30 September 2018

"Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise"

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of the Smucker Family presenting "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise":

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Numbers 11:25-29; James 5:1-6; and Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 19 (Psalm 19:8, 10, 12-14).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 19 The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart

The Gospel reading is as follows:

At that time, John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us."

Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 30, 2018)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 30, 2018)

Community in Mission: Of Friends and Foes: A Homily for the 26th Sunday of the Year (29 SEP 18)

The Deacon's Bench: We are called to be prophets: Homily for September 30, 2018, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (29 SEP 18)

The Sacred Page: Releasing Your Inner Prophet: The 26th Sunday of OT (26 SEP 18)

The Sacred Page: Jesus and Gehenna (The Mass Readings Explained) (24 SEP 18)

St. Paul Center: To Belong to Christ: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-sixth Sunday Ordinary Time

Word on Fire: Would That Everyone Could Be a Prophet (Cycle B * Ordinary Time * Week 26) 

Spirituality of the Readings: The Inside Story (Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

In Exile: Expressing Our Affection (Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Psychic Surgery? (Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

The Word Encountered: Perils of Wealth (Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Historical Cultural Context: Importance of Loyalty (Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Symeon the New Theologian (Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty and glory of Your Word.

Msgr. Pope on the Glory and Safety of God's Word

"There is always much to ponder in the Book of Proverbs, from which we have been reading at daily Mass this week (25th Week of the Year). Consider the following proverb, which speaks to the glory of the Word of God and of our need to preserve its purity.

"Every word of God is tested; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Add nothing to his words, lest he reprove you, and you will be exposed as a deceiver (Proverbs 30:5-6).

"From this we can discern four aspects of the Word of God."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on this verse from Proverbs, focusing on the Word of God being pure, protective, plenary, and proving.

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

Community in Mission: A Proverb about the Glory and Safety of God's Word (27 SEP 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"The Lord draws good out of evil through His power and His infinite creativity." - Pope Francis

28 September 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of families.

Famous Broadcaster Faces Gambling Addiction

Spencer Christian was the happy-go-lucky weatherman on ABC's Good Morning America for 13 years, yet behind-the scenes, he experienced moments of "self-loathing." The reason:he had a decades-long hidden gambling addiction that was ruining his life.

In his memoir You Bet Your Life: How I Survived Jim Crow Racism, Hurricane Chasing, and Gambling, Spencer recalls a moment after a run of bad luck at a craps table: "I was walking rapidly and nervously through the streets of Atlantic City - past hookers and derelicts, the homeless and the hopeless - wondering if I had anymore dignity than they did at that moment."

During a Christopher Closeup interview, Spencer explained why he continued to gamble despite it making him feel desperately low: "There was a surge of adrenaline, a rush of excitement that I felt initially when I started gambling, especially when I was winning. . . . That feeling had almost a narcotic effect. When I began losing, there was something inside me that said, 'Your luck will change next time.' . . . So there were competing forces inside me: one side that was looking for that thrill of winning, and the other side that was feeling sick and ashamed of myself."

Spencer grew up in a Christian family, so he prayed all the time about his gambling issues - but he realizes now that he was praying for the wrong results. Instead of asking God to take away his anxiety and get him out of debt, he says he should have been praying, "Take away my desire to have [gambling] in my life. Take away the pleasure that I derive from it so I can find the strength to walk away from it and give it up. It wasn't until I arrived at that point that I began to lose the desire and feel like God was leading me in a more purposeful direction."

Spencer credits his parents, Spencer Sr. and Lucy, with modeling the faith, hope, and determination that allowed him to move beyond his addiction. This is especially noteworthy because, as African Americans in Virginia, they faced the harsh realities of racism that could have left them angry and bitter. Their belief in God, however, allowed them to choose a different road. "God was present in our life every day," Spencer recalled, noting that they emphasized leading "a Christ-like life."

When Spencer himself experienced the injustice of Jim Crow racism, it was again his parents who looked toward a brighter future that would allow people of all colors to achieve the American dream. He said, "I remember in my early childhood, when I was probably no older than four, asking them why I can't use the bathroom here in the store where we shop. Why do we have to use that old, dirty, broken down water fountain that’s marked 'colored,' and why can't I use the shiny clean one that says 'whites only.' And I remember the pained expression on their faces. . . . One thing they used to say to us is that 'Our God delivered our people from the bondage of slavery [in the Bible], and you can see evidence of that in the Civil Rights Movement'. . . .  My parents always pointed out to us that it was a righteous cause, a God-inspired cause."

Thankfully, Spencer's parents got to experience that better day of racial equality, and also enjoy the success he achieved on TV, which brought them "joy and thankfulness that their prayers had been answered, that their children were now going to be able to enjoy these freedoms."

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

Reflection Starter from Anne Frank

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank

27 September 2018

Julia Bayly on the Work Needed on a 'Non-working' Farm

"Maybe it was the first time I had to wrap my tractor in electric blankets and down sleeping bags at 30 degrees below zero in the middle of a northern Maine snowstorm.

"Perhaps it was when I wrangled a chicken so I could clip her nails, which had grown inches too long.

"Then again, it could have been the first year I kept honeybees and snowshoed out to the hive every day that winter to feed them a special high-energy food and make sure the hive entrance was free of snow.

"I guess it doesn't matter if it was the tractor, the chicken or the bees. At some point it hit me exactly how much work goes into a non-working farm."

In a recent commentary, Bangor Daily News writer Julia Bayly reflected on the amount of work that actually goes into maintaining/working a "non-working" farm.

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

Antonín Dvořák: "Symphony No. 6 in D major"

It's time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Antonín Dvořák's "Symphony No. 6 in D major", Op. 60, as played by The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andreas Delfs:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord for the blessing of leisure in our lives.

Maria Cintorino on the Forgotten Act of Leisure

"As the new school year commences, it may be worthwhile to examine the role which leisure plays in our lives. Although we all value our vacation time and enjoy moments of relaxation, leisure in its truest form seems to be a forgotten practice in this day and age.

"To begin, when an attempt is made to be at leisure, there are many distractions which prohibit its practice. Some of these include the constant stimulation with technology to which we subject ourselves. Because of this, we are often out of touch with reality, not experiencing the joys which creation brings. This results in taking people, situations and the objects around us for granted. The stress and business of our schedules, whether of a continuous work schedule or with the extra activities we impose upon ourselves often lead to stressful lives and much unhappiness.

"Though this misery is never the intended outcome of any of the decisions that we make, perhaps we need a reminder of what it means to be at leisure. After all, it is not merely the individual who suffers due to a lack of leisure. Society as a whole is affected, for, as the German philosopher Josef Pieper famously noted, leisure is the basis of culture."

In a recent commentary, writer Maria Cintorino reflected on the role of leisure in our lives (including its relationship to silence and contemplation.

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

Crisis Magazine: The Forgotten Act of Leisure (27 SEP 18)

Reflection Starter from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

25 September 2018

St. Luke's Bottle Band: "Let All Things Now Living"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of St. Luke's Bottle Band (from St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Park Ridge, IL) presenting "Let All Things Now Living":

National Voter Registration Day

Today, 25 September, is being observed as National Voter Registration Day. A number of communities (including local libraries) around New England (and the rest of the nation), as well as the League of Women voters and other community organizations, are holding events to encourage potential voters to register.

Background information (including a link to several voter registration events):

National Voter Registration Day

National Voter Registration Day: Events

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord for the season of autumn and all the blessings that come with it.

Joe Heschmeyer on Saint Paul's Tips for Evangelization

"In the face of seemingly endless scandals in the Catholic Church, a lot of non-Catholics are asking some variation of 'why are you still Catholic?' to their Catholic friends and loved ones. Behind this question is often pain, anger, or sheer incredulity, but the silver lining is that they are asking about why we're still Catholic, which creates an opening for evangelization. But now what?

"As Catholics, we know we're called to evangelize the world, but anyone's who ever attempted evangelization (or apologetics) knows that it's hard to do it well. As with any craft, one of the best ways to learn is to pay attention to the people who do it well, so it makes sense that we should look to the life and example of St. Paul. He is arguably the greatest Christian evangelist who ever lived, apart from Christ Himself. After all, he was 'entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for the mission to the circumcised worked through me also for the Gentiles)' (Gal. 2:7-8), meaning that if you're a Gentile Christian, your spiritual lineage probably goes back to someone who was converted by St. Paul.

"So how do we ensure that we're properly 'armed' for any sort of question, discussion, or argument about the faith? St. Paul gives these instructions. . . ."

In a recent commentary that focuses on Ephesians 6:10-18, Joe Heschmeyer reflects on Saint Paul's instr4uctions (including relying upon God rather than ourselves, being aware of who we're really up against, and prayerfully devouring Scripture).

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

Shameless Popery: Preparing for Battle: 7 Tips From St. Paul on Evangelization (17 SEP 18)

Reflection Starter from Mortimer Adler

"You have to allow a certain amount of time in which you are doing nothing in order to have things occur to you, to let your mind think." - Mortimer Adler

23 September 2018

Sovereign Grace Music: "How Firm a Foundation"

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of Sovereign Grace Music presenting "How Firm a Foundation":

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; James 3:16-4:3; and Mark 9:30-37. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 54 (Psalm 54:3-6, 8).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 54

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise." But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.

Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all." Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 23, 2018)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 23, 2018)

Community in Mission: Asking a Crucial Question: A Homily for the 25th Sunday of the Year (22 SEP 18)

The Sacred Page: Why Being Good Doesn't Pay: 25th Sunday of OT (19 SEP 18)

The Sacred Page: The Second Passion Prediction (The Mass Readings Explained) (17 18)

St. Paul Center: Servant of All: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Word on Fire: The Undoing of Original Sin (Cycle B * Ordinary Time * Week 25)

Spirituality of the Readings: Take Care of the Little Ones (Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

In Exile: The Struggle To Love Our Neighbor (Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Of Pablum and Passion (Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

The Word Encountered: The Perils of Power (Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

Historical Cultural Context: Children (Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time B)

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

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your great love for us.

Msgr. Pope on Understanding Sin to Understand Redemption

"Some people suggest that the Church should speak less of sin and instead emphasize positive things. After all, it is said that one can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. In that vein, we in the Church have been collectively de-emphasizing sin to a large degree for decades, and yet our churches have been getting emptier and emptier. Maybe this is because people are just a little more complicated than the flies in the old saying. 

"In the Gospel for Thursday of this week (the 24th week in Ordinary Time), Jesus provides the reason our churches are getting emptier. Simply put, there is less love. He says, But the one to whom little is forgiven loves little (Luke 7:47).

"Why is this? We love little because we have little appreciation for what the Lord has done for us and for the debt He paid on our behalf. And why is that? Because our debt of sin is no longer preached about the way it should be and thus we are less aware of the gravity of our condition. This diminishes love, and a lack of love leads to neglect and absence. 

"Understanding sin is essential to fully comprehending what the Lord has done for us. Remembering what the Lord has done for us brings gratitude and love. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the importance of understanding sin in order to understand God's love for us and, in doing so, leading us to love more.

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

Community in Mission: Knowing the Bad News Unlocks the Good News (20 SEP 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"If you want to reach the heart of God, take the way of mercy, and allow yourself to be treated with mercy." - Pope Francis

22 September 2018

Fred Parris and The Satins: "In the Still of the Night"

As this blessed week draws ti a close, I offer this version of Fred Parris and The Satins presenting "In the Still of the Night":

Anne Ewbank on the Beauty of Night Food Wagons in Times Past

"In 1893, Boston was bustling, especially after the sun went down. 'Night owls of all classes' roamed the streets, wrote the Boston Daily Globe, including '“workers, idlers, pleasure seekers, spendthrifts, tramps and bums.' At some point, all of these people would want something to eat. The wealthy could get their quail on toast at any hour, observed the writer. For everyone else, there were the night lunch wagons. While they served inexpensive eats, the wagons themselves could be as fancifully decorated as music boxes on wheels.

"Though night lunch wagons would eventually be gilded, they had humble origins. According to Richard J.S. Gutman, a diner expert and author of the classic American Diner: Then and Now, it all started with a man with a basket. Walter Scott was a street vendor who sold sandwiches and coffee in Providence, Rhode Island, first from a basket and later from a pushcart. Business was good, so in 1872, he set up shop in a wagon outside a local newspaper office. Scott was a pressman himself, so he knew that journalists wanted quick meals at strange hours."

In a recent commentary, writer Anne Ewbank reflected on the origin of night lunch wagons (the precursors of today's food trucks) and the beauty that enhanced many of them.

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

Gastro Obscura: Before Food Trucks, Americans Ate 'Night Lunch' From Beautiful Wagons (13 SEP 18)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for hearing and answering our prayers - often in ways which we are not able to anticipate.

Everything Life Takes, Love Restores

"Lord, if You have another child for us, You will have to bring that child to us." That was the prayer of writer and author Meadow Rue Merrill and her husband Dana one night. Meadow had been thinking of adopting a child, but as the parents of two young boys and a girl, Dana wasn't sure this was the right time. But that all changed one summer evening.

During a Christopher Closeup interview about her Christopher Award-winning memoir Redeeming Ruth, Meadow said, "We walked into a friend's church where our children were going to vacation Bible school, and my friend Theresa welcomed me to sit with her in the pew. She asked me, 'Would you like to meet Ruth?' It took me a minute to remember that she and her husband were hosting an abandoned baby with disabilities from a Ugandan orphanage. I said, 'Sure,' and her husband brought this beautiful little child over to us. She was one and a half years old, but she had the physical abilities of an infant. He laid Ruth in Dana's arms, and without one moment of hesitation, Dana looked at me and said, 'So, do you want to adopt her?'"

Over the years, Meadow had frequently asked herself the question, "What is my responsibility for the suffering in the world?" The question stemmed from seeing children in the news who were fleeing their homes due to war, natural disaster, or some humanitarian tragedy. She was therefore open to the idea of adoption, but she wasn't sure she could handle a child like Ruth, who had severe cerebral palsy. Meadow recalled, "She was not able to speak, use her hands in any relevant way, feed herself, play, sit up, or walk. But when we looked at Ruth, she had such joy! Not only joy, but a wildly delicious sense of humor. For not being able to speak, her laugh would light up a room. We responded to that. We thought, 'How could we say no to this child?'"

The Merrills' other children also came to love and embrace Ruth, so they proceeded with the adoption plans. They happily discovered that contrary to a doctor's prognosis that Ruth would never advance beyond a two-month-old intellectually, the girl's mind was completely normal. She understood everything that was going on around her. While life had its challenges, Ruth became a beloved member of the Merrill family for the next several years. Unfortunately, her health problems led to an unexpected tragedy in 2011.

Ruth was in the first grade, making friends and thriving. But one night, the Merrills discovered she had stopped breathing in her sleep. Despite efforts to revive her, Ruth was gone. Meadow found her faith tested, and asked God why He would allow this to happen. She still doesn't have an answer to that particular question, but she has found comfort in a different perspective, which reflects why she made the full title of her book Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores.

She concludes, "As the Lord began to work in my heart, I had this assurance that there was nothing we could lose of value here that would not be restored in heaven. And even though our love wasn't enough to redeem Ruth in the long-lived way we hoped, I knew that God's love was enough to redeem her, and ultimately, that she will experience a life with Him in a completely restored body forever - and that I will get to see her some day again.”

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

Reflection Starter from William Wordsworth

"The best portion of a good man's life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love." - William Wordsworth

20 September 2018

On the History of Bagpipes in the Fire Service

"If you've ever been to a firefighter funeral, or even down the street from one, you've heard the Great Highland Bagpipe. Their beautiful music captivates the listener and sets the somber tone for another hero being laid to rest.

"Like many staples in our society, you may not have even wondered how the Scottish instrument achieved such an integral role at firefighters' funerals - and other responders for that matter - in the United States.

"Turns out, it all started over 170 years ago with the Great Potato Famine."

A FireRescue1 article reported on the history of the use of bagpipes in the fire service.

To access the complete FireRescue1 report, please visit:

FireRescue1: The history of bagpipes in the fire service (30 AUG 17)

Related video:

YouTube: RI Professional Firefighters Pipes & Drums

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You encourage us as we focus on our heavenly goal.

Br. Simon Teller, O.P., on Heavenly Participation Awards

"By God's grace, you made it to heaven, and now you're at the Awards Ceremony of the Heavenly Banquet.

"St. Peter's the emcee of the event. He's been calling out the names of the elect and handing out awards for what feels like the last forty days and forty nights. There have been prizes for all kinds of saintly feats. In the last ten minutes alone, he's announced the Most Zealous Preacher (St. Dominic, of course), Most Improved Player (St. Paul), Most SPIs (Souls Prayed In), Most Hours Spent Hearing Confessions in One Day (St. Padre Pio, who held the record at thirty-six, but he had been bi-locating), and Most Devout First Communion (Bl. Imelda). Now St. Peter calls your name and from the back table you can hear your great-aunt give a loud, encouraging hoot. What award will I get? you think, as you make your way to the front of the room. Most Penitential Morning Commute? Most Meritorious Diaper Change? Silliest Spontaneous Prayer? 

"'Congratulations on receiving the Participation Award,' St. Peter says, and hands you an eight-by-eleven paper certificate."

In a recent commentary, Brother Simon Teller, O.P., reflected on why the blessed in heaven are praised for their participation ("it best describes the way that the saints [and all creatures, for that matter] relate to God").

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

Dominicana: The Participation Award (13 SEP 18)

Reflection Starter from Theodore Roosevelt

"If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month." - Theodore Roosevelt

19 September 2018

Pollution Prevention Week

This week, the week of 17-23 September, is being observed as Pollution Prevention Week, an observance designed to be an opportunity for individuals, businesses, and government to emphasize and highlight their pollution prevention and sustainability activities and achievements, to expand current pollution prevention efforts, and to commit to new actions.

Background information:

National Pollution Prevention Roundtable

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the healing wounds You send our way as we struggle in our spiritual lives.

Msgr. Pope on Our Spiritual Lives as Reflected in Job

"I am teaching out of the Book of Job for our parish bible studies. Consider the following insight by Job on the spiritual life: 

"God is wise in heart and mighty in strength;who has withstood him and remained unscathed? (Job 9:3)

"At first glance, we might read this to mean that we don't dare talk back to God or resist Him lest He punish us, but this would be a superficial interpretation. The text surely speaks more richly, of the spiritual life and the journey we must make with God."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on how our relationship with God is not merely about pleasantries and how God must work to break sinful, selfish, and harmful drives within us.

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

Community in Mission: A Picture of the Spiritual Life from Job (16 SEP 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"It takes effort to always do good. . . The road to holiness is not for the lazy!" - Pope Francis

15 September 2018

Burl Ives: "Grandfather's Clock"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Burl Ives presenting "Grandfather's Clock":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of stories that touch our lives.

Marcel LeJeune on Sharing the Story of Our Faith Walks

"Stories can impact us like nothing else. Think of:

  • Watching Schindler's List, the Passion of The Christ, Forest Gump, or even a Pixar movie.
  • Reading a great book that you can't put down.
  • Listening to your favorite song that makes you want to dance or cry.
  • Watching the reunion of a soldier and family, who has come home after a year away from home and seeing his baby for the first time.

"Stories move us. They can change our minds. They can inspire us. They teach us. They can even be an instrument that God uses in our conversion. We need stories to be told. We need to share the story of how God has worked in our lives too. . . ."

In a recent Catholic Missionary Disciples commentary, writer Marcel LeJeune, the organization's president and founder, reflected on the importance of stories and how to share the story of one's faith walk.

To access the complete Catholic Missionary Disciples post, please visit:

Catholic Missionary Disciples: An Indispensable Tool Of An Evangelist: How To Give Your Testimony

Reflection Starter from Auguste Rodin

"To the artist there is never anything ugly in nature." - Auguste Rodin

14 September 2018

"The Cross of Jesus"

As we continue our feast day celebration, I offer this version of he Adult Choir of Saint Kilian Parish (Cranberry Township, PA) presenting "The Cross of Jesus":

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The assigned readings are Numbers 21:4-9, Phillipians 2:6-11, and John 3:13-17. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 78 (Psalm 78:1-2, 34-38).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 78

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Reflections on these readings:

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Terrorism and the Victory of the Cross

Msgr. Charles Pope: The Wisdom and Power of the Cross – A Homily for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (13 SEP 14)

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for September 14, 2014: Exaltation of the Holy Cross (13 SEP 14)

Spirituality of the Readings: Look at the Cross (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)

The Word Embodied: Being Saved by God’s Kind Favor (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)

Historical Cultural Context: The World’s Darkness (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Bede (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the "God moments" You send our way.

The Patience of God

St. Augustine once said, "Patience is the companion of wisdom." Everyone wants to have wisdom. We want to understand the complexities and nuances of life and be capable of acting accordingly; but sometimes we lose sight of the tremendous amount of patience needed to gain such wisdom. One might say that the first step towards wisdom is to understand and cultivate patience within ourselves, and the best way to do that is to consider the immense patience of God.

In The Christophers' short online video entitled "The Patience of God," Father Jonathan Morris explains that God's patience manifests itself at special times that he calls "God moments." These are moments when we sense the hand of God and realize that, no matter how difficult life has been, God has always been by our side.

Father Morris offers an example of a God moment that occurred while he was waiting for a train at Manhattan's busy Penn Station. A man came up to him asking for money to buy breakfast. Father Morris told the man he would not give him money but instead would be willing to buy him breakfast right there at the station. The man said this wouldn't work because he always bought a particular breakfast at a different place down the road. Giving in to what he perceived as the man's creativity in trying to cajole money out of him, Father Morris reached into his pocket for a bill only to find that he didn't have anything lower than a twenty.

Father Morris says, "By this time I was already committed, and I just felt an inspiration - maybe I should just give him a chance. I said, 'Here. Take this money, but bring me back the change.'" Several minutes passed and suddenly the man reappeared and approached Father Morris with the receipt for his breakfast and the entirety of the change. Father Morris said to the man, "Sir, you don't know how much you've blessed me today. I am a Catholic priest." The man asked, "What's that?" Father Morris explained, "It's kind of like a pastor." With astonishment, the man said, "You're a minister?" Then he got down on his knees, raised his hands, and declared, "I won the Jesus lottery!"

This beautiful, funny, and unexpected exchange was truly a God moment. It was a wonderful reminder for Father Morris that God will never stop surprising us with the good that exists in people. And for that man who asked for money for breakfast, it was a powerful example of the joy God has in store for those who follow the right path.

Moments like these are profound manifestations of God's patience at work in our lives, and they are proof that He knows and understands our hearts and can send the right people into our lives even for passing exchanges that can light our way. It's important to remember that it also takes patience on our part to appreciate such moments. When we exercise that patience and look for those God moments, we gain the wisdom that will allow us to accomplish amazing things in this world.

Understanding the patience of God strengthens our faith and teaches us to be patient with others and look for opportunities to bestow little gifts that lead to surprise in the goodness of humanity at the most unexpected moments. Appreciating, enjoying, and taking part in creating those moments is the surest manifestation of wisdom in our lives. 

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 Mahatma Gandhi

"There is more to life than increasing its speed." - Mahatma Gandhi

13 September 2018

Tom and Donna Baran and the Isaiah 61 Ministry

"As local families sat inside air-conditioned churches throughout the city Sunday morning, a small group stood in a circle downtown, breathing in the summer air and Bible passages beneath a blue sky,

"Most wore street clothes and lugged several personal carry-alls, fearing they'd be stolen from whatever piece of ground shared their sleep hours before.
"Tom and Donna Baran had slept comfortably in their home in Southington, but chose to spend the morning in Central Park with this group, most of whom are homeless.
"Some people sat on benches, others stood around the park's stone monument, listening to Tom share God's word. They filtered in and out as Donna hugged regular attendees and passed out water bottles.
"The Barans are the Isaiah 61 Ministry. He is lead pastor and she, ministry coordinator."
A recent New Britain Herald article profiled Tom and Donna Baran and the Isaiah 61 Ministry and their outreach to homeless persons in New Britain, CT.
To access the complete New Britain Herald report, please visit:

Beethoven: Symphony 6 in F major (Op. 68) "Pastoral Symphony"

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Ludwig van Beethoven's "Symphony 6 in F major" (Op. 68) (the "Pastoral Symphony") as played by the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, conducted by Paavo Jarvi:

National Suicide Prevention Week

The 44th Annual National Suicide Prevention Week is taking place this week, the week of 9-15 September.  National Suicide Prevention Week is set aside as a time to focus on the serious health challenge that suicide is and to promote awareness that suicide is a public health problem that is preventable. This year's theme is "Suicide Prevention Is Everyone’s Business."

In 2016, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2016, suicide became the second leading cause of death among those aged 10–34 and the fourth leading cause among those aged 35–54.

Suicidal behavior is complex. Some risk factors vary with age, gender, or ethnic group and may occur in combination or change over time.

Research shows that risk factors for suicide include:
  • depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder (often in combination with other mental disorders),
  • prior suicide attempt,
  • family history of mental disorder or substance abuse,
  • family history of suicide,
  • family violence, including physical or sexual abuse,
  • firearms in the home (the method used in more than half of suicides),
  • incarceration,
  • exposure to the suicidal behavior of others, such as family members, peers, or media figures.
However, suicide and suicidal behavior are not normal responses to stress; many people have these risk factors, but are not suicidal. Research also shows that the risk for suicide is associated with changes in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, including serotonin. Decreased levels of serotonin have been found in people with depression, impulsive disorders, and a history of suicide attempts, and in the brains of suicide victims.


U.S. Surgeon General/National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention: National Strategy for Suicide Prevention

National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention

American Association of Suicidology

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

American Association of Suicidology: National Suicide Prevention Week – September 9 – 15, 2018

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Connecticut Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Promotion Initiatives

Maine Suicide Prevention Program

Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention

New Hampshire State Suicide Prevention Council

Rhode Island Department of Health: Suicide

Rhode Island Youth Suicide Prevention Project

Vermont Suicide Prevention Center

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which the wisdom of Your saints is shared.

Pete Candler on St. Augustine and the 9/11 Tragedy

"When the regular professor asked me earlier that spring to sub for her in the fall, the date and time seemed an innocuous blank space: Tuesday, Sept. 11, 11 a.m. My assignment: a lecture on St. Augustine's 'City of God,' a fifth-century masterpiece of theology and politics written in response to the fall of Rome.

"It wasn't until I got into the car that day that I heard the news. The top of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, the radio announcer said, was missing. I could neither believe nor disbelieve what I was hearing; there was no reality to which I could connect the crumbling language of NPR anchors straining for barely adequate words. Half an hour later, on a television in the student lounge of Duke Divinity School, I watched as the North Tower exploded in a plume of particles. Students and faculty members huddled together, sobbing on strange shoulders, looking to one another for consolation, wisdom, anything.

"I didn't expect the students to show up when a no-name graduate student guest sub-lecturer was going to talk to them about St. Augustine. They had all just seen an unspeakable atrocity unfold right in front of their eyes. It was probably the best reason anyone ever had to cancel or skip class, to do something more profitable than attend a lecture. What was the point, in the face of such unconscionable, murderous tragedy, of talking about theology?

"But when I arrived, the class was packed so full that I had to squeeze past students crowding the doorway just to get into the classroom. They all just sat there, or stood along the back wall, expectantly. I felt exposed, as if I were being taken in for a police lineup. The students - and whatever bystanders had come to stand in the doorway to listen - were not there for me. They were there for St. Augustine."

In a commentary on its anniversary, writer Pete Candler reflected on this presentation, on the need for people to hear that "when the common interest of a public is not grounded in love for its own sake, and when human rights are not grounded in a universal human calling to love God and one another, then we inevitably serve some other god than the God of Love," and on how much theology matters (whether we admit it or not).

To access Mr. Candler's complete essay, please visit:

The Washington Post: How an ancient African saint helped me make sense of 9/11 (11 SEP 17)