31 December 2018

André Rieu: "Auld Lang Syne"

As this blessed year draws to a close, I offer this version of André Rieu and His Johann Strauss Orchestra presenting "Auld Lang Syne":

Portland, OR, Parishioners Rebuild after Church Attack

"Members of Our Lady of Lavang Parish in Portland, Oregon did not let an attack stall their Christmas observances.

"Volunteers at the Vietnamese Catholic community gathered Christmas Eve, tools in hand, to repair their church, which had been seriously damaged when a man intentionally drove his SUV into the worship space and repeatedly crashed through the pews. In addition to the pews, walls and doors were heavily damaged."

In a recent commentary, Deacon Greg Kandra reported on this attack at Our Lady of Lavang Church and the parish's response.

To access Deacon Greg's complete post, please visit:

The Deacon's Bench: Christmas came anyway: Parishioners rebuild after man plowed SUV into church on Christmas Eve (27 DEC 18)

Maine High School Lunch Program a Big Hit.

"This December the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it is rolling back school nutrition standards enacted under the Obama administration. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue says the change is needed because too many schools are struggling to serve meals that meet the higher nutrition standards and are also appetizing. Cape Elizabeth High School recently dropped out of the federal lunch program for that very reason.

"But at another district in Southern Maine school lunch sales have actually soared since it started dishing out healthier meals.

"When the bell rings and it’s time for lunch at Windham High School, students head to what most of us would refer to as the cafeteria. But RSU14 school nutrition director Jeanne Reilly has a different name for it.

"''We like to consider ourselves the busiest restaurant in town because we're serving so many meals,' says Reilly."

A recent Bangor Daily News article profile the lunch program at Windham High School.

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

Bangor Daily News: This Maine school makes nutritious lunches so tasty, parents ask for recipes (30 DEC 18)

Background information:

Windham High School

Windham-Raymond School District (Regional School Unit 14)

Town of Windham

A Vermont Dairy Farm and Its Prolific Instagram Outreach

"You might think you have the Instagram game figured out. But the Richardson Family Farm offers some friendly competition.

"The farm, based in Hartland, Vermont, boasts nearly 14,000 followers on the social media platform. The feed is dominated by picturesque photographs of cows grazing on lush grass.

"Amy Richardson runs the account and updates it every few days, mainly focusing on scenic shots of life on the farm. . . . She has adapted different techniques since she started the account in 2013, figuring out her own voice in the process."

A recent Burlington Free Press article profiled the Richardson Family Farm and its Instagram outreach.

To access the complete Burlington Free Press report, please visit:

Ella Fitzgerald: "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of Ella Fitzgerald presenting "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for all the blessings You have bestowed on Your people during 2018.

Br. Charles Marie Rooney, O.P., on the Subversive Shoot

"Christmas is subversive. The eternal, immutable, transcendent, and all-good and powerful Son of God deigned to descend from the heavens and take on our very flesh. He was conceived in the womb of a virgin. Mary's womb became a tabernacle wherein the Lord's assumed humanity would gestate into an embryo, and then a fetus, and finally a newborn. On Christmas, the God-babe lay in, of all things, a feeding trough in a back stable on the outskirts of the little town, Bethlehem, beheld by the loving gaze of his parents and adored by choirs of angels and other visitors. It was in the quiet of this rustic locale that occurred the most significant event in the history of the cosmos since God's act of creation in the beginning (Gen 1:1). No other religious tradition teaches anything remotely like it.

"But the peace on earth (Lk 2:14) of that night divine would be short-lived - indeed, forestalled until an age still yet to come - for with radical events come radical consequences. On the shoulders of the humble and helpless Christ-child rests the government of eternal peace, the kingdom not of this world, the increase of which will have no end (Jn 18:36; Is 9:6-7). By contrast, in the zero-sum game of this-worldly power plays, one king’s sovereignty interferes with that of another. . . .

"Christmas, like everything about Christ, points straight to Calvary, for it is there that the Root of Jesse fully shot forth into the Cross, the new Tree of Life on which Christ uprooted us from sin, striking the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips slaying the wicked (Is 11:4)."

In a recent commentary, Brother Charles Marie Rooney, O.P., reflected on the mystery of the relationship between Jesus in the manger and Jesus on the cross.

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

Dominicana: The Subversive Shoot (28 DEC 18) 

Reflection Starter from G. K. Chesterton

"Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried." - Gilbert K. Chesterton

30 December 2018

Reflection from Dwight D. Eisenhower

"'Peace on earth, good will to men.' These are hallowed words. Through ages they have heartened and moved mankind, even though their message of peace is far too often drowned by the strident voices of the fearful or the arrogant, who fill our minds with doubt and pessimism. . . .

"The spirit of Christmas returns, yet again, to enable us to gain understanding of each other; to help each other; to obey the elemental precepts of justice; to practice good will toward all men of every tongue and color and creed; to remember that we are all identical in our aspirations for a peaceful, a decent, a rewarding life.

"In the warm glow of the Christmas tree, it is easy to say these things, but when the trees come down and the lights are put away - as they always are - then we have a true testing of the spirit. That testing will be answered, throughout the year ahead, by the success each of us experiences in keeping alive the inspiration and exultation of this moment.We must proceed by faith, knowing the light of Christmas is eternal, though we cannot always see it. We must believe that the truth of Christmas is constant; that men can live together in peace as Lincoln said, 'with charity for all, with firmness in the right.'" - President Dwight D. Eisenhower (in his Christmas Address to the People of the United States of America, 24 December 1956)

"Once in Royal David's City"

As we continue our Sunday and Christmas celebration, I offer this version of the Trinity Singers and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra presenting "Once in Royal David's City":

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The assigned readings are Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; and Luke 2:41-52. The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 128 (Psalm 128:1-5).

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

YouTube: Year C, (Cycle C) – The Holy Family Of Jesus, Mary And Joseph, 30th Dec 2018, Responsorial Psalm

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Each year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety."

And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?' But they did not understand what he said to them.

He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Holy Family (December 30, 2018)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (December 30, 2018)

Community in Mission: A Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family (29 DEC 18)

The Sacred Page: Readings for the Feast of the Holy Family (29 DEC 18)

St. Paul Center: Our True Home: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Feast of the Holy Family

Word on Fire: Hannah, Her Son, and the Holy Family (Feasts * Holy Family)

Spirituality of the Readings: And There He Sat (Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph C)

In Exile: Why I Believe in God (Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: The Open Family (Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph C)

The Word Engaged: The Holy Family (Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph C)

Historical Cultural Context: Jesus in the Temple (Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph C)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Origen of Alexandria (Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph C)

Thank You, Lord

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

Msgr. Pope on Some of the Paradoxes of Christmas

"There are many paradoxes and seeming impossibilities in the Incarnation. They cannot be fully solved, so they claim our reverence. We genuflected in the past, and today we bow at the mention of the Incarnation in the Creed, for it is a deep mystery.

"As we continue to celebrate Christmas, I would like to list some of the paradoxes of Christmas. I want to say as little about them as possible—just enough to make the paradox clear. This paucity of words (not common with me) is in reverence for the mystery and also to invite your reflection.

"1. The Infinite One becomes an infant. . . .

"5. He who indwells all creation is born in homelessness, no place to dwell.

"6. He, to whom all things in Heaven and on earth belong, is born in poverty and neediness . . ..

"A paradox is something that defies intuition or challenges the common way of thinking. It unsettles us or startles us into thinking more deeply. . . . If you're going to relate to God you're going to deal with a lot of paradox, because God's ways and His thinking often defy those of humans. God is not irrational but He often acts in ways that do not conform to worldly expectations. 

"This Christmas, consider these paradoxes and learn from them. Remember, though, that mysteries are to be lived more so than solved. Reverence is a more proper response to mystery than is excessive curiosity. More is learned in silence than by many words."

In recent commentaries, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on some of the paradoxes of Christmas.

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

Community in Mission: Paradoxes of Christmas (26 DEC 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Looking at Jesus we see the face of the God who is Love, and we learn to recognize Him in the faces of our brothers and sisters." - Pope Francis

29 December 2018

The Isaacs: "Away in a Manger"

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of The Isaacs presenting "Away in a Manger":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord for the blessing of candles of various types.

Rick Becker on the Christmas Truce of World War I

"'Snoopy’s Christmas' must be in the running for cheesiest holiday ditty of all time, but if you listen carefully, it holds an unlikely prompt to peace. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the conclusion of World War I, which is maybe why it's sticking out to me when I hear it everywhere in the stores and radio. . . .

"The Royal Guardsmen recorded the song in 1967 and based the story in the lyrics on characters in Charles Schulz's Peanuts comic. . . . . It's Christmas Eve, and Snoopy's World War I nemesis, the Red Baron (a Peanuts version of the real WWI ace, Manfred von Richthofen), was on the move. Reluctantly, the intrepid beagle takes to his doghouse to meet him in imaginary aerial combat.

"As the bouncy tale unfolds, conflict gives way to comity, as reflected in the chorus. 'Christmas bells, those Christmas bells, ring out from the land' (cue the horns and glockenspiel). 'Asking peace of all the world, and good will to man.' The Red Baron, unexpectedly, foregoes a strategic advantage and allows Snoopy to escape. And when Snoopy has to land on enemy territory, he is both welcomed and toasted by his erstwhile foe.

"My son knows all the words and he sang along full-throated in the car one day. I did too, at least on the chorus, and then a light went on. 'This is about the Christmas truce!' I thought to myself. Sure enough, when I later tracked down the history of the song, I found out that others had made that connection as well."

In a recent commentary, writer Rick Becker reflected on the meaning of the Christmas Truce that took place during World War I (December 1914).

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

Grotto Network: The Inspiring Story of WWI's Christmas Truce and Its Call for Peace

Reflection Starter from Thomas Fuller

"One that would have the fruit must climb the tree." - Rev. Thomas Fuller

28 December 2018

Harry Belafonte: "Mary's Boy Child"

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of Harry Belafonte presenting "Mary's Boy Child":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of family Christmas traditions.

The Cardinal’s Gift of Joy

In the liner notes of an album, musicians usually thank their colleagues, staff, and family for their talent and support. But on the back cover of Grammy nominee Matt Maher's new record The Advent of Christmas, the singer-songwriter expresses an unusual sentiment of gratitude: "Thanks to the red cardinal that kept showing up during the making of this record." That bird helped Matt find solace over a loss that he was still grieving, while also leaving him with a renewed sense of purpose and joy.

Matt is one of the most successful Christian musicians in the industry, and one of the few Catholics whose music is embraced by all. During a Christopher Closeup interview, he recalled feeling that the time was right to record his first Christmas album, which is a wonderful mixture of joyous, sing-along-style celebrations and deeply meaningful, bittersweet reflections on life and faith.

The bittersweet element arose from the fact that Matt lost his father in 2017, so he had to navigate feelings of sorrow during a season of joy. So what did he learn from the experience?

Matt noted that the nostalgia of Christmas "isn’t just the sentimentality of Hallmark movies and Bing Crosby crooning on our stereo systems. . . I think it's homesickness in a way. It's the one time of year where our souls are reminded of how much we long for God. . . [The movies and music] are great, but they're not meant to satisfy the deeper longings of the human heart. Only God and relationships are meant to be meaningful. . . So [the question] isn't, 'Can Christmas drown out all the painful memories?' It's more, 'Can we learn to let God reconcile those things so we can miss the ones that we love . . but also realize the joy that's found is greater and can still be experienced in the midst of heartache?'"

The album's closing track "When I Think of Christmas" addresses that heartache in the line, "There are faces I miss, the ones not with us." Interestingly, that was one of the two songs for which the red cardinal started showing up outside the studio. Having grown up in Newfoundland, Matt had never seen many cardinals and kept admiring its beauty. But he also wondered why this was happening, so he Googled the words "red cardinal Christian symbolism."

He recalled, "It said that if you keep seeing a red cardinal, it's a sign that someone you love is praying for you. And immediately, I thought, 'Dad! . . . My dad loved Christmas, and loved melancholic Christmas songs. He was Irish, and the Irish love a good cry. So as soon as I saw that cardinal, I just knew my dad is praying for me with this record. [It was] a huge encouragement to keep going."

In addition to the album, Matt also wrote a children's book, also titled The Advent of Christmas. The idea arose because he treasures reading stories with his kids at bedtime. "That's how the faith was transmitted for the first couple of hundred years," he points out. "Just people telling stories. I thought, wouldn't it be great if I could write a story about Advent . . . because kids ask questions. They're gonna go, 'What does Advent mean?' It's a word that means 'arrival.' 'Who's arriving?' Jesus. It's simple conversations and simple questions. This stuff is supposed to be simple enough that a child can get it. That's what Jesus said. So to me, the book becomes a way for parents to re-embrace the season like a child."

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 Denis Waitley

"The winner's edge is not in a gifted birth, a high IQ, or in talent. The winner's edge is all in the attitude, not aptitude. Attitude is the criterion for success." - Denis Waitley

27 December 2018

Public Works Line of Duty Death

A New England public works servant recently died in the line of duty, a reminder of the hazards and stresses faced by the members of the region's municipal services.

Angelo Turano, 53, a 22 year veteran of the Westerly, RI, Public Works Department, died as a result of an accident that occurred at the Town Garage.

May he rest in peace.

Media reports:

Westerly Sun: Public Works employee killed in work-related incident at Westerly Town Garage (19 DEC 18)

WJAR-TV: Police identify Westerly DPW employee killed at work (20 DEC 18)

Background information:

Westerly Public Works Department

Town of Westerly

Wikipedia: Westerly, Rhode Island

On Smart Cities and the Fire Service

"The concept of smart cities has become a worldwide discussion and trend. This is a direct result of broadband connectivity and the Internet of Things (IoTs). The IoTs refers to all the devices that can be connected via the internet or an IP network.

"Wikipedia defines a smart city as, ‘An urban area that uses different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information that is used to manage assets and resources efficiently. This includes data collected from citizens, devices and assets that is processed and analyzed to monitor and manage building systems, traffic and transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services.'"

In a recent commentary, Charles Werner, fire chief emeritus of the Charlottesville, VA, Fire Department and chairman of the National Council on Public Safety UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) reflected on the impact of the smart city trend on the fire service including the possibility of more effective fire detection, notification and extinguishment systems, the addition of enhanced location services, the use of Next Generation 9-1-1 systems, and the use of drones.

To access Chief Werner’s complete essay, please visit:

Firehouse: Fire Technology: Smart Cities & the Fire Service (December 2018)

"Go Tell It on the Mountain"

As we continue our Christmas celebration, I offer this version of "Go Tell It on the Mountain":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of family Christmas celebrations.

Bishop Tobin on Overcoming the Darkness in Our Lives

"There are lots of things to dislike about winter - the cold, the ice, the snow, the dangerous driving conditions, and the darkness the season imposes upon us. Yes, the darkness.

"Lots of people find it really difficult to handle the absence of daylight and the extended darkness of winter. They suffer from a condition termed 'seasonal affective disorder' (SAD) that causes them to be anxious and depressed, experience changes in appetite and weight, and makes it difficult to concentrate or sleep. It can be a debilitating condition, not to be taken lightly. Treatment for SAD can include medication, counselling and light therapy.

"Light deprivation can be hard enough here in the Northeast, but there are places far worse. . . .  

"This natural phenomenon has a spiritual parallel in salvation history. In the Prophet Isaiah (9:1) we read. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on Jesus, as light of the world, overcoming darkness in our lives.

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

The Imitation of Christ: Overcoming the Darkness (13 DEC 18)

Reflection Starter from John

"See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." - 1 John 3:1-2 (Today, 27 December, the Church celebrates the memory of Saint John the Apostle.)

26 December 2018

"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of Celtic Woman presenting "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings You send our way each day.

Pope Francis on St. Stephen's Day and the Salvific Mission of Jesus

"The feast of the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen, falls the day after Christmas - timing that contains an important spiritual lesson, Pope Francis said Wednesday.

"'It might seem strange to approach the memory of St. Stephen at the birth of Jesus because the contrast between the joy of Bethlehem and the drama of Stephen, stoned in Jerusalem in the first persecution against the nascent Church, emerges,' Pope Francis said Dec. 26.

"'In reality, it is not so, because the Child Jesus is the Son of God made man, who will save humanity by dying on the cross,' he continued.

In a special weekday Angelus address for the feast day, Pope Francis connected the imagery of the Child Jesus in the crib to his burial after the Crucifixion."

To access a report in the National Catholic Register on the Holy Father's message, please visit:

National Catholic Register: Pope Francis: St. Stephen's Day Connects Christ's Birth to His Salvific Mission (26 DEC 18)

Reflection Starter from Charles Morgan

"There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved: It is God's finger on man's shoulder." - Charles Morgan

25 December 2018

Whitney Houston: "Do You Hear What I Hear ?"

As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of Whitney Houston presenting "Do You Hear What I Hear ?"

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the outpouring of Your Christmas blessing on us, our families, our friends, our communities, on our world.

Br. Stephen Ruhl, O.P., on the Child in the Manger

"What child is this? This child born this morning, born to no acclaim, born in a dwelling meant for cattle, what is he? Ignored by the world but acclaimed by the angels, who is he?

"As the classic Christmas carol tells us, 'This, this is Christ the King.' Our King, our Messiah, our Emmanuel is born today, in the place where ox and donkey feed. And yet already this silent Word, the Word made flesh who cannot yet speak, pleads for us sinners to his Father. Christ, from the moment of his birth, had one purpose - to redeem us and offer us salvation."

In a recent commentary, Brother Stephen Ruhl, O.P., reflected on the mystery of Jesus coming into the world as a little child.

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

Dominicana: What Child Is This? (25 DEC 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Paul VI

"We consider Christmas as the encounter, the great encounter, the historical encounter, the decisive encounter, between God and mankind. He who has faith knows this truly; let him rejoice." - Pope Saint Paul VI

24 December 2018

Andy Williams: "Silver Bells"

As we enter into the Christmas Eve celebration, I offer this version of Andy Williams presenting "Silver Bells":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of Your Incarnation.

Msgr. Pope on Why Christ Was Born of a Woman

"On this Christmas Eve we ponder the approaching mysteries. A question so basic that it does not occur to some to even ask is this: Why did the Lord choose to come to us through a woman, Mary, when He could have come in any manner He pleased?

"He could have bypassed conception, gestation, birth, infancy, and youth entirely. He could have appeared suddenly on earth as a grown man - but He did not. Why not?"

In recent commentaries, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the teachings of Saint Thomas Aquinas as applied to this aspect of the Incarnation.

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

Community in Mission: Why Was Christ Born of a Woman Instead of Appearing on Earth by His Own Power? (23 DEC 18)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"God enters history and does so in His original style: surprise. The God of surprises always surprises us." - Pope Francis

22 December 2018

Johnny Mathis: "It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Johnny Mathis presenting "It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas":

Well Done, Tom and Lopco

In a recent Facebook post, son Tom wrote:

"There are probably many gifts business owners can provide their employees this time of year, recently I made the decision to offer Full Health Care Coverage for our Full-Time employees as we head into 2019.

"This type of program seems to have had an even greater impact when the employees found out that $0 would be coming out of their paychecks for this going forward. . . ."

Tom is the owner of Lopco Contracting, which offers exterior painting and staining, interior painting, carpentry, historic restoration, and a number of other services. The Lopco website may be accessed at:

Well done, Tom!!! It was a good move!

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of dramatic presentations that present and reinforce the Nativity story and its meaning.

Jane Henson and Her Puppet Nativity Ministry

"Jane Ann Nebel loved the Nativity scene beneath her parents' Christmas tree.

"As a young child in St. Albans, Queens, she often played with the ceramic figurines - cradling the Baby Jesus in her palm, carefully setting him in the manger, and then helping the humble shepherds and the stately Magi to move forward, step by step, to worship the newborn King.

Jane carried those happy childhood memories with her into adulthood, through her career as a puppeteer and artist who, alongside acclaimed puppeteer Jim Henson, helped to found "The Muppets." Jane worked with Henson for several years on The Muppets and other projects, eventually marrying him.

"As their family grew, Jane quit full-time puppeteering in the early '60s and devoted herself to raising their five children; then, later in life, her children grown, Jane experienced a renewed interest in her Catholic faith. She remembered the manger scene that had been such a strong influence in her childhood. She wondered: Could she create one more marionette show, one in which the familiar figures from the crèche would come to life, bringing the story of Jesus' birth to the world?"

A recent National Catholic Register article profiled Jane Henson and her puppeteer ministry, with special attention to her presentation of the Nativity.

To access the complete National Catholic Register report, please visit:

National Catholic Register: Puppet Nativity: Muppets Co-Creator Combined Faith, Culture in Creative Play (22 DEC 18)

Reflection Starter from Wayne Dyer

"When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It's to enjoy each step along the way." - Wayne Dyer

21 December 2018

Francois-Joseph Gossec: Te Deum а Grand Orchestre

It's time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Francois-Joseph Gossec's "Te Deum а Grand Orchestre", as presented by the Choeur National and the Choeur et Orchestre de Paris-Sorbonne, conducted by Jacques Grimbert:

On Addressing Infrastructure Issues Related to Climate Change

"The most recent international report on climate change paints a picture of disruption to society unless there are drastic and rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

"Although it's early days, some cities and municipalities are starting to recognize that past conditions can no longer serve as reasonable proxies for the future.

"This is particularly true for the country's infrastructure. Highways, water treatment facilities and the power grid are at increasing risk to extreme weather events and other effects of a changing climate.”

A recent FutureStructure article reported on efforts being made to address infrastructure issues in anticipation of rising sea levels resulting from climate change.

To the complete FutureStructure report, please visit:

FurtureStructure: What Is Climate-Ready Infrastructure? Some Cities Are Starting to Adapt (24 OCT 18)

Reflated reports:

U.S. Global Change Research Program: Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume I (released 23 NOV 18)

International Panel on Climate Change Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°C (2018)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of each person You place in our lives.

The Power of the Powerless

In 1985, Christopher de Vinck, a high school English teacher from New Jersey, published an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Power of the Powerless: A Brother's Lesson." His article told the story of growing up with a sibling who was severely disabled, and it garnered immediate responses from people who were inspired by his message of the value of the human person. "I grew up in the house where my brother was on his back in his bed for almost 33 years," he writes. "Oliver was blind, mute. His legs were twisted. He didn't have the strength to lift his head nor the intelligence to learn anything."

Christopher explains that, when their mother was pregnant with Oliver, she was exposed to toxic fumes that made her pass out for a short time. When Oliver was born, he seemed healthy but his parents later discovered that he was blind, and he began to exhibit other problems. A doctor said that Oliver’s ailments would never heal and suggested they place him in an institution. "But he is our son," their parents said. "We will take Oliver home." "Then take him home and love him," the doctor said.

Along with his parents and siblings, Christopher tended to his brother, feeding him, changing his diapers, bathing him, and keeping him entertained. In so doing, Christopher gained a profound education on valuing the human person, regardless of situation or station in life. In his article and the subsequent book he wrote entitled The Power of the Powerless: A Brothers Legacy of Love, Christopher recounts the way in which Oliver's presence made an impact on him at an important moment in his life. In his early 20s, he fell in love with a girl and brought her home to meet his family. He had previously told her about Oliver, and, during her visit, he asked if she would like to meet him. Her answer was a flat, "No." Christopher then writes, "Soon after, I met Roe, a lovely girl. She asked me the names of my brothers and sisters. She loved children. I thought she was wonderful. I brought her home after a few months to meet my family. Soon it was time for me to feed Oliver. I remember sheepishly asking Roe if she'd like to see him. 'Sure,' she said. I sat at Oliver's bedside as Roe watched over my shoulder. I gave him his first spoonful, his second. ‘Can I do that?’ Roe asked with ease, with freedom, with compassion, so I gave her the bowl and she fed Oliver one spoonful at a time. The power of the powerless. Which girl would you marry? Today Roe and I have three children."

Christopher's story gives witness to the way grace can work through those who are suffering when we open our hearts and our lives to them. Oliver's presence was a gift to the de Vinck family, because it made them compassionate people. This kind of education in compassion is what all parents should seek for their children. It is an invaluable life lesson that teaches people to recognize the good in others and discern the right path in relationships.

Recalling his brother's life, Christopher wrote, "Oliver still remains the weakest, most helpless human being I ever met, and yet he was one of the most powerful human beings I ever met. He could do absolutely nothing except breathe, sleep, eat, and yet he was responsible for action, love, courage, insight."

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 Doris Lessing

"Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so." – Doris Lessing

20 December 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for those who carry out an intercessory prayer ministry.

The Twitter Prayer Ministry of Sr. Susan Francois

"When she was a high school student in Maryland, Sister Susan Francois got her first job at Kmart. She then requested shifts on Saturdays and Sundays to avoid church. Born and raised Catholic, she was already experiencing doubts about the role of women in the church and in the institution itself. She spent most of the 1990s as an 'ex-Catholic,' she said, living in Portland, Ore., where she went to college and worked as a city elections official.

"As the millennium approached, however, Sister Susan, now 46, became interested in her Catholic roots again. 'I was in this high-powered career, but where I found all my joy in life was through my volunteer work,' she said. She began to see a connection between what was rapidly becoming her social mission and Catholicism.

"So she started to fill her weekends with church again.

"In 2005, Sister Susan got in even deeper: She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace religious order on the West Coast. It was around this time, she said, that she noticed other nuns praying for President George W. Bush and then, President Barack Obama. In 2017, two years after she had relocated to the St. Joseph headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Sister Susan decided to take her own presidential praying practice to the next level: Twitter."

A recent article in The New York Times profiled Sr. Susan and her prayer ministry.

To access the complete report, please visit:

The New York Times: Dear @POTUS: The Nun Who Tweets a Daily Prayer to President Trump (6 DEC 18)

Thank you, Deacon Greg Kandra, for the tip.

Reflection Starter from E. Stanley Jones

"To pass from estrangement from God to be a son of God is the basic fact of conversion. That altered relationship with God gives you an altered relationship with yourself, with your brother man, with nature, with the universe." - E. Stanley Jones

19 December 2018

Michael W. Smith: "Prepare Ye The Way"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of Michael W. Smith presenting "Prepare Ye The Way"

Thank You, Lord

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

Bishop Tobin on the Morning Offering

"One of the beautiful traditions still kept by many devout Catholics is praying 'The Morning Offering' at the beginning of each day. While there are many variations of the prayer, I think the most popular version is this:

"'O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of my relatives and friends, and in particular, for the intentions of the Holy Father. Amen.' 

"That prayer, as simple as it is, has many elements that are near and dear to Catholics: an appeal to Mary's intercession in our lives; our belief that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the ultimate expression of our prayers; the need to do penance each day in reparation for our sins; a loving remembrance of our families and friends; and a reminder that as Catholics we belong to a worldwide family of faith, led by our Holy Father, the Pope"

In a recent commentary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on the Morning Offering and its benefit as it is prayed at the beginning of each day.

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

The Imitation of Christ: The Morning Offering (29 NOV 18)

Reflection Starter from Jonathan Swift

"The best doctors in the world are Doctor Diet, Doctor Quiet, and Doctor Merryman." - Jonathan Swift

17 December 2018

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of each person who works a good deeds ministry.

Fr. Sichko and His "Jubilee of Mercy" Ministry

"Father Jim Sichko has a 50-state congregation and a simple mandate from the pope: Go forth and do good deeds.

"That's why the Roman Catholic priest found himself standing by the drive-thru of a popular Hollywood fast-food joint on a recent windy, rain-swept afternoon buying lunch for everyone who stopped by. The next day he'd be at a gas station in Kentucky, topping off people's tanks. Then it would be on to Arizona where he would - well, he wasn't quite sure what he'd do there, but he'd think of something."

A recent Associated Press article profiled the "Jubilee of Mercy" ministry of Fr. Sichko.

To access the completed AP report, please visit:

Associated Press: Priest travels US spreading Gospel 1 good deed at a time (14 DEC 18)

Reflection Starter from Hal Borland

"Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence." - Hal Borland

16 December 2018

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel":

Third Sunday of Advent

Today the Church celebrates the Third Sunday of Advent. The assigned readings are Zepheniah 3:14-18, Philippians 4:4-7, and Luke 3:10-18. The Responsorial Psalm is from Isaiah 12 (Isaiah 12:2-6).

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

YouTube: Psalm Isaiah 12 : 2-6 3rd Sunday of Advent 

The Gospel reading is as follows:

The crowds asked John the Baptist, "What should we do?"

He said to them in reply, "Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise."

Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, "Teacher, what should we do?"

He answered them, "Stop collecting more than what is prescribed."

Soldiers also asked him, "And what is it that we should do?"

He told them, "Do not practice extortion,  do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages."

Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.

John answered them all, saying, "I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Third Sunday of Advent (December 16, 2018)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Third Sunday of Advent (December 16, 2018)

Community in Mission: Five Steps to Better Mental Health - A Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent (15 DEC 18)

Crossroads Initiative: Gaudete Sunday - Advent Joy & John the Baptist

The Sacred Page: Rejoicing in the Midst of Suffering: Gaudete Sunday! (13 DEC 18) 

The Sacred Page: What Should We Do To Prepare? (The Mass Readings Explained) (10 DEC 18)

St. Paul Center: What Do We Do? Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday of Advent

Word on Fire: Rejoice Always! (Cycle C * Advent * Week 3)

Spirituality of the Readings: Advent Song (The Third Sunday of Advent C)

In Exile: Our Struggle to Celebrate (The Third Sunday of Advent C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Tough Joy (The Third Sunday of Advent C)

The Word Engaged: Joy in the Diminishments (The Third Sunday of Advent C)

Historical Cultural Context: Toll Collectors and Soldiers (The Third Sunday of Advent C)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Origen of Alexandria (The Third Sunday of Advent C)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of this holy season of Advent.