31 December 2021
As another year draws to a close, one of the things that should be left behind is the stigma around mental illness. That's why it's so great to hear about the initiative undertaken by the Indianapolis Colts football team, called "Kicking the Stigma." It’s an effort to destigmatize mental illness so that people can understand how common it is to struggle with these issues and to highlight the inherent human dignity of all who suffer.
In an interview with Rich Eisen, Colts owner Jim Irsay said, "The stigma that’s attached with mental illness literally kills people and destroys families." Irsay goes on to ask everyone to consider how destructive it would be for a stigma to be attached to seeking treatment for any other disease, and then he explains that this is exactly the dilemma faced by those who suffer from mental health issues. Irsay says, "They don't want to come out and . . . be called crazy. They don't want to be called unemployable."
The reality is that 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental illness each year, 1 in 6 youth ages 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 34. So when Irsay says that society's stigmatization of mental illness kills, he's backed up by the numbers. But this does not have to be the case. We can cultivate an atmosphere where people feel comfortable talking about their problems and seeking help.
Colts' linebacker Darius Leonard has become a leading voice in destigmatizing mental illness, grounded in his own experiences. In a story put out by the NFL, Leonard said, "It's OK to not be OK. I knew I needed help, and for a long time, I didn't reach out. Once I did reach out, I knew that's what made it better for me. A lot of people have a stigma, especially as men, that you can't show weakness. I'm letting the world know, as a professional football player, a linebacker, one of the most aggressive positions on the field, there's still no weakness because you're having mental health issues."
This is a powerful message that can help break down the barriers to seeking help that exist in many people's minds, and it's a message that coincides with the Christian message. Within our faith, we're encouraged to recognize our broken nature and to constantly submit to the process of seeking healing. When we walk that path, we become better people, who are better able to give of ourselves to others.
Irsay has had his own struggles that have contributed to his vision for "Kicking the Stigma." He has battled addiction and sought help, saying, "I'm diligent about my recovery. It's like amazing grace; it comes from a higher power, and it just starts with the willingness for people to say, 'Help me, I surrender, I can't do it. God, You can, I'm turning my life and my will over to the care of God.'"
Irsay now finds meaning in a life of service, which demonstrates the path we are all called to walk. We must seek healing in order to build ourselves up, and only then can we utilize our gifts to make the world a better place. Engaging in this process is the path of true courage. So let's join in "kicking the stigma" and build a society where the acts of both seeking and offering healing are celebrated for the compassion and courage they entail.
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.
30 December 2021
"In the ancient Church and up until rather recently, one genuflected at the two references to the Incarnation during the Mass: during the Creed and in the Last Gospel (John 1). Why was this done? It was explained to me that the mystery of the Incarnation is so deep, one can only fall in silent reverence.
"There are many paradoxes and seeming impossibilities in the Incarnation. They cannot be fully solved, so they claim our reverence. We genuflected in the past, and today we bow at the mention of the Incarnation in the Creed, for it is a deep mystery.
"As we continue to celebrate Christmas, I would like to list some of the paradoxes of Christmas. I want to say as little about them as possible—just enough to make the paradox clear. This paucity of words (not common with me) is in reverence for the mystery and also to invite your reflection."
In a recent commentary (with a reminder that "mysteries are to be lived more so than solved"), Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish,
Washington, DC) reflected on some of the paradoxes related to Christmas..
To access Msgr. Pope's complete post, please visit:
Community in Mission: Paradoxes of Christmas (27 DEC 21)
29 December 2021
As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of the Old Friends Quartet presenting "Glory to God in the Highest":
"I like to watch old movies. Over the past several months, I've watched (or re-visited) a number of Alfred Hitchcock
thrillers, some screwball comedies from the thirties and forties, and a
couple of film-noir classics. Last week, over the course of three
evenings, I managed to get through the three hours and forty minutes
(yes, you read that correctly) of the Charlton Heston version of the Ten Commandments from 1956.
With delight, I took in the still marvelous technicolor, the
over-the-top costumes, the wonderfully corny faux-Shakespearean
dialogue, and the hammy acting that is, one might say, so bad that it's
good. But what especially struck me was the sheer length
of the film. Knowing that it required a rather extraordinary act of
attention on the part of its audience, it is astonishing to remember
that it was wildly popular, easily the most successful movie of its
time. It is estimated that, adjusted for inflation, it earned a box
office of roughly two billion dollars. Would moviegoers today, I
wondered, ever be able to muster the patience required to make a film
like the Ten Commandments equally popular today? I think the question answers itself."
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 the attention span of viewers/readers when it comes to long movies, books, and other presentations..
To access Bishop Barron's complete post, please visit:
Word on Fire: "The Ten Commandments" and Our Pathetic Attention Span (28 DEC 21)
"In the midst of the world's darkness, we are told how to walk in the Light: keep God's commandments; love one another without exception; stay close to Mary who will help you to carry your cross; and trust in her Son's plan for you. If we do all this, our days will be bright." - Bishop Michael F. Burbidge (Diocese of Arlington, VA)
28 December 2021
A number of articles/posts have recently been published on a variety of Catholic-related subjects worth considering.
To access some of these, please visit:
"The liturgy of the Church is not only an act of worship, but is also meant to teach us. This extends to the liturgical calendar. The harmony of its order and structure teaches us every year. And on special occasions this extends to the coincidences of when different feast days fall in relation to one another. For example, in 2016 we had the very rare situation where Good Friday fell on March 25th, the usual date for the Annunciation. Because the Annunciation is such an important feast its celebration was moved that year instead of simply being skipped, but the remembrance of our Lord's death on a day normally dedicated to the first moments of his Incarnation opened up theological depths for prayerful reflection.
"A similar coincidence has taken place
over the course of the last few days, not in a single day as in 2016,
but in the sequence of celebrations. . . ."
In a recent commentary, Brother Christopher Daniel, O.P.,
reflected on the importance of, in the midst of this holiday season and times spent with our relatives, spending time with
the Holy Family in prayer.
To access Br. Christopher's complete post, please visit:
Dominicana: Family Time (27 DEC 21)
27 December 2021
"[Thirty years ago on] Christmas Day, the Soviet flag flew over the Kremlin for the last time. Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev resigned. That fateful Christmas brought a peaceful end to a bloody and tumultuous regime. . . .
"The first Christmas in Bethlehem came to pass during the reign of Caesar Augustus. Augustus was the founder of the Roman Principate, the first period of the Roman Empire. His reign was effective. His leadership brought about a period of relative peace, known down through the ages as the Pax Romana. These two centuries, absent large-scale conflict, were remarkable years of peace for Rome.
the birth of Christ, kings have faltered and fallen. Empires have
arisen and crumbled. The unscrupulous engine of history steams ever
"So how is this child king rightly called the 'Prince of Peace'?"
In a recent commentary, Father Patrick Briscoe, O.P., reflected on how the peace of Christ is not a technique or state of mind, but is a peace based on knowing and loving God.
To access Fr Patrick's complete post, please visit:
Aleteia: Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP: Beyond the mighty schemes of men (25 DEC 21)
"And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of
the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" - Colossians 3:17
26 December 2021
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The assigned readings are Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Colossians 3:12-21;
and Luke 2:41-52. The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 128 (Psalm 128:1-5).
For one version of the Responsorial Psalm set to music, please visit:
YouTube: Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: Psalm 128 - Blessed Are Those Who Fear The Lord [YEAR C]
The Gospel reading is as follows:
Reflections on these readings:
Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Feast of the Holy Family December 26, 2021