30 April 2019

National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day

This day, 30 April, is being observed as National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, an observance designed to call attention to the plight of unwanted dog and cats in animal control facilities and other animal shelters in the United States.

Background information:

The Shelter Pet Project

Animal Behavior College: National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day

The Humane Society of the United States

On the Societal Benefits of Marriage

"Marriage has major benefits for children, adults, and society as a whole, said a marriage scholar this week, and the poor and less educated are suffering most from the widening class divide between those who get married and those who don't.

"'What we're seeing today in America is that upper middle-class Americans are much more likely to get and stay married compared to less educated, working class Americans - that's the marriage divide in brief,' Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociology professor and director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, told CNA April 9.

"This divide in family structure is not just a private matter."

A recent National Catholic Register article reported on the changes in the status of marriage in the United States and on some of the consequences of these changes.

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

National Catholic Register: In a Changed Country, Poor Americans Miss the Benefits of Marriage Most (11 APR 19)

Terry MacAlmon: "Alleluia"

As this blessed week continues, I offer this version of Terry MacAlmon presenting "Alleluia":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the Good News proclaimed by the Gospel message.

Br. Charles Marie Rooney, O.P., on the Bell's Ring Being Heard

"To this day, I remain struck by the ending of Chris Van Allsburg's children's classic, The Polar Express, when Sarah, the narrator's sister, finds one last gift under the tree and - lo and behold - it is the lost bell from Santa's sleigh! It is not so much the finding of the bell but the reaction it elicits that is moving: when the children shake the bell, their parents shrug, 'that's too bad.' 'It's broken,' they say, for they hear not its ring, which makes 'the most beautiful sound my sister and I had ever heard.'

"At some level, every Christian knows the unease that underlies the concluding reflection of Van Allsburg's narrator, and particularly at Easter. We exult in the glory of Christ's Resurrection - in the unfathomable love that his saving work manifests to mankind - and yet, looking out at the world, we see so many who seem to offer but a deaf shrug to the Good News heralded by the bells at the Easter Vigil Gloria.'"

In a recent commentary, Brother Charles Marie Rooney, O.P., reflected on the process of addressing these concerns and proclaiming the Good News of Christ's Resurrection..

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

Dominicana: May the Bell's Ring Be Heard (29 APR 19)

Reflection Starter from A. C. Benson

"Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene." - A. C. Benson

29 April 2019

The Crests: "Step by Step"

It's time for some more doo wop. Here is a presentation of "Step by Step" by The Crests:


Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for each amazing day You give us.

Bishop Tobin on the Faith of a Teenage Skeptic

"Dear Bishop Tobin: Ever since I was a child I was a skeptic. I had no hope and didn't believe anything. But now I am ready to be confirmed. It all changed when I started doing service hours and saw people helping others, out of only the kindness in their hearts. It made me realize that only real love could inspire such generosity and kindness, a love felt by those who accept Jesus into their hearts. My attitude changed quickly and I started acting with God in my mind and heart, and now I can’t picture life without my faith.

"That's the core of a letter I received from a 16-year-old student preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on the importance of doing concrete, positive things that are motivated by our commitment to Christ.

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

The Imitation of Christ: The Faith of a Teenage Skeptic (25 APR 19)

Reflection Starter from e. e. cummings

"I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes." - Edward Estlin Cummings (e. e. cummings)

28 April 2019

Annie Karto: "Divine Mercy Flood My Soul"

As we continue our Sunday (and Easter) celebration, I offer this version of Annie Karto presenting "Divine Mercy Flood My Soul":

Second Sunday of Easter (or Sunday of Divine Mercy)

Today the Church celebrates the Second Sunday of Easter (or Sunday of Divine Mercy. The assigned readings are Acts 5:12-16; Revelation 1:9-11A, 12-13, 17-19; and John 20:19-31. The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 118 (Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 118 Give Thanks to the Lord for He is Good

The Gospel reading is as follows:

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not  believe."

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Second Sunday of Easter (April 28, 2019)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Second Sunday of Easter (April 28, 2019) 

Community in Mission: From Fear to Faith - A Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter (27 APR 19)

The Sacred Page: Divine Mercy Sunday (The Mass Readings Explained) (22 APR 19)

St. Paul Center: Breath of New Life: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Second Sunday of Easter

Word on Fire: Apokalypsis (Cycle C * Easter * Week 2)

Catholic News Agency: Pope Francis: Divine Mercy is found in Christ's wounds (28 APR 19)

Spirituality of the Readings: A Leap of Faith (Second Sunday of Easter C)

In Exile: Dark Nights of Faith in Our Lives (Second Sunday of Easter C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Being Saved (Second Sunday of Easter C)

The Word Encountered: Forgiveness (Second Sunday of Easter C)

Historical Cultural Context: Believing Without Seeing (Second Sunday of Easter C)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Augustine of Hippo (Second Sunday of Easter C)

O Happy Day, Addy

This is a special day for granddaughter Adalynn, who is receiving Holy Communion - our Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist - for the first time. May this day be filled with an outpouring of the Lord's choicest blessings, and may you always stay close to Him, Addy!

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for those people around us who respond to needs/concerns with the gifts (whatever they may be) You have given them.

Msgr. Pope on Doing Something When Feeling Overwhelmed

"The commercial below depicts the common problem of feeling overwhelmed by the all of the need we see around us. There is so much neediness, yet we don't have sufficient resources to help in every effort or to donate to every worthy cause. 

"The commercial rightly concludes that we can address this feeling by doing. In other words, while we cannot do everything, we can surely do something. What that 'something' is requires discernment. What are my gifts? What are the needs I am best positioned to help with? . . ." 

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the discernment process involved when one is faced with needs/concerns that must/should be addressed.

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

Community in Mission: Doing Something Even Though Everything Is Needed (26 APR 19)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"If we open our hearts to mercy and we seal forgiveness with a fraternal embrace, we proclaim before the world that it is possible to overcome evil with good." - Pope Francis

27 April 2019

"He Lives!"

As we continue our Easter celebration and as this blessed week comes to a close, I offer this version of "He Lives!":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of municipal parks.

Dr. Jeffrey Mirus on St. Francis de Sales' Recommendation Spiritual Fasting

"At the very end of Lent I discovered the sermon given on Ash Wednesday of the year 1622 by St. Francis de Sales. Better late than never! This sermon was given as part of a series to the religious women in the Order of the Visitation, or the Visitandines, which St. Francis founded with St. Jane Frances de Chantal. The subject of the sermon was the need to 'fast with our whole heart, that is to say, willingly, whole-heartedly, universally and entirely.' . . .

"Why do I bring this up now, at the beginning of the Easter season? It is not only because I just discovered the sermon. Rather, it is because I fear that, until we recognize the importance of this concept of universal fasting, our penitential practices will bear very little fruit. What we learn in Lent, I think, must become the foundation for the spiritual life all year round. The notion of universal fasting can become a key to overcoming habitual sins so that more rapid spiritual growth is possible."

In a recent commentary, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus, President of CatholicCulture.org, reflected on the importance of fasting from non-essentials "to get to the very heart of things - which is where we find God."

To access his complete post, please visit:

Catholic Culture: Even at Easter? On spiritual fasting, according to St. Francis de Sales (25 APR 19)

Reflection Starter from Emily Dickinson

"They say that God is everywhere, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse." - Emily Dickinson

26 April 2019

The Singing Contractors: "Because He Lives"

As our Easter celebration continues, I offer this version of The Singing Contractors presenting "Because He Lives":

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Tomorrow (Saturday, 27, April) the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is again coordinating a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcement agencies (including many agencies throughout New England) to remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from medicine cabinets. The free event will be held from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. These sites include (as of this writing) 75 in Connecticut, 154 in Maine, 191 in Massachusetts, 133 in New Hampshire, 28 in Rhode Island, and 67 in Vermont.

This Seventeenth National Take-Back Day is designed to provide an opportunity for the public to surrender expired, unwanted, or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications for destruction. These drugs are a potential source of supply for illegal use and are considered an unacceptable risk to public health and safety.

This one-day effort is designed to bring national focus to the issue of increasing pharmaceutical controlled substance abuse. The program is anonymous, and it focuses on prescription and over the counter solid dosage medications (i.e., tablets and capsules). Intravenous solutions, injectables, and needles will not be accepted. In addition, illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine are not a part of this initiative.

To view a list of collection sites in a specific state, please click on the following:

US DEA: National Take Back Initiative Collection Site Search

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of each type of weather You send our way.

"Alleluia is Our Song"

St. Augustine once said, "We are an Easter people and alleluia is our song!" What a beautiful reminder of the joy that accompanies this season of resurrection and redemption.

But being joyful isn't always easy, even during the Easter season. So how do we get beyond the things of this world that drag us down so we can more fully experience the joy of the Resurrection in our own lives?

Of course, Lent is a preparation for Easter in that we practice detachment in order to open ourselves to the gifts of the spirit. But transitioning from Lent to Easter can sometimes be a challenge. Gathering in celebration with family, friends, and loved ones can help awaken our Easter joy. Something to focus on in these gatherings is making others joyful. This is the way of Christ, to put our own cares aside in favor of serving the needs of others. Before we know it, we will have connected with Christ in such a deep way that the joy of Easter found in our own sacrifices will come alive.

Another way to awaken our Easter joy is to consider the many ways Christ has already affected resurrections in our own lives and in the world around us. Christ's Resurrection is both a miraculous and an historical event, demonstrating that sin and death have been completely overcome. But we don't need to wait around for our own resurrection from the dead to be convinced of Christ's power at work in the world.

Think of the many times Christ has brought people and situations back from the brink. He does this in our lives all the time. He brings good out of bad situations. He rescues us from failure and opens new doors for us to pursue our own unique calling in life. Consider that, no matter what tragedies have occurred in our lives, each and every one of us stands at a point where God allows us to be for a very specific reason. And when we open our hearts to this reality, the future holds out amazing and life-changing possibilities.

Our Christopher News Note on Easter recounts the story of Benjamin Mofta, a Coptic Christian priest living in Egypt. One day, Mofta and his fellow Coptic priest Samaan Shehata were traveling to Cairo on a pastoral visit when an ISIS terrorist jumped in front of their vehicle and attacked them, injuring Mofta and killing Shehata. Far from allowing this horrible incident to cripple him with fear, Mofta explains, "I feel like I can move even more freely. I just do what God asks of me. Fear would make me passive. . . . I live my life with Christ. In Jesus, there is no fear of death. Father Samaan is in a good place now with Christ, whom he loves so much."

Consider the faith it must require to wake up every day in a world of such violence and persecution and stay committed to doing good. This is faith in the Resurrection. It's faith in a Christ who overcame death. But it's also faith in a Christ who can help us rise again from every tragedy and setback we face in this life. Living in this way is what it means to be an Easter people. So let's embrace the opportunity this season provides to realize the Risen Christ at work in our lives, to allow the joy of the Resurrection to enter our hearts, and to share that joy with everyone we meet.

This essay is this week's "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 John Ruskin

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather." - John Ruskin

25 April 2019

Preservation Week

This week, the week of 21-27 April, is being observed as Preservation Week, an initiative designed to connect communities through events, activities, and resources that highlight what communities can do, individually and together, to preserve their personal and shared collections.

According to the American Library Association, Libraries alone hold 3 billion items in various collections (63 percent of the whole). Uncounted additional items are held by individuals, families, and communities. These collections include books, manuscripts, photographs, prints and drawings, and objects such as maps, textiles, paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and furniture. They also include moving images and sound recordings that capture performing arts, oral history, and other records of creativity and history.

Background information:

American Library Association: Preservation Week

Facebook: Preservation Week

Heritage Health Index: A Public Trust at Risk:The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections (2005)

Michigan 911 Call for McDonald's Delivery

"A 5-year-old boy in Michigan tried to satisfy his fast food craving by dialing the only number he could on a deactivated cellphone: 911.

"When the dispatcher answered Iziah Hall's call early last Sunday morning, local station WZZM-TV reported, he explained his emergency.

"'Can you bring me McDonald's?' he asked."

A recent USA Today article reported on this 911 call and its related response by a Wyoming, MI, police officer who handled this welfare check dispatch.

To access the complete USA Today report, please visit:

USA Today: McDonald's emergency? Michigan boy calls 911 for fast-food delivery (21 APR 19)

Voice of Eden: “Up From the Grave He Arose”

As our Easter celebration continues, I offer this version of Voice of Eden presenting “Up From the Grave He Arose”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the peace that comes with resting in You.

Br. Nicholas Hartman, O.P., on the Sleep of the Saved

"Recounting his own reaction to the United States joining the United Kingdom in the Second World War in December 1941 - an act Winston Churchill perceived as a sure sign of eventual victory - the British prime minister wrote, 'Being saturated and satiated with emotion and sensation, I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful.'

"That such news conduced to good sleep is unsurprising. When we are in the midst of a struggle, news of a happy end begets a kind of interior peace or rest by quieting the turbulent forces within us. The peace Churchill described was, of course, imperfect, awaiting a more perfect peace that would come from victories in Europe and Japan in 1945. 

"Jesus similarly offers his disciples peace when he appears to them in today's Gospel: 'Peace be with you.'" 

In a recent commentary, Brother Nicholas Hartman, O.P., reflected on how, "assured of victory - of final peace - we now enjoy an imperfect peace in ourselves and in the Church." 

To access Br. Nicholas' complete post, please visit: 

Dominicana: The Sleep of the Saved (25 APR 19)

Reflection Starter from Mahatma Gandhi

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

24 April 2019

National Environmental Education Week

This week, the week of 22-26 April, is being observed as National Environmental Education Week, an observance designed to encourage use of the natural environment and real-world challenges to engage learners and deliver high-quality STEM education.

Background information:

National Environmental Education Foundation

"Easter Hymn" from Cavalleria Rusticana

As our Easter celebration continues, I offer this version of the "Easter Hymn" from Cavalleria Rusticana, as presented by the Old South Church Choir, directed by Harry L. Huff:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Your mother to us as our mother.

Bishop Tobin on Mary, Mother of Sorrows

"Anytime we stand at the foot of the Cross of Christ we find that we're not alone. Among others standing there are the Virgin Mary and the Beloved Disciple John. And if we listen attentively we hear Jesus say to Mary, 'Behold your son,' and to John, 'Behold your mother.' With those few words, Jesus gave Mary to us as a spiritual mother, a relationship that has been so fruitful for her children from the very beginning.

"Seeing Mary at the foot of the Cross we understand why one of her cherished titles is 'Mother of Sorrows.' It was on Calvary especially that the prophecy of Simeon was fulfilled, that because of her son, Mary too would be pierced by a sword. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on Mary standing at the foot of the cross and on the depth of her sorrow."

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

The Imitation of Christ: Standing with Mary at the Cross (18 APR 19)

Reflection Starter from Psalm 105

"Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name; make known among the nations his deeds. Sing to him, sing his praise, proclaim all his wondrous deeds." - Psalm 105:1-2

23 April 2019

Carol Lynn Miller on Thomas Aquinas' Teachings on Existence.

"The impact Aquinas made to the advancement of philosophical and theological thought is monumental, and he continues to influence the world today. Of the many topics Aquinas addressed, one topic that holds much spiritual and intellectual notice is his teaching on existence. Some days the question of why we exist seems difficult, hard, and daunting, however, Aquinas' answers the question with great joy, depth, and even beauty."

In a recent commentary, writer Carol Lynn Miller reflected on St. Thomas Aquinas' teachings on existence.

To access Ms. Miller's complete article, please visit:

Magis Center: What Does it Mean to 'Exist?' Aquinas Weighs-In

King's College Choir: "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today"

As we continue our Easter celebration, I offer this version of the King's College Choir presenting "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today":

Thank you, Lord

Thank you, lord, for the gift of Faith.

Msgr. Pope on the Journey to Resurrection Faith

"The Gospels of the Easter Octave describe not just an event but even more so a journey. It is tempting to think that the disciples and apostles, having seen the risen Lord, were immediately confirmed in their faith, stripped of all doubt. 

"That is not the case, however. Nearly all the resurrection accounts make it clear that although seeing the risen Lord was 'mind-blowing,' it was only a beginning. As it is with any human experience, no matter how intense, encountering the risen Lord was something that the disciples needed to process. They needed to come to live its implications in stages. 

"This description of a journey, of a coming to resurrection faith in stages, is presented in the resurrection accounts. We notice that the first awareness occurred 'when it was still dark' and 'at the rising of the sun.' It does not suddenly become fully light at dawn, however. Rather, the light manifests itself and increases over time; so it is with awareness of the resurrection. It begins to 'dawn”'on the disciples that He is Risen, truly; He has appeared to Simon.

"The first reports are sketchy and there is a lot of running around: Mary Magdalene to Peter and John, Peter and John to the tomb, the women to the rest of the apostles. Yes, there is an awful lot of running about! It is still dark, and the cobwebs of recent sleep aren't completely gone; the light is just dawning, not yet at full strength.

"The disciples wonder what it all means and how it has changed/will change their lives. The answers to questions like these will require a journey; they are not to be answered in a mere moment."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the journey experienced by the disciples of Jesus as they experienced and reflected on the Resurrection event and its follow up - and on our own journeys to Resurrection faith..

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

Community in Mission: Fearful Yet Overjoyed - The Journey to Resurrection Faith (21 APR 19)

Reflection Starter from St. John Paul II

"Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song." - Pope Saint John Paul II

21 April 2019

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings You bestow on us through Your Resurrection.

Msgr. Pope on the Dangers of Voluntarism

"Part of the reason for the mess we're in today is a philosophy called voluntarism. Some mistake this word for volunteerism, which refers to the use of volunteers or the willingness to be a volunteer, offering one's services in some capacity without compensation. Voluntarism is something quite different and is of the darkness.

"Voluntarism is the view that the will overrules the intellect and that truth is something asserted or willed rather than discovered by the intellect and proposed to the will for obedience. Voluntarism holds that something is true because one says it is so."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the dangers of engaging in voluntarism and on the importance of, when striving to remain sane in times like these, to "run to the true God, our Father, who loves us."

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

Community in Mission: Voluntarism, a Critical Error of Our Times (11 APR 19)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Today we contemplate the empty tomb of Christ and we hear the words of the angel: 'Do not be afraid! He is risen!'" - Pope Francis

20 April 2019

Hector Berlioz: “Resurrexit” from the Messe Solennelle

As this blessed Holy Week draws to a close, I offer this version of Hector Berlioz's “Resurrexit” from the Messe Solennelle, as p[resented by the Monteverdi Choir and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner:

Novena of Divine Mercy

In one of His apparitions to Sister (now Saint) Faustina, Jesus requested that the Feast of the Divine Mercy be preceded by a Novena to the Divine Mercy. This novena would begin on Good Friday and would have a special intention to pray for on each day.
Saint Faustina wrote in her diary that Jesus told her, "On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy. . . . On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls."
The intentions for each of these days are:
  • 1st day (Good Friday): all mankind, especially sinners;
  • 2nd day (Holy Saturday): the souls of priests and religious;
  • 3rd day (Easter Sunday): all devout and faithful souls; 
  • 4th day (Easter Monday): those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know Him;
  • 5th day (Easter Tuesday): the souls of separated brethren;
  • 6th day (Easter Wednesday): the meek and humble souls and the souls of children;
  • 7th day (Easter Thursday): the souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy;
  • 8th day (Easter Friday): the souls who are detained in purgatory; and
  • 9th day (Easter Saturday) : the souls who have become lukewarm.

For more information, please visit: 
EWTN: The Divine Mercy Novena

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of the many new people entering Your Church during this year's Easter Vigil.

Catholic Church in the United States Will Welcome Thousands of New Catholics at Easter Vigil Masses

Dioceses across the country will be welcoming thousands of people into the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil Masses on this evening. As the culmination of the Easter Triduum, the Vigil celebrates the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. While people can become Catholic at any time of the year, the Easter Vigil is a particularly appropriate moment for adult catechumens to be baptized and for already-baptized Christians to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. Parishes welcome these new Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Many of the dioceses across the nation have reported their numbers of people who intend to become Catholic on Saturday to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Based on these reports, more than 37,000 people are expected to be welcomed into the Church at Easter Vigil Masses.

Prior to beginning the RCIA process, an individual comes to some knowledge of Jesus Christ, considers his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and is usually attracted in some way to the Catholic Church. Then during the RCIA process, which typically lasts nine months or more, a person learns the teachings of the Catholic Church in a more formal way and discerns that he or she is ready to commit to living according to these beliefs. Thousands of people have already passed through this process and are ready to take this step on Saturday in parishes throughout the country.

Two distinct groups of people will be initiated into the Catholic Church. Catechumens, who have never been baptized, will receive Baptism, Confirmation and first Communion at the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil. Candidates, who have already been baptized in another Christian tradition, will enter the Church through a profession of faith and reception of Confirmation and the Eucharist.

For example, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest in the United States, will welcome 1,560 catechumens and 913 candidates; the Archdiocese of San Francisco will welcome 174 catechumens and 175 candidates; and the Diocese of San Diego will welcome 306 catechumens and 806 candidates.

Other archdioceses and dioceses report numbers as follows: Archdiocese of Boston: 288 catechumens, 182 candidates; Manchester: 50 catechumens; Worcester reports 95 catechumens, 34 candidates; Portland in Maine: 65 catechumens, 57 candidates; Springfield, MA: 43 catechumens, 56 candidates; Fall River: 43 catechumens, 65 candidates; and Bridgeport: 71 catechumens, 210 candidates.

Reflection Starter from Deacon Keith Fournier

"Through the stark and solemn Liturgy of the Friday we call 'Good', we stand at the Altar of the Cross where heaven is rejoined to earth and earth to heaven, along with the Mother of the Lord. We enter into the moment that forever changed - and still changes - all human History, the great self gift of the Son of God who did for us what we could never do for ourselves by in the words of the ancient Exultet, 'trampling on death by death'. We wait at the tomb and witness the Glory of the Resurrection and the beginning of the New Creation." -  Deacon Keith Fournier

19 April 2019

"Stabat Mater"

As we continue our Good Friday observance, I offer this version of Antonio Vivaldi's "Stabat Mater" as presented by the Netherlands Bach Collegium (conducted by Pieter van Leusink):

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

Today the Church celebrates Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion. The assigned readings are Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9; and John 18:1-19:42. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 31 (Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25).

Reflections on these readings and this day:

Community in Mission: Passiontide Chronology: Good Friday (18 APR 19)

The Deacon's Bench: When God Wept: The End of 'The Passion of the Christ' (19 APR 19)

The Deacon's Bench: On Christ's Seven Last Words: "They offer one final sermon on a mount, a lasting message of forgiveness and mercy" (2 APR 15)

The Miracle in Room 106

On September 5, 2018, 28-year-old Shannon Lapp faced death for the second time in her life.The first was a few weeks after her birth in 1990 when she was diagnosed with a rare and fatal liver disease. An innovative living donor transplant from her mother, Kelly Ann Hickey Lynch,saved her at that time. But doctors weren't sure if there was anything they could do for her a few months ago when she developed acute liver rejection and meningitis.

Shannon had been on anti-rejection medication all her life and got her blood tested regularly to make sure her liver was working correctly. In August, her blood work showed she was enduring acute liver rejection. The wife and new mother of an adopted baby boy was admitted into the hospital for a multi-day treatment that doctors compared to chemotherapy.

Treatments were going well until 3:00 a.m. on September 5th. Shannon woke up in excruciating pain, first in her head, then her entire body. When Kelly arrived, she was shocked at how quickly Shannon was deteriorating. She began posting prayer requests on Facebook, while doctors tried to figure out what was wrong. That’s when the word "meningitis" came up. When Kelly asked doctors if Shannon was dying, they couldn't look her in the eye. Kelly felt like she was watching her daughter endure an agony in the garden, but she relied on her Catholic faith to help her surrender to God's will.

At 5:30 in the afternoon, a priest named Father Ridley arrived. He had given Shannon the Anointing of the Sick the day before and wanted to check on her. She whispered to him, "I want to receive the Eucharist." Shannon let the host dissolve on her tongue.

Within one minute, the miracle in room 106 occurred. Shannon experienced relief from her pain. She recalled, "When I asked Father Ridley to receive the Eucharist . . . it didn't feel like it was a conscious decision on my end. It just came out, and I can't explain it . . . I think that it came directly from God." In addition, Shannon had a vision that standing at the four corners of her bed were three holy family friends who had passed away, along with a saint: Father Mychal Judge, Police Officer Steven McDonald, Father Cassian A. Miles, and St. Francis of Assisi. "I could see the four of them, and I just knew that I was going to be okay," she said.

Kelly attributes Shannon's survival to her receiving the Eucharist, as well as the prayers of others. She said, "People were on their knees in those moments. Those exact moments when this happened is when the rosary was taking place back home, and people everywhere, from all different denominations of faith, were on their knees praying for my daughter . . . It can't be a coincidence." In addition, said Kelly, "The following day, my husband asked two different doctors, one on the neuro team and one on the liver team . . . 'Have you ever seen a patient develop aseptic meningitis have as quick of a turnaround as you saw my daughter have last night?' Both doctors answered the same: 'Never.'"

Shannon’s health has improved since that fateful day, and her liver numbers remain down. And though she never took life for granted, she says, "I hug people a little longer now. I cherish the small moments, [like] feeding my son and he was laughing at me . . . It has put a lot of things into perspective for me and I'm very fortunate."

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

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for undergoing Your Passion for us.

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness. It is also reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us. Remember this: God, in judging us, loves us. If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned, not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns, he only loves and saves." - Pope Francis

18 April 2019

"Pange Lingua Gloriosi"

As we continue our celebration of Holy Thursday, I offer this version of "Pange Lingua Gloriosi", composed by Saint Thomas Aquinas:

Holy Thursday

Today the Church celebrates Holy Thursday. The day is celebrated as the beginning of the priesthood and the institution of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The assigned readings for the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper are Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; and John 13:1-15. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 116 (Psalm 116:12-13, 15-18).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 116 "Thanksgiving to a Faithful God Who Saves"

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Master, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later."

Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet."

Jesus answered him, "Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me."

Simon Peter said to him, "Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well."

Jesus said to him, "Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,  for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all." For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, "Not all of you are clean."

So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do."

Reflections related to this celebration:

Community in Mission: Passiontide Chronology: Holy Thursday (17 APR 19)

Community in Mission: The Seating Plan at the Last Supper (4 APR 12)

The Deacon's Bench: ‘Why Was This Beauty Built?’: Homily for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (17 APR 19)

Deacon Keith Fournier: Self Giving Love and Washing Feet (28 MAR 13)

Rome Reports: What does the Church celebrate on Holy Thursday? (4 APR 12)

National Catholic Register: Holy Thursday and Divine Mercy (18 APR 19)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the great gift of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Jennifer Roback Morse on Inflated Ego Syndrome and the Hazards of Celebrity

"A recent internet uproar over the behavior of a Catholic celebrity reminded me of an incident from my days as a graduate student in economics.

"During one class, my labor economics professor scraped his fingernails on the chalkboard. We all grimaced. He looked at the class and said dryly, 'Occupational hazard.'

"Yes, economists really do talk like that.

"The Catholic celebrity being uncharitable reminded me of these 'occupational hazards.' An inflated ego is a hazard of some occupations. No need to name this individual to make him look bad: He did that all by himself, without any help from me (or without any sense of irony.) The behavior pattern is the same, whether it is a political figure, a talking-head commentator, a pop star with an opinion or a Catholic celebrity you admire and think really ought to know better."

In a recent commentary, writer Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse reflected on "Inflated Ego Syndrome," selfishness, pride, and the importance of building people up and avoiding tearing people down.

To access her complete essay, please visit:

National Catholic Register: Inflated Ego Syndrome and the Hazards of Celebrity (15 APR 19)

Reflection Starter from St. John Paul II

"The washing of the feet and the sacrament of the Eucharist: two expressions of one and the same mystery of love entrusted to the disciples, so that, Jesus says, 'as I have done . . . so also must you do' (Jn 13: 15)." - Pope Saint John Paul II

17 April 2019

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

This week, the week of 14-20 April, is being observed as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

First sponsored in 1981, National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is designed to be a time to celebrate and thank the telecommunications personnel in the public safety community who dedicate their lives to serving the public.

Background information:

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

Facebook: National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings You have planned for us during the upcoming Holy Triduum.

Thomas McIntyre on Judas as the Gollum of the Gospels

"Unlike his friend, contemporary and fellow Inkling C.S. Lewis, Tolkien did not approve of nor employ direct allegory. In the Chronicles of Narnia, (contrary to what Liam Neeson would want you to be believe) Aslan IS Jesus. Lewis had the idea that if Jesus were to become incarnate, as He did on earth, in a world mostly populated by talking animals, He would do as a lion. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when Aslan tells Lucy that must remain in her world and not return to Narnia again. When her cousin Edmund asks him if he is also present in their world, Aslan responds 'I am. But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name.' That name is, of course, Jesus Christ.

"In The Lord of the Rings, there is not just one character who is analogous to a figure in salvation history. For example, he has three characters who personify different aspects of Our Lady. Galadriel is the powerful and beautiful 'Lady of Light' who represents Mary as Queen. Arwen, who chooses [to] marry Aragorn and bear his son, knowing that their deaths will cause her immeasurable sorrow, is the Sorrowful Mother. And Éowyn is the Woman ('No living man am I!') who fatally strikes at the serpent's (Dragon/'fell beast') head. . . .

"Similarly, Gollum/Sméagol rather clearly represents Judas Iscariot. He enters the service of Frodo and even refers to him as 'Master.' Yet, he betrays him. In the end, that betrayal enables Frodo to accomplish his mission"

In a recent commentary, writer Thomas J. McIntyre reflected on Divine Providence and how through it Judas was the Gollum of the Gospels.

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

Voyage Comics & Publishing: How Judas is the Gollum of the Gospels (17 APR 19)

Reflection Starter from Pearl Bailey

"I never really look for anything. What God throws my way comes. I wake up in the morning and whichever way God turns my feet, I go." - Pearl Bailey

16 April 2019

RI Bomb Squad Prepares Special Easter Eggs for Visually Impaired Children

"The typical bomb has four major components: a power source, a switch, an initiator and an explosive.

"The more than 100 special Easter eggs wired up by the Rhode Island Bomb Squad on Thursday have a similar mixture of components.

"But these eggs don't blow up.

"They beep. That means a child with a visual impairment can find them and experience the thrill of an Easter egg hunt by hearing rather than seeing the egg.

"Last year, following the lead of their counterparts in Texas, Rhode Island's squad wired up 25 of the eggs. The squad offered the eggs to families to use in their own Easter egg hunts."

A recent Providence Journal article reported on this outreach by the Technical Services Unit of the Office of State Fire Marshal (also known as the Rhode Island State Bomb Squad).

To access the complete Providence Journal report, please visit:

Providence Journal: R.I. Bomb Squad wires up Easter eggs for the visually impaired (11 APR 19)

Background information:

Rhode Island Department of Business Regulations: Office of State Fire Marshal:  Technical Services Unit

Fr. Victor Feltes on Lessons from the Sins of Peter and Judas

"[The] threefold denial by Simon Peter was perhaps the most regretted moment of his life. He denied even knowing Jesus Christ, his teacher, friend, Lord, and God. How humble Peter was to share this story with the Early Church and how wonderful that the Holy Spirit inspired its inclusion in the Gospels! He shows us the fallen can get back up, wanderers can return, sinners can be forgiven, and even those who gravely sin can go on to become the greatest saints.

"Jesus would go on to rehabilitate Peter after the Resurrection, alongside another charcoal fire by the Sea of Galilee. Mirroring the three denials, Jesus asks three times, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' Simon Peter replies, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you,' and Jesus reinstates him as shepherd of his sheep and lambs. The Sacrament of Reconciliation (or Confession) is likewise a personal encounter with Jesus Christ where we re-profess our love for God and receive his restoring forgiveness through the ministry of his ordained priest."

In a recent commentary, Father Victor Feltes (pastor of Saint Wenceslaus Parish, Eastman, WI) reflected on the sacrament of Reconciliation and on lessons we can learn from the sins of Peter and Judas.

To access Fr. Feltes' complete reflection, please visit:

Parishable Items: Lessons from the Sins of Simon Peter & Judas (9 APR 19)

NHTSA Releases Revised National EMS Scope of Practice Model

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released a revision of the 2007 National EMS Scope of Practice Model. The Model was developed by the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO), under contract with NHTSA and the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). This model is designed to represent the foundation for the knowledge and skills necessary for the four levels of EMS clinicians.

The 2019 version represents the first significant revision since the Model was first published. It identifies the minimum recommended practice expectations in advance of gaining field experience (and prior to supervised or individual work experience), not the limits for EMS practice determined by the state and/or EMS medical director. An expert panel considered data from a systematic review of literature, national evidence-based guidelines, and input from the EMS community over a period of 2 years. Rationale for specific changes are described in the document.

To access a copy of the document, please visit:

NHTSA: National EMS Scope of Practice Model 2019

Background information:

National Association of State EMS Officials

Audrey Assad: "Humble"

As we continue to live this Holy Week, I offer this version of Audrey Assad presenting "Humble":

National Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week

This week, the week of 14-20 April, is being observed as National Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week, an observance designed to celebrate and promote professionalism within the animal care and control field.

Background information:

National Animal Care & Control Association

NACA Guidelines

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings Your Divine Providence brings to us each day.

Br. Francis Mary Day, O.P., on the Suspense in Divine Providence

"Much has been written about the growth of secularism in the modern world, the future of religion in public life, and the appropriate Christian response. I would like to offer another perspective, trying to deal not so much with the details of the contemporary situation but of our disposition towards them. If Jesus Christ is the Lord of history, why does his Church appear to be in such a bind? To answer this question, I would like to take a walk through The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton. What follows will contain spoilers, but I hope it might provoke a few to read a better man in his own words."

In a recent commentary, Brother Francis Mary Day, O.P., reflected on some of the insights offered by The Man Who Was Thursday on the seeming inefficiency of Divine Providence and on how God, in His goodness, "has a flare for the dramatic, and his stories do not end with a whimper, but in a bang."

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

Dominicana: Suspense in the City of God (9 APR 19)

Reflection Starter from William Penn

"No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown." - William Penn

15 April 2019

A Reflection on Ways to Observe Holy Week

Catholic Digest recently shred a number of ways we can enhance our observance of Holy Week.

To access the complete Catholic Digest post, please visit:

Catholic Digest: Five Ways to Observe Holy Week

The Mystics: "Over The Rainbow"

It's time for some more doo wop. Here is a presentation of "Over The Rainbow" by The Mystics:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings You dispense through our encounter with Your Cross.

Bishop Tobin on Encountering the Cross in Our Lives

"After a recent diocesan event, a nice young lady approached me and handed me a little cross, a simple wooden cross with smooth, rounded edges, just a few inches long. She explained that her father had made it and wanted me to have it. The typed note attached to it called it a 'holding cross,' and explained that it was designed to be 'held in the palm of your hand when you pray' or when 'you are going through a difficult time in your life.' Holding the cross will 'remind you that you are not alone,' the note said.

"What a wonderful Christian ministry this gentleman has developed - spontaneously handing out little crosses to spread devotion to the cross, and to remind followers of Jesus that it can be a source of inspiration and consolation in trying times. It's a theme that’s surely central to the Christian Faith."

In a recent commentary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on some of the ways in which we may encounter the cross in our lives.

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

 The Imitation of Christ: The Holding Cross (11 APR 19)

Reflecttion Starter from Psalm 27

"The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life's refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?" - Psalm 27:1 (from today's Responsorial Psalm: Monday of Holy Week)

14 April 2019

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings You have in store for each of us during this Holy Week.

Msgr. Pope on the Multiplication of Troubles

"Sometimes when you’re having a bad day, troubles multiply; I’m not sure why. Perhaps one distraction leads to another, one trip leads to successive stumbles, until we fall headlong. It’s said that trouble comes in threes, but sometimes they come in even longer sequences. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on distractions and consequences that occur, often after making poor choices.
To access Msgr. Pope's complete post, please visit:

Community in Mission: When Troubles Multiply - As Seen on TV (12 APR 19)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"From the Cross, Jesus teaches us the powerful courage of renunciation. Because we will never go forward if we are weighed down by heavy loads." - Pope Francis