31 July 2019

Annie E. Casey Foundation Releases 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book

The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently published the 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book, which is provide a detailed picture of how children are faring in the United States. In addition to ranking states on overall child well-being, the Data Book ranks states in four domains: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community.

According to the foundation, "The data reveal, in the United States today, more parents are financially stable and living without burdensome housing costs. More teens are graduating from high school and delaying parenthood. And access to children's health insurance has increased compared to just seven years ago.

"But it is not all good news. The risk of babies being born at a low weight continues to rise, racial inequities remain systemic and stubbornly persistent and 12% of kids across the country are still growing up in areas of concentrated poverty.

"New Hampshire has claimed the No. 1 spot in overall child well-being, followed by Massachusetts and Iowa. . . ."

To access the complete report, please visit:

Annie E. Casey Foundation: 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book

Annie E. Casey Foundation: 2019 National Data Profile

2019 Data Book Profiles on Key Indicators of Child Well-being (New England States):

2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book: Connecticut

2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book: Maine

2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book: Massachusetts

2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book: New Hampshire

2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book: Rhode Island

2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book: Vermont

Background information:

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Tennessee Ernie Ford: "John Henry"

Music of various types has been interwoven into the history of the United States (going back to the original thirteen colonies). One of these songs is "John Henry", presented here by the Tennessee Ernie Ford:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of family vegetable gardens.

David Torkington on Learning How to Pray

"Although we do not like to admit it, even to ourselves, we still believe that prayer happens suddenly, or never happens at all. We kid ourselves that saints are born, or created by an arbitrary decision of God who every now and then suddenly decides to top up humanity's quota. This is a comforting idea that we harbour at the back of our minds because it absolves us from any serious effort to live in union with God.

"The predicament of the alcoholic is but a dramatic 'blown-up' picture of all of us. The fact that our perilous plight is not so obviously dramatic is a mixed blessing. If it were, it would at least force us without undue delay to see ourselves stripped naked of all falsity and pretension to face stark reality. Then we would come to a moment of decision that we might otherwise cowardly evade, drifting into a life of superficiality, merely existing on the surface of human experience. Often when an alcoholic hits 'rock bottom', they become serious about changing their lives by surrendering and dedicating their lives to God through hard work, by practising new habits. . . .

"There can be no fresh start, no renewal in the life of any individual, group or community unless we are able to see and admit our own inadequacy and past failures. Once we begin to see, to experience and to admit our weakness, then we can begin to appreciate the fundamental principle of the spiritual life, namely that we cannot go a single step forward without God, not a single step. The Gospel does not say, 'Without me, you will not be able to get very far.' It says, 'Without me, you can do nothing.' Without me - nothing! . . .

"Learning to pray, learning to open ourselves to God, is like anything else: it needs practice and it takes time. There is no accomplishment of any worth that I know of that you can attain merely by desiring to have it. We think nothing of spending hours a day and working for years to get a degree, pass an examination, or attain certain qualifications, and we quite rightly accept as a matter of course that the time we give and the energy we expend is necessary. Somehow we seem to think that prayer is an exception, but believe me, it is not. Those who wish to succeed in a particular accomplishment have to give hours of time, even if they have flair or genius."

In a recent commentary, theologian and writer David Torkington reflected on the process of learning to pray.

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

Catholic Stand: Learning How to Pray Takes Time and Practice (19 JUN 19)

Reflection Starter from Archbishop Alfred D'Souza

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life." - Archbishop Alfred D'Souza

30 July 2019

"Heaven Came Down"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of the Kenyatta University Seventh-day Adventist Church Choir presenting "Heaven Came Down":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of Holy Scripture with all that it contains for us as we continue to read and meditate upon it.

Br. Hyacinth Grubb, O.P., on the Hidden Depths of Scripture

"When the Israelites thirsted in the desert, they were given water from the rock to drink (Exod 17). Who gave them that water? God, of course, the prophet Isaiah tells us: 'They thirsted not when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he cleft the rock and the water gushed out' (Isa 48:21).

"But perhaps it's not quite so simple. When Moses told God about the Israelites' complaint of thirst, the Lord replied: 'Take in your hand the rod with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, that the people may drink.' (Exod 17:5-6). It was Moses, then, who opened the rock so that water flowed forth, by the power given to him by the Lord. He was God's instrument, and so truly both he and God performed this miracle. . . .

"At first glance, the water from the rock seems to be a fairly straightforward story about the Lord's miraculous care for his chosen people. And it is that. But is also much more, as Scripture returns and reinterprets the story over and over again, each time discovering a new layer of meaning or a hidden prophetic utterance."

In a recent commentary, Brother Hyacinth Grubb, O.P., reflected on the depth of richness and vitality in Holy Scripture

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

Dominicana: Read it Again (24 JUL 19)

Reflection Starter from Bl. Solanus Casey

"We must be faithful to the present moment or we will frustrate the plan of God for our lives. - Blessed Solanus Casey

29 July 2019

The Spaniels: "Great Googley Moo"

It's time for some more doo wop. Here is a presentation of  "Great Googley Moo" by The Spaniels:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Fr. Robert McTeigue, SJ, on Going to Confession

"Parishioner: Father, I suppose I would go to confession if only I could think of any sins I’ve committed that are worth mentioning.

"Priest: How about asking your spouse for suggestions?I

"That's not an entirely flippant quip. It is analogous to the story that retreat directors like to tell.

"Retreatant: How will I know if I made a good retreat?

"Retreat director: Wait six months and ask the people you live with.

"I speak of this because I know that we humans can be blind when we look in the mirror. It is very easy for us to cling to illusions, to take for granted the innocence of our rationalizations, to be ready to accept without question the 'reasons' why the moral law does not apply to us."

In a recent commentary, Father Robert McTeigue, S.J., reflected on why it is important to make a good confession.

To access Fr. McTeigue's complete post, please visit:

Aleteia: Fr. Robert McTeigue, SJ: No more excuses! Go to confession (24 JUL 19)

Reflection Starter

"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." - Chinese Proverb

28 July 2019

Paul Schratz on the Astronauts Finding God in Space

"I didn't realize there was a moon-landing Bible verse until my pastor mentioned it a few weeks ago.

"It seems that while returning from the historic first landing on the moon 50 years ago, astronaut Buzz Aldrin took part in a TV broadcast the night before splashing down. During the broadcast, the second man to set foot on the moon's surface read Psalms 8:3-4: 'When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou has ordained; What is man that thou art mindful of him? And the Son of Man, that thou visitest him?'

"It turns out Aldrin's religious faith is not an anomaly. In fact, the 29 astronauts who visited the moon during the Apollo program were a generally religious cohort. According to NASA, 23 were Protestant and six Catholic, with a high proportion of them serving as church leaders in their congregations."

In a recent commentary, Paul Schratz (editor of B.C. Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, British Columbia) reflected on the prevalence of religious beliefs and observance in U.S. astronauts

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

Boston Pilot: Echoes: Paul Schratz: Astronauts found God in space (26 JUL 19)

"Sent Forth by God's Blessing"

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of "Sent Forth by God's Blessing":

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Genesis 18:20-32, Colossians 2:12-14, and Luke 11:1-13. The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 138 (Psalm 138:1-3, 6-8).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 138 On the day I called for help You answered me O Lord

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples."

He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test."

And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.' I tell you, if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (July 28, 2019)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 28, 2019)

Community in Mission: Three Teachings from the Lord on Prayer (27 JUL 19)

Crossroads Initiative: Ask and You Shall Receive - the Widow & the Unjust Judge

The Sacred Page: Haggling With God: The 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (24 JUL 19)

The Sacred Page: Jesus' Teaching on Prayer (The Mass Readings Explained) (22 JUL 19)

St. Paul Center: Asked and Answered: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Word on Fire: Abba Father, Bring us Jesus (Cycle C * Ordinary Time * Week 17)

National Catholic Register: Sunday Guide: Divine Justice and Bold Prayer (24 JUL 19)

Spirituality of the Readings: Go Ahead, Ask Again (17th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

In Exile: Prayer with an Infallible Guarantee (17th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Ask and You Shall Receive (17th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

The Word Engaged: Praying and Pleading (17th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Historical Cultural Context: Mediterranean and American Prayer (17th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Venerable Bede (17th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the look of love You continuosly send our way.

Msgr. Pope on the Look of the Lord

"There is an astonishing verse in the Exodus account, which we read this week at daily Mass. The Lord had parted the waters of the Red Sea with a strong easterly wind and the Israelites had just made the crossing with the Egyptians in hot pursuit.

"And in the morning watch, the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud, cast a glace on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic (Ex 14:24).

"Just one look … that's all it took! One can imagine many other ways that God could have stopped them: lightning, angelic forces, etc. Instead, He merely 'cast a glance.'

"Was it an angry glance? The text does not say. I would speculate that it was a look of love, for if God is love, how could it have been anything else?

"Why, then, the panic among the Egyptian forces? Perhaps it was like the reaction of those accustomed to the darkness, who wince in pain when beautiful light shines. Love confronts and drives out hate the way light drives out darkness. Love is what it is; it cannot be something else. To those held bound by hatred, though, love is like kryptonite. Thus, the Egyptian army falls at the glance of God, panics at the weakness it experiences. Yes, love can be like kryptonite to those who choose the darkness of hatred and exploitation. To those who hate the truth, it seems hateful, but God's truth is an aspect of His love for us, and only truth will set us free."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on how the "glance of God may make us feel sad, or mad, or glad; but it is the look of love, always seeking to console us or to set us right and bring about healing."

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

Community in Mission: "And in the Morning Watch, the Lord … Cast a Glance" - A Meditation on the Look of the Lord (24 JUL 19)

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"Faith is a gift that keeps alive a profound and beautiful certainty: that we are God’s beloved children." - Pope Francis

27 July 2019

Mariah Carey: "Make It Happen"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Mariah Carey presenting "Make It Happen":

On Dr. Jordan Peterson on Catholicism

"Speaking with one of the best-known conservative Jews, Dennis Prager, at the PragerU summit last week, world-famous psychologist Jordan Peterson spoke of God and his views of faith. After speaking about his dislike for the question 'Do you believe in God?' Peterson said, 'I think that Catholicism - that's as sane as people can get.'"

A recent LifeSite news article reported on the exchange between Dr. Peterson and Mr. Prager.

LifeSite: Jordan Peterson on Catholicism: 'That's as sane as people can get' (27 MAY 19)

Lebanon, NH, High Schhol Senior and Her Pocket Food Pantry Ministry

"As soon as Lebanon High School senior Annabelle Stott saw a video on Facbeook about building pocket food pantries, she knew she wanted to bring one to Lebanon.

"'I ran to my parents' room the night I saw it and told them, 'I need to do this,' ' Stott recalled.

"Stott took the idea to the Lebanon High Interact Club, a high school version of the International Rotary Club, which was founded at LHS two years ago by Lebanon Rotary Club members and students.

"'They've been massive in helping out,' Stott said. 'If I wasn't there to be able to do something, they stepped up.'"

A recent Valley News article reported on Ms. Stott's pocket food pantry ministry.

To access the complete report, please visit:

Valley News: Pocket pantry fills 24-hour need for food, staples in Lebanon (25 MAY 19)

Hermon, ME, Middle School Student Project Addresses Real-world Problem

"Morgan LaRochelle is a softball, piano and field hockey player. She also has a distinction now that not many other 13-year-olds have: award-winning inventor.

"LaRochelle, who just finished eighth grade at Hermon Middle School, took home two top awards at the fourth annual Invention Convention U.S Nationals late last month at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan."

A recent Bangor Daily News article reported on Ms. LaRochelle's invention and her competition experience.

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

Bangor Daily News: This 8th grader took a real-world problem and became a national invention champion (21 JUN 19)

National Crime Prevention Council and U. S. Patent and Trademark Office Collaborating to Raise Awareness about Counterfeit Goods

The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are collaborating to raise public awareness of the dangers related to and damage caused by purchasing counterfeit goods.

Counterfeit items are illegal replicas of real products, designed to deceive and take advantage of the superior value of genuine merchandise. The public may not know that counterfeit goods threaten consumers’ health and safety, hurt the U.S. economy, and support international organized crime.
Together with the USPTO, the NCPC will create an anti-counterfeiting campaign using public service advertising (PSAs) to include television, radio, outdoor, social media, and digital messaging directed to consumers. The campaign will also provide educational materials and tools to NCPC’s network of crime prevention practitioners and law enforcement officers who, in turn, will use those resources to teach their communities about the dangers of counterfeit goods.

Background information:

National Crime Prevention Council

United States Patent and Trademark Office

Video Explaining Why One Should Not Feed Waterfowl

The City of South Portland, ME, produced and is offering a video designed to illustrate why people should not feed ducks, gulls, and other birds at public parks.

To access a copy of the video, please visit:

City of South Portland: Don’t Feed the Waterfowl – Duckasaurus PSA

Background information:

City of South Portland

Wikipedia: South Portland, Maine

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of sunglasses.

Philip Kosloski on Tolkien's 'The Silmarillion' and Our Restless Hearts

"'Therefore [Iluvatar] willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein' (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, 36).

"This short passage from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion possesses such immense truth in regards to the very core of what it means to be human. In fact, this one line has the capacity to change a person's whole outlook on life.

"First of all, Tolkien writes that Iluvatar [representative of God the Father] 'willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein.' This is reminiscent of one of Saint Augustine's most famous quotations found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 'for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you' (CCC 30) . . ."
In a recent commentary, writer Philip Kosloski reflected on the importance of keeping Sunday sacred, "reserving it for the celebration of the Eucharist and a unique rest that refreshes both body and soul.

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

Voyage Comics & Publishing: This one sentence from Tolkien's 'Silmarillion' will change your life (26 JUL 19)  

Reflection Starter from Anne Frank

"No one has ever become poor by giving." - Anne Frank

26 July 2019

George Frideric Handel: "Concerti grossi," Op. 6

It's time for some classical music. This is a presentation of George Frideric Handel's "Concerti grossi," Op. 6, as played by The Avison Ensemble:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the git of our grandparents and for the many good ways in which they touch our lives.

Christ of Peace

Ciudad Victoria is the capital of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. It sits at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains in northeastern Mexico about 200 miles from the U.S. border. In recent years, the Tamaulipas region has suffered from drug and gang related violence. But Ciudad Victoria could become known for something completely different, thanks to the efforts of actor Eduardo Verastegui.

Verastegui grew up in the state of Tamaulipas. As a young man, he enjoyed success as an entertainer in Mexico and eventually decided to pursue a career in Hollywood. In order to improve his English, he took voice lessons, and his teacher happened to be a committed Catholic. In the course of their conversations, Verastegui rediscovered his faith, and it was then that he decided to devote himself to using his talents to serve God.

In 2003, Verastegui said, "I understood that I was not born to be an actor or something else, but to know, love and serve Jesus Christ."

Since recommitting to his faith, Verastegui has taken part in films that touch the soul and speak to the heart of the human condition. The most notable of these uplifting projects has been Bella, a feature film that tells the story of a woman in a crisis pregnancy and a troubled man who finds purpose and healing by reaching out to her.

Verastegui maintains close ties to Mexico and is committed to positive portrayals of Hispanic people. His latest project is a plan to build the world's largest statue of Christ in the city of Ciudad Victoria. At 252 feet tall, it will be much larger than Rio de Janeiro's 125 foot Christ the Redeemer statue, and larger even than Poland's 172 foot Christ the King statue, which is currently the largest in the world. Mexico News Daily reported that architect Fernando Romero designed the statue with the goal of making it look like Christ is embracing his people.

They will call it Christ of Peace; and built around it on the same site will be a church, an amphitheater, a crafts market, a convention center, restaurants, and lodgings for pilgrims. Promotors of the project want to send "a message of faith, love, hope, and peace." Their intent is to create a pilgrimage site to stand as a beacon in stark contrast to the negative messages brought by persistent violence in the region.

Verastegui's life and vision for this project respond to the words of Christ, when he said, "You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

Christ calls each of us to announce the good news to the world in our own unique way. We have to remember that the most beautiful graces can work through us in small and quiet ways. But we can also take a lesson from Eduardo Verasteguiin that we should never be afraid to think big. God calls us to move mountains. Let's pray that peace takes hold in his home state of Tamaulipas and that his actions stand as a beacon to countless more people with big ideas for bringing people to Christ.

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 Dale Carnegie

"Never before, since the beginning of time, has there ever been anybody exactly like you; and never again throughout all the ages to come will there ever be anybody exactly like you again." - Dale Carnegie (in How To Enjoy Your Life And Your Job)

25 July 2019

Frank Sinatra: My Kind of Town (Chicago is)

Over the years, a number of songs have been presented that relate to various geographical locations - cities, states, countries,and so forth. One such song is "My Kind of Town (Chicago is)." This version is presented by Frank Sinatra:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of shade trees in the summer sun.

Bishop Robert Barron on Finding God in All Things

"There is, to be sure, a stress within the Biblical tradition that God is radically other: 'Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.' (Isaiah 45:15) and 'No one shall see [God] and live' (Exodus 33:20). This speaks to the fact that the one who creates the entire universe from nothing cannot be, himself, an item within the universe, one being alongside of others. But at the same time, the Scriptures also attest to God's omnipresence: 'Your Wisdom reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and she orders all things well' (Wisdom 8:1) and 'Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; . . . If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast' (Psalm 139:7-12). This speaks to the fact that God sustains the universe in existence from moment to moment, the way a singer sustains a song.

"What is perhaps the defining feature of the spirituality associated with St. Ignatius of Loyola - 'finding God in all things' - flows from this second great biblical emphasis. Despite his transcendence, God should not be thought of as distant in any conventional sense of the term, certainly not in the Deist manner. Rather, as Thomas Aquinas taught, God is in all things, 'by essence, presence, and power.' . . ."

In a recent commentary, Bishop Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, reflected on God wants to share His life with us and on how He, indeed, can be found in all things.

To access Bishop Barron's complete post, please visit:

The Boston Pilot: Echoes. Finding God in all things (24 JUL 19)

Reflection Starter from Malcolm Forbes

"Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are."- Malcolm S. Forbes

24 July 2019

One Bangor, ME, School's Initiative that Resulted in Students Playing Outside

"It started when a Bangor Christian School parent built a ring in the parking lot of the school for the kids to play a game called Gaga ball. His son became a fan of the game after learning to play it at summer camp.

"'The kids have been having a lot of fun with it,' said Jeffrey Benjamin, headmaster of Bangor Christian Schools. 'It's pretty easy to learn how to play and we were thinking of this more for elementary kids.'

"But what happened next surprised the faculty. The morning scene in the middle school usually features kids playing inside on their phones and electronic devices.

"But once the game was introduced, it stopped.

"'The hallways are empty and for fifteen to twenty minutes before school, this thing is full, and they're laughing and joking and having fun,' Benjamin said. 'That's been a great thing to see.'"

A recent Bangor Daily News article reported on the school's Gaga ball (also known as Octoball) initiative.

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

Bangor Daily News: How one Bangor school got kids to play outside instead of on their phones (1 JUN 19)

Fr. Richard Landry on Lay People and the Renewal of the Church

"Earlier this month, I had the privilege to go to New Zealand to give five talks over seven days, sandwiched around two days of sightseeing in one of world's most beautiful countries. The first three talks were to young adults, the last two, at the Auckland Eucharistic Convention, for Catholics of all generations.

"Certain talks are easier and more enjoyable to prepare and deliver than others. I loved comparing the thoughts of Popes John Paul II, Benedict, and Francis on love, describing John Paul II's Theology of the Body as a way to holiness, addressing Christ's summons to the young to follow him all the way, and discussing how Jesus Christ in the Eucharist seeks to fill us with courage before all our challenges, which was more or less the theme of the Eucharistic Convention, dedicated to Jesus' words 'Take Courage, I have overcome the world.' But the last talk I was asked to prepare, on the call to lay people to renew the Church as salt, light, and leaven, struck me as too dry and theological - in short, too boring - for an hour-long speech before a large, non-academic Catholic crowd.

"Soon after I arrived, however, I quickly saw the caliber of many Catholic lay leaders, especially young adults. In a highly secularized culture in which many are largely disappointed in the Catholic 'professional' class - teachers and administrators in Catholic schools and universities, as well as clergy, religious and catechists - for watering down the more challenging aspects of the faith, I found the lay people hungry for a theology of the laity that could inspire them to make bold commitments toward assuming and fulfilling faithfully their own responsibilities in the Church. Their reactions made me think of other lay people closer to home who might similarly profit from a robust understanding of the lay people in the renewal of the Church."

In a recent commentary, Father Roger J. Landry (a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, MA, who works for the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations) reflected on lay people, the vast majority of the Church, being renewed in holiness, becoming the "living stones" of the Church

To access Fr. Landry's complete essay, please visit:

Boston Pilot: Echoes: Lay people in the renewal of the Church (24 JUL 19)

Boxcar Willie: "Wabash Cannonball"

Music of various types has been interwoven into the history of the United States (going back to the original thirteen colonies). One of these songs is "Wabash Cannonball", presented here by the Boxcar Willie:

On Rural Communities with Homegrown Success

"The decline of rural America is well documented. Populations are falling, jobs are disappearing, and poverty is on the rise, among other indicators. As the Wall Street Journal sadly proclaimed in an article two years ago: 'Rural America is the new 'inner city.''

"But the decline is not universal. Some communities have eluded it by taking a different strategy to economic and population growth: Instead of merely chasing manufacturers or retailers to locate in their communities, they have focused on their own inherent advantages and assets, taking a homegrown approach to growth that builds a renewed source of economic vitality and creates additional development momentum."

A recent article in the American Planning Association magazine, Planning, offered case studies of rural communities that were chosen because "they identified something that could improve their economies and quality of life, formed community coalitions, and then followed planning processes to make it happen."

To access the complete article, please visit:

Planning: Homegrown Success (July 2019)

Background information:

American Planning Association

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your presence in each guest in our homes.

Jessica Mesman on Good Lessons from Lapsed Catholics

"Whether I'm reading, watching a movie, listening to music, or looking at visual art, I've found I can usually spot artists who bear the stamp of the religious imagination, even if they aren't directly engaging with religion in their work. It goes like this: An old Patty Griffin song comes up in my music rotation, sparking a moment of recognition in me, and on a hunch I Google her and find out her dad was discerning to be a Benedictine monk before he married her mom.

"It could be that I, who have been so deeply formed by my Roman Catholic upbringing, am naturally drawn to work by those with a similar sensibility. The sensibility is there, even when the belief is not.

"What exactly is that sensibility? It's hard to define with precision. It's nothing so obvious as announcing, 'I was raised Catholic.”'Sometimes it's a subtle stylistic choice. Sometimes it's a way of seeing the world. . . ."

In a recent commentary, writer Jessica Mesman reflected on some of the lessons we can learn from lapsed Catholics.

To access her complete essay, please visit:

U.S. Catholic: Why lapsed Catholics can be our best teachers (June 2019)

Reflection Starter from Fr. John Foley, S.J.

"We are to find God in all things, in all the people we know and/or help, and no matter how busy we might be, to relate to them because God is within them, deep in their souls. Touch them. Hear them. Prepare meals for their presence without forgetting about them. We will be giving hospitality to God himself." - Father John Foley, S.J. (in a recent reflection on the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time)

23 July 2019

"What a Friend We Have in Jesus"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of the Vision Choir (of Lighthouse Church, Ludwigsburg, Sweden) presenting "What a Friend We Have in Jesus":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of good religion teachers.

Br. Raymond La Grange, O.P., on Worship Properly

"In his Summa Theologiae, qq. 81-100, St. Thomas Aquinas discusses the virtue of religion, whereby we render due worship to God our creator. It may seem odd that Thomas devotes 20 questions to this virtue, each composed of several articles. Questions 92-95, in particular, deal with vices of excess. Vices of excess broadly concern “overdoing it,” as opposed to vices of defect. For example, consider the virtue of courage: cowardice is the defect, and foolhardiness is the excess. Thomas then dedicates four questions to excessive religiousness.

"At first sight, this is confusing. It is easy to understand that insufficient religiosity is bad for the soul, but how can we be too religious? An admonition to be 'less religious' may seem like an arbitrary rule that does us no good. Sins of excess in matters of religion, however, do not consist in giving too much worship to God, but in giving improper worship, or worshipping the wrong things. By teaching us how to properly render worship to God, the Church focuses and strengthens our worship, and protects us from evil. These 'rules' are actually valuable insights from the spiritual masters."

In a recent commentary, Brother Raymond La Grange, O.P., reflected on the need
to "worship properly, so that we may more easily understand and develop our relationship with God."

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

Dominicana: Too Much Religion (3 JUL 19)

Reflection Starter from George Eliot

"No story is the same to us after a lapse of time; or rather we who read it are no longer the same interpreters." - George Eliot

22 July 2019

The Heartbeats: "Crazy For You"

It's time for some more doo wop. Here is a presentation of  "Crazy For You" by The Heartbeats:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of brooks and their related beauty in the summer.

The Story of One Voication to the Dominican Sisters of Mary

"'I definitely know it's not a decision that most people would be looking at, especially at this age, but I'm ready to go,' said Mary Catherine Eddyblouin, 23, of Bristol, who will leave her familiar life in just over a month for a convent.

"Eddyblouin's home will soon become the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, a Catholic female religious institute in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The convent is a branch of the Dominican Order, which follows the Rule of St. Augustine.

"'The Dominicans teach and they preach - that's what they do. They study for their entire lives,' Eddyblouin said. 'That's something that was very attractive to me about them.'"

A recent Bangor Daily News article profiled on Ms. Eddyblouin and her decision to become a Dominican Sister of Mary.

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

Bangor Daily News: This Maine woman is giving up everything she owns to enter a Catholic convent (22 JUL 19)

Background information:

Dominican Sisters of Mary

Reflection Starter from Frederick William Faber

"Kind thoughts are rarer than either kind words or deeds. They imply a great deal of thinking about others. This in itself is rare. But they also imply a great deal of thinking about others without the thoughts being criticisms. This is rarer still." - Frederick William Faber

21 July 2019

"Lift Up Your Hearts"

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of the Saint Louis Jesuits presenting "Lift Up Your Hearts":

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Genesis 18:1-10A, Colossians 1:24-28, and Luke 10:38-42. The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 15 (Psalm 15:2-5).

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 15

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me."

The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (July 21, 2019)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 21, 2019)

Community in Mission: The Priority of Personal Prayer (20 JUL 19)

Crossroads Initiative: Mary, Martha and the Catholic Fullness

The Deacon's Bench: Anxious and Worried About Many Things: Homily for July 21, 2019, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (20 JUL 19)

The Sacred Page: Entertaining God: The 16th Sunday of OT (18 JUL 19)

The Sacred Page: Jesus, Martha, and Mary (The Mass Readings Explained) (15 JUL 19)

St. Paul Center: Waiting on the Lord: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Word on Fire: Martha, Mary, and the Attitude of Discipleship (Cycle C * Ordinary Time * Week 16)

Catholic News Agency: Moon landing should inspire 'even greater goals,' Pope Francis urges (21 JUL 19)

National Catholic Register: Sunday Guide: Lessons From Mary and Martha: Jesus Must Be the Center of All Charity and Service (94 JUL 19)

Spirituality of the Readings: Welcoming God (16th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

In Exile: Longing, Desire, and the Face of God (16th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Martha Unmasked (16th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

The Word Engaged: Working and Wanting (16th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Historical Cultural Context: Mary, Martha, and Jesus (16th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Bruno of Segni (16th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)