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Resources for the Journey:

Resources for the journey: this Pinionmarc web page offers a point of contact to promote communications by presenting common “resources” to support the effort of those interested in working or surfing in one of the following areas.

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 The Eight Areas Of Concern:

  1. RESOURCE: The Family
  2. RESOURCE: Citizenship And Voting
  3. RESOURCE: Government Services
  4. RESOURCE: Growing Older and Retirement
  5. RESOURCE: Education and Computer Technology
  6. RESOURCE: Environmental Concerns and Conservation
  7. RESOURCE: Health Concerns and Medical Resources
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  9. RESOURCE: Faith and Spirituality



See Below in the following Order — Use the Table of Content’s Links to find the Resources you want.

  1. RESOURCE: At Home with the Word 2018, LTP, pages 76-79.
  2. RESOURCE: Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary,  LTP, pages 102-103.
  3. RESOURCE: Living Liturgy™ Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis for Sundays and Solemnities 2018, Liturgical Press, Online Pages 48-51.
  4. RESOURCE: The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections,, pages 70-71
  5. RESOURCE: Sacred Reading,The 2018 Guide to Daily Prayer,   Apostleship of Prayer, pages 63-64.
  6. RESOURCE: Lectio Divina, Magnificat, January 2018, pages 186-188.
  7. RESOURCE: Magnificat Reflections, December 2017, pages  400,  403-404, 211-216  & 329-330
  8. RESOURCE: Give Us This Day® Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, January 21, 2018, pages 292-293.
  9. RESOURCE: Homily for Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 21, 2018     
  10. RESOURCE: Holy Father’s Intention For The Month Of January 2018  —The Apostleship of Prayer
  11. RESOURCE: KNOM Radio Mission’s Monthly Bulletin’s, One-Liners in Faith For January 2018
  12. RESOURCE: Suggested Prayer of the Faithful: Faith Catholic Online;   Daily Prayer 2018;   OCP;   Magnificat;  Liturgical Press.
  13. RESOURCE: General Intercessions OnThird Sunday of Ordinary Time, January 21, 2018 – Cycle B – Saint Peter Parish, Kirkwood

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READING I       Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Moses spoke to all the people, saying: “A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen. This is exactly what you requested of the LORD, your God, at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God, nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.’ And the LORD said to me, ‘This was well said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it. But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.”

RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9 (8)

R: If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; let us acclaim the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to him. R.

Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides. R.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice: “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works.” R.

READING II       1 Corinthians 7:32-35

Brothers and sisters: I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.

GOSPEL       Mark 1:21-28

Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Practice of Faith

“Quiet!” This is the word Jesus speaks to the unclean spirit before commanding it to depart. It is the same word Jesus later uses to command the storm to “be still.” In the face of our own demons, both internal and external, perhaps the command “Quiet!” is the one we first need to obey in faith. Only when we become quiet can God’s words of direction, mercy, and healing enter our lives.

Gather your family before bedtime and pray together silently for five minutes. Ask your children how it felt to visit with God in this way. • When do you usually plug into the noise of TV or radio? During the car ride home? While prepping the evening meal? Purposely unplug and get quiet while still engaging the task at hand. Offer this time in prayer. What do you notice? • Sacred music can help calm our restlessness. Take a few minutes to listen to music from a Renaissance Mass by Thomas Tallis, sung by the Collegium Regale at kEwQ51ziCU8, or Gregorian chant by the monks of Santo Domingo de Silos in Spain at /watch?v=zmxCfpsX9Xo.

Download more questions and  activities for families, Christian  initiation groups, and other adult  groups at­productsupplements.aspx.

Scripture Insights

Today’s readings speak to us about why God chose to come to us in human form in the person of Jesus. The First Reading is part of a very long speech presented as if given by Moses before the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land after their Exodus from slavery and their long journey. In the verses we hear today, the author is describing the role of the prophets in the land of Israel. They will be the mediators between God and the people, mediators whom God will raise up from among the people at the appropriate time, and they will speak God’s Word to the people.

Thus the prophet is given to humans as an accommodation, since the people cannot endure regular, direct encounters with God like the ones they experienced in the Exodus. Christians later reinterpreted this idea of a “prophet like Moses” as fulfilled in Jesus, the prophet par excellence.

In today’s Gospel, we hear of Jesus’ first miracle as told in Mark’s Gospel—the story of Jesus driving an unclean spirit out of a man. Ancients believed that certain diseases were caused by unclean spirits inhabiting the person. Mark shapes the meaning of this story by giving it a rather lengthy introduction and conclusion. “What is this? A new teaching with authority?” (Mark 1:27). The story prompts us to ask about the source of Jesus’ authority both in speech and in action. Notice the irony—that the unclean spirit is the one who reveals Jesus’ true identity! Why is that?

  • Reflect on the Gospel story by separating Mark’s introduction and conclusion from the miracle story itself. What more do we learn from that beginning andending? How does Mark’s use of this technique shape the meaning of the story?
  • Imagine what it might have been like for the Israelites to encounter God face-to-face on Mount Sinai. In what ways is it easier or harder to experience God through the prophet’s voice?
  • Pray today’s Responsorial Psalm and let it speak to you about where you encounter God’s voice and what keeps you from truly hearing it in your life.

At Home with the Word 2018, LTP, pages 76-79.

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Acknowledging the Lord’s Authority

DEUTERONOMY 18:15-20 We do not know much about the author of Deuteronomy except that he lived in about the seventh century BC and was very concerned about the nega­tive influence of the monarchy on Israel’s faith. This con­cern led him to reinterpret some of Israel’s earlier traditions in order to make them more relevant for his own time. In the First Reading, the author incorporates two specific strands of Israel’s past. The most obvious is the Exodus-Moses tradition. Indeed, most of Deuteronomy, including this passage, was written as if it were a farewell speech by Moses. The second strand of tradition, that of Elijah, is less obvious. The phrase “I will raise up for them a prophet like you” (v. 18) is a reference to the prophet Elijah’s resem­blance to Moses.

The literary context for these words is a warning against using divination or other means of fortune telling to pre­dict and control the future. For the author of Deuteronomy, such things were wrong on two counts. First, they were pagan practices borrowed from Israel’s neighbors; second, they were veiled attempts to manipulate the power of the one true God. Although divination is not as enticing today as it might have been in the days of Deuteronomy, most of us are still not entirely free from the desire to play God on occasion. However, the author of Deuteronomy shows us that the Lord our God already knows our need to commu­nicate with the divine. Indeed, that is why he often spoke through prophets like Moses and Elijah to communicate his word, drawing his people close to him. Christians believe that God sent his only Son, Jesus, a great prophet, but also true God and true man, to draw us into commu­nion with him.

PSALM 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9 (8) The words of this psalm might have originally been a processional song sung to remind the people of whom they were coming to worship as they made their way to the Temple. The psalmist says that the Lord is a “great God,” a “great King above all gods” (v. 3). All of creation belongs to him, and he has the authority and power to do whatever he wants. He is the “rock of our salva­tion” and because of this his people can make a “joyful noise” (v. 1). As the exuberant procession approaches the Temple, another voice is heard, perhaps that of a priest. It is not enough to acknowledge God with our words, he warns; we must also acknowledge his authority and power by the way we live. Thus, the psalmist exhorts the people to hear the Lord’s voice and not harden their hearts as the Israelites had at Meribah and Massah in the desert.

1 CORINTHIANS 7:32-35    This Sunday, Paul continues his reflection on the question of marriage and in the process reveals a decided preference for the single life. It is not that marriage is wrong, he says, it is that singleness promotes more focused attention to the work of God. Married per­sons, he argues, have to concern themselves with the needs of their spouse and family. Single people are free to devote themselves to God. For Paul, singleness is a charism, a gift that enables a person to be more fully available to God and to other people. Ultimately, though, whether single or mar­ried, Paul’s desire is that a Christian be as totally devoted to God as Jesus was.

MARK 1:21-28 According to Mark, the appearance of Jesus on earth set off a spiritual battle between the powers of good and the powers of evil. Today’s Gospel records the first of four specific conflicts. Jesus enters the synagogue and is immediately challenged by the man with an unclean spirit. The unclean spirit even knows Jesus’ name, which in that day was a sign that this unclean spirit had power over Jesus. But Jesus is in control. He rebukes the unclean spirit, and the man it has tormented is healed. Astonished, the people in the synagogue marvel, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (v. 27). Although Mark often depicts Jesus as a teacher, he records very little of what Jesus actually said. Instead, Mark prefers to concentrate on the authority of Jesus as evidenced in his works, such as the healing in today’s Gospel. For Mark, however, both Jesus’ teaching and his power to heal confirm that he is indeed the Son of God. Even in the unexpected words of the unclean spirit, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God,” is a con­fession of Jesus’ true identity (v. 24).


♦         The first commandment tells us we are to wor­ship and serve only the Lord our God. It forbids the worship of other gods (CCC, 2084-2141).

♦         The Christian is obliged in conscience not to fol­low authorities that are contrary to the Gospel, the moral order, or the fundamental rights of persons (CCC, 2242).

♦        The fourth command­ment has us honor our father and mother and all who receive author­ity from God for the good of society. Those in authority also have certain duties (CCC, 2197-2257).

Scripture Backgrounds for The Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 102-103. 


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Reflecting on the Gospel

Having called his first four disciples, Jesus goes to the village of Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee, where he begins to teach in the synagogue. He is confronted by evil, a man with an unclean spirit. There is a foreshadowing here as we know that in the end, Jesus will lose his life in a confrontation with evil. What the reader knew from the beginning of Mark’s gospel, namely, that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God (1:1), the man with the unclean spirit shouts out, “I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” No human being, only the spirits, call Jesus this during his earthly ministry. The only human being to call him “the Son of God” will be the centurion, and only after he has witnessed Jesus die on the cross (15:39). Jesus’ mission necessarily involves a confrontation with evil, suffering, and death, only after which his true identity as “Son of God” can be proclaimed by a human being.

As we have it in this story, Jesus commands the evil spirit to come out of the man, and it obeys, though not without dramatic theatrics. The assembled people were understandably amazed. And, not surprisingly, Jesus’ reputation spread.

As we will learn later in the gospel, Jesus’ wonder-working will be tempered with suffering and ultimately death. We have here not the lilies-of-the-field Jesus but the Jesus who encounters, battles, and is victorious over evil.

The term “authority” is used twice in this story. Jesus’ teaching is not like the others, for he teaches with authority. As if to demonstrate the authority Jesus wields, even the unclean spirit obeys him. If any wondered about his teaching authority, they need look no further than the man from whom the unclean spirit was expelled.

It is significant too that the disciples were with Jesus during this encounter. We see that no sooner had the disciples been called by Jesus to be his followers than did they encounter evil. The disciples are in relationship with Jesus, and as such they witness the opposition he faces. Later they will encounter similar opposition. Even though the gospel does not tell the story, we, like those in Mark’s community, know that many of Jesus’ disciples lost their lives too in confrontations with evil.

Living the Paschal Mystery

Perhaps we do not like to hear it, but the Christian life (and, in fact, any life) is riddled by encounters with evil. We learn in today’s gospel that Jesus is more powerful than that. Jesus has authority and by that authority he can dispel what is oppositional and troublesome. Once we become followers of Jesus we will still encounter challenges and hostility. Some might wish to think that be­coming Christian inoculates one from having those encounters. But the gospel (and our own lived experience) tells a different story.

Even though we will continue to face such encounters, we are comforted in knowing that Jesus has authority over all. A preacher once phrased it this way: “Rest assured in your baptism.” By that he meant that our baptism configures us to Christ, who will be with us. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we disregard precautions, or that we walk around in a state of naïveté. Remember that Jesus himself was killed. It does mean that we have an ally, the author of life. Once we know this, we can rest assured. Even death itself is not the final word.

Focusing the Gospel         Mark 1:21-28

For the Jews of Jesus’ time, the scribes were the voices of authority, the final arbiters of the law. Their status was centered in their ability to read and write, a skill possessed by less than 10 percent of the population. Their interpretation of the law was considered absolute.

“Unclean spirits” (the phrase Mark uses for “demons”) are encountered several times in Mark’s gospel. Any condition or behavior that could not be explained or understood, such as disease, mental illness, or bizarre or criminal behavior, was considered the physical manifestations of the evil one—“demons” or “unclean spirits.”

Both the unclean spirits and the skeptical scribes are silenced in today’s gospel. Jesus’ casting out the unclean spirit from the possessed man silences the demons of hatred and division that plague humanity. In his compassionate outreach to the poor and sick, Jesus “silences” the scribes by redefining their understanding of authority: whereas the “authority” of the scribes’ words is based solely on their perceived status and learnedness, the authority of Jesus is born of compassion, peace, and justice. The casting out of the demons and his curing of the sick are manifestations of the power and grace of his words.

Note that the people of the Bible viewed these deeds differently than we might. Even the Gospel of Mark uses the term “mighty deed” rather than “mir­acle.” While we, in our high-tech, scientific approach to the world, might dis­miss miracles as some kind of disruption or “overriding” of the laws of nature, the contemporaries of Jesus saw these mighty deeds as signs of God’s immedi­ate activity in his creation. While we ask, How could this happen? they asked, Who is responsible for this happening? Those who witnessed Jesus’ healings saw these mighty deeds as God directly touching their lives.

Focusing the First Reading               Deut 18:15-20

 Today’s first reading, from the book of Deuteronomy, recounts God’s promise to raise up a successor to Moses—a promise Christians saw as ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. But Moses cautions the Israelite tribes to listen with careful and wise discernment to those who claim to speak with the authority of the prophetic office, to be clear in their own minds and hearts that a “prophet” speaks the au­thentic word of God with humility and integrity.

Focusing the Responsorial Psalm    Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9 (8)

For more than twenty-five hundred years, Psalm 95 has invited God’s people to worship at the beginning of the day (it is still the first psalm sung each morn­ing in the Liturgy of the Hours). The first verses sung today praise God for his continued saving action in our midst; the final verses are a painful reminder to Israel of its revolt against God in the wilderness during the exodus and the con­sequences of their lack of trust in God’s word.

Focusing the Second Reading    1 Cor 7:32-35

Keeping in mind the social mores regarding marriage and family life in Paul’s time as well as the expectation of the first Christians that the Parousia would happen in their lifetimes, today’s reading from 1 Corinthians reminds the Chris­tians of Corinth that the business of life—including our relationships—should be free from anxiety. Whether married or unmarried (and Paul believes that the unmarried should remain so), their undivided attention should be on the coming of the Lord.

C E L E B R A T I O N  

Model Penitential Act

Presider: Let us begin our celebration of these sacred mysteries by confessing our fail­ings and sins, confident of God’s mercy and grace. [pause]

Lord Jesus, you reconcile us to God and to one another: Lord, have mercy.                                                               Lord Jesus, you shepherd us in the ways of God: Christ, have mercy.                                                                              Lord Jesus, you drive out the unclean spirits of sin that possess us: Lord, have mercy.

Homily Points

  • True authority is empowered by persuasion, not coercion; effective leadership is a matter of articulating a shared goal rather than warning of the consequences of failure. Jesus’ “authority” inspires rather than enforces; he sees his call to “lead” as a trust, as a responsibility to serve others by revealing the God who calls us to compassion and mercy for the sake of his kingdom of peace. To possess the authority of the gospel Jesus is to become men and women of empathy, compassion, and selflessness for those we are called to teach, to guide, and to serve.
  • The “unclean spirit” that Jesus casts out of the poor man in today’s gospel is the voice of evil that sometimes speaks within us: the voice of revenge, self-centeredness, self-righteousness, greed, anger. The fear of letting go, those narrow attitudes and per­ceptions we cling to are the “unclean spirits” we all possess—or possess us: “unclean spirits” that disable us from extending compassion and kindness, “unclean spirits” that scare us from making the moral and ethical decision, “unclean spirits” that limit our per­ception to our own wants and needs. In our own acts of compassion and generosity, we can speak with the voice of Christ to drive out the unclean spirits that possess our minds and hearts and dispossess us of the things of God.
  • Scribes were experts in the finer points regarding application of Mosaic law. Because they possessed the ability to read and write (unlike most of the population), they were well-regarded by others and indeed themselves! Oftentimes they focused on the finer points to such a degree that they missed the larger point. Today we might say they missed the forest for the trees. This can be a temptation for each of us who is well-versed in a given subject. We can become experts in trivial detail. We are reminded that Jesus was able to see the bigger picture and make that the focus of his teaching and preaching.


About Liturgy

Reclaiming authority: We need to reclaim a few words in our church today.            “Tra­ditional” doesn’t mean old or stodgy; it means being connected to something bigger than oneself. “Hierarchy” is not code for “whatever Father wants”; it describes how we all matter and must all do our part. And “authority” isn’t about power. It’s about being authentic and true to one’s self and the community. It requires integrating one’s ex­perience into the current situation and speaking prophetically with wisdom, prudence, compassion, and courage. Authority is not lauded over others but is shared to draw the community together to act with confidence and hope only if necessary.

Our leaders and all who participate in the liturgy have authority, not because of any title or degree. We have authority when what we say and do together is “of God” through Christ in the Spirit, flowing from our baptismal rights and responsibilities. We have authority when we know where we have come from as a universal church and a local community and have listened to the wisdom of both those who have come before us and those who are the young church, called to be prophets for today. We have au­thority when we do not choke our communities with rigid rubricism but we use the tra­dition and rubrics to attend with creativity and compassion to the needs of real people seeking real hope for the real demons from which they suffer.

Most of all, we have authority when all we say and do is done with the abundant and merciful love of God, the author of love, who spoke with human love through Jesus, and who continues to speak through us, the people of God.

Preaching with authority: Clergy have a grave responsibility here, as their litur­gical preaching affects how the laity will, in turn, proclaim Christ to the world. Today’s readings show how homilists can preach with greater authority. Moses announced to the people that one of their own would rise up to speak in God’s name. Jesus, one like us yet never sinned, spoke with authority directly to the demons of his day. Homilists cannot stand apart from the people to whom they preach, speaking as if they were a separate class. Those who preach with authority must know the community, under­stand their pain and suffering, share their joys and griefs, and speak in their language in ways that move their hearts. In other words, the homilist begins with the people and “interprets peoples’ lives” through the Scriptures (Fulfilled in Your Hearing, 52), or as Pope Francis says, they must be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep” (Chrism Mass homily, March 28, 2013).

When homilists speak from their genuine concern and knowledge of their assem­bly’s lives, then the assembly will, at the end of every Mass, be able to “go and an­nounce the Gospel of the Lord.”

About Liturgical Music

Singing with authority: Bono, the lead singer for the rock band U2, made headlines in early 2016 when he said he wished that modern Christian music would be more honest like the psalms. He’s right. The psalms run the gamut of human emotion: rage, anger, joy, hopeless despair, unwarranted hope. Why should our other liturgical songs not have the same authenticity?

Composers and those who select the music for our assemblies each week have the great opportunity and responsibility to help us sing with the authority of Jesus, who commanded even demons to obey him. Seek out strong texts and sturdy melodies, and don’t shy away from challenging lyrics. One hymn to consider for this week that places our power within the authoritative power of Christ is Marty Haugen’s “God Is Still Speaking” (GIA Publications).

Living Liturgy™ Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis for Sundays and Solemnities 2018, Liturgical Press, Pages 48-51.

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Tell Me The Good News

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Deut 18:15-20; Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9; 1 Cor 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28

“What is this? A new teaching—with authority!” (Mark 1:27)

We are all formally students for some time in our lives, and it is best to remain informal students throughout our lives, for there is no point at which there is not something we can learn. At the same time, most of us function as teachers at many points in our lives, some of us professionally but most of us casually, guiding and directing people in ways that might even escape us. We teach by how we live, how we treat people, how we respond under stress, how we reprimand a child, how we help a neighbor, as well as by more concrete and direct ways of teaching.

Some of us, by training and vocation, teach religion and theology, and it is those of us engaged in this vocation who must always remain students in our area of expertise, for Jesus says, “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah” (Matt 23:8-10). This teaching is directed at all Christians, but it is a difficult teaching for those called upon to be teachers and instructors, for it is easy to forget that in the things of God we are always students.

It is telling, and especially humbling for biblical scholars, to remember that Jesus did not choose his apostles from among the biblical interpreters or experts in Jewish Halakhah (roughly equivalent to canon lawyers today) but from among the fishermen. How could fishermen be teachers in the Bible and Jewish law when they had not been formally trained? What did they know that the experts did not?

What the fishermen knew, or were willing to encounter, was the only true subject: God. The unschooled fishermen knew Jesus, spent time with Jesus, and were willing to learn from Jesus what they did not know. This is why, as Ben F. Meyer wrote years ago, “professional interpreters appear to differ markedly from commonsense readers and, on technical aspects of interpretation . . . they do. In other respects, however, e.g., encounter with the text, report on encounter, critique of truth and value, the supe­riority of the professionals is random and unreliable” (Critical Realism and the New Testament [Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1989], 28). It was not technical expertise that Jesus sought in his apostles but the willingness to encounter the word of God as life-changing and life-giving.

It was the encounter with truth that led the students, the crowds of ordinary people in Galilee, Judea, and elsewhere, to throng around the teacher Jesus; they responded as people hungry to learn the deepest reality about God and themselves. So, “when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” The religious ex­perts, the scribes, are mentioned, though it seems they are not present, as a contrast to Jesus’ authority. Perhaps the experts hung back, wary of how Jesus’ teaching might affect their livelihood or authority, or because they disagreed that Jesus’ authority was grounded in the Scriptures or God.

Yet, Jesus’ final act in the Capernaum synagogue is the demonstration of the divine ground of his teaching authority, for “just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’ ” Jesus healed the man of the unclean spirit, and the people were again amazed, referring to this action of Jesus as a “teaching”: “They kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching—with authority!’ ” It is God’s presence and power that is the lesson not only to learn but to encounter.

It is necessary to have teachers in all areas of knowledge, and this in­cludes theology and biblical studies. Expertise and properly ordered authority are essential for all fields. But ultimately we are all students of the one teacher, whose authority is ordered to our salvation and joy. From this school we never graduate; this teacher is always guiding us. This education is perfected for our final purpose: to know God.

Imagine yourself in the Capernaum synagogue. Are you prepared to learn from the one true teacher? What questions do you have for Jesus? What do you still need to learn?

The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, Liturgical Press, pages 70-71.

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January 2018            Sunday, January 28, 2018            Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Know that God is present and ready to converse.

“Jesus, God has given you all power in heaven and on earth. You do wondrous things to the glory of God. By your Word, Lord, do wondrous things in me. Thank you.”

Read the gospel: Mark 1:21-28.

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him; saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, throwing him into convulsions and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

Notice what you think and feel as you read the gospel.

Jesus, unlike other religious teachers, shows his authority in his teach­ing. When an unclean spirit speaks out loudly in the synagogue, Jesus commands him to be silent and exorcises the unclean spirit from the possessed man. Just as he has authority to calm the wind and sea during the storm, he has authority in the spiritual realm, too.

Pray as you are led for yourself and others.

“1 can do nothing unless you work in me, Lord. You have given me some authority in my own life. Let me use it according to your will, especially in serving those you have given me . . .” (Continue in your own words.)

Listen to Jesus.

As I came to serve, I ask you to serve, and I know you understand that. How can I help you serve more effectively? Ask me for what you need, disciple. What else is Jesus saying to you?

Ask God to show you how to live today.

“I need your spirit to guide me and enable me to do your will. Please give me the gifts of wisdom, courage and true devotion to you. Thank you for your blessings, Lord. Amen”

 Sacred Reading, The 2018 Guide To Daily Prayer, Apostleship of Prayer, pages 63-64.

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The Gospel for the Forth Sunday in Ordinary Time        —     Mark 1:21-28


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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

What can free us from being `anxious about the things of the world”? The authority of Jesus, who “commands even the un­clean spirits and they obey him.” The people in the time of Moses begged for such a prophet. That promise is fulfilled definitively in Jesus Christ, whose authority astonishes the assembled crowd. “If today you hear his voice,” adhere “to the Lord without distrac­tion.” “To him you shall listen,” because obeying the authority of Christ makes us more human and fills us with a burning desire for things truly great.       Magnificat, January 2018, page 400.

Rebuking the Devils Within

But always we persevere, and must persevere, with the same desire for obedience with which we (began)…on that first day. With that same holy fear we must exercise our spirit in continual humble prayer right up to the last day of our life, so that our spirit will never become lazy. We should always be occupied with praying the Psalms or meditating or raising our mind to God, pon­dering within ourselves the blazing charity we discover and see in the blood of the Word, God’s Son. For he has made a bath of his blood to wash away our sins.

When we see and consider that God loves us so much, we cannot keep ourselves from loving. And when we love, our mind thinks about the object of our love. Now we cannot live without love. And since two opposing loves cannot exist together, we must of necessity be stripped of perverse love and clothed in God’s. Because our heart cannot but be sensitive to the one we love, we use holy thoughts to drive out the evil thoughts the devil would like to put into our heart. And the devil, finding that our heart is ablaze in the fire of divine char­ity, doesn’t come around much, any more than a fly comes around a boiling cauldron. But if the devil were to find our heart fearful and lukewarm, he would come in right away with all his ugly thoughts and imaginings.

So we must keep active so that we will be found not lukewarm or empty but filled with God in holy desire, remembering and meditating on the wonderful bless­ings we have received from him.                                   SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA  – Saint Catherine of Siena (†1380) Doctor of the Church, was a Dominican stigmatist, and papal counselor.                                            Magnificat, January 2018, pages 403-404.


A Universe in a Grain   —          Anthony Esolen

A MAN SITS HUNCHED OVER A LONG OAK TABLE, his eyes peering at a flat square of stretched and treated sheepskin before him. Scattered over the table are small pots of colors, the whites of eggs, and some glue rendered from the bones of fish. There are also quills of all sizes, and reeds, some sharp­ened to an almost invisible point. And herbs, berries, petals, stones crushed to powder, tiny flakes of gold and silver, and the oily soot from lamps—lampblack.

“Master,” says a boy coming into the room, “the tide is out and the merchant is on his way. He says to tell you that the mountains have given up their jewels. What does he mean?”

Only at low tide can a man cross on foot from the coast to the holy island.

“Ah, that is good news, good news indeed!” cries the artist, looking up from his work and smiling. He is speckled with colors upon his fingers and wrists and even his face, and though most of it he can wash away at nightfall, he will take a little of it happily to the grave with him. “It means that the lapis has come from India. Now will my Virgin wear her finest blue.”

“What is India?” says the boy, now leaning over the sheepskin. What he sees there is astonishing. Birds, branches, leaves, strange animals, interlacing shapes, in russet, saffron, rose, cornflower, wheaten, so involved, so woven in and among one another in such a bewildering tracery of graceful curves, it seemed that if you straightened them out from a single page you could string them out two miles from the island to the shore and back again.

“India is a land on the other side of the world,” says the man. “The mountains bear a rock called lapis lazuli, as blue as the twilight before the dawn, with sometimes a kiss of clear green in it. I have been waiting a whole year for that color.”

“Will it be heavy, this rock?” asks the boy.  “Heavy?” says Bishop Eadfrith. “No, not heavy. You could hold it in your hand.”


“Master,” asks the boy, “it seems a far distance to travel for something I could hold. Wouldn’t some crushed violets have done as well?”

Eadfrith was pricking out a flourish of red dots that even under a microscope, which of course he did not have, would appear like—a flourish of red dots. “No, not at all, my boy. The violets are dull. The lapis is filled with light.”

“Does God care for things so small?” “Does he care for you and me? We are to him less than one of these red dots is to us.” “Then how,” said the boy, now leaning upon the table and laying his head close to the master’s, studying each tiny stroke of the pen, “can God dwell within us?” “He dwelt in the womb of the Virgin and was no bigger than the tip of this quill.”

“I cannot understand that, Master.”

Eadfrith continued to work, with a patience that seemed outside of time itself. The boy too absorbed the patience, so that whether the answer came in a moment or an hour, he could not tell.

“You are too small to understand it, and so am I.”

“Master,” said the boy, “are the words of God also small, the words that you write on the page?”

“Every jot and tittle,” said the master.


The boy cocked his head and looked back from the page. “These are letters,” he said. “I see it! All these birds and blades of grass and twigs and funny animals make up letters. But I don’t understand. What is an X and a P?”

The bishop laughed. “Oh, those are Greek letters. The Greeks, they lived far away also, sometimes on islands just like our Lindisfarne. The letter is called a chi,” he said, pro­nouncing it like key, “and the other is a rho. They are the first two letters of the name of honor borne by our Lord: Christos. That means He Who Has Been Anointed.” “Because he was a king?” “King and priest and Son of God.” “Have you also been anointed, Master?”

“Yes, I have been anointed bishop.” He then turned to a reed with a flat tip, and dipped it into the fish glue, with the lightest touch, then applied it to a flake of gold not a thousandth the part of a snowflake. He smiled but did not take his eyes from the work. “And you have been anointed.”

“I am a bishop?”  “You are a Christian. You are a little Christ. All Christians are.”                                                  “But how can Christ who is the Son of God be in me?” “How indeed,” said the bishop.


The boy gazed upon the manuscript as the bishop worked. They stayed so for a long time, like a father and son in a workshop.

“It is beautiful, Master,” said the boy.    “I am happy that it pleases you.”                                                                  “Why do we make the first page so beautiful?” “I do not understand your question, my son,” said Eadfrith.

“I mean that the words are the words, whether they are decorated or not.”

“Ah yes, the words are the words.” Eadfrith smiled and thought about an argument he had had with a sort of vag­abond monk from the East, who wanted to rub out every image of Christ or Mary he could find. The man’s order had driven him out, and now he wandered around the world like Satan, looking for jobs to spoil.

“Imagine you are bringing good news to a village, that the Danes have been wrecked on the sea, and the peo­ple’s houses and farms will not be burned down, and their womenfolk and children will be safe. Would you bring that news with a frown?” “No!” said the boy, laughing.

“Would you dress in black,” said Eadfrith, turning from his work with a mock-grimace, “and mumble your news like this,” and he did a wonderful impersonation of a tragedian, groaning.

“I would dress in red and gold, and I’d come in danc­ing!” said the boy.

“So we dress the Good News in red and gold, and come in dancing,” said the bishop.


Suddenly there was a bustle at the door, and in came a big bearded man with a sack over his shoulder. “Greetings, my lord!” he said. “All they from Saba and who knows where shall come bearing gifts.” He put the sack on the floor and loosened the strings, while the boy leaped from his bench and peered inside.

“Oswald my friend, God has brought you back to us safe and sound!” The bishop embraced him, ink and all.

“I have the deep blue lapis, and a kind that I have never seen,” said Oswald, and brought out of the sack what looked like a mass of light green shafts of ice frozen together, their edges and corners glinting. “Will you be able to make use of this, my lord of the quill and the reed?”

“Praise be to God,” said Eadfrith. “Two years have I worked on my Gospels, and now I see the completion drawing near.’ Then he turned to the boy. “Son, these precious stones come from a pagan land, and we will crush the stones and use their light to bring light to the pagans themselves.”

“Even the Danes?”

“The Danes most of all. What Danish king on his throne, surrounded by thanes with their swords adorned in worm forms and monster-forms, will not gaze in wonder at this book for the King of kings? Even if he doesn’t understand the words, the very stones will speak to him—the glory of the world that God has made, and the beauty of the Word that shines in it.”


Bishop Eadfrith (†721) is considered to be the artist who gave to the world perhaps the most remarkable work of book-art ever executed, the Lindisfarne Gospels. The book itself, now in the British Museum, survived an attack by the Danes and being lost in the sea for several days; it is something of a miracle that we still have it. It is perhaps a greater miracle that it was made in the first place. We could learn much from the man whose love brought it to the light.

Christians should take the lead in all of the arts, because we have the consummate artist to imitate and a subject for our art that cannot be surpassed: the God made Man, to raise small and sinful man to the house of God. And why should we be hesitant to call upon the arts in the work of bringing the Good News to an old and weary world? Glorious things of thee are spoken, 0 Sion, city of our God.

(Anthony Esolen is professor and writer-in-residence at Thomas More College in N.H., translator and editor of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House), and author of The Beauty of the Word: A Running Commentary on the Roman Missal (MAGNIFICAT).

Magnificat, January 2018, pages 211-216.

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities—to offer just a few examples—it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares indepen­dence from reality and behaves with absolute domin­ion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebel­lion on the part of nature” (Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, May 1, 1991)….

When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physi­cal determinism, then “our overall sense of responsibil­ity wanes” (Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the 2010 World Day of Peace)….

Human beings cannot be expected to feel responsibil­ity for the world unless, at the same time, their unique capacities of knowledge, will, freedom, and responsi­bility are recognized and valued….

Since everything is interrelated, concern for the pro­tection of nature is also incompatible with the justifi­cation of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity toward the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away” (Pope Benedict XXVI, encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate, June 29, 2009).

We need to develop a new synthesis capable of overcoming the false arguments of recent centuries.

From Pope Francis 2015 Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si´

Magnificat, January 2018, pages 329-330.

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Reflection – A Dance of Desire and Defiance

Do you ever harden your heart when you approach Jesus in prayer? I do.        

Once, wanting to let go of a long-standing resentment, I confessed the sin at the Sacrament of Reconciliation and prayed for the person whenever I found myself remembering the litany of wrongs he had done. (And why was I reciting the litany, anyway, which only nestled the unclean spirit deeper into my heart?) The more I asked Jesus to remove the stubborn sin and its handmaidens (pride, self-pity, righteous­ness, envy), the more barriers I put in Jesus’ way. If I sensed Jesus preparing to speak his word of healing I redoubled my grievance. As if he didn’t know how I felt.

I know my unclean spirits, and they know me. Certain sins trail and tempt me, and if I am not vigilant they cling to my heart. They are the familiar contours that shape the false self I present to the world. I harden my heart because if Jesus expels the unclean spirits, I will be empty.

We are caught in a dance, Jesus and I; desire and defiance. He woos me, and I long to say yes, but then I cling to what I know. Jesus is more patient than I am. Maybe I will spend years in purgatory before I am cleansed. But I want my un­clean spirits expelled long before I die, so that I can be free to do Jesus’ work in the world, to fulfill my baptismal call, to sing joyfully to him, to offer true thanksgiving.

If only I don’t harden my heart.

RACHELLE LINNER  —  Rachelle Linner, a freelance writer and reviewer, has a master of theological studies from Weston Jesuit School of Theology.

Give Us This Day, Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, Liturgical Press, pages 292-293.

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Homily for Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, January 14, 2017                                                     by Fr. James J. Hogan, Missoula, Montana

Jonah 3: 1-5, 10; I Cor 7: 29-31; Mark 1: 14-20 3 Ordinary B’ 18

In my homily last week I sought to open the gospel text with a simple metaphor. That text was from the gospel of John in which he described how Andrew and his brother Simon joined the circle of intimate friends gathering around Jesus. I liked that metaphor so much that I want to begin this homily by recalling and reapplying the same metaphor to today’s text from Mark.

Mark is describing his version of how the same brothers — Simon and Andrew joined that Jesus circle of intimate friends. That is the only similarity between the two accounts. Most details in Mark are significantly different than in John’s narrative.

The metaphor I like so much is this. Since entering Senior Status I have been determined to develop the skill to play a fiddle. I took lessons for a time and remain consistent in playing every day. It is a difficult instrument and will always be a challenge. Even so I find my efforts to play the fiddle very stimulating and rewarding.

Imagine Jesus as a master fiddler making “the music of life.” “Master musicians do three things.They practice their art. They play and bring the joy of their music to audiences everywhere. They take on students and teach them.”

Now imagine that these two fishermen, Andrew and Simon, loved music. They heard about Jesus and his “music of life.” They wanted to learn how to make the same “beautiful life-music.” So, hoping they could learn from him, they went for their first lessons. Gradually others joined them. Jesus gave them three years of lessons, teaching them his “music of life.” He helped them learn the disciplines and skill of playing his beautiful “music of life.” They watched him play, watched him live and interact, and imitated his example until they began to have the spirit of his style and the power of his playing. Then he sent them out to practice, play and teach others.”

Now let’s consider another aspect of the metaphor. Mark’s narrative uses the story about Andrew and Simon to set before us the motivating passion that filled Jesus. Mark tells us, “Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming ‘this is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand’.”

Using my metaphor, the “music of life” Jesus played and taught was “the Reign of God” – “God’s new reality emerging in our world.” That is the “music of life” Andrew and Simon and all those who joined them have heard, treasured and played ever since.

We know from secular history that the time in which Jesus and his companions lived was a timeof danger for any who did not conform to the dominant culture. John the Baptist had been arrested and would soon be executed. Apparently Jesus interpreted that time of danger in which they lived to be a “kairos moment” – a time of new opportunity for his message.

By publicly stating “the Kingdom of God is at hand,” Jesus was teaching his students the circumstances in which they lived demanded a new way of living. He was convinced there was an opportunity before them to build a more human world. In other words, a new moment of history had arrived and he was inviting them to join him in his response to the new opportunities opening before them. He did so even though his agenda sounds quite political and dangerous.

Today technology, globalization, climate change and our national politics, are causing enormous and unprecedented changes in our world. The pace of change often seems more than most of us can handle. We live in a time of crisis. Here is the most significant issue set before us today. It is to respond to these unprecedented changes in a manner that assures the survival of Christ’s “beautiful music of life.” Andrew, Simon and all those who joined them did what they could to assure his “beautiful music of life” survived. Now it is our turn!!


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Blessing for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

Pope Francis has decided to institute in the Catholic Church an annual “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” to be celebrated on September 1. Pope Francis explains:     As Christians, we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation. We need always to keep in mind that, for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for our sake, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us” (Laudato Si’, 216). The ecological crisis thus summons us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them” (ibid., 217). For “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (ibid.).

A Prayer by Pope Francis
from the Encyclical Laudato Si’

Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you! Son of God, Jesus, through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.

Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory.
Praise be to you! Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!

Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.
God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.

Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good,
advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.

0 Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty.

Praise be to you! Amen.

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HOLY FATHER’S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR JANUARY 2018:                                                                                     Intention in January  — Religious minorities in Asia

That Christians, and other religious minorities in Asian countries, may be able to practice their faith in full freedom.

Fr. Blazek’s Reflection:

Religious liberty is a hallmark of our American system. In Canada and the United States, such liberty is enshrined in law. It is protected legally, if not always in practice. The situation we enjoy here in the United States and in Canada is not the case universally. In places across Asia, as we sometimes see in our own societies, violations of religious freedom by individuals, groups, and institutions are of great concern to all humanity.

The Second Vatican Council, in its Declaration on Religious Liberty, insisted that all people have the right to religious freedom. This includes immunity from coercion on the part of individuals, groups and any other influence: no one is to be forced to act in a manner against his beliefs, in private or public, within reasonable limits.

A Catholic vision of the right to religious freedom is grounded in the dignity of the human person, that dignity being known through reason and the revealed word of God. As it is enshrined in law, it is a civil right, but it is firstly a God given right. Cf. Dignitatis Humanae

para 1. This vision of the human person, made in the imag of God, our Catholic “anthropology,” is one of the most important contributions Catholics and other believers can bring to public dialogue and discourse, to the debate in the public square.

In this month’s intention, the Holy Father asks us to pray for the freedom of those in Asia to exercise this fundamental freedom, one which many of us here in Canada and the United States might take for granted.

Points for Meditation

Am I free to exercise my own religion as I see best? Do I restrict the rights of others to practice their religion in my personal, social, or work life? How do I bring the values of my faith to private and public discourse? What is the difference between the two?


Ex 20:2-3 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.

  1. Dt 6:13 “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”

Prayer of the Month

This prayer based on public comments of Pope Francis on the Feast of St. Stephen in 2016.

By choosing the truth, Christ became at the same time the victim of the mystery of evil present in the world — but He has conquered… Today the Church is experiencing severe persecution in different places, up to the supreme test of martyrdom… How many of our brothers and sisters in faith suffer abuse, violence, and are hated because of Jesus… We want to think about them and be close to them with our affection, our prayer, and also our tears.

When we read the history of the early centuries, here in Rome, we read about so much cruelty towards Christians. There is this same cruelty today, and in greater numbers with Christians. In making space within our heart to the Son of God… let us renew the joy-ous and courageous willingness to follow him faithfully as our only guide, persevering in living according to the mind of the Gospel and refusing the mentality of the rulers of this world. Amen.

Saint of the Month — Mary Mother of God:

January 1st Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the Saint par excellence to begin our new calendar year. As the mother of the Redeemer, Mary is privileged to have carried in her womb the Savior of all mankind. For this, she is termed theotokos, Greek for “God-bearer.”

How can we make this claim? Jesus is one with the Father in the Trinity. In the intimate relationship between mother and child, giving birth to the second person of the Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary can be said to be the “Mother of God.” As such, we give her special honor and first place amoung all the saints.

This feast is celebrated at the highest rank in our liturgical calendar, a solemnity, and closes out the octave of Christmas. An octave marks the full week including the day of the feast itself and allows us to celebrate major mysteries of our faith with greater reverence, joy, and intensity.

Thanks be to God for giving us such a mother! Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!

Daily Offering Prayer

God, our Father, I offer You my day. I offer You my prayers, thoughts, words, actions, joys, and sufferings in union with the Heart of Jesus, who continues to offer Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit, who guided Jesus, be my guide and my strength today so that I may witness to Your love. With Mary, the mother of our Lord and of the Church, I pray for all Apostles of Prayer and for this month’s intentions proposed by the Holy Father. Amen.

Traditional Offering Prayer

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.

To register as a member of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, to subscribe to our monthly communications, please visit our website at Thank you for your generous support of our ministry.

Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network — UNITED STATES | CANADA

1501 S Layton Blvd
Milwaukee, WI 53215-1924 


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RESOURCE:  KNOM Radio Mission’s  Monthly Bulletins, provided the following One-Liners in Faith For January 2018

Lavender Iris

For mothers, feeding our children is automatic. Even when our children are grown and living on their own, we still find great pleasure in feeding them when they visit. There’s always something to eat at Mom’s house.

God showered the Israelites with manna from heaven. He turned a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish into a feast for five thousand. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, God invites us to eat, because there’s plenty for everyone.

“You pay God a great compliment when you ask great things of Him.”  — St. Teresa of Avila

Shared joy is doubled joy. Shared sorrow is halved sorrow.

Lord, I want to make it a new year. New ideas and dreams, a new approach to You in prayer, a new way of loving my family. A new enthusiasm in my work, a new generosity reaching out to the needy, a new attitude of helping my church, or my school, or my town. Lord, not just a celebration or a party with noisemakers for me. Help me to make this a genuine new year.

The hope of this season is a passion for the seemingly impossible. Our hope is rooted in the promise of God. With God, nothing is impossible.

Life can be understood when you look back. But life must be lived forward.

May God continue to provide for you as the New Year is on the horizon. May He bless you abundantly!

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Horsetails in the Mtns_001001

SUGGESTED INTERCESSIONS FOR SUNDAY                                                            The Fourth in Ordinary Time – JANUARY 21, 2018

       (Each local community should compose its own Universal Prayer,  but may find inspiration in the texts proposed here.)




For the Church, that those consecrated to service be a leaven for all,

That the Church will stand before the world without stain or blemish, holy and obedient to God’s Word,

For Pope Francis, and the bishops, priests, and ministers of the church, that they lead and serve with the authority of Jesus’ compassion and humility,

That religious sisters and brothers, anxious about the things of the Lord, serve the Church and the world with holiness of body and spirit,

For all who shepherd our Church, may God grant them fortitude as they follow the Lord’s call,

For the Church and her leaders, may God sustain their faith and love as they strive to bring God’s mercy to those who suffer,

For all members of the Church, may our devotion to the Eucharist bear good fruit in the form of charity and service to others,

That the Church may be emboldened by God in spreading her message of salvation to the world,

That the Church may continue to be the standard bearer for love and compassion for all people in need,

That we, as members of the Church, may share the saving message of Jesus through our compassionate outreach to others and by lives of faithful witness,

For our Holy Father and all who lead the Church, may they remain faithful to the Gospel,

For pastors, catechists, and all entrusted with imparting God’s Word to others,

For the spirit of discernment when God’s will does not seem logical or clear,

For the flowering of ministries and services that assist the poor,

For parents entrusted with the formation and moral character of their children,

For mothers and fathers, grandparents and relatives who hold a newborn baby in their arms for the first time,

For the gift of pure prayer that concentrates on thanksgiving, praise, and the love of God,



For all nations, that the darkness of war and injustice be overcome by the light of Jesus,

For an end to terrorism in the world, and for the heal­ing of all hatred and division,

For the leaders of nations and officers of governments, that they may lead and act with the authority of their own dedication and commitment to the justice and wisdom of God,

That civil leaders watch over the welfare of those whom they serve,

For civic leaders, may they be inspired to listen to God’s Word and work for justice and peace in our world,

For world leaders, may they be open to the workings of the Holy Spirit, and lead with justice and mercy,

For government officials, may God guide them to actions that reflect his love for all of creation,

That leaders throughout the world may obtain from God the graces necessary to rule justly,

That business leaders may commit to treating customers and employees fairly, and being good corporate citizens,

That those throughout the world who govern may assure right and just peace, prosperity and freedom for all,

For government leaders and civic officials, may they strive to serve their people with honesty and integrity,

For the freedom of peoples impeded by authoritarian regimes,

For those burdened with insecurities that make them legalistic and judgmental,

For world leaders, that they will seek peace in regions where it is most elusive,

For soldiers engaged in peacemaking,

For our legislators, that they will seek ways to aid the homeless, the uninsured, and the unemployed,

For those who feel unprepared for the task of leadership they have inherited,

For surgeons, physicians, law officers, and all who serve others better because of the gift of artificial light,

For political leaders of virtue and integrity,

For the virtue of humility in a world that esteems self-promotion and competition,

For the youth of the world, so vulnerable to toxic ideas, habits, and influences,



For the hungry and the homeless, that in each of us they find a helping and loving hand,

That victims of violence and war experience the blessings of peace,

That schoolchildren know the joy of learning in a safe environment,

For missionaries who face danger and persecution, may they be protected by the strength that comes from knowing and following God,

For those who suffer oppression, may God in his mercy give them the grace necessary to endure their many sorrows,

That those who experience rejection or failure may find hope and strength in the Gospel message,

That refugees and others who are displaced from their homes may obtain the help and support they need to live with dignity,

That all parents who lack adequate resources to provide for their children’s basic needs may be blessed with the presence of those who can help to ease their burdens,

That the members of the Catholic press will be faithful stewards who courageously advance the Gospel,

For those who have received distorted versions of the Christian message,

For any family member or relative with whom we experience conflict,

For those who succumb to the deadly sin of jealousy,

For those unable to express grief,

For the safety of travelers during the winter,

For the gift of spiritual longing that draws our hearts to God,

For those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death,



For our community, enlightened by the light of Christ, that we always follow the ways of love,

That our parish community will grow in faith, hope, and love,

For married couples and their families in our community, that the peace of Christ may dwell in their homes and hearts,

For our faith community, may God endow us with a spirit of mercy to others,

That all who minister to our faith community may continue to grow in hope and faith as they follow Christ and do his work,

For all catechists and parents who teach the Word of God to young people, may they be guided by the Holy Spirit to be living examples of God’s Word in the world,



For the grace this week to be free of anxiety and full of trust in the Lord,

That this faith community answer Christ’s call to serve the poor,

For young people in our parish discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, may they be confident in our love, support and prayers,

For all of us gathered here, who have received abundant gifts from the Lord, may we be moved to share his blessings with others,

That those of us gathered here may seek opportunities to help someone who is in need of our time, talent or treasure,

That Christ may have a place in the hearts and homes of those gathered here,

For the ability to recognize our joys and give thanks always,

For the grace of a peaceful and happy death,

For youth who lack the guidance and example that lead to maturity and adulthood,



For those burdened with addictions, that they be freed through the intercession of the Holy Spirit,

For the poor, the sick, the homeless, and those who are hungry, or lonely, or unemployed: that the mercy of God will raise them up,

For the sick, the suffering, the troubled, and the dying, that the love of Christ may drive out from their lives the “unclean spirits” of anxiety, despair, and suffering,

That the sick and those near death feel God’s tender concern,

For those who suffer in mind, body or spirit, that through the love of Christ and the compassion of others they may bear their hardship and experience healing,

For those who are suffering from illness, may they have the comfort of family and friends and be restored to health,

For the aged and infirm who are often neglected as they become less mobile,




For our beloved dead, and all those who have died, may they know the forgiveness of God and come to share in the fullness of Christ’s glory,

For our faithful departed, may they enjoy the rewards of eternal life,

For those who have died, especially those who will die today with no one to pray for them, may they be warmly welcomed by the angels and saints into God’s heavenly kingdom,

That those who have died may know the joy of eternal life in God’s kingdom,

That those who have died may be welcomed into the peace and happiness of everlasting life in heaven,

That the faithful departed may be brought into the light of the Resurrection,

For all who have died, may they experience the joys of the heavenly kingdom,

For our deceased loved ones and all the faithful departed,

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Chihuly Glass

Universal Prayers for Victims of Recent Natural Disasters

 1)   For those in our country and around the world affected by recent natural disasters, may the support of relief agencies , neighbors and loved ones who come to their aid provide them the care and hope needed to recover and rebuild from the devastation they have experienced, let us pray to the Lord.
2)   For all those who have died recently as a result of flooding, hurricanes, earthquake and other natural disasters throughout the world, may they live in the light and warmth of God’s love for all eternity, let us pray to the Lord.

3)   For those whose homes and businesses have been destroyed by floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, forest fires or other natural disasters, that, as they struggle to rebuild, they will experience the loving assistance of communities of faith, let us pray to the Lord …

4)   For all rescue workers and volunteers, that they will be blessed with energy and courage as they help their brothers and sisters who have been injured or left homeless by recent natural disasters, let us pray to the Lord …

5)   For all of us, that we will reach out in love to those who are suffering due to the recent earthquakes, floods and tornadoes, let us pray to the Lord …

 Universal Prayers for Opioid Crisis:    

1) For members of the health professions, first responders and civic leaders, may the Holy Spirit inspire them to work together to help all those who are affected by the scourge of addiction, let us pray to the Lord.

2) For those struggling to break free from addiction to opioids, may they find hope and healing in Jesus and his Church on their path to recovery, let us pray to the Lord.

3) For those who have died because of their addictions, may they now rest in the peace and joy of God’s love through all eternity, let us pray to the Lord.

Universal Prayers for the Shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas

1) For the innocent victims killed in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and for all who die as a result of violence, may they find perpetual peace and joy in heaven, let us pray to the Lord.

2) For the families and friends of those who were killed or wounded in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, and for all those who have experienced violence in their lives, may they be comforted by the love of God and the compassion of all members of our Church, let us pray to the Lord.

3) For members of churches everywhere, may God help us find practical and meaningful ways to overcome dysfunction, evil and violence in our world, let us pray to the Lord.

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Faith Catholic Online;    Daily Prayer 2018;    OCP;    Magnificat;   Liturgical Press.


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General Intercessions for Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

21 January, 2018 – Cycle B

Presider:           Like Jonah, Christ preaches repentance. He calls us to change our ways. We are not to become engrossed in the world, but to believe in the good news and to live for the kingdom of God. We turn to him in prayer.

  1. For the Church: that we may faithfully announce the Good News through both word and deed and draw others to Christ by our lives and compassionate care for those in need;          We pray to the Lord.
  2. For the intercession of Francis de Sales, patron of journalists, upon all who seek to report the truth;         We pray to the Lord
  3. For all who are overly preoccupied with possessions, achievements and success: that God will free us from clinging to titles and possessions so that our hearts may be open to receive God’s gifts;        We pray to the Lord.
  4. For a deeper appreciation of life: that the Spirit of God will guide us in supporting women who have a difficult pregnancy and open ways to address the many issues that make abortion appealing;           We pray to the Lord.
  5. For all who are making life decisions, especially those contemplating a religious calling: that they may hear the voice of God in their hearts and have the courage to say yes to the God who loves them;            We pray to the Lord.,
  6. For all who are ill, particularly for those with influenza:   .    .    .    .        that God will ease their pain and speedily restore them to health; We pray to the Lord.
  7. For all who have died including  .    .    .    .             that they may be welcomed by Christ to the eternal banquet of God’s reign. In a special way we remember

5pm                Joe Krasnesky         7:30am        Barry Hinman

9am                 Cyndi Brown           11am     our St. Peter Parish Family

5pm                Dan O’Leary

for whom this Mass is offered;                   We pray to the Lord.

Presider:        Timeless and eternal God, hear our prayers. Help us to realize that your gift of time is not the end or limit of this life but the pathway to the complete and perfect life of the Risen One, in whose name we offer these prayers. Amen.


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A big silver dollar, and a little brown cent; along together they went rolling along the smooth sidewalk, When the dollar remarked — (for the dollar can talk)  “You poor little cent, you cheap little mite! I’m bigger and more than twice as bright – I’m worth more than you – a hundredfold, And written on me in letters bold Is the motto drawn from the pious creed – ‘In God We Trust’ – which all can read.” I know,” said the cent, “I’m a cheap little mite, And I know I’m not big, nor good, nor bright” An yet,” said the cent, with a meek little sigh – ­”You don’t go to church as often as I.”
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 Lectionary 65: 1) 1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19; 2) Ps 40:2,4,7-10;  3) 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20;                              4) John 1:35-42.

FOCUS:          The Lord continually calls us – do we have ears to hear? Samuel does not recognize God’s voice, but he is alert and obedient, listening and ready for action. We hear that he ran when called, and another time he rose. Eli gives Samuel the correct response: Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. We live in a world of noise and distraction. Are we ready to answer? Can we even hear? Through baptism we have been joined to the Lord (2) who calls us to be his disciples (3). How well do we listen to his voice (1)? How willing are we to do his will (Ps)?


In the first reading, Samuel does not recognize God calling his name; Eli instructs him to respond, Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul declares the body is to be used, not for sin, but to glorify God as a temple of the Holy Spirit. In today’s Gospel, Andrew and Simon Peter begin to follow Jesus.

PN The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins Thursday, 18 Jan­uary (USA). Specific intentions may be inserted in the general intercessions at Mass and the Hours. From the Masses for Various Needs and Occasions, the Mass for the Unity of Christians (#17), For the Evangelization of Peoples (#18), and For Persecuted Christians (#19) would be appropriate. Prayer Services with other groups of Christians would also be fitting. See BB, nos. 553-573 or HB, 133.


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Monday, January 15, 2018                 MONDAY OF SECOND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Lectionary 311: 1) 1 Samuel 15:16-23; 2) Ps 50:8-9,16-17,21,23; 3) Mark 2:18-22.

FOCUS:          Are we attentive to the ways in which the Lord speaks to us? Today’s readings challenge us to look beyond that which we know, and to be open to how the Lord is at work in our lives. Most of the Pharisees were rigid in their beliefs and expected everyone to be the same. There was no room for God to surprise them in unexpected ways. Are our hearts open for God’s surprises? Saul disobeys the Lord (1) by offering unacceptable sacrifices (Ps). Jesus’ disciples are accused of not observing the fast (2).


In the first reading, Saul is blind to the ways in which he did not follow God’s instruction in the overthrow of the Amalekites. As he rejected the commands of the Lord, so the Lord rejects him as ruler of the people. In the Gospel, Jesus is questioned as to why he and his disciples do not fast as the disciples of the Pharisees and John did. Jesus answers them with an analogy to a bridegroom at a wedding feast and new wine in fresh wineskins.

PN Today the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. is celebrated (USA). Prayers for the end of racial discrimination may fittingly be inserted into intercessory prayer this day. At Mass, the prayers For Promoting Harmony, #15 alt, would be most fitting. Today’s table blessing may recall his birth (see HB, 381).


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Tuesday, January 16, 2018               TUESDAY OF SECOND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Lectionary 312: 1) 1 Samuel 16:1-13; 2) Ps 89:20-22, 27-28; 3) Mark 2:23-28.

FOCUS:          God cares for us. It may sound rather trite to say that “God cares for us,” but history is full of individuals and people who have either not understood what that meant, or have refused to believe it. We have been shown, time and again, from the Exodus to the Resurrection, that we are God’s chosen people and he cares for us. Let us believe, and trust in that message. David, anointed (1) “highest of the kings of the earth” (Ps) prefigures the Son of Man who is Lord of the Sabbath (2).


In the first reading, Samuel is called by the Lord to anoint a new king over Israel, and the one chosen is Jesse’s youngest son, David. In the Gospel, Jesus’ disciples are criticized for picking grain on the Sabbath, but Jesus reminds the Pharisees that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.


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Wednesday, January 17, 2018             WEDNESDAY OF SECOND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL: Saint Anthony, Abbot.

Lectionary 313: 1) 1 Samuel 17:32-33, 37, 40-51; 2) Ps 144:1-2,9-10; 3) Mark 3:1-6.

FOCUS:          God works in his own way and in his own time. God works according to his own plans. David was small, and just a youth, when he fought Goliath who was larger, and had many years of experience as a warrior. But the Lord protected David, and gave him the victory by means of a small stone and a sling. The Lord can do great things in our lives, when we allow him to be in charge. Trusting in the Lord (Ps), David overcomes the Philistine (1); trusting in Jesus, the man with the shriveled hand is healed (2).


In the first reading David, carrying only a slingshot, goes into battle against the heavily armed Philistine warrior, Goliath. The Lord delivers Goliath into his hands because of David’s faith. In the Gospel, Jesus cures a man with a withered hand, and the Pharisees are outraged because the healing took place on the Sabbath.

Anthony or Antony, † 356 at age 105; born in upper Egypt; hermit and early founder of religious life; called the “Patriarch of Monks”; aided St. Athanasius of Alexandria (2 May) in combating Arianism.


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Thursday, January 18, 2018       THURSDAY OF SECOND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Lectionary 314: 1) 1 Samuel 18:6-9; 19:1-7; 2) Ps 56:2-3, 9-14; 3) Mark 3:7-12.

FOCUS:          We are called to make Jesus known to others. Unlike the unclean spirits in the Gospel, we who have come to recognize and love Jesus as the Son of God are free to share our knowledge with the world. By our baptism, we are commissioned to ministry – to do the work of God. David is spared death (Ps) when Saul repents of his evil intentions (1). Evil spirits recognize the messianic mission of Jesus (2).


In today’s reading from the First Book of Samuel, King Saul is moved to a murderous rage because the people are not giving him as much praise as they are giving David, his servant. Saul’s son, Jonathan, brokers peace between them. In today’s Gospel from Saint Mark, we hear of Jesus’ ministry making him more and more widely known. He warns the unclean spirits not to make him known.


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Lectionary 315: 1) 1 Samuel 24:3-21; 2) Ps 57:2-4, 6, 11; 3) Mark 3:13-19.

FOCUS:          We are called to use our God-given gifts to help build up the kingdom of God on earth. Jesus spent much of his time on earth teaching his Apostles and other followers how to live out their faith in God once he returned to the Father. As his present-day followers, we are called to pass on our beliefs and faith traditions to those who will carry on when we are gone. It is part of our obligation as Christians.

God has mercy (Ps) on Saul whose life is spared by David (1). Jesus calls the Twelve for mission (2).


The first reading tells how David refused to harm Saul, even though they were enemies. In the Gospel, Jesus prays on a mountain and then appoints the Twelve Apostles whom he would send forth to preach and heal in his name.


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Saturday, January 20, 2018           SATURDAY OF SECOND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIMEOptional Memorial: Saint Fabian, Pope and Martyr; Saint Sebastian, Martyr;                                                                     Saturday in honor of BVM

Lectionary 316: 2 Samuel 1:1-4, 11-12, 19, 23-27; 2) Ps 80:2-3, 5-7; 3) Mark 3:20-21.

FOCUS:          Trust in the Lord’s plan. God’s plan isn’t always apparent to us. We face suffering and uncertainty in our lives, yet faith allows us to trust that these difficult times will eventually lead to a greater good. In today’s readings, we witness the sorrow of David and the concern of Jesus’ family. Both play parts in our Lord’s plan for salvation. David weeps for Saul and Jonathan (1), and all Israel with him (Ps). Jesus is ridiculed by his own kindred (2).


In today’s reading, David and his men mourn the deaths of Jonathan and Saul. He sings an elegy lamenting the loss of his beloved friend and the fallen king. The Gospel recounts a point in Jesus’ ministry when such a large crowd gathers around him that he and his disciples cannot eat. His relatives think he is out of his mind.

Fabian, † 250 under Decius; layman elected bishop of Rome in 236; an “incomparable man, the glory of whose death corresponded with the holiness of his life” (St. Cyprian to Pope St. Cornelius [16 Sept.]; his body came to be transferred from the catacombs of Callistus (14 Oct.) to the basilica of St. Sebastian.

Sebastian, † 288? at Rome under Diocletian; chief of the Praetorian cohort whose acta tell of his being pierced by arrows, later being clubbed to death; patron of archers, soldiers, and police associations.


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Lectionary 68: 1) Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 2) ; 3) 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; 4) Mark 1:14-20.

FOCUS:          Let us heed God’s call. How many times do we have to stumble and fall before we realize that following God’s ways, and not our own, leads to happiness and salvation? Let us not resist the Lord, but answer his call.


In the first reading, the reluctant prophet Jonah gets a quick response today from the people of Nineveh. Saint Paul speaks with urgency, telling the Corinthians that time is running out. Jesus begins his ministry by calling four Apostles – changing the direction of their lives.

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      ♦      ♦       D A I  L  Y     R E F L E C T I O N S      ♦     ♦

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Reflection – Sunday, January 14, 2018 Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis attributes a shortage in some places of priestly and religious vocations to “a lack of contagious apostolic fervor in communities.” Commitments of any kind—religious, marital, specific careers —cannot endure without the individu­al’s belief in the good they represent. John the Baptist reveals a contagious enthusiasm when he tells his disciples, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Two are moved to follow and lodge with Jesus. The next day one of them, Andrew, seeks out his brother Simon. Surely this band of brothers did not come together through sadness. Following Jesus cre­ates an infectious joy.      Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 43.


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 Reflection – Monday, January 15, 2018          Weekday                  

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that, used properly, can deepen one’s prayer. Jews had only one obligatory day of fast, but people such as the Pharisees and the disciples of John the Baptist fasted regularly. Apparently, Jesus’ crit­ics felt that an authentic prophet would be more ascetical. Early documents such as the Didache indicate fasting as a regular practice of the Church. This Gospel passage was probably intended to justify the disparity of custom between Christians and their Master. Asceticism is good for body and soul as long as it is not abused through self-hatred, spiri­tual pride, or ostentation. Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 44.


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Reflection – Tuesday, January 16, 2018         Weekday

The story of the anointing of David cap­tures a key point of human and spiritual wisdom: “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.” God’s will can emerge anywhere. Perhaps more often than not, the most fruitful decision has an unexpected source. For this reason, St. Benedict’s Rule advises that counsel be sought not only from the mainstream of the community, but from the youngest as well as the oldest mem­bers. Isn’t this useful guidance for our personal lives and our families also? Dare to listen to those who might be overlooked or excluded.           Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 45.


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Reflection – Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Memorial of St. Anthony, Abbot

 Scholars have no consensus about the origins of monasticism. Since the birth of Anthony of Egypt (256) predates the Edict of Milan (312) which gave legal status to Christianity, some think Chris­tians sought refuge in the desert at times of persecution. Because of his heroic holiness and the publicity St. Athanasius gave Anthony in his Life of Anthony, this desert ascetic is regarded as the founder of monastic life. A constant theme in monastic life is “battle,” a spir­itual warfare against sin and selfishness. Like the match between David and Goliath in our reading, spiritual combat does not always appear fair. Yet, anyone who trusts in God will have the victory.   Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 46.



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 Reflection – Thursday, January 18, 2018            Weekday

In Othello, Shakespeare describes jeal­ousy as “the green-eyed monster that mocks the meat it feeds on.” The image is that of a cat which torments the mouse before it devours it. As King Saul watched David repeatedly defeat the Philistines and gain in national adula­tion, jealousy took over his reason: Saul sought David’s life. Jealousy is a sin against love of neighbor because it does not rejoice in the other’s good, but rather resents it. Jealousy is an expression of emotional insecurity. It is one of the seven deadly sins because it potentially generates other sins. Only God can be rightfully jealous because any good we idolize in ourselves truly belongs to God alone.    Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 47.


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Reflection – Friday, January 19, 2018 Weekday

The Twelve do not seem to share an obvious common profile; the Gospel accounts reveal little as to background. A few were fishermen, one was a tax collector. Some are identified by their father and others by their town of origin. Perhaps this bare-boned introduction of Jesus’ disciples underlines the commu­nal importance of discipleship. While following Christ does not wipe out our personal identity altogether, it creates a new identity associated with him. Chris­tian discipleship involves abiding with Jesus, relating to others in love, spread­ing the Good News, and deflating the power of evil.                        Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 48.


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Reflection – Saturday, January 20, 2018          Weekday          

How many families have members they are ashamed to acknowledge! Perhaps a child suffers Down Syndrome, a men­tal illness, an extreme physical defor­mity, or comes out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered. Many strong families learn to love and accept their own, but others cannot or will not. Jesus had been stirring up demons through his exorcisms. Unidentified relatives came “to seize him.” They said, “He is out of his mind.” But was this an accu­sation as usually interpreted, or was it a cover to protect him and justify his practices? We should always be sup­portive as families engage in the issues and challenges they face.            Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 49.

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Reflection – Sunday, January 21, 2018 Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the Gospel of Mark, the Greek equiv­alent of the word immediately appears many times. It seems the evangelist wants to convey a sense of urgency about discipleship. The first four Apos­tles were fishers. Simon and Andrew immediately abandoned their nets. The sons of Zebedee abandoned their father in the boat. Some things in life require thoughtful reflection and time. Obedi­ence to God’s call should be at once. St. Benedict regards instant response as the first step of humility. When God’s will is manifested, we must not hesitate.           Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page  50.


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                                      Faith Catholic (Online), January 2018                                                                                                         Give Us This Day, Liturgical Press, January 2018
    Magnificat, January 2018
                         Paulist Ordo


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Ordinary Time

Wasted time is not a prized commodity in American society. We are a people ruled by the clock. Time is money because time is to be filled with purposeful controlled activity which is productive of things which can be sold. We are convinced that we must be in control of time. The last thing the productive American would want to do is waste time playing around with realities that do not produce a saleable commodity.

But the Creator of heaven and earth is described by the scriptures as the original and the best of players. Creative activity is playful, and creative people do not feel that what they do is a job. Creative people also have a sense that their creativity and all that they fashion in the creative spirit are gifts they have received. The Christian can speak of this and the contemplative vision which sees all reality as gift or grace. Our thankful response we call worship or Eucharist.

We cannot speak of Ordinary Time without speaking of Sunday. The every seven-day celebration of the Lord’s Day is the basic struc­ture upon which the Church Year is built. The great liturgical seasons of Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter are more expansive celebrations of particular aspects of the one paschal mystery which we celebrate every Lord’s Day. These special seasons focus our attention upon crit­ical dimensions of one mystery, a mystery so overwhelming that we are compelled to separate out its various elements for particular attention. These seasons in no way minimize the critical importance of the Sunday celebration throughout the rest of the year. Ordinary Time is not very ordinary at all. Ordinary Time, the celebration of Sunday, is the identifying mark of the Christian community which comes together, remembering that on this first day of the week the Lord of Life was raised up and creation came at last to completion.

All nations are invited to sing the Lord’s praises (1, Ps) for they have been called to hear the good news (2) and worship the long-awaited Messiah and King (3) with the gift of their lives.


“Besides the times of the year that have their own distinctive character, there remains in the yearly cycle thirty-three or thirty-four weeks in which no particular aspect of the mystery of Christ is celebrated, but rather the mystery of Christ himself is honored in its fullness, especially on Sundays. This period is known as Ordinary Time” (Universal Norms, 43).

  • Ordinary Time begins on Tuesday, 9 January, and continues through Tuesday, 13 February, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season. It will resume when the Easter season ends, that is, on Monday, 21 May, the day following Pentecost.
  • Vol. III of the Liturgy of the Hours is used until Ash Wednesday.
  • In the weekday Lectionary, the first reading is chosen from Cycle II.
  • Six forms of the solemn blessing (nos. 9-14) are provided in the Roman Missal (after the Order of Mass) for optional use during Ordinary Time, especially on Sundays.

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The Prophecy Fulfilled before Our Eyes  —         Pierre-Marie Dumont, Who still reads the great French prophets of the 201h century? Who still reads Peguy, Claudel, Bernanos, Saint-Exupery? Each, from his viewpoint, railed against the coming of the same abomi­nation: “their” civilization was dying. While this civilization ought to have been perfected, so that the Kingdom of God on earth could truly grow, all that had constituted its genius was soon to vanish. Materialism, hedonism, self-preoccupation (today it would be called “personal development”) was about to submerge beauty, goodness, and truth, along with the true Faith and the ancient virtues. The sign of the coming of the end of this world was that terrifying metropolises were already reducing rural, pastoral civili­zation to objects fit to fill their museums. Since then, this prophecy has been fulfilled. The fertile ground that nurtured our civilization has gone. Villages have been deserted. Human relationships have been virtualized. Faith and devotion are fading. The moral com­pass that, far from constraining free men, once guided them, has been distorted. The poor, humble and proud, with that magnificent nobility celebrated by Thornton Wilder, have disappeared from the social landscape.. . . .the Word of God would no longer immediately touch hearts and minds. He who, directly or indirectly, has never worked the good earth by the sweat of his brow, never experienced seedtimes and harvests, never tended sheep or saved a stray lamb, finds himself de facto distanced from the Gospel and its parables. Let us not be saddened: we find ourselves spurred on to deepen our understanding of the Word of God, to improve our prayerful reading of it—and let us not forget that our Lord Jesus Christ remains present to the world even until his return in glory. But why not take advantage of our vacations in the countryside to rediscover, with a touch of nostalgia, a drop of the sap that nourished the fervor of our fathers in faith?    Magnificat, July 2016, page 432. PurpleConeFlower_7(24)2009_IMG_0985



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An Independence Day Prayer     We pray you, 0 God of might, wisdom, and justice, through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to your people, over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality.Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.We pray for the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare,that they may be enabled, by your powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.We recommend likewise, to your unbounded mercy, all our fellow citizens throughout the United States, that we may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of your most holy law; that we may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.Grant this, we beseech you, 0 Lord of mercy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.ARCHBISHOP JOHN CARROLLArchbishop Carroll (†1815) was a priest for the Society of Jesus, and the first bishop of the United States.Magnificat, July 2016, pages 62-63.


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What can I do to fast in communion with others?       Prayer is always joined to fasting. Fasting triggers in this season a remembrance to pray for those being brought to the font, to full communion or to reconciliation. Only after we have shared the absence can we come with full hearts to the paschal banquet.Nine things that Pope Francis called upon Vatican Employees to do:They apply to us all…

  • “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”
  • “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention, and love.”
  • “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”
  • “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity, and worldly decadence.”
  • “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”
  • “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”
  • “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred, and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.
  • “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”
  • “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker… the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”

It is a good list: It’s clearly rooted in Catholic teaching, but presented in a way that other Christian denominations can embrace as well. I am reasonably sure that all of us can find on this list at least one or two resolutions that speak to areas in which we really need to grow during this Lent.Have a good week and I’ll see you in church!Monsignor Jack 1-3-5

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  HOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLD              Speaking the Painful Truth  —       Anthony Esolen     HOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLD       Speaking the Painful Truth  —       Anthony Esolen         THE TWO WOMEN WERE FINALLY ALONE. The room was Spartan, with a single wooden bed, a desk, some schoolbooks, fishing tackle kept in a corner, and a couple of skiing poles. A photograph was mounted on the wall, of two tanned young men in a skiff, with the spires of Stockholm in the background. It was a boy’s room, but the boy had left home to join the Swedish army. It was May, 1940.”Sigrid,” said her friend Alice, “I have bad news for you.” She had given Sigrid a day to rest from her journey across the mountains from Norway, in a truck packed so tight with soldiers and refugees, Sigrid—a middle-aged woman with some heft to her, and a countenance that looked as if she would brook no foolishness—had to sit on the lap of one of the men. The atmosphere in the truck had been tense, with Swedish boys expressing their eagerness to fight along­side the Norwegians against the Nazi invaders, and elder men telling them to shut up. News from the war front was also unrelievedly bad. Hitler had overrun Belgium and the Netherlands, and the German armies were pushing on to­ward Paris, the jeweled queen of European civilization.”Please, tell me quickly,” said Sigrid. She had had three children. One, a daughter, had died as a very young woman. Her sons Anders and Hans were still in Norway. The elder, Anders, had a commission as captain in the Norwegian army.”Your son Anders fell in the fighting at Segelstad bridge. He was brave, Sigrid, so brave,” said Alice, trembling. Sigrid, however, set her face like flint. Of Hans, they still knew noth­ing. A few days later they received a visit from a soldier who had been under Anders’ command. The Norwegians had tried to make the Nazi advance northward as costly as pos­sible, taking positions near bridges and mountain passes, and holding off hundreds of Germans with handfuls of men and a few machine guns here and there. Had Norway been made ready for the assault—had there not been Nazi toadies like Quisling in the highest positions in government—Hitler would have regretted sending Germans into that nation of strong, self-reliant, upright, and brave men and women.”And Anders, you know,” said the soldier, “was so incom­parably kind.” The word he used was snill. Sigrid Undset said that the word was untranslatable. It named a virtue—kind­ness—but with a quiet manner, undemonstrative, reserved; not burdening your victim with your goodness.Hans arrived shortly after, and he and his mother con­tinued on their flight to freedom, from Sweden to Moscow, from Moscow by a nine-day train ride to Vladivostok, from there to Korea and imperial Japan, from Japan via the Grover S. Cleveland to San Francisco.♦ WHO SUE WAS ♦Sigrid Undset, for my money, is the greatest woman nov­elist who ever lived. Unlike George Eliot, one of her two chief competitors for that distinction, she does not rely upon the structure of Christian morality without the Christian Faith. In her stories set in modern times, Undset shows how frail that morality must be, unless we recognize our personal frailty and our desperate need for the grace of Christ. Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) had lost the Methodist faith she was brought up in; Undset had gained the Catholic Faith she was not brought up in. Unlike Jane Austen, her other competitor, she was not the comfortably stationed daughter of an Anglican clergy­man, who could therefore take faith for granted and write about Christian morals and manners in the England of her time. Undset, when she entered the Catholic Church, knew she was entering into two thousand years of history, and so her greatest works, the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter and the tetralogy The Master of Hestviken, are set in medieval Norway, Catholic but still with remnants of the old pagan ways. They are national in the best sense: they celebrate the difficult virtues of her people and the beauty of a forbidding land, with its summer so wondrous yet so heart-breakingly short, its wildflowers, its mountains and fjords and ravines, its lonely lichen-topped outcrops of rock, its sudden green valleys, and its brave men wresting the means of life from the rich and cold and dangerous seas.The contrast between Sigrid Undset’s love of country and the pranked-up nationalism of Hitler and his blustering warmongers could not be greater. She despised the Nazis. Other people, not nearly enough, saw their evil; Undset saw also their stupidity and their cowardly ingratitude. For among the invading German soldiers, the Norwegians recognized quite a few whom they had taken into their homes as little boys, back in the famine years after the First World War. She was outspoken about it, and so she, like Dietrich von Hildebrand in Austria, was on the first page of the Nazi list of people to be murdered.Wherever she went, Sigrid Undset tried to find what vir­tues she could in the peoples she encountered. Germans, alas, were the exception. She had to fight her hardest to treat that people with forbearance. For her, the essence of the German spirit was expressed in the terrifying fable of The Pied Piper of Hamelin. The “hero” took his vengeance against the ungrateful people of Hamelin by turning their children essentially into rats, marching off to their death. I forgive the mother of a fallen son her anger.Undset held out hope for the great successor of European civilization, the United States. Even if Europe should fall (she was writing in 1941), the United States would carry the torch of that civilization’s commitment to brotherhood, equality, and democracy, understood as the natural flower­ing of the Christian Faith.♦ RETURN TO THE FUTURE ♦That’s the name of the book that describes her trek from Norway to the United States. It also describes her hope for the world. The future must be a return: a recovery of the Christian Faith in nations that had lost it, and a flourishing of the human good that man experiences as one of the blessings of that faith.Should Germany be defeated, the victors must resist with all their might the temptations of hatred and vengeance. How hard that would be, Undset shows us in her own per­son. But, she says, “hatred and thirst for revenge are sterile passions.” They engender nothing. They only destroy. “The most miserable poverty, the most unthinkable filth and squa­lor, the indescribable stench of refuse and decomposition which I saw and smelled everywhere in Soviet Russia are surely the fruit of the acceptance by Russia’s revolutionary heroes of a hate-consumed old German Jewish writer named Karl Marx and their identification of their future goals with his dreams of revenge against everything that happened to awaken his enmity.”Undset was no sentimentalist. It is true, she was a woman with a woman’s eye for the delicate and the beautiful; she is fond of describing flowers, handsome dress, lovely hair; the fine straw-roofed houses of even the poor in Japan; the tasteful Japanese temples; the reverent ceremonies of prayer she witnessed from the worshipers of Shinto. She has a woman’s scorn for the garish, grubby, slipshod, and gross: nine days on a Russian train with no running water and no flush toilets; Soviet stores with nothing to sell; water that had to be boiled before you could drink it; Soviet offi­cials content to bury themselves and their petitioners under a mountain of paper. Totalitarian systems fail on their own miserable terms: they deliver poverty instead of wealth, con­fusion instead of order, misery instead of happiness, family dissolution rather than strength, dependence rather than self-reliance, cowardice rather than courage.So much the more should the West return to its roots in the Christian Faith. That Faith is not an ideology, but the antidote to ideology. It tells the truth about God and man.Nowadays we construct social policies as if God were irrelevant, and as if everything that the wisest pagans had to say about man, and likewise the Christian Gospels that soar beyond the pagans, could be dispensed with. Yet we pretend that, if we were alive in Germany during the time of Hitler, we would not have gone along with the popular wave of the future, as the Nazis styled themselves. No, we’d have seen through it. Quisling did not. Knut Hamsen, like Undset a Nobel laureate, did not. Undset did. The Faith—un­compromised, uncontaminated with the current prevailing ideologies—gave Sigrid Undset eyes, and heart, and a pen to write words as if etched in stone by fire.(Anthony Esolen is professor and writer-in-residence at Thomas More College in N.H., translator and editor of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House), and author of The Beauty of the Word: A Running Commentary on the Roman Missal (MAGNIFICAT).   Magnificat, October 2017, pages 211-115.


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UNC Study Shows Enormity of Abortion’s Impact on Public Health, Minorities

Study included abortion in nation’s mortality statistics

By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL Director of Education & Research

OJPM5Public health statistics do not, as a rule, take account of the unborn lives lost to abortion when calculating mortality. A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina has challenged this omission and published a paper examining just how much the correction of this omission would change our perceptions of America’s most preventable health crises.

The consequences are enormous, across the board, but the impact is absolutely devastating on black and Hispanic communities. When one considers not only the lives, but the years lost, the loss is staggering.

Something missing from death stats

The paper, “Induced Abortion, Mortality, and the Conduct of Science” was written by James Studnicki, Sharon J. Mackinnon, and John W. Fisher and was published in the June 2016 online edition of the Open Journal of Preventive Medicine.

It starts with a statement both bold and obvious: “There is no credible scientific opposition to the fact that a new genetically distinct human organism begins with fertilization and that, simply stated, human life begins at conception.” The authors then affirm that, barring natural fetal losses (e.g., miscarriage), “conception usually results in a live birth.”

Given that, the authors draw the logical conclusion that abortion results in a human death.

Despite this undeniable truth, these deaths are not counted in the nation’s mortality statistics. When added back in, some astounding conclusions are revealed.

Research the major causes of death in the United States for 2009, as the authors did, and you will find that the top two causes are “diseases of the heart,” which accounted for 599,413 deaths, followed closely by “malignant neoplasms” (cancerous tumors) at 567,628.

Not surprisingly, cancer and heart disease are considered major health concerns, and with good reason.

But when one considers abortion as a cause, it is almost equivalent to the government’s top two causes combined! Using estimates for 2009 from the Guttmacher Institute, Studnicki and colleagues calculate that the 1,152,000 deaths from abortion easily make it the nation’s leading cause of death, responsible, when added back in, for almost a third (32.1%) of all the deaths recorded that year.

Abortion leading cause of death among minorities

While abortion has harmed society as a whole, the impact on minorities is even more significant.

As many pro-lifers know, abortion rates for minorities are considerably higher than they are for whites. Figures cited by authors from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), combined with data from Guttmacher, showed that 11.9% of non-Hispanic white pregnancies were aborted, 17.1% of Hispanic pregnancies, and 35.5% of those of non-Hispanic blacks.

Applied to the overall pregnancy figures, this translates into 383,000 abortions for whites, 252,000 abortions for Hispanics, and 445,000 abortions for blacks. Looked at in relation to other causes of death by race and ethnicity, this makes abortion responsible for 16.4% of white deaths–the third most significant cause behind heart disease and cancer. But abortion is by far the leading cause for Hispanics, responsible for 64% of deaths, and for blacks, at 61.1%– close to two out of every three deaths experienced by these communities.

Lost years as well as lives

The authors point out that much more is involved here than abortion simply increasing the numbers of deaths.

One of the reasons that mortality statistics are carefully collected and scrutinized is to determine how best to focus research and public resources. If cancer, heart disease, or the like constitute the leading preventable causes of death in the United States, it makes some sense to focus attention and funding on those conditions and diseases.

Another way researchers measure the impact of disease is to count not only the lives lost but the relative years lost. This calculates how many additional, potentially productive years of life people would have experienced if they had not succumbed to that particular malady.

“Years of potential life lost,” or YPPL, is the standard used by the NCHS, now pegged as “YYPL 75” to reflect the idea that 75 years is now closer to the average American’s longevity.

However, when abortion is considered and contrasted with other causes of death, the disparity is even more jaw-dropping.

For everyone in the U.S., cancer was responsible for nearly 4.4 million YPLL. Heart disease was responsible just over 3 million. All other remaining causes of death (accidental, homicide, diabetes, respiratory diseases, etc.) were responsible for only about 13 million YPLLs.

The calculations of these researchers on the years of potential life lost due to abortion? Even after subtracting for estimated “natural fetal losses” — a staggering 68.4 million years!

Minorities were hit the hardest. Of the 17.7 million YPLLs lost by Hispanics, nearly 15.5 million (or 87.4%) were due to abortion. Of the 29.4 million YPLLs lost by blacks, 25.4 million (or 86.5%) were from abortion.

The cost is extraordinarily high

No disease, no kind of violence comes close to having the impact on these communities that abortion does. Not only lives are lost, but years of creativity, productivity, and love.

Billions are spent to try to eradicate heart disease, to end cancer, to stop violence. To the extent we succeed and families enjoy a few more years with their loved ones, we all celebrate.

But if the figures are telling us that abortion is, by far, the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, wouldn’t the prevention of abortion represent one of the best possible uses of our time, resources, and efforts?




Francesca Aran Murphy argues that liberalism
and a market economy are based on Christianity

The only viable vehicle of conservatism in modernity is a market-oriented liberalism that regards freedom within law as the means to the common good. Some religiously engaged conservative intellectuals cannot accept this. What drives their animus against the only workable form of conservatism in modernity? They cannot accept that this version of conservatism is at all conservative.

But how conservative is it to refuse to act in and through the givens of our historical moment? Is the paradox of liberalism as the way of being conservative too whimsical for conservatives to wrap their bookish noodles around? Could it be rationalist irritability with the irrationality of liberalism? Is the conservative affronted by liberal­ism’s vulgar historical success, like a Ph.D. student who cannot enjoy a popular movie? Is he like the teenager in Little Miss Sunshine, who cannot bear the boisterous eccentricity of his family? Does lib­eralism’s cheerful, can-do lack of a rational founda­tion drive the conservative into dark Nietzschean foreboding? Does he share the Marxist’s contempt for the bourgeoisie who are at home in the market economy? Is he too logical to be persuaded that the only human beings who actually and historically ex­ist are individual persons?

The fact remains: For at least two generations now, the most politically effective conservatism in the West has largely been a conservative liberalism. This political success has not been accidental. As a social, political, and economic form of life, liberal modernity does justice to important truths about the human person.

At the origins of modernity lie the market economies of late medieval Europe. A mixture of the rule of law and respect for personal freedom enabled market economies to emerge. People readily took to the roles of buyers and sellers of goods, be­cause buying and selling involves the kind of role-play in which human beings flourish. The market econ­omy involves an exchange of goods in which both parties benefit. The seller trades his goods for what he really wants, payment, and the buyer hands over his money for what he really wants, the goods. Because they obtain what they desire, both buyer and seller gain more than they give. Appealing as that may be, market exchange has a still greater allure. However well-meaning the administrator, we would exchange an administered life for the tension of auctions, the drama of negotiations, and the stratagems of the salesman that test our self-discipline. Buying and sell­ing became a driving force and expressive feature of modern societies, because the clever play of conceal­ment and exposure through language and gesture it entails fits our social, dramatic natures like a glove.

Modern philosophers reflected upon modern eco­nomic practice. Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Schelling took homo economicus to be “humanity” as such. They rightly drew the lesson that human beings are made for praxis, for action, and for dramatic role-playing. But these bookish philosophers were not men of action themselves. In their recoil from the sheer inscrutability of the free play of market exchange, they exaggerated the fact that exchange involves competition for marginal advantage. They mytholo­gized this into a conception of human culture as a life-and-death struggle, and reinterpreted the role-playing in free-market exchange as competition. That hypes up role-play into a battle of wills. According to them, the marketplace trains us to think of life in terms of winners and losers, masters and slaves.

In all of this we find part truth, part Gnostic fantasy. On the one side, our exercise of freedom in the particularity of daily life makes us enigmatic to others. A market society is built around this relative inscrutability. Whether the exchange takes place at the local fish stall or in large-scale transactions of complex financial instruments executed by comput­ers, buyers and sellers play their parts. Each seeks to take advantage of an exchange, wanting as much as possible without scuttling the deal by eliminating any benefit for others. Human nature is expressed in this serious play of exchange—the brinksmanship of negotiation, the uncertainties of market conditions—which liberal philosophies capture in their emphasis on freedom and its drama.

Yet the marketplace and our roles in it look like a Gnostic melodrama when the play of exchange is inflated into a metaphysical drama rather than a hu­man one. A German idealist like Schelling pictures God-and-humanity as the single “playwright.” The struggle to get the best deal on day-old bread becomes the engine of human history. For Hegel, God storms through history in the guise of strug­gling and ascendant human desire. Sellers seek to incite desires in buyers. Seventeenth-century vendors during the tulip mania in Holland asked, how can one do without the exotic tulip bulbs? Buyers seek to satisfy their aroused desires, often for goods they never even knew they wanted. This pattern of desire evoked is the fuel of a market economy. Hegel inter­prets the open-ended nature of our market desires as a metaphysical desire for divinization. He made the further assumption that we play for keeps, and thus the market game of angling for advantage becomes the struggle for mastery, which is the world’s story.

For two centuries, Christians have quarreled over how to deal with the mixture of imagi­native half-truths, philosophical errors, and Gnostic heresies that make up modern phi­losophy. Between Vatican I and Vatican II, Catholics tried to sort things out and develop a philo­sophically cogent and spiritually sound approach to modernity in two different ways. Fortified by Thomis­tic encyclicals from Pope Leo XIII, Thomists thought that the way forward required a rejection of liberal philosophies and a revival of the premodern philoso­phy of Thomas Aquinas. They assembled a litany of errors that they ascribed to liberalism: making man the major of all things, exalting will over cognition, denying are created nature and more. . . .  (Pages 39&40)

Article concludes on Page 45 with the following paragraphs:

. . . Do we encourage liberalism to remember its birth in a market economy that drew ordinary people into habits of free action for the sake of satisfying desires, or do we anathematize it for itself self-caricature as a Gnostic capitalist heresy? . . .

Liberalism is no heresy, and the market ex­change from which it emerges does not sin against the light. It is a healthy byproduct of Christianity, and the only means by which Christians can fight Marxist-capitalism, that stage-managed freedom in which the benevolent will of the powerful consults reason, discerns what people “truly” need and want, and then superintends over and administers the al­ways vulnerable freedom of ordinary people. If one were searching for Gnostic heresies, surely this tech­nocratic political economy, which is very much with us today, is a good candidate for anathema. RR

Francesca Aran Murphy is a senior fellow at FIRST THINGS.

First Things,  June /July, pages 39-45.



Family and faith. These are two powerful ways of belonging, one natural, and the other supernatu­ral. But they, too, are weakened by the dissolving forces of our time. Pope Francis’s recent Apos­tolic Exhortation on the Family, Amoris Laetitia, represents an effort to combat this trend. The document affirms many aspects of the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage, including permanence. But it also seeks to increase scope for pastoral discretion so that those in “ir­regular” situations can participate as fully as possible in the Church’s sacramental life.

The effort to be more pastoral characterizes this pa­pacy. Francis wants to emphasize the power of God’s love, even in circumstances when we’ve wavered, failed, and fallen. Unfortunately, Amoris Laetitia participates in the dissolving trends of our times rather than resisting them. This is an unwitting complicity, no doubt. But we can see it in the way in which the exhortation turns marriage into something we aspire to rather than a sacramental reality we can rely on. The Church seems to become a plastic instrument of mercy, not a stable anchor.

When the document was released, journalists fixed on chapter eight, “Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness.” There, Francis takes up the controversial ques­tion of whether those in “irregular” situations can receive Communion, including those who have been civilly di­vorced and remarried, but have not received an annulment.

There’s been lots of commentary on just what is implied in the often technical and sometimes muddy verbiage of the chapter. Canon lawyers and moral theologians have parsed what Francis has written in different ways. But one thing is clear: Francis makes an ill-considered conceptual move. In order to create an atmosphere of flexibility and welcome, he speaks of marriage as an “ideal” rather than a sacramental reality.

This approach makes permanence itself into an ideal. Divorce betrays this, of course. As Francis writes, “It must remain clear that this is not the ideal which the Gospel proposes for marriage and family.” Moreover, “In no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur.”

These seem like decisive affirmations, but they’re not. Remarrying after divorce is an “objective situation” that the Church teaches is an impediment to the reception of Communion. The reasoning is straightforward. The Church does not recognize civil divorce, and therefore regards the first marriage as ongoing. Thus the second marriage (without an annulment) isn’t a marriage at all, but instead an adulterous relationship.

To avoid this summary judgment based on the “objec­tive situation” of divorce and remarriage, Francis implies that what really matters is the “ideal.” The driving ques­tions become subjective, not objective. Divorced and re­married? Yes, that presents serious difficulties. But there is a way out (perhaps). Are you appropriately penitent for the past failure to live up to the “ideal,” and now newly committed to the “ideal” in a sincere way? A person’s conscientious discernment of the answer to that question, Francis suggests, is what’s important. One’s relation to the “ideal,” determined in “conversation with the priest,” can open the way to further discernment about “what hin­ders full participation in the life of the Church and [about] what steps can foster it and make it grow.”

Will this process of self-examination mean that di­vorced and remarried Catholics will receive Communion in some circumstances? The debate goes on, and it’s an important one. Yet I find myself concluding that the most important dimension of Amoris Laetitia is found in the fact that Francis adopts and affirms what most of us now experience. This is not helpful. In our culture of divorce, permanence is only a distant ideal to which we can aspire. Marriage is no longer a trustworthy institution we can rely on.

What’s true for marriage is true for a great deal of our experience. We suffer an increasingly atomized, fluid, and vul­nerable existence, because we lack in­stitutions we can trust. We have plenty of ideals, some quite noble. But we have very few stable places to stand and little in the way of reliable permanence.

At one point, Francis writes about “the values of the Gospel.” One understands why. Values-talk is popular these days. It’s a way of signaling moral aspiration with­out focusing on the troublesome “thou shalt not’s.” Along with ideals, “values” allow us to imagine a moral outlook without law, moral failure without shame, and moral dis­cernment without negative judgments.

Which is why our therapeutic age is awash with ide­als and values. They’re in university mission statements. Corporations proudly tout their values, and “ideal­ism” becomes a marketing tool. Buy these shoes or that toothpaste, and Company X will make a contribution to eradicate polio, plant a tree, or bring Internet connections to Africa. It’s a dangerous misstep for Christianity to get into the business of marketing ideals and values.

Parmenides was one of the Greek thinkers who flour­ished before Socrates. His philosophical task was revealed to him when the goddess Justice whispered into his ear, “Cling to that which is and cannot not be.” “Unite your­self with permanence” was her message. That’s precisely what a man and a woman seek when they make their wedding vows. They desire a covenant that is, and can­not not be.

This desire is for a reality, not an ideal. For this reason, the Church’s teaching on marriage, strict though it may be by the standards of our time, is good news, a gospel in a way ideals and values can never be. We’re finite creatures, often sabotaged by our own deformed desires and bad choices, and always vulnerable to suffering and death. The sacrament of marriage anchors us, fusing our fragile lives to something that will not be eroded, will not fail us or betray us, even if we betray it. To refuse divorce, as the Catholic Church has done, is to reassure us that permanence in mar­riage is not an elusive ideal, but an accessible reality.

Francis misjudges our era. He seems to think we’re enclosed within rigid institutions and beaten down by legalistic systems. To my mind, the situ­ation is otherwise. We live in a dissolving era. The problem is not that divorce is judged harshly. It’s that young people experience marriage as a fragile institu­tion, one incapable of protecting them from the relentless flux of life.

This is part of life without a reliable inheritance. Few institutions are trustworthy today. The endless flow of power and money rules in our fluid world. Whatever per­manence is possible now depends upon steadfast personal commitments—a terrible burden for anyone with enough self-knowledge to recognize the unreliability of our fallen nature. It’s a sad irony that Francis gravitates toward no­tions such as “ideals” and “values.” They’re part of the contemporary toolkit for dissolving permanent truths. They serve the master-ideal of our time: the solitary in­dividual navigating on his own toward goals of his own.

St. Augustine observed that we’re all pilgrims in this world, journeying toward our home in heaven. But he did not think us alone and homeless. In Christ, God was made man, not an ideal. His sacraments make real what they sig­nify; they do not symbolize values. His Church is an “objec­tive situation,” a civitas with her own cult, rites, and laws.

Pope Francis speaks often and eloquently about “accom­paniment.” As so many other institutions weaken in our dissolving age, the Church’s greatest gift is to accompany us with a stubborn givenness, an inflexible permanence. Rusty R. Reno.

First Things, June/July Issue, pages 6-7.

“Food for thought as we work our way through gaining an insight into mercy, in this year of Mercy.” Editor’s Note.

Modern Treason: The Corporate Moral Person Denies Any Allegiance To Our Country.



A nasty new species of “jumping bean”                 Carrier and Nabisco close US plants,                      hop to Mexico and stoke the anger of working-class America.

When I was about six years of age, my Uncle Earnest showed me some­thing that made my jaw drop, my eyes bug, and my mind boggle: four beans that, on their own, moved. Leaping legumes!

It wasn’t trickery (or deviltry), but an odd twist in the natural world that creates the novelty of “Mexican jumping beans.” They’re not beans, really—they’re brownish seedpods from a desert shrub in northwest Mexico. A larva from a small moth invades a pod, hollows it out, attaches itself to the inner wall with a silk-like thread, and waits in relative coolness for its metamorphosis into mothdom. When you hold the “bean,” however, the warmth of your palm discom­forts the larva so that it twitches and pulls on that thread, causing the pod to “jump.” It’s actually more of a mini-hop or a rollover—but still, pretty astonishing to a kiddo. Decades later, I find myself wide eyed again, astonished by the odd movements of a new species of Mexican jumping bean I’ve named Corporados Greedyados. Far from being a creation of the natural world, these jumpers are enormously profitable, brand-name manufacturers. Native to our land, they’ve long reaped the benefits of being US corporations, including having highly skilled and loyal blue-collar workforces, corporate-friendly labor and consumer laws, publicly funded education and training, an interstate highway system, legal protection of special corporate privileges, extensive tax breaks, on-call police to safeguard their corporate order, military defense of their worldwide commercial pursuits, and much, much more. But now they’re twitching in their conglomerate pods and abruptly jumping to Mexico. Giving no more notice than a cursory shout of adios, they’re leaving US workers, communities, the future of our middle class, and our unifying ethic of fair play in the dust of their corporate greed.

Taking avarice to a new level

Yes, perfidious corporations have been jumping to cheap-labor countries for years, particularly since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), China’s admission to the World Trade Organization, and other policies incentiv­izing corporations to export our blue-collar jobs. Since NAFTA was signed in 1994, 50,000-plus US factories have closed and more than 5 million jobs have been lost to the offshoring fad.

Unfortunately, that was just a warm-up. During the past decade, corrupted and compliant legislatures, courts, and regulatory agencies have effectively removed our society’s reins on these profit-seeking powerhouses. Not since the robber barons of the late 1800s have those in executive suites felt so free (and even entitled) to work their will on the rest of us. And they are not hesitating. Their recent surge in abandonments of the Good 01′ USA is different from the offshoring of only a dec­ade ago—today’s are bigger, cruder, greedier, and wholly narcisstic.

The real difference is a fundamental, regressive shift in the ethos of the elites who run major corporate empires. These inordinately rich executives and investors believe that what they think and do is what’s best, and everyone else should just get out of their way. This has led them to adopt a thoroughly unethical ethic of social irresponsibility, unilaterally decreeing that they and their corporate entities owe nothing to the country and the people who have nur­tured and even coddled them.

They’ve even packaged their conceit in a hokey doctrine they’ve dubbed “shareholder hegemony” (see the Lowdown, February 2016). It asserts that corporations exist strictly to benefit their shareholders—ergo and hocus pocus, corporate managers bear a “mandate” to do whatever is necessary to increase stock values, no matter what this costs everybody and everything else.

Consequently, we’re presently witnessing the murder of our country’s manufacturing prowess by industry’s own leaders. CEOs of even the most iconic, well-established, financially secure corpora­tions—companies with deep roots in our communities—have gone honkers, asserting a “moral duty” to shut down factories here, dump the workers, desert our hometowns, and hightail it out of country to any low-wage, low-environmental-standard refuge on the map.

Of course, the beneficiaries of this Kafkaesque doctrine of share­holder supremacy include not only the large stock owners, but also the very CEOs whose paychecks and bonuses depend on jacking up stock prices at our expense. It’s a socially suicidal system, providing both an irresistible incentive and a moral excuse for executives to commit corporate treason, even as their moves expand the ever-widening chasm of inequality that cleaves our society. And, by the way, CEOs and billionaire shareholders aren’t moving south with their bottom-wage factories, preferring instead to enjoy their life of luxury in America the Beautiful. Apparently unaware that their elimination of middle-class wages is eliminating their own custom­er base, they also expect you and me to continue being the primary buyers of their now foreign-made products.

And they wonder why an angry, populist rebellion is spreading like a prairie fire.

It’s getting hot in Indianapolis

If the chieftains of industry and their political henchmen want to know what’s roiling the riffraff, they could read Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty’s landmark, 1,000-page book on inequality, or listen to one of Bernie Sanders’s hour-long, tub-thumping speeches.

Or they could just spend 3 minutes and 32 seconds watching an online video showing a Carrier Corporation executive speaking to hundreds of workers in the air-conditioning giant’s Indianapolis manufacturing plant this past February ( v=Y3ttxGMQ0rY). The proud Steelworkers union members thought maybe they’d been called to the factory floor to hear about new orders for their quality products. After all, sales at parent-company United Technologies (UTC) were zooming—expected to jump at least $2 billion to $58 billion in 2016.

Instead of receiving praise and good news, however, they got an ugly surprise. In the fuzzy video (recorded on a worker’s phone) UTC/Carrier honcho Chris Nelson doesn’t bother with any open­ing pleasantries. He gets right to the point, reporting in the dry tones of a corporate lifer that the bosses have decided, “The best way to stay competitive and protect the business for the long term is to move production from our facility in Indianapolis to Monterrey, Mexico.” KABLOOEY! He couldn’t finish his scripted sentence, for ­the entire assembly exploded like a human cluster bomb, with cries of disbelief, paroxysms of anguished working-class rage, raucous booing, and a steady barrage of “x#@! you.”

“Please quiet down,” the obtuse functionary instructed. But the devastated workers, realizing in an instant that Carrier is kicking their families right out of the middle class, just get rowdier. Then, as though he’s delivering a line from The Godfather, Nelson assures the angry crowd that the corporation means nothing personal by taking their jobs: “This is strictly a business decision.”

No, it wasn’t. This was a calculated greed decision. Severing this workforce of 2,100 top-quality, experienced, and dedicated producers (1,400 at the UTC/Carrier factory in Indianapolis and another 700 near Fort Wayne) makes questionable busi­ness sense: The move to Mexico is expected to save UTC only 2.W.theCREM $70 million a year in labor costs—a blip on the spreadsheets of a global behemoth that hauls in $56 billion a year in revenue and has an uninterrupted, 22-year record of increasing dividends. But UTC’s greedy Wall Street investment bankers are demand­ing that the giant go on a cost-cutting binge aimed at generat­ing a 17-percent hike in its stock price over the next two years. And what better way to please big institutional shareholders than to show a cold willingness to whack payroll.

Making such cuts is “painful,” mused Carrier’s top financial executive (though not to him personally, of course). But, he ex­plained, they are necessary for “shareholder value creation,” adding cheerfully: “We feel good about being able to execute on that.” So a city must suffer a factory abandonment, and workers must have their decent-paying jobs taken from them just so some distant, don’t-give-a-damn, rich shareholders can see a dollar rise in UTC’s stock price. “Execute” seems like just the right word.

There’s also an unstated motivation in play: Gregory Hayes’s pride. The UTC chief had taken heat from a board of directors con­cerned that the stock price hadn’t climbed as high and fast as Wall Street wants. Indeed, last year, Hayes took a “haircut” (corporatese for a pay cut). The board sliced his executive bonus in half!

“It’s embarrassing,” a financial analyst noted. “He got dinged.” But no need to cry for Greg, however, since his 2015 paycheck still totaled nearly $6 million. (A typical Carrier worker would need to stay on the job 150 years to earn that much.)

Welcome to the new, phantasmagoric Wild Kingdom of Corporate World, where prideful executive royals are empowered to uproot the livelihoods of commoners in a ploy to (1) please Wall Street, (2) manipulate corporate stock prices, (3) collect extrava­gant bonuses, and (4) save face.

Notice that such whimsy was pulled off autocratically. Despite a unionized workforce, UTC/Carrier simply commanded the workers to assemble so they could be unilaterally dispatched—there was no negotiation, consultation, or any other say-so by them, the community, public officials, or anyone else. This is our new norm of plutocratic rule, envisioned and implemented by the rampaging forces of corporate avarice.

Don’t think this is just a one-time Indiana problem. Carrier’s chief financial officer blurted out to a New York Times reporter that top executives are eying other factories to move to Mexico. Look out Charlotte (NC), Collierville (TN), and Tyler (TX)—UTC and Wall Street will be punching a one-way bus ticket to Monterrey for your Carrier jobs next.

Souring Chicago’s sweet treat

For generations, kids from 3 to 100 have loved munching on chocolaty Oreo cookies dipped in a glass of milk. But just over a year ago, the tasty treat suddenly went sour.

In May 2015, bakery workers in Nabisco’s monumental 10-story plant in Chicago’s Marquette Park neighborhood had been expect­ing some sweet news from corporate headquarters. Rumor had it that their renown facility—after more than half a century and millions of Oreos—was about to receive a $130-million modernization invest­ment to upgrade equipment and add new production lines. So the future looked bright and spirits were high on May 15 when management convened members of Local 300 of the Bakery Workers Union to announce that the investment was indeed going to be made. In Salinas, Mexico.

For 104 years, the Marquette Park community has been proud that the delectable smell of “milk’s favorite cookie” wafts through their neighborhood. But the noses of Nabisco’s corporate brass are clogged with greed, incapable of sniffing out anything but ever-fatter profits for themselves and other rich shareholders. So, taking the NAFTA low road, they intend to move the iconic Oreo brand—and the jobs of 600 top-quality bak­ery workers—from Chicago to Mexico, where the minimum wage is a bit more than $4. Not per hour, but per day.

This is the tyranny of corporate globalization in action. In 2012 Kraft Foods split off its grocery business, which retained the Kraft name, and rebranded its remaining snack-food empire as Mondelez International, which includes Nabisco and its many brands includ­ing Triscuit, Planters nuts, Ritz crackers, Chips Ahoy, and Oreos.

Such corporate empires now reign over millions of working families, arrogantly and even lawlessly making self-serving decisions from within the shrouded confines of faraway executives suites, wreaking havoc on workers, local economies, democratic values, and our sense of community. People affected get no input or warn­ing (much less any real say-so) in the profiteering that now routinely strikes us like lightning bolts from hell.

Worse, the so-called humans who’ve enthroned themselves with this autocratic power find it amusing to toy with those they rule over. Mondelez executives did exactly that after their sneak attack on Chicago’s bakery workers. In a crude gambit to shift blame to the union, the plutocratic powerhouse claimed it had made an offer to Local 300 to keep producing Oreos in Chicago, but that recalci­trant union officials had refused.

Of course they did, for Mondelez essentially proposed that the workers commit mass financial suicide. Here’s the “offer”: Since the move to Mexico is expected to save $46 million a year, the con­glomerate would graciously let the 600 ransom their jobs by paying that $46-mil themselves. Just slash your annual pay and benefits (as well as your throats) by that amount, the executives told the union, and you can keep making Oreos for us. At a poverty wage. This from an outfit that banked $7 billion in profit last year!

If Mondelez executives are so inept that they can’t find an honest way to fill a $46 million hole, here’s a suggestion: They could start by docking executive pay. The three top honchos—whose com­pensation last year totaled $37 million—can damn sure afford it. CEO Irene Rosenfeld alone took a $20 million paycheck in 2015, bringing her eight-year total to almost $200 million.

I’d say her gluttony is hoggish, but that would be unfair to swine, which have far better manners and more delicate appetites.

CORPORADOS GREEDYADOS SUCH AS Gregory Hayes of United Technologies and Irene Rosenfeld of Mondelez continue to be obsequiously deferred to and even celebrated as semi-divine social benefactors.

This is OUR fight

In a March protest outside Nabisco, a bakery worker held a hand-lettered poster aloft, proclaiming: “Crime Scene.” She’s right, but it’s not just true of her Chicago workplace—the entire United States should be enclosed in yellow tape.

Corporate America is now openly flouting our laws, violating our ethics, and rampaging over our society’s unifying sense of com­mon decency … because they can. Almost no one is telling them “no”—not Congress, the White House, Republicans, Democrats, the courts, the clergy (with the exemplary exception of Pope Francis), the police, the educational system, or others with power (and responsibility) to stand up to thugs.

We tell children to be good, to follow the Golden Rule. We teach that proper social behavior is essential, and that wrongdoing will always be punished.

But every day they see that America’s biggest, richest, most pow­erful, and most influential institutions—giant corporations—are free to be as bad as they want to be. Corporations bully their way over anyone, anything, and any rule, creating the vast inequality that presently disgraces America. Yet, perversely, rather than being punished by our society’s various authorities, Corporados Greedyados such as Gregory Hayes of United Technologies and Irene Rosenfeld of Mondelez continue to be obsequiously deferred to and even celebrated as semi-divine social benefactors.

The carnage on working-class Americans won’t stop until we actually start punishing these corporate malefactors. And that won’t start until We the People overthrow today’s clueless, elitist political establishment. The good news is that the current populist upris­ing—having spread from Occupy Wall Street in 2011 through Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter, Bernie 2016, and soon to What’s Next—is the way to get that job done. Let’s keep at it.


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Here are some ways to help unions battle runaway Corporados Greedyados:

SUPPORT COMPANIES THAT MAKE THEIR PRODUCTS IN THE USA. To learn more, check out the Made in America Movement: www.themadeinamericamovementcom

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE NABISCO FIGHT and to sign a petition in support of the Nabisco workers, visit:

By the way, you can still buy American-made Nabisco products. To learn what to look for when buying groceries, check out the Check the Label campaign: or

And for more information on rebuilding a strong manufacturing economy in the USA, visit this site:


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ALTHOUGH, UNITED TECHNOLOGIES SAYS it must skip off to Mexico with its Indiana factory jobs to save $70 million in labor costs, the conglomerate has actually been exceptionally generous to its workers. Workers in the executive suite, that is. For years, the CEOs of UTC have ranked among America’s high­est paid.

Consider the corporation’s cosseting of Louis Chenevert, who stepped down in November 2014 after six well-compensated years as CEO. The corporate board eased him out of his cushy executive chair for being too disengaged from the affairs of UTC and too focused on living the good life of wealthy swells. (The final straw came during a business trip to Asia, when he suddenly skipped over to Taiwan to check out progress on a sleek, 100-foot, 20-passenger, luxury yacht he was having built there.)

Rather than being bounced, though, Louis was squeegeed out with money: $31 million in pension benefits, $136 million in stock options, and $28 mil­lion in other compensation. Sadly for him, he got no severance pay. Still, that tidy $195 million goodbye kiss is more than twice the annual salaries all of UTC’s 2,100 displaced Indiana workers.


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FAITH IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE – Rusty Reno on Russell Moore

1. Article:  Fairth In The Public Square




1. Faith in the Public Square

Russell Moore has written a very good book. Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel seeks to orient us in the changing culture of twenty-first-century America. It’s written with the folksy verve of a very good Southern Baptist preacher, which Moore is. I can’t count the number of memorable sentences I underlined. After a thoughtful analysis of the fatal temptation to confuse God’s Kingdom with the United States of America: “Jesus promised those who overcome a crown of life. But he never said anything about a ‘God and country’ badge.” On put­ting political power ahead of Gospel truth: “It would be a tragedy to get the right president, the right Congress, and the wrong Christ.”

Onward is more than mellifluous; it’s also astute about the moment in which we live and the kind of Church we need to become. Moore’s analysis has a strong critical thrust. Again and again he observes that the days are over when Christians could imagine themselves at the center of a “Christian nation.”

Moore emphasizes our post-Christian cultural context because he’s a son of Biloxi, Mississippi, which was once part of the Bible Belt, that wide swath of God-haunted America that runs from West Virginia to Texas. In those communities, being Christian and being an upstanding American citizen often seemed fused together. As Moore points out, this can make us complacent “have-it-all” Christians who want to follow Christ while fitting in with mainstream culture. The problem is that this can tempt us to dilute the Gospel so that we can remain “normal.”

The Moral Majority approach tried to solve the problem by “taking back” the mainstream culture through political action. Moore thinks that project failed. The bad news is that this failure has made America increasingly post-Christian. That’s as true in the Bible Belt as elsewhere, as he illustrates with vivid anecdotes. The good news is that we can no longer fool ourselves. We’ve got to make a choice. Will we live according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ or the gospel of the American way of life?

By Moore’s reckoning, this is a renewing choice. It pro­vides us with the opportunity to rediscover the power of the Christian message. The choice also winnows. He re­ports that Evangelical churches are undergoing “a mirror image of the Rapture.” Nominal Christians are vanishing from the pews, and those who choose to be defined by the Christian Gospel rather than “Christian America” are “left behind.” This clarification will not weaken Christian engagement and influence in American public life; it will strengthen it. A post-Christian context is a forcing ground: “Once Christianity is no longer seen as part and parcel of patriotism, the church must offer more than ‘What would Jesus do?’ moralism and ‘I vote values’ populism to which we’ve grown accustomed. Good.”

Moore fleshes out the “more.” He argues for an expan­sive understanding of our duty to defend human dignity. It includes a wide range of efforts on behalf of the weak and vulnerable. We should attend to the needs of the poor, migrants, the disabled, and the homeless, as well as the unborn. To be pro-life is to be whole-life, to paraphrase one of his lapidary formulations. But Moore avoids a fac­ile “seamless garment” approach. Defending the lives of the innocent, especially the unborn whom our legal cul­ture has abandoned, is the foundation of a culture of life. Without a pro-life commitment, no “whole-life” stance can endure.

His treatment of religious liberty and freedom of con­science draws upon the Baptist tradition. From its incep­tion it recognized the dangers that flow from too close a connection between religious authority and civil authority. Moore provides theological justification for our constitu­tional principles of non-establishment and free exercise. But he draws attention to a deeper truth about religious freedom: Our greatest freedom comes from the strength of our faith in God, not by way of rights given to us by constitutions. The freedom of the martyrs is the founda­tion of the Church’s freedom.

Sex, marriage, and family are today’s battlegrounds. They’re the reason why we’re arguing over religious lib­erty. They’re the reason our society ignores the claims of the unborn. There are moral arguments to be made, and they should be made. But at root these battles are spiritual, not merely moral, as Moore helpfully reminds us. Far from being a liability, the Bible’s countercultural sexual ethic and theology of marriage may end up being the Church’s greatest tool of evangelization. The day is coming when more and more people damaged by the sexual revolution’s false promises will seek a gospel promise they can trust.

Onward suggests a sober rethinking of pub­lic engagement by conservative American Protestants, one that moves in the direc­tion outlined by Stanley Hauerwas over the last four decades. Put succinctly, Hauerwas has argued that the Church fails to leaven society when it poses as culture’s friendly chaplain, because in that role it gets coopted. The same is true when the Church poses as culture’s stern, disciplining chaplain, which is, perhaps, a way to sum up Moore’s appraisal of the Moral Majority’s approach to influencing society at large.

Hauerwas’s genius was to see that living a faithful Christian life explodes the pretensions of the world. Going against the grain—as sojourners or pilgrims, to use the bib­lical image—is a public statement that does more to shape the future of American society than “cultural engagement.” Moore’s insight is similar. He points out, rightly, that we can fix too much attention on discussions about how to get cultural leverage. We forget that, in a society in which aborting Down syndrome children is taken for granted, pastoring a Church that forms Christian parents to wel­come them is a powerful way to claim cultural territory.

Unlike many who recognize the de-Christianizing main­stream culture, Moore does not shy away from the culture wars. As he knows, we can’t avoid them. Secular progres­sives wish to conquer all the territory in American society. That means they cannot help but battle with Christ-formed communities for our spiritual loyalty. The battle is coming to us, even if church leaders wish to avoid controversy. We see this in the contraceptive mandate and gay marriage. Here Moore is admirably clear. The Moral Majority may no longer show the way to stand for what we believe in public life. But stand we must. “If we do not surrender to the spirit of the age—and we must not—we will be thought to be culture warriors. So be it. Let’s be Christ-shaped, Kingdom-first culture warriors.” Amen. – Rusty Reno           Pages 6-7.

(The preceding article which appears in the April 2016 Issue of First Things is the author’s rationale which makes clear how and why we have come to the conclusions about a number of issues such as Secularism,  the loss of a Christian-based society upon which our Constitution was founded, marriage of same sex couples, the black eye which has been administered in our culture to rule out religion and the values which our Constitution was based upon and the stalemate in our political system, not to mention the establishment of individualism in place of the common good in our social systems, nevertheless you may want to become a bit more real by reading the other articles  (2) which I recommend to you.)   —



Of all our major columnists, Peggy Noonan has thought the most deeply about the anti-establishment sentiments roiling our political culture. In last week’s column, “How Global Elites Forsake Their Countrymen,” she puts her finger on the central issue. Ordinary people in Germany, Great Britain, France, America, and elsewhere aren’t just experiencing the dislocations of economic globalization. They’re not simply responding to cultural change, which is often driven by immigration. They’re losing their trust in those who rule them.

As Noonan puts it, over the last generation there has been “a kind of historic decoupling between the top and the bottom in the West that did not, in more moderate recent times, exist.” Those at the top of society no longer share the interests of those less fortunate. “At its heart it is not only a detachment from, but a lack of interest in, the lives of your countrymen, of those who are not at the table, and who understand that they’ve been abandoned by their leaders’ selfishness and mad virtue-signaling.”

I’ve written about this phenomenon in the American context. It’s striking how often our leadership, both right and left, punches down. Conservatives call half of Americans “takers.” Liberals call them “bigots.” I can’t count the number of columns Bret Stephens has written in the last six months expressing his unqualified horror over the ignorance and stupidity of the Republican voters who have the temerity to reject the political wisdom of their betters.

Noonan admits she hasn’t quite gotten her mind around this decoupling of the leaders from the led. I, too, am struggling to understand. It’s odd, as Noonan says, “that our elites have abandoned or are abandoning the idea that they belong to a country, that they have ties that bring responsibilities, that they should feel loyalty to their people or, at the very least, a grounded respect.”

Viewed humanly, yes, it is odd. We have a need to belong. Loyalty is a natural human impulse. But a recent book by international economist Branko Milanovic, Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization, has helped me grasp some of the underlying forces that are driving the leaders away from the led.

Milanovic draws attention to an “elephant graph,” so called because it looks like the hulking body of an elephant raising its trunk. On the horizontal axis, we see global income distribution. The citizens of very poor countries are at the elephant’s back end. Their median income is quite low. Those on the trunk-end of the elephant are the citizens of developed countries. The vertical axis charts the rate of growth of incomes. Here we see a very telling story. Emerging economies have given birth to a new middle class that has experienced rapid income growth. Meanwhile, the rich world is diverging. Middle-class wage growth is stagnant in the globalized economy, while the well-to-do have seen great gains.

Much of the story this graph tells is well known. We’ve heard a great deal about income inequality in recent years. But seeing the whole world at a glance shows something more. Those whom Noonan called “the protected,” which is to say the rich and powerful in the West, share with the rising middle class in the developing world a remarkable harmony of interests. Both cohorts benefit from the new global system. By contrast, in the West, the middle class is losing ground.

In short, the global system—which is committed to the free flow of labor, goods, and capital—works well for the leadership class in Europe and North America, as it does for striving workers in China, India, and elsewhere. It doesn’t work so well for the middle class in the West. Thus, in the West, the led no longer share the economic interests of their leaders.

It’s natural, therefore, to see a decoupling. We’re fallen human beings. We often develop convictions that conveniently correspond to our interests. When it comes to the rising nationalism in Europe, elites there see as much. They don’t interpret the striking new support for right-wing parties as expressions of patriotic fervor, but instead see patriotic rhetoric as a front for, at best, economic frustration, but more often racism and xenophobia.

What elites don’t see is how their own interests are dressed up as cosmopolitan idealism. Noonan points out that German elites compliment themselves on the moral rectitude of Angela Merkel’s decision to admit a million Muslim migrants. True, but they’re also insulated from the consequences. And more than insulated, they stand to benefit from lower labor costs.

Over time, the elephant graph predicts large-scale changes in democratic politics in the West. Elites now have a strong interest in weakening the nation-state, and thus diminishing the power of the voters to whom they are accountable. A radical ideology of open borders is one way to do that. Another way is to increase the power of international human rights tribunals. In a decade’s time I can easily imagine rulings that override national majorities that are deemed “unprogressive.”

But I need not evoke the future. For at least a generation, America’s most elite colleges and universities have explicitly refashioned themselves as global institutions. By implication, they are no longer accountable to America’s national interest. Their mission is more noble: the world’s interest. The same dynamic gets repeated in the corporate world. Silicon Valley answers to the world, not to America.

What goes unnoticed is the fact that a global mission provides reasons to discount the concerns of non-elites in America. Convenient theories about the inherent racism of ordinary people nicely discredit their opinions. The critical fire of a plastic, easily manipulated multi-culturalism can be trained this way or that to degrade patriotic loyalties. Meanwhile, a strict utilitarianism tells us citizenship is a construct designed to secure “rents.” Ordinary people feel abandoned and frustration builds, driving today’s populism.

Noonan is right. The decoupling of the leaders and the “led” is “something big.” The economic forces driving this decoupling are powerful. The ideological supports—a morally superior cosmopolitanism, a flexible multi-culturalism, and now dominant utilitarian thinking—are strong. As I’ve written elsewhere, odds are good that the democratic era will come to an end. The elephant chart suggests the future will be one of empire.

  1. R. Reno is editor of First Things.

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Pope Francis – “Amoris Laetitia” – Exhortation On the Family


Pope Francis’ Exhortation on the Family an ‘Organic Development of Doctrine’

When I talk with friends about Pope Francis and issues in the church, a common question asked in is “Why doesn’t he just change doctrine?”.  I think it pretty safe to say that the man values his life and also that of the unity of the church…..nuff said.  This article I think explains very well what PF was doing in writing his recent Apostolic Exhortation in the way that he did, which I describe as “pushing the envelope” of what the Synod in the fall of 2015 came up with, especially the German language small group, emphasizing the role of discernment.  And discernment plays a large role in what Francis has done with this document.  He is a Jesuit, after all ,and that is a hallmark of their spirituality.  Francis knows that changing the doctrine of the church would be a dicey proposition.  He is also a man who begins processes and values what a process can do.  He is not personally invested in a process such that he needs to see the result.  He knows that the history of almost all of the doctrine of the church really does come out of the lived experience of the faith of, as he says, “God’s holy faithful people”.  That is what this article is referring to as “organic development”.  I see a lot of hope in this.  PF knows that if he can just tip the scale of the balance between pastoral practice and doctrine a little bit towards the pastoral practice side, the lived faith for many people will change and ultimately doctrine will change.  Yes, processes take time but a process like this effects exchange that is hard for some future pope to undo.  When I hear the word “organic” I think of a well-rooted healthy plant, maybe even one slightly aggressive as far as some “gardeners” are concerned, especially those who are in high places in the church, a plant that they would have a hard time uprooting…..reyanna

By Gerald O’Connell            April 8, 2016                         America Magazine on-line

At a Vatican press conference to present Pope Francis’ new exhortation on the family, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said there is “an organic development of doctrine” in “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”) when compared to a similar text, “Familiaris Consortio,” written by St. John Paul II after the 1980 Synod on the Family.

The archbishop of Vienna’s words are highly significant, since he is considered an authority in such matters. He is one of the theological heavyweights in the College of Cardinals, was chief editor of theCatechism of the Catholic Church, is very close to Benedict XVI and played an important role in the 2014 and 2015 synod of bishops. For all these reasons, Francis chose him, and not Cardinal Ludwig Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to present his post-synodal exhortation on the family to the international media.

His statement on the development of doctrine came in response to a question as to whether paragraph No. 84 of “Familiaris Consortio” is still valid given that in footnote No. 351 of “Amoris Laetitia,”

Amoris laetitia–The Joy of Love

If you would like to access the official translation of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of Love, click on the link below.  The document is lengthy to print out at home, although I did so.  I had a stack of paper almost 2 ½ inches high!  It should be available in bookstores soon and is available for ordering online now.  I posted the link here so that you can begin to read the document now especially in relation to all of the news stories and sound bytes that have come out about it.  My advice to you is to read the document in fall and Pope Francis’ advice in the document is to take your time to read it.  Chapter four I found especially profound.   This chapter is a meditation on the famous First Corinthians passage on love and his own thoughts on love.  For an almost 80 year old celibate male he doesn’t do badly in explaining human love and sexuality, yes, sexuality and, speaking from 40 years of married life, he explains the birds and bees in married life quit well…..reyanna

Amoris laetitia link, click HERE





 with the Bishops of the United States,
 let us pray for the continued freedom to bear witness,
 keeping particularly in our hearts those Christians throughout the world who continue to be martyred for love of Christ.
Let us remember that freedom is a gift
 from our Creator that calls us to
vigilance, responsibility, and service to our neighbor.



Be free people! What do I mean? Perhaps it is thought that freedom means doing everything one likes, or seeing how far one can go…. This is not freedom. Freedom means being able to think about what we do, being able to assess what is good and what is bad, these are the types of conduct that lead to development; it means always opting for the good. Let us be free for goodness. 

And in this do not be afraid to go against the tide, even if it is not easy! Always being free to choose goodness is demanding, but it will make you into people with a backbone who can face life, people with courage and patience…. 

Be men and women with others and for others: true champions at the service of others.


-Pope Francis
Happy 4th of July!


Thomas More Law Center
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HAPPY 4th of July

The Fourth of July—America’s Independence Day—is a joyous time to celebrate with family and friends.

John Adams, a Founding Father and our second President, wrote that Independence Day,

“…ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illumination, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

As you celebrate the Fourth of July weekend, please remember —

The Price of Freedom.

Take the time to honor the sacrifices for our freedom made by our fighting men and women throughout our history — From Lexington and Valley Forge, to Iraq and Afghanistan — and today, by our Special Forces in harm’s way in places known and unknown.

On behalf of all the Thomas More Law Center staff, I wish you a safe and happy Independence Day weekend.

God Bless America.

Sincerely yours,

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