31 May 2019

Sergei Rachmaninoff: "Piano Concerto no. 3"

It's time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto no. 3 in D minor, Op. 18", as presented by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra with soloist Nikolai Lugansky, conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier:

National Dam Safety Awareness Day

Today, 31 May is being observed as National Dam Safety Awareness Day, an observance designed to encourage and promote individual and community responsibility and best practices for dam safety. Another important goal of National Dam Safety Awareness Day is to promote the benefits that dams offer.

On this date in 1889, the South Fork Dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania failed and over 2,200 lives were lost. In terms of loss of life, it is still the worst dam failure in the history of the United States.

Background information:

Association of State Dam Safety: National Dam Safety Awareness Day

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the "handle of faith" You offer us/provide for us each day.

A Collision of Lives in World War II

Though he had been a hero of World War II, Clarence Smoyer was living in obscurity in Allentown, Pennsylvania, until best-selling author and military historian Adam Makos visited him in 2012 on the advice of a college friend. Makos soon discovered that Clarence served as the lead tank gunner who helped liberate Cologne, Germany, from the Nazis in 1945. Clarence was also a man plagued by the mystery of a fatal encounter in the city's streets that involved a German tank gunner and an innocent civilian. That mystery would lead Makos, Clarence, and two of his Army buddies back to Germany to figure out the whole story - and ultimately befriend a former enemy.

During a Christopher Closeup interview about his latest best-seller Spearhead, Makos recalled that in 1944, at age 21, Clarence found himself in Nazi-occupied Belgium, serving with the U.S. Army's Third Armored Division on a job that ran counter to his natural, peaceful personality: tank gunner. He was the one who now had to pull the trigger in order to kill another human being. Far from developing any kind of bloodlust, Clarence's motivation was simply that he wanted to keep every member of his crew alive. That became increasingly difficult when his tank became the Spearhead, the lead tank going into battle.

One of the ways that Clarence dealt with fear was prayer. During a tense situation in the Battle of the Bulge, he started talking to God as if he were sitting next to him in the tank. He would either say to God, "Get me through this night" - or "Thank you for getting me through this day." It was a simple, yet profound way of connecting with his maker in the worst of circumstances.

Makos also explores the war's final days from the perspective of an 18-year-old German tank gunner named Gustav Schaefer, who he was also able to meet and interview: "Gustav [was] sent to stop Clarence. It's a suicide mission. He's sent with three other tanks against an American army. Gustav was just a farm kid from northern Germany. . . .He didn't want any part of World War II. And suddenly, he's being sent into Cologne, which Hitler had declared the city that was going to make the last stand for Germany."

It was there that Clarence crossed paths with Gustav, though they wouldn't actually meet until more than 65 years later. When Clarence and Gustav were fighting, a civilian named Kathi Esser drove through their gunfire and was killed. Makos said, "Her death propelled these two enemies, Clarence and Gustav, to not only seek each other out as old men, but to go back to Cologne in 2013, to reunite on the steps of the Cathedral - and then to go back to the place where they fought to try to find answers to, how did we shoot this young woman and how can we make amends for it? How can we seek forgiveness from her?"

Makos cherishes the time he spent with Clarence and Gustav - and how their story highlights the complexities of war. He concluded, "They were men who once fought each other, who once tried to kill each other. But at their core, they were good men and they became friends. They were buddies until the end (Gustav died in 2017). You follow them through the war and, in the end, you see them shaking hands and crying together. And then they become brothers. That's the ultimate war story as far as I'm concerned."

This essay is this week's "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

Reflection Starter from Henry Ward Beecher

"Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith." - Henry Ward Beecher

30 May 2019

International Drum Month

May is being observed as International Drum Month. In line with this observance, I offer this drum solo by Phil Collins:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of those who actively minister to persons who have mental health issues.

Joseph Pronechen on Devotion to Mary

"When Thomas Hogan was growing up in Newport, New Hampshire, his family prayed the Rosary together every night. But then came 'a stretch when I was not practicing my faith, and it was the Rosary that was the biggest thing I wanted to get away from,' he said. He didn't know why he avoided it, yet during that same time in high school, he made his Marian consecration 'kind of begrudgingly' because his godmother asked him to. He knew it would make her and his mother, Catherine, happy. 'My mom told me after I made it, 'You may not have taken your consecration seriously, but Our Lady did.''

"Two years later, in the living room, Hogan accidently knocked over his mother's statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. 'When I picked up the broken statue,' he remembers distinctly, 'I heard a voice very clearly in my heart say, 'This is what you're doing to me by running away.' That was a very powerful and eye-opening moment for me. My mom looked at me and said, 'I told you Our Lady took you seriously.''

"That wake-up call prompted Hogan to renew his praying of the Rosary and return to the faith - and like many other Catholics, it helped him discover the deep riches found in the Church's Marian devotions."

In a recent commentary, National Catholic Register staff writer Joseph Pronechen reflected on Mr. Hogan's deepening devotion to Mary and on why devotion to Mary is important..

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

National Catholic Register: Culture of Life: Want to Change Your Life? Go to Mary (26 MAY 19)

Reflection Starter from Benny Goodman

"After you've done all the work and prepared as much as you can . . . you might as well go out and have a good time." - Benny Goodman

29 May 2019

Jared Staudt on the Resurrection in Statues

"Statuary serves its role in the church primarily through the Crucifix: prominently displayed in almost every sanctuary and Catholic home. Although there are some statues of the Risen Christ, they do not find nearly as much prominence (and we won't even speak of the attempts to combine the imagery of the crucifixion and resurrection).

"Even in the fine arts, we find a dearth of sculpture depicting the Resurrection. As there is no shortage of paintings, there must be a reason in the medium itself. Sculptors must have hesitated to depict the movement and spiritual dynamism of the event, as well as the exit from the sepulcher and scene of soldiers. Medieval artists found it easier to depict the scene in relief, however, rather than free standing statues. . . ."

In a recent commentary, R. Jared Staudt, Ph.D., reflected on depictions of the Resurrection in statues.

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

Building Catholic Culture: The Resurrection in Stone (26 APR 19)

National Senior Health and Fitness Day

Today, 29 May, is being observed as the 26th annual National Senior Health & Fitness Day, an observance initiated with to help keep older Americans healthy and fit. The observance is held each year on the last Wednesday of May. This year’s theme is "Live and Thrive with Exercise!"

For more information about this observance, please visit:

National Senior Health & Fitness Day

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of Loyiso Bala, Neville D, and Ivan Siegelaar presenting "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus":

Thank You, Lord

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

Mary Jo Gerd on Things She Wished She Learned about The Church When She Was a Child

"'Pssst… Hey kid, c' mere. Wanna hear a secret?'

"This greeting should send chills down the spine of any parent, right? Under normal circumstances I'd agree, but what if it involved . . . say, a little time travel? And instead of a complete stranger, it was middle-aged me approaching a gawky, 12-year-old, pimply-faced version of myself?

"You're thinking I've been sampling the legalized weed that is regrettably ubiquitous in my home state of Colorado.

"In truth, I occasionally like to reimagine what my life might look like if I could have a heart-to-heart with that 12-year-old kid I used to be. What if I could share with her all that I've learned about the beauty and genius of the Catholic Church? What if I could shake her and tell her to take a plunge into the depth of her faith?"

In a recent commentary, writer Mary Jo Gerd reflected on  things about the Catholic faith she wishes she had learned as a child (including the importance of meeting the Church Fathers, of reading the Baltimore Catechism, and of frequently baring one's soul in the confessional).

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

Reflection Starter from Loren Eiseley

"God knows how many things a man misses by becoming smug and assuming that matters will take their own course." - Loren Eiseley

28 May 2019

The Danleers: "The Angels Sent You"

It's time for some more doo wop. Here is a presentation of "The Angels Sent You" by The Danleers:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of saintly relics.

Br. Irenaeus Dunlevy, O.P., on the Importance of Relics

"Why relics?

"It's a natural instinct to keep meaningful tokens. Anyone who has lost loved ones knows the impact of an old photo, a handwritten letter, or a crackling recorded message. In a way, the ones we have lost become present. Emotion rises along with memories and love's affection. An old book, jewelry, an article of clothing … we keep these things as mementos. With the saints, however, we not only keep things of the person, but we also keep the body of the person. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Brother Irenaeus Dunlevy, O.P., reflected on the importance of relics and reminds us that, "through venerating these relics, God bestows gifts on men."

To access Br. Pier’s complete post, please visit:

Dominicana: Why Relics? (24 MAY 19)

Reflection Starter from Heinrich Heine

"The arrow belongs not to the archer when it has once left the bow; the word no longer belongs to the speaker when it has once passed the lips." - Heinrich Heine

27 May 2019

Adam Johnson on the Healthy Effects of Laughter

"The last time you walked into a room full of laughing people, you most likely searched the room for a visible source of hilarity. You may have asked someone to explain the joke. Of course, people were too busy laughing to explain it, so they gave you the usual explanation: 'You had to be there.'

"More often than not, there is no joke at all. Everyday laughter is rarely about comedy and, in fact, all about 'being there.' In the words of psychiatrist Robert Provine, laughter is a 'social vocalization that binds people together.' It does this in a variety of ways. Laughter can serve as a simple expression of recognition - for example, the 'oh, I know what you mean' laugh that we often share to create a moment of mutual understanding. We laugh courteously, apologetically, self-consciously, and often for completely mysterious reasons. But we rarely laugh when we are by ourselves.

"Laughter can come into existence with only the smallest pretext of shared experience between people. . . ."

In a recent commentary, writer Adam K. Johnson reflected on the healthy effects of laughter.

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

Boston Pilot: Echoes: Adam K. Johnson: Laughter and health (24 MAY 19)

Norah Jones: "American Anthem"

As we continue our observance of Memorial Day, I offer this version of Norah Jones presenting "American Anthem":

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, a day designated to commemorate the men and women who died while in the military service.

We lift up to the Lord the souls of each of these men and women. We also thank Him, and them, for their sacrifice.

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
                  – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

YouTube: Memorial Day 2019 - Freedom Isn't Free

Paul Greenberg: Remembering, We Forget (30 MAY 11)

Community in Mission: On the "Memorare" of Memorial Day (27 MAY 18)

Community in Mission: America, I Gave My Best to You - A Reflection on the Virtue of Patriotism (26 MAY 19)

Dominicana: Memory (27 MAY 19)

Foster's Daily Democrat: Dover Doin's: Take a moment to give thanks on Memorial Day (27 MAY 19)

John McCrae: "In Flanders Fields"

YouTube: Memorial Day

Related media reports:

USA Today: Memorial Day: WWII soldier's grave tended to by stranger for 74 years (27 MAY 19)

Bangor Daily News: Bangor’s war memorials can teach us about those who died in the line of duty (25 MAY 19)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of those service members who have given their lives for our nation.

Bishop Tobin on Our Reasons for Doing Religious Practices

"So, one evening not too long ago, I was driving along the Wampanoag Trail when I noticed the cars ahead of me, rounding a curve, tapping their brakes and slowing down. I soon knew why. There was a disabled vehicle on the side of the road - but the drivers thought it was a police car, a speed trap.

"The incident got me thinking. Why do people follow the speed limit: Because they don't want to get pulled over, or because it's the safe thing to do, or because in some altruistic way they respect the law? (Although, truth be told, the fact that the drivers slowed down only when they saw the 'cop car,' favors the first explanation, doesn't it?)

"But it leads to a good question: In terms of our religious practice, why do we do the things we do?"

In a recent commentary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on why people attend Mass on Sunday and participate in other religious practices..

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

The Imitation of Christ: It Was Just a Disabled Vehicle (23 MAY 19)

Reflection Starter from Hubert Humphrey

"Never give up on anybody." - Hubert H. Humphrey

26 May 2019

Meg Hunter-Kilmer on the Saturation of the Glory Be

"The Liturgy of the Hours has a distinct rhythm that becomes familiar over time. The Our Father comes at the end every morning and evening, antiphons are repeated after each psalm, the Gospel canticle is always marked with the Sign of the Cross, and when in doubt, pray the doxology.

"'Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,' we pray, tripping up those who are more familiar with the slight variation that's used in the rosary. 'As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.' . . .

"It's almost incessant, this murmur of glory to God, and yet it's anything but repetitive. Because sometimes it marks our gentle request that God aid us in our prayer, but other times it cries out the joy of a people redeemed. Each doxology speaks differently, sometimes elated, other times determinedly spoken through clenched teeth."

In a recent commentary, writer Meg Hunter-Kilmer reflected on why the Glory Be fills the Church's prayer.

To access her complete post, please visit:

Aleteia: Meg Hunter-Kilmer: What the Church teaches by saturating liturgy with the "Glory Be" (13 MAY 19)

Maranatha Singers: "My Peace"

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of the Maranatha Singers presenting "My Peace":

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Today the Church celebrates the Sixth Sunday of Easter. The assigned readings are Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23; and John 14:23-29. The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 67 (Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8).

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

YouTube: Psalm 67 - Let All The Nations Praise You (Guimont Setting)

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus said to his disciples: "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

"I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

You heard me tell you, 'I am going away and I will come back to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Sixth Sunday of Easter (May 26, 2019)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Sixth Sunday of Easter (May 26, 2019)

Community in Mission: Four Gifts of Grace - A Homily for the 6th Sunday of Easter (25 MAY 19)

The Sacred Page: The Kingdom of Love: 6th Sunday of Easter (22 MAY 19)

The Sacred Page: "The Father is Greater than I" (The Mass Readings Explained) (20 MAY 19)

St. Paul Center: Counsel of Jerusalem: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Word on Fire: The Great Story Comes to an End (Cycle C * Easter * Week 6)

Catholic News Agency: Pope Francis: The Lord invites us to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit (26 MAY 19)

Sister Mary Madeline Todd, OP: Abiding in the Peace the World Cannot Give (24 MAY 19)

Spirituality of the Readings: Closer Than Ever (Sixth Sunday of Easter C)

In Exile: God's Resurrecting Power as Ultimate Truth (Sixth Sunday of Easter C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Spirit-Led Decision-Making (Sixth Sunday of Easter C)

The Word Encountered: Necessary Things (Sixth Sunday of Easter C)

Historical Cultural Context: The Paraclete (Sixth Sunday of Easter C)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Bernard of Clairvaux (Sixth Sunday of Easter C)

Thank You, Lord

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

Kathryn Jean Lopez on Praying and Sacrificing for Priests

"'No words I can use would be too strong to state that the Catholic priesthood needs prayer and sacrifice as never before since Calvary,' wrote the late Jesuit Father John Hardon in 'The Value of Prayer and Sacrifice for Priests.' He reflects on 30 years of teaching priests, living with priests 'and having labored for them, loving them and suffering with them.'

"'One saint after another has declared that the devil's principal target on earth is the Catholic priest,' he wrote. 'Priests need, Lord how they need, special graces from God. We ask, why pray, then, for priests? We should pray for priests and bishops because this has been the practice of the Church since apostolic times. It's a matter of revealed truth. It is a divine mandate.'

"I thought of this because ordination time in the U.S. - around June, near the feast of the Sacred Heart and Father’s Day, which has always seemed appropriate - has begun. . . ."

In a recent commentary, nationally syndicated columnist Kathryn Jean Lopez reflected on why it is important to pray for the fidelity and holy boldness of priests.

To access her complete post, please visit:

OSV Newsweekly: An urgent call to pray for priests through prayer and sacrifice (21 MAY 19)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Every creature has a function, none is superfluous. The whole universe speaks the language of God's love, of His boundless affection for us: soil, water, mountains, everything is God's caress." - Pope Francis

25 May 2019

The Newfangled Four: "Hello My Baby... Through the Years"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of the Newfangled Four presenting "Hello My Baby... Through the Years":

Brett and Kate McKay on Reasons One Should Keep a Paper Map in the Glove Box

"Ever since Google Maps launched its app in 2008, I've been using GPS to get around town, and across the country. For a decade, a digital voice from my phone has led me, turn-by-turn, in cities I’m not familiar with and even cities I've lived in for years.

"But during the past year or so, I've become uncomfortable with my reliance on GPS for a variety of reasons.

"So I bought a paper map of my fair city of Tulsa, as well as a road atlas of the United States. (Apparently, I'm not alone in this; sales of the classic Rand McNally Road Atlas have, counterintuitively, been rising in the last several years). And I've been pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable it's been to use old-fashioned maps to get around town, and country. In fact, I've gone to using 'analog' maps as my primary method of navigation, only relying on Google Maps as a back-up."

In  recent commentary, writers Brett and Kate McKay reflected on a number of reasons why one might consider putting a paper map in their automobile's glove box (including paper maps never lose power or wireless signal, paper maps are safer and less distracting than GPS, paper maps provide a more detailed, expansive, big-picture lay of the land, and paper maps can get you to your destination faster than GPS).

To access their complete post, please visit:

The Art of Manliness: 7 Reasons You Should Still Keep a Paper Map in Your Glovebox (21 MAY 19)

Editor's note: I concur. I still prefer paper maps, I Keep at least on in my backpack/travel bag, and I often use one to plot my trip ahead of time.

On an Elderly Widow Invited to Eat with Strangers

"For barbecue lovers, Brad's Bar-B-Que in Oxford, Alabama, is heaven on Earth. But 80-year-old Eleanor Baker said her visit here earlier this month was especially divine.

"'I think it was a God thing. I think God sent me there,' she said.

"Eleanor is a widow and lives with her dog. While she has a big family, they mostly live out of town, so she was alone the night she went to the restaurant."

A recent CBS Evening News "On the Road" report described Mrs. Baker's experience with three young men who invited her to eat with them at the Bar-B-Que

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

CBS Evening News: On the Road: Elderly widow who was invited to eat with strangers: "I think it was a God thing" (26 APR 19)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the ways in which You work through thoughtful greeting cards.

Sherry Antonetti on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

". . . If we thought the Eucharist were truly the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we would stay. We would worship. We would praise. We would adore. If we really considered, beyond an intellectual understanding, the reality of that reality we profess every time we say the Creed, every time we participate in the Mass, we would weep at this gift. No one would be able to keep us from singing. No one would be able to get us to cease marveling at what God has done.

"But we forget. Sometimes we forget while speaking, other times while walking back to the pew or into the parking lot. We do not allow ourselves to entertain the reality we profess too deeply. Our Lord has made clear that he is not offering us a symbol or a metaphor or a simile. He is not giving us a way to remember him, but to know him intimately. . . ."

In a recent commentary, writer Sherry Antonetti reflected on some of the ramifications of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

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

National Catholic Register: Blogs: Sherry Antonetti: The Most Holy Eucharist is More Than a Symbol (24 MAY 19)

Reflection Starter from Henry Ward Beecher

There are joys which long to be ours. God sends ten thousands truths, which come about us like birds seeking inlet; but we are shut up to them, and so they bring us nothing, but sit and sing awhile upon the roof, and then fly away." - Henry Ward Beecher

24 May 2019

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of good auto mechanics.

A Picture of Peace and Radical Love

Each May, The Christophers gather to bestow awards on books, film, and television programs that affirm the highest values of the human spirit. This year marks the 70th anniversary of our Christopher Awards, and readers will be heartened to know that once again we have found amazing projects worthy of celebration.

One example is the film Paul, Apostle of Christ, which is set in the 1st Century A.D., during the time of Nero's persecution of the Christians of Rome. Paul the Apostle sits in prison at the film's outset, awaiting execution. Luke the Evangelist, played by Jim Caviezel, enters Rome secretly to meet with Paul and help him write an account of his experiences and insights for the benefit of Christian communities in other lands.

Luke has friends among high-ranking Romans who convince the prefect of the prison, Mauritius Gallus, to allow him to visit Paul. Mauritius is a dutiful soldier and loyal to Rome, yet he is also intellectually curious and engages in conversation with both Luke and Paul. Mauritius' daughter and only child is very ill. Although Luke is a talented physician, Mauritius refuses to ask the evangelist to treat her for fear of offending the Roman gods by bringing a Christian into his home.

Meanwhile, Roman soldiers are arresting, torturing, and executing other Christians as part of Nero's plot to offer them up as scapegoats for a fire that burned down two thirds of the city. Luke stays with a secretive Christian community in the city and finds himself disheartened along with the others over the rampant persecution of those who believe in Christ.

The struggle to keep the faith amid such turmoil is palpable in this film, which offers an unflinching glimpse of the challenges and rewards of following Christ under the most trying circumstances. When a young man named Cassius tries to convince others to respond to the persecution with violence, Luke intervenes, declaring, "Let peace be with you. For we live in the world but we do not wage war as the world does. . . . Love is the only way." Cassius later defies Luke and joins others in breaking into the prison to free Paul. However, Paul refuses to go with him, instead chastising him for bringing violence against government officials, saying, "Christ has already triumphed over every enemy by the cross, and you say you come in his name, but it is clear you do not know him."

This picture of the peace and radical love brought into the world by the early Christians transports us back to a time when small communities lived so committed to the teachings of Jesus Christ that their lives became the seeds planted in the fertile soil of a world awaiting a better way.

At the outset of the film, Paul stares upward through the bars of his basement cell as if looking to the heavens and questions, "Is that all?" It is unclear whether this is a moment of despair or a mere question from a servant sensing he has come to the end of his mission. Yet the rest of the film demonstrates that God's answer is always that there is so much more than we could possibly imagine. And we see that answer play out in all that happens in the short time before Paul is executed, in how much he is still called upon to do, and in how much he accomplishes through his love, humility, and willingness to share the wisdom of Christ.

This essay is this week's "Light One Candle" column, written by Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M, of 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 Robert Schuller

"Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come." – Rev. Robert Schuller

23 May 2019

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of Your time frames and the way in which You are weaving the various threads in our lives.

Msgr. Pope on the Delay and Silence of God

"I don't know if you've noticed or not, but God doesn't seem to be in a big hurry about most things. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. 

"We live in a loud, fast-paced world, one of constantly breaking news. Crisis and urgency always seem to be the order of the day. Instant communication and quick responses are expected, if not demand. . . .

"God could easily solve everything instantly with a mere snap of His fingers, but he doesn't - and He has His reasons. Perhaps it is important for us to live some of our questions in order to appreciate their depth. Maybe the problems we want solved are themselves part of a deeper solution that God is working to make us humbler, wiser, and/or stronger. 

"God's slow pace can be dismaying as well as puzzling. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on God's time frames.

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

Community in Mission: The Delay and Silence of God (22 MAY 19)

Reflection Starter from Laurence J. Peter

“There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience.” – Laurence J. Peter

22 May 2019

National Emergency Medical Services Week 2019

This week, the week of 19-25 May, is being observed as the 45th annual National Emergency Medical Services Week. This year’s EMS Strong theme is "Beyond the Call."

National Emergency Medical Services Week is designed as an opportunity to publicize safety and honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine's "front line."

For more information about National EMS Week, please visit:

American College of Emergency Physicians: EMS Week

Facebook: National EMS Week

National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians: National EMS Week

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings You bestow on us when we engage in contemplative prayer.

Anthony Lilles on Contemplation and the Renewal of the Church

"Contemplative prayer remains a largely untapped resource for the renewal of the Church. Many understand it to be no more than an esoteric or at most therapeutic exercise.  Others show little regard this spiritual activity or anyone who dedicates his life to this effort. Even still, this most simple and hidden movements of heart avails the world of a power too great for time and space to hold. This surrender to the surrender of God is the unseen spark the ignites the Church into a fiery icon of Divine Presence when light and warmth are most needed."

In a recent commentary, Dr. Anthony Lilles (assistant professor of theology at Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary, Denver, CO) reflected on the relationship between contemplation and the renewal of the Church.

To access the complete post by Dr. Lilles, please visit:

Beginning to Pray: Contemplation and the Renewal of the Church (May 2019)

Reflection Starter from Arthur Conan Doyle

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

21 May 2019

National Public Works Week

This week, the week of 19-25 May, is being observed as National Public Works Week, a celebration of the men and women who provide and maintain the infrastructure and services collectively known as public works. This year's theme is "It Starts Here."

The American Public Works Association initiated the observance of National Public Works Week in 1960 as a means to call attention to the importance of public works in community life.

For more information about National Public Works Week, please visit:

APWA: National Public Works Week

YouTube: APWA "The Power of Public Works" Brand Video

Background information:

American Public Works Association

Facebook: American Public Works Association

New England Chapter, American Public Works Association

Notre Dame Folk Choir: "I Am the Bread of Life"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of the University of Notre Dame Folk Choir presenting "I Am the Bread of Life":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the various types of  rough diamonds You place in our lives.

Br. Cyril Stola, O.P., on Cleansing the Smoke in Our Lives

"Ideas affect us. Bad ideas affect us for the worse. Like smoke in the air, they make it hard to see things as they really are, and breathing them in makes us sick. We're bombarded with smoke from every direction on a daily basis. It's unavoidable. We breathe in the fumes of utilitarianism, Marxism, consumerism, rationalism, emotivism and other mindsets. They don't even belong together. Utilitarians despise consumerism, consumerists detest Marxism, and Marxists don't like anything very much, yet all these ideas mix to form a noxious, pervasive cloud that makes the sky gray. We breathe them all in and they nauseate us. Internal tensions and philosophical contradictions abound."

In a recent commentary, Brother Cyril Stola, O.P., reflected on this "smoke" in our lives (the result of original sin) and on the spiritual life as a process of cleansing.

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

Dominicana: Smoke (16 MAY 19)

Reflection Starter from Thomas Browne

"Rough diamonds may sometimes be mistaken for worthless pebbles." - Thomas Browne

20 May 2019

Vito & the Salutations: "Unchained Melody"

It's time for some more doo wop. Here is a (fast-paced) presentation of "Unchained Melody" by Vito & the Salutations:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass each week, or whenever we are able to do so.

Bishop Tobin on Going Forward, Despite Our Doubts and Weaknesss.

"'The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.' (Mt 28: 16-17)

"For a good while now I’ve been intrigued by that line which says that when the disciples saw Jesus 'they worshiped, but they doubted.' What could that possibly mean? How could the disciples simultaneously worship and doubt? Whom did they worship, and why did they doubt? If they worshiped Jesus, doesn't that indicate that they knew he was God? But how could they doubt after having spent all that time with him, after having witnessed his resurrection, and his many post-resurrection appearances? Interesting, isn't it?" 

In a recent commentary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on how, even though we have our human weaknesses, faults and sins, we've got work to do as we walk along the path of faith.

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

The Imitation of Christ: Despite Our Faults, We Carry On (16 MAY 19)

Reflection Starter from Mark Twain

"The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up." - attributed to Mark Twain

On Maine's Amusment Parks before Highways and Airplanes

"Before the late 1950s, the things Mainers did for fun were, generally, a lot closer to home. There were no highways to allow for fast car travel between destinations. Commercial air travel was expensive and limited. And cars did not become common in Maine until the 1920s.

"That made a trip to the local amusement park one of the easiest ways to have a day of leisure back then. And there were several to choose from in eastern Maine that entertained families for decades - until the era of highways and mass air travel effectively killed the industry."

A recent Bangor Daily News article reported on some of the amusement parks available in Maine during the first half of the 1900's.

To access the complete report, please visit:

Bangor Daily News: Before highways and planes, this is what Mainers did for fun (19 MAY 19)

19 May 2019

Dr. Francie Hart Broghammer on Death by Loneliness

"Economically, America is more prosperous than it has ever been. We are richer, more connected, electronically, and have more information available to us than ever before. And yet, we are in the midst of a crisis that is claiming thousands of American lives: loneliness.

"Since the turn of the century, Americans have been dying from suicide, alcohol-related illnesses, and drug overdoses at a rate that has never before been seen. . . ."

 In a recent commentary, Francie Hart Broghammer, MD, chief psychiatry resident at the University of California Irvine Medical Center, reflected on the isolation, anger, and despair prevalent in our society and the "building blocks" in a person's life that can help address potential issues (including having a family one loves and that loves him/her, having friends one can trust and confide in, having work that matters and/or callings that benefit one's neighbors, and having a worldview that can make sense of suffering and death).

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

RealClearPolicy: Death by Loneliness (6 MAY 19)

Old Farmer's Almanac on Plants that Attract Hummingbirds

"For centuries, gardeners have been fascinated with the beauty and aerobatics of hummingbirds. The key to attracting hummingbirds to your yard is to plant lots of flowers and provide the habitat that will give them shade, shelter, food, water, and security."

While reading a recent article from The Old Farmer's Almanac on plants that attract hummingbirds, I thought of my mother. Mom often tried different ideas (with some success) to attract hummingbirds to our back yard.

To access the complete article from The Old Farmer's Almanac, please visit:

The Old Farmer's Almanac: Plants that Attract Hummingbirds

Pro-Life Reflections

It has been almost four months since this year's National March for Life in Washington, DC, and, in recent weeks, there have been a number of news reports on various life issues/initiatives. Thinking back to the March, there were, and have been, several media reports/commentaries on concerns before the pro-life community.

To access some of these reports, please visit:

The Pilot: Echoes: Russell Shaw. Prolife Prospects on Roe's 46th Anniversary. (2 JAN 19)

The New York Times: Anti-Abortion Activists Still See Their Best Chance in Years to Chip Away at Roe v. Wade (8 FEB 19)

National Catholic Register: Pro-Life Living: How Families Instill Affirming Values (16 JAN 19)

ChurchPOP: #Knights4Life: 7 Ways the Knights of Columbus Amazingly Defend Life at Every Stage (16 JAN 19)

ACTS Apologist Blog: How Did the Roe vs Wade Decision Work? (18 JAN 19)

Through Catholic Lenses: 14 Mind-Blowing Signs at March for Life 2019 (18 JAN 19)

Dominicana: Unique From Day One (18 JAN 19)

The Deacon's Bench: 'She's a Hero': A Pro-Life Story the World Needs Right Now (9 FEB 19)

Catholic News Agency: How her unexpected pregnancy gave Alexa Hyman joy (2 APR 19)

The Federalist: We Hide The Truth About Abortion Because It Condemns Us All (8 APR 19)

The Stream: Science Won't Save the Unborn (15 JAN 19)

The Stream: Why March for Life? They're Only Babies.... (17 JAN 19)

The Human Life Review: Share the Credit for a Culture of Life (15 JAN 19)

On Using Stories to Address Mental Health Issues

"Declaring that 'mental illness touches us all, every single one of us, one way or another,' Dr. Husseini Manji, one of the nation's leading neuropsychiatric researchers, on Thursday told a crowd of more than 400 at Rhode Island College that with awareness and understanding growing, 'there should be absolutely no stigma or shame.'

"But there is, asserted Manji, one of the speakers at the sixth annual Peace of Mind Storytellers Day, presented by Pawtucket-based expressive arts organization PeaceLove Studios with sponsorship from CVS Health, Hilton, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Newport Hotel Group, Ben & Jerrys, and the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, among others.

"Progress toward eliminating stigma, Manji asserted, comes in part through events such as Thursday's, when storytellers from the worlds of music, art, sports, academia, behavioral health, journalism, computer science and elsewhere took the stage. Many live with mental-health challenges."

A recent Providence Journal article reported on the use of written and spoken stories in addressing mental illness issues.

To access the complete Providence Journal report, please visit:

Providence Journal: Addressing mental health through stories (17 MAY 19)

Related reports:

Healthify Blog: Under-Addressed and Overlooked: The Mental Health Issue (27 DEC 16)

Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation : Alternative Approaches to Mental Health Care

"Rejoice in the Lord"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of "Rejoice in the Lord":

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Today the Church celebrates the Fifth Sunday of Easter. The assigned readings are Acts 14:21-27; Revelation 21:1-5A; and John 13:31-33A, 34-35. The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 145 (Psalm 145:8-13).

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

YouTube: Psalm 145: I Will Praise Your Name (Haas setting)

The Gospel reading is as follows:

When Judas had left them, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and God will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Fifth Sunday of Easter (May 19, 2019)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Fifth Sunday of Easter (May 19, 2019)

Community in Mission: The Legacy of Love - A Homily for the 5th Week of Easter (18 MAY 19)

The Sacred Page: The Kingdom of Love: 5th Sunday of Easter (16 MAY 19)

St. Paul Center: New For All Ages: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fifth Sunday of Easter

Word on Fire: The New Jerusalem (Cycle C * Easter * Week 5)

Catholic News Agency: Pope: Christ's love helps us love those 'on the other side' (19 MAY 19)

Spirituality of the Readings: A Love We Can Understand (Fifth Sunday of Easter C)

In Exile: Gospel Challenge (Fifth Sunday of Easter C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: God With Us (Fifth Sunday of Easter C)

The Word Encountered: Time and Eternity (Fifth Sunday of Easter C)

Historical Cultural Context: Glory: God's Honor (Fifth Sunday of Easter C)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Cyril of Alexandria (Fifth Sunday of Easter C)