whatsappOur community WhatsApp chat is made of cork board. Like a digital WhatsApp chat, it keeps us up to date on practical news, like van organization to and from class and daily schedule changes, and it’s also a place to share prayer intentions, motivations, and notes of gratitude. Yes, we really do call it our WhatsApp chat. (In Greenville we had a paper Facebook wall…)

This morning I found this message there:

It says: “Jesus at our age surely went to the sinagogue to learn the Torah… He who was Wisdom! Let us unite ourselves to him, to his hidden life, and love him a lot. Happy return to classes!” Continue reading

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Hope and change and making American great again

americaIn a few days, Donald Trump will take the oath of office and become the 45th president of the United States.  Expect parades, demonstrations, parties and protests.

Not everyone in America is on the same page.

To some, this change of administrations marks the end of hope and change.  To others, it is the end of an eight-year nightmare.

In reality, it is a moment in the ongoing history of nation with the highest of ideals that is populated by humans who always fallen well short of perfection. Continue reading

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lightIsaiah uses the image of light to explain Israel’s call to give witness to the nations of God’s presence. They are no longer servants, but rather witnesses of God’s love, because God was coming to live in them. John the Baptist sets us a marvelous example of witnessing to God’s love. God touched John and left him burning so much that He needed to tell everyone about Him. John tells us very succinctly what his experience is: The Lamb of God who will take away our sins. He saw in Jesus the Son of God who in the sacrificial lamb offers himself for us out of love. John experienced God’s presence and left him burning. He burns with the light of God and shines in the darkness witnessing to God’s love and mercy. He saw, or was able to experience God, because He was waiting for God’s light to shine on him. John wants us to believe. He wants us to be attentive to God’s presence in our lives. John was convinced that God was among us in Jesus, because of His experience of God. Follow the example of John, waiting eagerly for God’s embrace in our lives, so we can reveal God’s love by being his light for others.

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Inspirational thoughts

heart“My greatest happiness is to be before the Blessed Sacrament, where my heart is, as it were, in Its center.” — St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Several years ago, as I was coming out of a Parish youth activity in Northern Virginia, a fifteen seater van full of kids pulled up and the mom rolled the window and asked, “Fr. Michael, would you mind just staying here with these kids for 5-10 minutes?  I really need to make a visit to Jesus in the chapel!”  She looked a little frazzled and tired, so I agreed, and tried to do a catechism competition to keep them engaged.  Ten minutes later, she came out with a big smile on her face and thanked me from the heart.  She had filled her spiritual tank and was ready to go!

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Food from the ends of the earth

romeOne of the many blessings I receive by working for a Roman Catholic organization is that I visit Rome occasionally.

I’ve been there more than a dozen times.  I mention this not to suggest I’m important, but to establish my credentials for what follows.

McDonald’s has been in Italy since 1985.  That was more than a decade before my first visit to that beautiful country.  So by the time I arrived, it wasn’t unusual to see the golden arches peeking out from behind a famed architectural treasure or mundane subway station.

As shocking as this may seem to some folks, Italians are buying lots of burgers and fries.  And if they were not, McDonald’s wouldn’t be building restaurants around the Eternal City.  The company is an American, capitalist institution.  (I don’t say that as a criticism.) Continue reading

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The Peace of Being a Child!

“May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.”

(St. Teresa of Ávila)

fatherSt. Therese of Lisieux was not a theologian, but she is a doctor of the Church. She knew who God was. And because she knew who God was, she knew who she was. But this knowledge was not a dogmatic knowledge. It was experiential and shaped her whole life.

She was a daughter of God!

We are children of the Father. This is our identity! He is our infinitely loving Father who yearns in every way to draw us to his heart, the father in the Gospel who receives his children home even when they have rejected his love (Lk 15). We are his sons and daughters. We are the beloved of the Lover of the Song of Songs. This is where our identity comes from, not from our status, family or achievements, and it is this identity that guides the loving path our Father has chosen for each of us in our journey home to his arms.

God’s logic is not our logic, nor is his justice is one of pluses and minuses, of checks and balances, as is ours. It is the justice of a loving Father towards his children. “God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy.” (Pope FrancisEvangelii Gaudium)

May we identity firmly with our childhood. May this unshakable and indelible truth shape our existence and give us the deepest peace.

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Welcome the Christmas visitors

christmasAll of us “practicing” Catholics witness the appearance of visitors at Christmas Mass.

Some are visiting family and friends.  Some are semi-practicing Catholics who get into the Christmas spirit and decide to see what is happening.  Perhaps some are people who just came in to escape snow and ice.

We regulars have varied reactions to these strangers. Continue reading

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The day after Christmas

christmasTo all the moms…

He saw it all.

He didn’t miss a thing.

Hours and days of planning and working and lovingly reflecting on how to welcome the Christ Child in your family… how to bring smiles to faces and memories to little hearts… Christmas shopping, menus, grocery lists, and hours of cooking dishes hoped to bring celebration and connection among family and friends. Always with a deep love, sometimes with a little stress and fatigue, stealing the precious moments of silence and prayer you can during this busy time, resolving to keep your heart and home centered on Christ and his coming. Continue reading

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Can a Christmas carol offend the Immaculata?






The first time I heard the popular new carol “Mary, did you know?” sung by Cee Lo Green, I was struck by a sense of reverence at the depth of the mystery the song lays out. It became part of my Advent/Christmas playlist.   CeeLo Green – “Mary Did You Know” [Official Audio]

Recently a friend opined that they found the song offensive to Mary, since she, immaculately conceived and a well-versed daughter of Israel would of course have known all of these things… How rude to assume her ignorance…. Continue reading

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Prayers of pure purpose

prayersI am confirming a rumor you likely have heard for many years.  You won’t be disappointed.

Young men studying at the Legion’s seminaries, discerning a call to the priesthood, spend a good deal of time in prayer.  If a man is considering the priesthood, he better learn how to converse with God.

Seminarians use many types of prayer.  Sometimes they write prayers.  A few of the men at Cheshire have been composing prayers for vocations:

Continue reading

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