06 December 2021

139th Street Quartet: "A Good Old Barbershop Song"

It's time for some more barbershop harmony. Here is a presentation of "A Good Old Barbershop Song" by the 139th Street Quartet:


 

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the call to repentance, to a change of heart, that comes to us in a special way during Advent.

Bishop Tobin on the Message of John the Baptist

"Along with the prophets of the Old Testament, particularly Isaiah, and with our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, one of the lead characters of the Advent Season is John the Baptist. In the liturgy of Advent John appears in the Gospels especially on the second and third Sundays.

"John the Baptist is one of the most colorful, eccentric characters of the Bible. . . . He was very popular and people flocked to the wilderness to hear him preach. John is the bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament. He preached like a prophet of the Old, but we read his story in the pages of the New."

In a recent commentary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on the preaching of John the Baptist, including his call to repentance.

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

The Imitation of Christ: The Preacher of Advent: John the Baptist (2 DEC 21) 

Reflection Starter from Earl Nightingale

"It's amazing what a goal, a purpose, will do for a person. The day he or she gets it, if one was lacking it before, it's as though one has been reborn, secretly connected to some enormous source of vital energy and good health." - Earl Nightingale

05 December 2021

A Blast from the Past'

From a number of years ago, brother Jan with his son Daniel (Daniel's first Christmas):



 

 

"On Jordan's Bank"

As we continue our Advent Sunday celebration, I offer this version of "On Jordan's Bank":


 

Second Sunday of Advent

Today the Church celebrates the Second Sunday of Advent. The assigned readings are Baruch 5:1-9; Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11; and Luke 3:1-6. The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 126 (Psalm 126:1-6). 

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 126 The Lord has done great things for us

The Gospel reading is as follows:

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, 
and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
    "A voice of one crying out in the desert:
    'Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.
    Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
    The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth,
    and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Second Sunday of Advent December 5, 2021

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Second Sunday of Advent December 5, 2021

Crossroads Initiative: Advent as the Season of Hope - 2nd Sunday Advent C

St. Paul Center: The Road Home: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Second Sunday of Advent

Magis Center for Catholic Spirituality: Second Sunday of Advent

Word on Fire: The Historical Reality of Jesus (Cycle C * Advent * Week 2)

National Catholic Register: Sunday Guide: Advent: Will We Be Spiritually Ready for Christmas? (3 DEC 21) 

Spirituality of the Readings: Prepare the Way (Second Sunday of Advent - Year C)

In Exile: Advent - Preparing for the Sublime (Second Sunday of Advent - Year C)

Glancing Thoughts: The End of the Story (Second Sunday of Advent - Year C)

The Perspective of Justice: Fulfilling God's Promise (Second Sunday of Advent - Year C)

The Word Engaged: Happiness in Hard Times (Second Sunday of Advent - Year C)

Let the Scriptures Speak: The Incarnation, Still Dawning upon Us (Second Sunday of Advent - Year C) 

Historical Cultural Context: Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins (Second Sunday of Advent - Year C) 

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by Origen of Alexandria (Second Sunday of Advent - Year C)

Birthday Blessings, Jan!!!

Birthday greetings to my brother Jan, whose birthday is today!!! May this day, and each day of the upcoming year, be filled with the Lord's choicest blessings!!

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of the ministry provided by men and women religious.

Nationwide Collection Supports Retirement Needs of U.S. Religious Orders

The annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection will be held in most U.S. Catholic parishes on the weekend of 11-12 December. Coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), this fund-raising appeal helps hundreds of religious communities care for aging members. The U.S. bishops initiated the collection in 1988 to address the significant lack of retirement funding among U.S. religious orders.

Distinct from collections that dioceses hold for their retired diocesan priests, this nationwide effort benefits U.S. religious orders. Known collectively as "women and men religious," most senior Catholic sisters, brothers and religious-order priests served for low wages in such ministries as Catholic schools, parishes and social services. Today, hundreds of religious orders face a critical shortage in retirement savings.

At the same time, the income of religious engaged in compensated ministry cannot keep pace with the growing cost of eldercare. According to NRRO data, retired religious outnumber younger, wage-earning members by roughly three to one, and the total cost of care for senior women and men religious exceeds $1 billion annually.

Since the collection was launched, U.S. Catholics have donated a total of $919 million. The 2020 appeal raised $20.7 million, and financial assistance was disbursed to 321 eligible religious communities across the nation. Communities combine this funding with their own income and savings to help meet eldercare costs. Collection proceeds also underwrite educational and consultative initiatives that help communities improve care delivery and plan for long-term retirement expenses.

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

"We, as the Church, are asked to be yeast that leavens patiently in hiding within the dough of the world, thanks to the Holy Spirit. The secret of the Kingdom of God is found in the little things, things that are often unseen and don't make noise." - Pope Francis

04 December 2021

Santo & Johnny: "Blue Moon"

As this blessed week draws to a close, I offer this version of Santo & Johnny presenting "Blue Moon":


 

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the sacred music and for the graces You bestow on us as we participate in hymns offered during liturgical celebrations.

J-P Mauro on Why Everyone Should Sing at Mass

"From 'Sweet Caroline' to 'We Will Rock You,' raucous crowds of thousands never have any hesitancy about singing along at sporting events. When it comes to Catholic Mass, however, it can be hard for a music minister to lift every voice. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to music and some people just aren't drawn to singing, but music at Mass is more than just music. It is a Catholic exercise in prayer and one in which the Catechism asks all the faithful to participate."

In a recent commentary, writer J-P Mauro, reflected on some of the reasons why it is important to participate in singing at Mass and on some ways a person can participate, even if he/she feels musically challenged.

To access his complete post, please visit:

Aleteia: Why everyone should sing at Mass, even if they aren't good at it (2 DEC 21)

Reflection Starter from St. John Damascene

"The whole earth is a living icon of the face of God. . . . I do not worship matter. I worship the Creator of matter who became matter for my sake, who willed to take His abode in matter, who worked out my salvation through matter. Never will I cease honoring the matter which wrought my salvation! I honor it, but not as God. Because of this I salute all remaining matter with reverence, because God has filled it with his grace and power. Through it my salvation has come to me." - Saint John Damascene, whose memory the Church celebrates today (4 December)

03 December 2021

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Guitar Concerto No. 99

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Guitar Concerto No. 99, as presented by the Samara Philharmonic Orchestra with Flavio Sala on guitar, conducted by Mikhail Sherbakov:


 

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of those who serve in the missions.

Practice Kindness to Change Lives

A bit of wisdom from the Old Testament Book of Sirach teaches us, "Kindness is like a garden of blessings." These words point to the rich rewards that await those who walk in the gentle footsteps of Christ. Our Christopher News Note "Practice Kindness to Change Lives" details stories of people who reap the rewards of following Christ by practicing kindness.

Shannon K. Evans, author of the book Embracing Weakness, exemplifies how kindness can open doors to understanding and healing. Shannon and her husband Eric adopted a son who acted out due to an early childhood trauma. It was difficult to find a place where they fit in as a family until they started volunteering at a Catholic Worker facility called Day House, which is run by people who serve the poor and homeless in their Iowa community.

In a Christopher Closeup interview, Shannon shared how they found acceptance at Day House because some of the clientele suffered from mental health issues, and so their son's behavior was simply taken in stride. Shannon said, "Every model of that kind of volunteer work that I had been a part of was all about me giving to others' needs . . . [But] here, we all cooked the meal together. We all sat down and ate together, and that was very representative of the spirit of the place, of believing that every human being is created in the image of God. And no matter what their circumstances, they do have something to offer other human beings."

The kindness Shannon and Eric exhibited in adopting a troubled child created their need to seek out a community of kindness. But finding that community didn't happen until they made another act of kindness by volunteering to help the poor. And there, among those who suffer and those who serve, they found a community built on kindness, and this helped them to grow and flourish as a family.

Then there's the story of Eleanor Baker, an elderly woman who was sitting alone eating dinner at Brad's Bar-B-Que in Oxford, Alabama, when a young man named Jamario Howard approached her. Jamario was waiting on an order with his friends, JaMychol Baker and Tae Knight, when he noticed Eleanor and wondered if she might be lonely. He struck up a conversation with her and learned she was a widow and that the following day would have been her 60th wedding anniversary. At that point, Jamario knew he couldn't leave Eleanor alone, so he invited her to join him and his friends for dinner, and they had a wonderful evening together. When Jamario posted a photo of them all, it went viral, and CBS News did a story on their moment. Eleanor called it "a God thing," adding, "I think God sent me there."

Jamario said, "I used to say when I was younger, and I still say today, I want to change the world somehow, and I don't know how. I'm not rich. I'm not famous. . . . But we can show the world it's all right to be kind. And then, before long, maybe the world will be a much better place."

Jamario, JayMychol, and Tae inspired others through the kindness they showed to Eleanor. What an amazing thing to do - to inspire others with a simple act of kindness. We should all set out to inspire the world in the same way. We're sure to reap rewards in our own lives and to see a ripple effect that creates a kinder, gentler, and more compassionate society.

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 St. Francis Xavier

"It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards a one's progress, nor the nature of the task, but by the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken" - Saint Francis Xavier, whose memory the Church celebrates today (3 December)

02 December 2021

Steel Rhythm: "Under the Boardwalk"

It's time for some steelpan (or steel drum) music, a type of music I enjoy. In this video, Steel Rhythm is presenting "Under the Boardwalk":


 

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord. for the blessing of electricity and for the many ways electrical appliances benefit us.

Bishop Robert Barron on Advent and Three Comings of Christ

"Many years ago, in the context of a high school religion class, a very wise Benedictine nun gave me a template for understanding Advent that I've never forgotten. It is simply that Advent calls to mind three 'comings' of Christ: the first in history, the second now, and the third at the end of time. Meditating upon each of these is a helpful preparation for the holy season upon which we are embarking."

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 these three comings and on how they help us live in the spirit of this season of Advent.

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

The Boston Pilot: Echoes: Bishop Robert Barron: Three comings of Christ prepare us for Advent (1 DEC 21)

Reflection Starter from Padre Pio

"Do not think of what you are unable to do - but rather think of what you can do and do it well." - Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)

01 December 2021

The Five Satins: "Wonderful Girl"

It's time for some more doo wop. Here is a presentation of "Wonderful Girl" by The Five Satins:


 

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of the Advent wreath and all that it means.

Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP on Reasons to Begin Advent with a Good Confession

"Advent opens the Church's liturgical calendar. The First Sunday of Advent sets the cycle in motion, beginning a new year. Pope Benedict XVI writes, 'The first Sunday of Advent, the Church begins a new Liturgical Year, a new journey of faith that on the one hand commemorates the event of Jesus Christ and, on the other, opens to its ultimate fulfilment.'

"Every confession is a fresh beginning, a new start. As the prophet Isaiah puts it, 'Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow.'

"In confession Christ wipes away our sins, opening the door to new life with him."

In a recent commentary, Father Patrick Briscoe, O.P., reflected on a number of reasons why one should start observing the season of Advent with the sacrament of Reconciliation.

To access Fr Patrick's complete post, please visit: 

Aleteia: Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP: 6 Reasons to start Advent with a good confession (28 NOV 21)

Reflection Starter from Rabbi Harold Kushner

"We are here to change the world with small acts of thoughtfulness done daily rather than with one great breakthrough." - Rabbi Harold Kushner

30 November 2021

"Be Still, My Soul"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of "Be Still, My Soul":


 

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of librarians and other staff members who serve You people vis their ministry in libraries.

Br. Pius Henry, O.P., on Christ's Kingship as Reflected in the Rosary

"So many of the cultural movements of our time have developed a theory of salvation  that promises change and progress, if only they had more power. If only there were more support, they say, then the movement would  be successful, then would the pining cease, then would there be peace among men. But these movements are mistaken. It is only Christ who brings about salvation for all men. It is only Christ who can bring about this peace because it is only in him that our hearts find rest, and it is only his truth that brings about reconciliation. 

"We encounter Jesus' supreme authority throughout the Gospel, which is made more present to us when we pray the Rosary. . . ."

In a recent commentary, Brother Pius Henry, O.P., reflected on how the mysteries of the Rosary show how Christ is king.

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

Dominicana: Crown Him with Many Crowns (22 NOV 21)