31 January 2019

Cooking Fires in Residential Buildings

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and injuries. The U.S. Fire Administration has released a new report, Cooking Fires in Residential Buildings, that addresses the characteristics of these fires from 2014-2016.

To access a copy of this report, please visit:

U.S. Fire Administration: Cooking fires in residential buildings (2014-2016)

On School Districts Providing Increased Support to the Greater Community

"Amid rapidly changing student and community demographics, many school districts have morphed from education centers into community centers. These districts offer medical care, housing assistance, free meals and other social services.

'"Schools are the centers of communities,' says Kayla Jackson, a project director at AASA, The School Superintendents Association. 'It's an easy entry point for any type of social services.'

"This approach allows administrators to confront more effectively the academic impact of students' nonacademic problems, such as health, homelessness and incarcerated parents, Jackson says."

A recent article in District Administration reported on this trend of taking a holistic approach to support the local community.

To access the complete District Administration report, please visit:

District Administration: K12 districts expand community support (February 2019)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of good youth ministers and for the many ways in which You work through them.

Br. Isidore Rice, O.P., on Why He Bows His Head at the Name of Jesus

"I decided to bow my head at the name of Jesus. I wish I could say I was led to this by feelings of pious devotion. I was not. I just saw some priests doing it and it seemed like a good idea; we call His name holy after all. So I decided to bow my head at the name of Jesus.

"I wish I could say my motives were perfectly pure, but honestly, I hoped to be seen. When I bowed my head at the name of Jesus, certainly someone would take note, and they would think me quite pious and holy. Not everybody bows their head at the name of Jesus, you know. That's not why I did it, at least not usually, but the thought was not displeasing to me. But I decided to bow my head at the name of Jesus. . . ." 

In a recent commentary, Brother Isidore Rice, O.P., reflected on why he started to and why he continues to bow his head at the Holy Name of Jesus. 

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

Dominicana: I Decided to Bow My Head at the Name of Jesus (3 JAN 19)

Reflection Starter from St. John Bosco

"Do not put off till tomorrow the good you can do today. You may not have a tomorrow." - Saint John Bosco

30 January 2019

Profile of a New England Smaill Business: The Sleepy Rooster Cafe, East Hampton, CT

Although large businesses corporations have a major presence in this region and throughout the nation, small business play an important role in our communities, states, this region, and each region of the nation. Small businesses support the local economy in a number of ways (including the creation of local jobs), often are involved in the community's civic and cultural life, and typically offer good service to the local community.

A recent Middletoiwn Press article profiled a New England small business - The Sleepy Rooster Cafe in the town of East Hampton, Connecticut.

To access the complete Middletown Press article, please visit:

The Middletown Press: East Hampton's Sleepy Rooster Cafe promotes intuitive eating with fresh food (14 JAN 19)

Background information:

Facebook: The Sleepy Rooster Cafe

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of employers who pay fair/living wages.

John Clark on Bob Cratchit, Lazarus, and American Capitalism

"One of the rewards of great literature is that each new reading reveals aspects that were somehow previously hidden. This idea struck me recently as I was re-acquainting myself with Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and I noticed the similarities between Bob Cratchit and Lazarus.

"Both poor men hoped for the scraps of rich men - Lazarus awaited crumbs from the rich man's table, while Bob Cratchit's paychecks consisted of the fifteen shillings per week that somehow escaped Scrooge's tight fist. Bob Cratchit had six children - one of whom was dying, which, as the story makes clear, was a direct result of his poverty. Lazarus had no family; he died alone - a result of the rich man's indifference.

"The rich men were not alone in their fault, nor was apathy confined to the upper class: no one else seemed to notice, either. Others could have helped Lazarus: surely they saw the dogs licking his sores. Others could have helped Bob Cratchit: did no one else take note of Tiny Tim's well-worn crutch?"

In a recent commentary, writer John Clark reflected on the similarities between Bob Cratchit and Lazarus and on the difference between a market wage and a living wage and their relationship to the fundamental dignity and worth of others.

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

National Catholic Register: Blogs: John Clark: Bob Cratchit, Lazarus and American Capitalism (24 DEC 18)

Reflection Starter from Richard Whately

"It is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary. " - Richard Whately

29 January 2019

On Privacy Risks on Facebook and Twitter (even Without Having an Account)

"A new study shows that privacy on social media is like second-hand smoke. It's controlled by the people around you.

"Individual choice has long been considered a bedrock principle of online privacy. If you don't want to be on Facebook, you can leave or not sign up in the first place. Then your behavior will be your own private business, right?

"The new study presents powerful evidence that the answer to that question is no."

A recent article, from the University of Vermont, in Tech Xplore reported on this study that was published this month in the journal Nature Human Behavior.

To access a copy of the Tech Xplore article, please visit:

Tech Xplore: Study: On Facebook and Twitter your privacy is at risk - even if you don't have an account (21 JAN 19)

Related Media report:

Phys.org: Worried about your Facebook data? (26 MAR 18)

The Chords: "Sh-Boom"

To follow up on the previous doo wop post, I offer this presentation of The Chords presenting "Sh-Boom":

Doo Wop

A number of people are aware that I like many genres of music. One of my favorite types of music is doo wop.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines doo-wop as a "style of rhythm and blues popularized in the 1950s and characterized by words and nonsense syllables sung in harmony by small groups against a stylized rhythmic melody." This seems to be as good an introduction as any.

For additional background information, please visit:

Wikipedia: Doo-wop

History of Rock: The Doo-Wop Sound

Doo Wop Preservation League

Sam Houston State University Department of Library Science: Doo-Wop

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of the interconnectedness of everything.

Fr. Ron Rolheiser on the Interconnectedness of Everything

"Everything is of one piece. Whenever we don't take that seriously, we pay a price.

"The renowned theologian, Hans Urs Von Balthasar gives an example of this. Beauty, he submits, is not some little 'extra' that we can value or denigrate according to personal taste and temperament, like some luxury that we say we cannot afford. Like truth and goodness, it's one of the properties of God and thus demands to be taken seriously as goodness and truth. If we neglect or denigrate beauty, he says, we will soon enough begin to neglect other areas of our lives. Here are his words:

"'Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking then along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name, as if she were an ornament of a bourgeois past, whether he admits it or not, can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.'"

In a recent commentary, Father Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I. reflected on the interconnectedness of everything and on how, if we separate a thing from its sisters, we soon pay a price.

To access Father Ron's complete post, please visit:

The Boston Pilot: Echoes: Snake-bitten (23 JAN 19)

Reflection Starter from Jean Paul

"Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good action; try to use ordinary situations." - Jean Paul

28 January 2019

Charlotte Church: "Panis Angelicus"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of Charlotte Church presenting "Panis Angelicus" (which was composed by St. Thomas Aquinas):

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the vocation to which You have called each of us individually.

Bishop Tobin on the Insight of St. Francis de Sales

"St. Francis de Sales was a bishop and eminent teacher of the faith whose life bridged the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His most famous work, 'The Introduction to the Devout Life' contains remarkable insights for Christian living.

"For example, there's this passage that occurs in the Office of Readings on his feast day, January 24th: 'When God the Creator made all things, he commanded the plants to bring forth fruit each according to its own kind. He has likewise commanded Christians, who are the living plants of his Church, to bring forth the fruits of devotion, each one in accord with his character, his station and his calling.'"

In a recent commentary based on the writings of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on the importance of staying faithful to our vocation (whether it be clergy, consecrated religious, marriage, or the single life), valuing what the Lord has called us to do, and combining our daily activity with fervent prayer.

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

The Imitation of Christ: The Insight of St. Francis de Sales (24 JAN 19)

Reflection Starter from St. Thomas Aquinas

"If, then, you are looking for the way by which you should go, take Christ, because He Himself is the way." - Saint Thomas Aquinas, whose memory the Church celebrates today (28 January).

27 January 2019

Catholic Schools Week

This week, the week of 27 January-2 February, is being observed as Catholic Schools Week. The theme for this year's observance of Catholic Schools Week is "Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed."

This theme is designed to encompasses the core products and values that can be found in Catholic schools across the country. Not only are they teaching students to become future servant leaders, faith-filled disciples, and enriched citizens in our communities, but the schools' educators are growing with them. In Catholic schools, each student teacher, administrator, other staff member, and volunteer is a learner, servant and leader. These shared qualities are what make Catholic schools work and they are what make Catholic schools succeed..

The logo is designed to bring the theme to life. The open book, made up of multi-colored pages, symbolizes how all areas of Catholic schools blend together, with faith - symbolized by the cross - at the forefront. Catholic schools are vibrant, dynamic, and excellent.

For more information related to this year’s observance, please visit:

NCEA: National Catholic Schools Week

Transformation: Drug Dealer to Mayor

"For 31-year-old Jermaine Wilson of Leavenworth, Kansas, going back to his childhood is a bad trip.

"'I used to sell a lot of drugs out here, right there in apartment 4,' he said.

"He started using at age 11 and was in juvenile detention by 15. By 21, he was in the maximum-security wing at Lansing Correctional, a state prison in Kansas.

"It was there that the convicted drug-dealer came to the most important realization of his life."

A recent CBS Evening News “On the Road” report profiled Jermaine Wilson's transition from dug dealer to mayor of Leavenworth, a journey he "credits to God, education, and volunteer work."

To access the complete CBS Evening News report, please visit:

CBS Evening News: On the Road: Man who was once in prison's maximum-security wing is now a mayor (25 JAN 19)

Brenda James: "The Joy Of The Lord Is My Strength"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of Brenda James presenting "The Joy Of The Lord Is My Strength":

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:12-30; and Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21. The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 19 (Psalm 19:8-10, 15).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 19 Your Words O Lord are Spirit and Life

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 27, 2019)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (January 27, 2019) 

Community in Mission: On the Wonder of the Word of God - A Homily for the 3rd Sunday of the Year (26 JAN 19)

Crossroads Initiative: Catholics and Bible Study

The Sacred Page: Jesus Proclaims the Jubilee: The 3rd Sunday of OT (24 JAN 19)

The Sacred Page: Jesus' First Sermon in Nazareth [Part 1] (The Mass Readings Explained) (21 JAN 19)

St. Paul Center: New Day Dawns: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Word on Fire: Learning Who We Are (Cycle C * Ordinary Time * Week 3)

Spirituality of the Readings: New Eras (Third Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

In Exile: The Church's Economic-Social Teachings (Third Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Scripture on Scripture (Third Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

The Word Engaged: Justice Done in Faith (Third Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Historical Cultural Context: The Synagogue Scenario (Third Sunday of Ordinary Time C) 

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

Thank You, Lord

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

Msgr. Pope on Handling the Word of God with Care

"The first reading from last Saturday's daily Mass reminds us of the power that the Word of God can have in our lives if we listen to or read it with devotion. It also reminds us that God's Word is like a scalpel with which to cut away evil.

"Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account (Heb 4:12-13).

"The Word of God prunes or cuts away our error by shining the light of truth on our foolishness and worldliness; it exposes our sinfulness and our silly preoccupations. It lays bare our inordinate self-esteem and all the sinful drives that flow from it: pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. A steady diet of God’s Word purifies our mind, reordering it gradually." 

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on how the Word of God prunes or cuts away our error, gives us greater discernment/helps us to see more clearly, and how it must be handled with respect and care. 

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

Community in Mission: The Word of God: Handle with Care (21 JAN 19)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Let us look at our hands, often so empty of love, and today let us try to think of some gift we can offer freely." - Pope Francis

26 January 2019

The Edsels: "Rama Lama Ding Dong"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of  The Edsels presenting "Rama Lama Ding Dong":

Covington, KY, Catholic High School Students Wrongly Attacked in Press

Students of Covington Catholic High School (Covington, KY) recently were berated in various media reports for what was thought to be racist behavior toward a Native American after they participated in the 2019 National March for Life on Friday, 18 January. When facts were examined more closely (included review of other video evidence), the truth of the matter was quite different.

Media reports:

The Atlantic: The Media Must Learn From the Covington Catholic Story (23 JAM 19)

National Catholic Register: Covington Bishop Apologizes to Covington Catholic Students (25 JAN 19)

National Catholic Register: Publisher's Note: Young People March for Life, Mainstream Media Rush to Judgment (25 JAN 19)

National Catholic Register: Editorial: Covington Catholic: A Cautionary Tale for Our Times (25 JAN 19)

Breitbart : Covington Catholic High School Student Nick Sandmann: 'I Was Not Going to Become Angry ... I Am a Faithful Christian' (20 JAN 19)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing our dedicated public servants in the various government ministries - local, state, and national.

Dr. Conor Sweeney on Faith Immersion and Evangelizing the Culture

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that Catholics today will argue about the best way to evangelize the culture.

"One of the more typical approaches puts a high premium on what you might call a 'go get 'em' style of evangelization, one that prioritizes the outward-looking character of evangelical activity. As Bishop Robert Barron recently put it, it means leaving the idyllic 'domesticity' of the Shire with a faith 'that goes out.' The contemplative and mystical aspects symbolized by the Shire are acknowledged, but the gold standard of evangelization ends up being what happens once we leave our hobbit holes and face the culture 'head-on.' Bilbo and Frodo truly find themselves only after they leave the comforts of the Shire.

"There is great truth in this. The 'going out' dimension of missionary activity is quite obviously implied in the Great Commission itself: 'Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit' (Matt 28:19).

"And yet I wonder if all going-out has a good deal more to do with 'staying in' than we might think. . . ."

In a recent commentary, writer Dr. Conor Sweeney reflected on the importance of immersion in our faith culture (including "the distinctively liturgical and sacramental form of lived Christian existence") in order to be an effective Christian witness in the world.

To access Dr. Sweeney's complete post, please visit:

Catholic World Report: The Dispatch: On evangelizing the culture and why hobbits (really) need the Shire (17 DEC 18)

Reflection Starter from Josh Billings

"The trouble with people is not that they don't know but that they know so much that ain't so." - Josh Billings

25 January 2019

Plastic Trash on Beach Inspires Westerly, RI, Artist

"Artist Elizabeth Ellenwood has always spent time on beaches and has long been fascinated 'with the ocean and the creatures who inhabit it.'

"'I've always loved the beach,' said Ellenwood, a Westerly native who grew up in the Daytona Beach area of Florida and lived in Boston for a number of years before moving back to the area with her musician husband last year. 'Our family spent a lot of time on the beach and we always had that 'leave it better than you found it' belief.'

"'My father was a boat captain,' she added. 'He taught us to respect the ocean and the waters.' She was surprised, therefore, to find so much trash on the beautiful beaches of Westerly.

"In her walks along East Beach and Napatree, she gathered the litter: Whether it was a crushed can, a discarded water bottle, a plastic bag, a toy soldier or a piece of a balloon, Ellenwood would stoop to pick it up and bring it home."

A recent article in The Westerly Sun profiled Ms. Ellenwood and the artwork that resulted from the trash she found.

To access the Westerly Sun complete report, please visit:

The Westerly Sun: Westerly artist finds inspiration in plastics discarded at the beach (6 JAN 19)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for entertainment personalities who actively participate in worthy causes.

The Song That Saved a Life

It's rare that a song literally saves a life, but that was the case with actress/singer Jen Lilley's debut single "King of Hearts." In fact, she orchestrated it that way because she is a foster parent with a deep passion for children's causes.

Until now, Lilley has been best known for her work in front of the camera on shows like General Hospital, Days of Our Lives, and several Hallmark Channel movies. I interviewed her last year, and we discussed her deep Christian faith and charity-focused life. When "King of Hearts" was released, I chatted with her again to find out more about this new venture.

She recalled, "I started singing when I was nine, but I wasn't confident singing in front of people, unless it was worship. I helped lead worship at my church for years, so that was comfortable because . . . the attention is on God, not on the singer - or at least it shouldn't be. I have stage fright, so I put [music] on the back burner, and pursued acting because I'm not afraid of the camera."

After meeting a music producer who brought out the best in her, they started the process of writing and producing songs with a retro 60s vibe, reflecting the kind of feel-good music Lilley wanted to put out into the world. As "King of Hearts" was getting ready to launch, Lilley knew she wanted the proceeds to benefit a worthy cause, so she chose Project Orphans, a children's village in Uganda for orphans and kids in foster care.

At first, Lilley wanted to help cover their monthly operating costs, which would help 73 children and 300 families. But then she saw that a boy named John needed heart transplant surgery that would cost $6,500. That seemed like a manageable goal to Lilley, so she invited her fans to buy her single and save a life.

Lilley said, "We raised the money for John and for their monthly operations through March. My long-term goal is to start my own charity here in the States in order to have a village like that. I'm still talking to doctors and psychologists to figure out what's best for children. My idea is to maybe have a subdivision of foster homes that are 'foster to adopt,' so it's a bunch of amazing parents that are in it for the right reasons, that are committed to loving these children. Then if the children become available for adoption . . . they'll be placed in a home where they can find permanency, and they're not just aging out of the system. That’s a long-term goal, but I always want my music to do something charitable, because I think that's what life is about."

Foster parenting is close to Lilley's heart because she and her husband are foster parents themselves and are now in the process of adopting the son that has been with them for more than two years. In addition, they've welcomed his little brother into their home. Lilley recalled that, initially, she was hoping for a child who was elementary school age, but that plan didn't go through so the agency asked them to take in a four-month-old boy with special needs. Lilley felt reluctant to do so, but ultimately agreed. She now calls it "God's divine appointment."

She concludes, "That process ever since has been the most rewarding, emotionally stretching, and spiritually stretching journey of my life. I would do it again, 100 times over, and I hope to foster until I die."

This essay is a recent "Light One Candle" column by Tony Rossi, Director of Communications, The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.

Background information:

The Christophers

Project Orphans

Jen Lilley official website

Reflection Starter from Meister Eckhart

"God is at home, it's we who have gone out for a walk." - Meister Eckhart

24 January 2019

Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 3 in F major

It's time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 3 in F major (Op. 90) by the Orchestra of the University of Music FRANZ LISZT Weimar (conducted by Nicolás Pasquet):

Saint Francis De Sales

As a number of people are aware, one of my favorite saints is Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622), whose feast day is celebrated today.

Bishop of Geneva,  he was the author of a number of books and pamphlets (including An Introduction to the Devout Life and Treatise on the Love of God). He also wrote a number of letters (mainly to give spiritual direction to one or more individuals).

He was noted for his goodness, patience, and mildness. He also tried to live with the greatest economy (including eating plain food and keeping his household simple), in order to be able to provide more abundantly for the wants of the needy.

Besides his being patron saint of journalists and writers, one of the things that drew me to him and his spirituality was that he believed holiness was something for every one, no matter what his/her status in life.

"Go courageously to do whatever you are called to do. If you have any fears, say to your soul: 'The Lord will provide for us.' If your weakness troubles you, cast yourselves on God, and trust in him. The apostles were mostly unlearned fishermen, but God gave them learning enough for the work they had to do. Trust in him, depend on his providence; fear nothing." - Saint Francis de Sales

For additional information, please visit:
The Vatican: Pope Benedict XVI on St. Francis de Sales (2 MAR 11)

Saint Francis de Sales: An Introduction to the Devout Life

"I wish to recall the figure of St Francis de Sales, whom the Liturgy commemorates on 24 January. Born in Savoy in 1567, he studied law in Padua and Paris and then, called by the Lord, became a priest. He dedicated himself to preaching and to the spiritual formation of the faithful with great success. He taught that the call to holiness was for everyone and that each one as St Paul says in his comparison of the Church to the body has a place in the Church. St Francis de Sales is the patron Saint of journalists and of the Catholic press.” – Pope Benedict XVI (during the Angelus, Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 24 January 2010)

(Note: For the past several years, the Pope has signed the annual papal message for World Communications Day on the feast day of Saint Francis de Sales. and entrusted the message to his prayers.)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of people sharing their faith stories.

Jenny Eubbing on the Power of Story Telling in Evangelization

"I tend to lean pretty far in the self disclosing direction when I share here on the blog. I've pulled back a little bit as the kids have gotten older as far as the specifics I share about them, images, etc, but I'm still a fairly open book with my own story. I share bits about our marriage that Dave approves, but for the most part I'm a one woman show in this space.

"The reason I share so much about my own life and my ongoing conversion is because I believe so deeply in the power of story.

"When I was reawakening to the truth towards the end of my first run through college (I basically had two separate college experiences - 4 years at CU Boulder where I did my level best to uphold the party school reputation, and 3 years at Franciscan University of Steubenville where I finished my BA and started my MA) much of the awakening happened while listening to CDs and tapes (this was pre podcast era, people) of other people's conversion stories."

In a recent commentary, writer Jenny Eubbing reflected on the power of story in sharing one's faith and related experiences.

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

Mama Needs Coffee: Evangelizing with your story (17 JAN 19)

Reflection Starter from St. Francis de Sales

"Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself." - Saint Francis de Sales

23 January 2019

André Rieu: "Nearer, My God, to Thee"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra presenting "Nearer, My God, to Thee":

On Requiring Education in Financial Literacy

"Do Americans know how to manage money? Some of the statistics aren't encouraging. About 63 percent of the nation’s residents could not pass a basic financial literacy quiz. According to the Federal Reserve Board, 40 percent of U.S. adults don't have enough savings to cover a $400 emergency.

"This reality has prompted some to wonder whether students are learning enough about how to manage money. According to the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College, they're not.

"In 2017, the center gave 27 states a grade of C, D or F on 'their efforts to produce financially literate high school graduates.' . . ."

(Editor's Note: In New England, Maine and New Hampshire each received a grade of B; Vermont received a grade of D; and Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island received a grade of F.)

"Recently, several states have made financial literacy lessons more of a priority for students even before they’re old enough to get a job."

A recent Governing Magazine article reported on the challenges of increasing financial literacy on various levels.

To access the complete Governing article, please visit:

Governing: As States Require Financial Literacy, How Early Should Schools Teach It? (23 JAN 18)

Background information:

Center for Financial Literacy: National High School Financial Literacy Report: Making the Grade 2017

Brookings: Are states providing adequate financial literacy education?

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of good spiritual mentors.

Br. Philip Nolan, O.P., on Becoming Spiritually Ambidextrous

"Saint Paul often distinguishes between desires of the flesh and desires of the spirit, between those desires that entangle us with sin and those that draw us to God. These are at war within us, such that often we feel like St. Paul, who says 'I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do' (Rom 7:19). Despite our repeated failures to do the good, our felt need to 'seek peace and pursue it' (Ps 34:14) spurs us to look for some sort of resolution. 

"John Cassian, whose Conferences were among St. Dominic's favorite reading, writes that we can pursue this interior peace by becoming spiritually ambidextrous. What does he mean? . . ."

In a recent commentary, Brother Philip Nolan, O.P., reflected on the of and the process of becoming spiritually ambidextrous.

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

Dominicana: Spiritually Ambidextrous (23 JAN 19) 

Reflection Starter from Brenda Ueland

"This is what I learned: that everybody is talented, original and has something important to say." - Brenda Ueland

22 January 2019

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of telephone service (landline and mobile).

Bishop Tobin on Stirring Our Faith into Flame

"I have a working fireplace at home, a comforting convenience in the cold, dark days of winter. It's not used often, but mostly during the holidays or when I have visitors.

"A few weeks back, when a fire had been burning for a while and was just about dead, I took a fireplace tool, poked the log until it fell apart, and then stepped back and watched the fire burst into a robust mini-inferno. Impressive, I thought, how much energy was left in that nearly-spent log.

"And I also thought about the words of St. Paul to Timothy: 'I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self-control.' (II Tim 1: 6-7) And then it occurred to me - there still must be a lot of energy in the Church too, if only we could bring the flame to life again."

In a recent commentary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on the importance of stirring our faith into flame
To access Bishop Tobin's complete essay, please visit:

The Imitation of Christ: Stir Into Flame (17 JAN 19)

Reflection Starter from Bertrand Russell

"The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper." - Bertrand Russell

21 January 2019

2019 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

This week, the week of 18-25 January, is being observed as the 2019 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an observance begun in 1908. The octave ends on the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle. This year's theme is "Justice, Only Justice, You Shall Pursue" (based on Deuteronomy 16:20).
2019 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of heat in our homes, church, schools, and places of work.

Msgr. Pope on on a Sermon of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we commemorate on Monday, is best known as a civil rights leader who worked to end racial injustice, but he had other things to say as he preached each Sunday, first in his own assembly and later as he spoke around the country.

"Among his recorded sermons is one in which Dr. King addressed the problem of unbelief, of materialism and atheism. His reflections are well worth pondering today because the problem is even more widespread now than it was when he made these remarks in 1957. A complete transcript of the sermon is available here: The Man Who Was a Fool.

"In this sermon, Dr. King commented on Jesus' parable of the wealthy man who had a huge harvest and, instead of sharing it, just built bigger barns to hold the excess. The Lord called him a fool for thinking that his material wealth could provide security."

In recent commentaries, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on Dr. King's homily including his point that Jesus, in part, called the rich man a fool because he failed to realize his dependence on God.

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

Community in Mission: A Reflection on a Sermon of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Refuting Atheistic Materialism (20 JAN 19)

Reflection Starter from Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The time is always right to do what is right." - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

20 January 2019

Benjamin Sutton on the Catholic Church's Art Patronage

"Amid the Christmas celebrations at the Vatican last month, four artists working in St. Peter's Square transformed 720 tons of sand into a sweeping, 52-foot-wide nativity scene. Impressive though the result was - a sculptural triptych with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph flanked by an angel, farm animals, the three wise men, and some well-wishers, all rendered in granular detail - it was a far cry from the thousands of treasures hanging nearby in the Vatican's towering basilica and the complex of museums beyond.

"For centuries, the Catholic Church was one of the world's most important collectors and patrons of art, but in recent decades, the Vatican's holiday nativity scene has often been one of its most high-profile artistic contributions. This shift didn't happen overnight - or even in a generation - but across centuries, and it is inseparable from the evolution of modern European nations, the secularization of public life, and the rise of the art market."

In a recent commentary, writer Benjamin Sutton reflected on some of the changes in art patronage offered by the Catholic Church.

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

Artsy: What Happened to the Catholic Church's Art Patronage (10 JAN19)

"Songs of Thankfulness and Praise"

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of "Songs of Thankfulness and Praise":

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Isaiah 62:1-5, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, and John 2:1-11. The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 96 (Psalm 96:1-3, 7-10).

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

YouTube: Psalm 96: Proclaim His Marvelous Deeds

The Gospel reading is as follows:

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine."

And Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come."

His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you."

Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the them, "Fill the jars with water."

So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter."

So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from - although the servers who had drawn the water knew -, the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now."

Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (January 20, 2019)

Community in Mission: Biblical Basics about Mother Mary – A Homily for the Second Sunday of the Year (19 JAN 19)

Crossroads Initiative: Wedding Feast at Cana - Sign of Transformation

The Sacred Page: The Bridegroom Revealed: The 2nd Sunday of OT (18 JAN 19)

The Sacred Page: The Wedding at Cana (The Mass Readings Explained) (14 JAN 19)

St. Paul Center: In the Wedding: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Word on Fire: The First of the Signs (Cycle C * Ordinary Time * Week 2)

Spirituality of the Readings: His Delight (Second Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

In Exile: The Mary of Scripture and the Mary of Devotions (Second Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: The Bridegroom is Here (Second Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

The Word Engaged: Lovely in Eyes Not His (Second Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Historical Cultural Context: Jesus and His Mother (Second Sunday of Ordinary Time C) 

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Maximus of Turin (Second Sunday of Ordinary Time C)