gems such as "Angel of the Morning" (a hit for both Merrilee Rush and Juice Newton).

"What's more, during the 1990s, when many hit songwriters of his generation were living off royalty checks and penning commercial jingles, Taylor entered into the most productive phase of his professional life."

In a recent interview, writer Dawn Eden Goldstein, assistant professor of dogmatic theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, spoke with Chip Taylor about his (Catholic) faith life and and his music.

To access her complete article, please visit:

Angelus News: Songwriter Chip Taylor opens up about music, faith and family (10 JUL 18)

Reflection Starter from Horace

"He who postpones the hour of living is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses." - Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace)

10 July 2018

NLC Report Forecasts Future of Work, Which Jobs will be Automated

The National League of Cities (NLC) recently released a new report, “Assessing the Future of Our Work: Automation and the Role of Cities,” which is designed to analyze the potential impact of jobs and skill sets most and least at risk of disappearing due to automation, and presents recommendations for cities.

The report found the most secure occupations (less than 30 percent automatable) include managerial and supervisory positions. Meanwhile, occupations that are most at risk (more than 70 percent automatable) are the ones that pay poorly, are compensated hourly, and are generally physically demanding.

The research analyzes occupations that are growing between now and 2026 in order to demonstrate how many of these are in areas that will likely be automated versus those that will not. The research also takes a skills-based assessment and presents options for career paths that people can take from highly automatable jobs to less automatable, more human-centered work. This analysis of potential job pathways is deemed to be important because nearly a quarter of American workers are currently working below their skill level.

According to the report, cities that will fare best in this new economy are those that invest in a diverse mix of occupations – making them less vulnerable to industry changes – as well as educational opportunities that match the needs of employers. Examples highlighted in the report include Boston, Massachusetts; Richmond, Virginia; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Key recommendations for city leaders from the report include:
  1. Looking beyond job placement towards income mobility and economic stability;
  2. Drawing on available federal resources like TAACCCT, WIF, and CTE;
  3. Considering ways to match the demands of their local industries with the skill sets of their populations;
  4. Rethinking education and workforce training programs to meet constantly changing employer needs;
  5. Working to create policies that build pathways between post-secondary education institutions and their business communities;
  6. Ensuring that business development programs consider equity; and
  7. Exploring and implementing programs and pilots that go beyond the traditional mix of workforce support.
NLC’s future of work initiative focuses on workforce development in three key areas: technology and innovation; pathways to success (working to ensure our education system is equipped to handle these changes); and equity and inclusion in the workforce.

To access a copy of the complete report, please visit:

National League of Cities: Assessing the Future of Our Work: Automation and the Role of Cities (2018)