Spiritual Reflections by Father John

A Motherly Heart

I remember reading a biography of St. Maximilian Kolbe in which those who knew him during his life described him as having a “motherly heart.”  It sounded like a strange way to describe him, but, based on their accounts, to be in the presence of Kolbe was to be consoled, such that, whatever burdens you were carrying around within you were lifted away – even the terrible burdenContinue reading “A Motherly Heart”

Freedom in Small Spaces

If you’re looking for good spiritual reading that’s practical and accessible, you might want to try the works of Fr. Jacques Philippe.  He has written many books, including one called Interior Freedom, in which he explains: “Every Christian needs to discover that even in the most unfavorable outward circumstances we possess within ourselves a space of freedomContinue reading “Freedom in Small Spaces”

St. John Paul II

Pope John Paul II was the Bishop of Rome for 27 dramatic years.  Elected to the Chair of St. Peter in 1978 at the age of 58, he served the Church as the Holy Pontiff until his death in 2005.  During a post-Conciliar period that coincided with dramatic cultural upheaval, Pope John Paul II was given the reins of a Church that was suffering through a crisis of confidenceContinue reading “St. John Paul II”

Consumed and Sustained

A friend of mine, some years ago, tried to solve what was a terrible mosquito problem in his backyard by purchasing one of those bug-zapping lights.  I’m sure you’re familiar with these things.  They glow with a light that bugs find irresistible, to the point that they get so close to it that they are consumed by its blazing heat. Continue reading “Consumed and Sustained”

North American Martyrs

There is a tradition among the various national seminaries in Rome to play in a soccer tournament each year called the “Clericus Cup.”  Almost every seminary fields a team, so you’ll have games in which the seminarians from the English College play the seminarians from the French College, or the seminarians who are studying atContinue reading “North American Martyrs”

Let Nothing Disturb You

Today is the feast day of St. Teresa of Jesus, who was a 16th century Carmelite nun from Avila, Spain.  She was, by all accounts, brilliant and charming, as well as physically beautiful.  She entered the Carmelite monastery at the age of 20.  At that time, the monastic life was very lax.  There were always people comingContinue reading “Let Nothing Disturb You”

Come, Holy Spirit

There was a priest with whom I used to meet for occasional spiritual direction, named Fr. Mike.  During a conversation one day, Fr. Mike told me about a habit that he had developed over the years.  Any time he encountered someone whom he sensed was in distress or sad or anxious, or if he passedContinue reading “Come, Holy Spirit”

Pray the Rosary

Patrick Peyton was born in 1909 into a large family of 9 children, and grew up working the family farm in Co. Mayo, Ireland.  After considering a vocation to the priesthood as a boy, he later decided to emigrate to America, where he hoped to make his fortune.  But it wasn’t long after he arrived to Scranton, PA that he felt aContinue reading “Pray the Rosary”

Martha & Mary

Years ago, when I was going through my period of vocational discernment, there were times in which I felt overwhelmed by the question of what God wanted me to do with my life.  I knew there was the possibility that He was offering me the priesthood, but I struggled to accept that and to risk the possibility that the priesthoodContinue reading “Martha & Mary”


Statues, rosary beads, crucifixes, scapulars, holy cards, miraculous medals, candles, palms, ashes – these are part of the “furniture” of our lives as Catholics.  Technically, we call these things “sacramentals.” Sacramentals are different than sacraments in a couple of ways.  The sacraments were instituted by Christ Himself as the seven ordinary ways in which He shares His life – His sanctifying grace – with us.  As one author puts it: “Sacraments bearContinue reading “Sacramentals”

St. Therese

Today (10/1) is the feast day of St. Therese of the Child Jesus.  St. Therese grew up in Normandy, France and entered the Carmelite Monastery in Lisieux at the age of 15, where she joined two of her older sisters who had entered the community before her (her younger sister would eventually join them there too).  St. Therese was canonizedContinue reading “St. Therese”

Archangel Michael

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Archangels – St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael.  In my last posting I wrote about St. Gabriel, whose name means: “God is my strength.”  Today, I’d like to consider briefly the Archangel Michael.  For the past several years, according to the express wishes of Bishop Caggiano, we pray theContinue reading “Archangel Michael”

Archangel Gabriel

This Tuesday is the feast day of the Archangels, among whom is our co-patron St. Gabriel.  Gabriel, whose name means “strength of God,” was the great and powerful spirit charged with bearing the message of God’s favor to the lowly Virgin Mary in the town of Nazareth, 2000 years ago.  After greeting her, Gabriel tells Mary ofContinue reading “Archangel Gabriel”

First Communion

This Saturday, as we did last Saturday, we will celebrate Masses of First Communion in our parish.  These Masses almost always happen at the beginning of May, but because of the shutdown we had to move them to September.  In every parish, First Communion is one of the best days of the year, and I’m veryContinue reading “First Communion”

St Matthew

posted 9/19/20 This Monday, 9/21, is the Feast of St. Matthew the Apostle.  St. Matthew is not just one of the 12 Apostles, he also the author of one of the Gospels, and he includes his own conversion story in his account of the life of Christ.  We know that before encountering Christ, St. Matthew worked as a tax collector for the Roman Empire.  Since it wasContinue reading “St Matthew”

Holy Matrimony

posted 9/17/20 The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is one of the most remarkable places in the world.  The current church dates back to the 11th century, and is built on the ruins of one that dates back to the 4th century.  Within this church are the sites of Our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection.  I remember the first time I wentContinue reading “Holy Matrimony”

Holy Orders

posted 9/15/20 What is a priest?  A priest is one who offers sacrifices on behalf of a group as an act of worship to God.  As long as human beings have roamed the earth, there have been priests.  We see them in the most ancient days of the Old Testament.  Adam was a priest, as were the PatriarchsContinue reading “Holy Orders”

Embracing the Holy Cross

posted 9/12/20 The Cross is the most distinctive sign of Christianity.  This is because, as we say to Our Lord during the Stations of the Cross devotion, “by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.”  I remember the beautiful bronze Stations of the Cross that we had in seminary.  The first station, of course, depicts Pilate’s condemnation of Jesus.  There wasContinue reading “Embracing the Holy Cross”

Anointing of the Sick

posted 9/10/20 The other day I was perusing my bookshelf and rediscovered a book that I hadn’t picked up in a while.  It’s called The Faith Explained by Fr. Leo Trese, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit and a best-selling author who died in 1970 at the age of 68.  Leafing through it, I was reminded how well Fr. TreseContinue reading “Anointing of the Sick”


posted 9/8/20 If you ever visit a seminary you will find that they are places where there is much laughter.  I really enjoyed the comradery I found among my classmates, which was healthy and joyful. While most of our formation sessions involved moments of levity and laughter, there was one particular experience that I remember we took with absolute seriousness, and that wasContinue reading “Confession”

Litany of Humility

posted 9/5/20 Rafael Merry del Val was a very influential figure in the Catholic Church in the beginning of the 20th Century. Born into a family of Spanish nobility in 1865, he spent much of his childhood in England before moving to Rome to study for the priesthood, to which he was ordained in 1888.  From there he began serving in theContinue reading “Litany of Humility”

The Most Blessed Sacrament

posted 9/3/20 We have come to the third “Sacrament of Initiation,” which is the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist.  While Baptism is the first Sacrament and the doorway to the supernatural life of grace, the Eucharist is the greatest of the Sacraments.  Indeed, the Second Vatican Council refers to the Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian life…. For inContinue reading “The Most Blessed Sacrament”

Why Confirmation?

posted 9/1/20 What is the sacrament of Confirmation?  What does it do?  When Bishop Curtis confirmed me many years ago, I don’t think I would have been able to give a good answer to those questions.  I knew Confirmation had something to do with the Holy Spirit.  Even better, it meant you got presents AND you didn’t have to go to religiousContinue reading “Why Confirmation?”

Brain Heart World

posted 8/29/20 Recently, I watched a 3-part documentary series called Brain, Heart, World.  It was produced by an organization called “Fight the New Drug,” which describes itself on its website as: a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effectsContinue reading “Brain Heart World”

Why Baptize?

posted 8/27/20 Baptism is the first sacrament.  Typically, within a couple months of a child’s birth, the family will bring the baby to the church, and the priest (or deacon) will pour water over the child’s head while saying the words: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of theContinue reading “Why Baptize?”

Do the Right Thing

posted 8/25/20 On June 3, 2017, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit celebrated a Mass during which he attempted to ordain five new priests, but failed to do so.  Only four of the five men were actually ordained that day, since one of them, Fr. Matthew Hood – a young man who had just spent 6 years in seminary formationContinue reading “Do the Right Thing”

Regaining Hope

posted 8/22/20 Several years ago, someone gave me a book called Regaining Sight.  It is a compilation of articles from a magazine called Imprint, published by a religious community, the Sisters of Life.  The articles are stories about different people, the challenges they face, and how their relationship with God helped them through a particular struggle.  They feature people like the late Steven McDonald, who was aContinue reading “Regaining Hope”

Struggling with Sadness

posted 8/15/20 In the gospel this coming Monday we hear about a rich young man who approaches Jesus, asking Him: “what good must I do to gain eternal life?”  Our Lord instructs the young man to keep the commandments.  When the young man tells Christ that he already observes them, He responds: “If you wish to be perfect, go,Continue reading “Struggling with Sadness”

Deliver Us from Evil

posted 8/11/20 I have a cousin named Ray who is about 6-7 years older than I am.  Being a really nice kid, Ray was happy to play with his little cousins, even though we were much younger than he was.  When our families got together, there would be major wrestling matches going on in the family room as theContinue reading “Deliver Us from Evil”

Sick of Coronavirus

posted 8/8/20 I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of sick of Coronavirus.  And when I say sick, I don’t mean I have Coronavirus, but that I’m tired of it.  I hate how it has forced us to live.  I dislike wearing masks and social distancing.  The plexiglass barriers at every cash register, the closed storefronts.  In darker momentsContinue reading “Sick of Coronavirus”

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

posted 8/4/20 In my last assignment there was a women’s group in the parish that would host a brunch each year to which they would invite a speaker.  One year they invited a woman named Jennifer Hubbard.  Jennifer is from Newtown, CT and in December 2014 her daughter Catherine Violet was murdered along with 19 other children and 6 staffContinue reading “Forgive Us Our Trespasses”

Thy Daily Bread

posted 7/30/20 There’s a reality television show on cable called Hoarders, which depicts the struggles of people who suffer with Compulsive Hoarding Disorder, which leads them to pack their homes with things such as newspapers, cans, books, and clothes.  Their compulsion makes their living situation unhealthy and unsafe and causes great distress to their families.  The show brings psychologists and counselors to speak with people who are dealing with theContinue reading “Thy Daily Bread”

Thy Will Be Done

posted 7/28/20 The fourth petition in the Lord’s Prayer is: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  What is heaven like?  Popular culture often depicts it as a dreadfully boring place filled with clouds and angels quietly playing harps.  When we think of heaven, we know it to be the place where God’s will is always done and always done perfectly. Those popularContinue reading “Thy Will Be Done”

The Pilgrimage of St. James

posted 7/25/20 Going on pilgrimage is an ancient Christian practice.  There are old texts from Bishops encouraging the practice of pilgrimage among the faithful going back to the 4th century.  Pilgrimages are not vacations, but physical journeys that manifest the spiritual journeys of those who desire to encounter God in the places where He has made His presence known in a particular way.  The mostContinue reading “The Pilgrimage of St. James”

Thy Kingdom Come

posted 7/23/20 This third petition of the Lord’s Prayer is an expression of longing that God the Father’s reign extend over all things.  It’s a curious petition, considering we profess faith in God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and omnipresent.  That means His reign must already extend over all of His creation.  Yet, it is obvious that things are not as they should be.  You don’t have to beContinue reading “Thy Kingdom Come”

Hallowed Be Thy Name

posted 7/21/20 Familiarity and awe, in tight conjunction, are the mark of Christian prayer.  – Fr. Simeon Leiva-Merikakis In this second petition from the Lord’s Prayer, Christ Jesus instructs us to say: “Hallowed be thy name.”  It is the expression of a wish that the name of God be treated with reverence, as something holy.  It is inContinue reading “Hallowed Be Thy Name”

Good Teacher

posted 7/18/20 Robert P. George is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, where he has taught since 1985.  The grandson of immigrants who worked in the coal mines of West Virginia, George is known as one of the nation’s leading conservative intellectuals.  As a practicing Catholic who holds views considered “conservative” on many issues, George’s outspoken critiques of abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, pornography, large-scale government welfare programs, and human trafficking often putContinue reading “Good Teacher”

Our Father

posted 7/16/20 I remember like it was yesterday.  I was in fourth grade and me and my friends were watching The Empire Strikes Back, which everybody knows is the best of all the Star Wars movies.  In the climactic scene, an under-prepared Luke Skywalker has just had an epic lightsaber fight with Darth Vader, who has cornered him and cut off his hand (super-traumatic!).  AndContinue reading “Our Father”

The Lily of the Mohawks

posted 7/14/20 Today is the feast day of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American to be canonized a saint.  St. Kateri was born in 1656, the daughter of a war chief of the Mohawk tribe and a Christian Algonquin mother, near present-day Auriesville, NY.  It was in that same area, 10 years earlier, where the French missionaries, St.Continue reading “The Lily of the Mohawks”

St. Benedict

posted 7/11/20 Today, July 11, we celebrate the feast day of St. Benedict, the patron saint of Europe.  Benedict was born in the Italian town of Norcia (Nursia) in the year 480.  This was a period of serious cultural decline in the waning years of the Roman Empire, and when Benedict was sent by his wealthy father to study in Rome he wasContinue reading “St. Benedict”

Our Birthday

posted 7/4/20 Today we celebrate the 244th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which we recognize as the birthday of our nation.  Although the celebrations of this great holiday must be relatively quiet this year, I hope you get to enjoy the weekend with family and friends as best you can.  Our nation is obviouslyContinue reading “Our Birthday”

The Paralytic

posted 7/2/20 Today’s gospel is St. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ healing of the paralytic in the town of Capernaum (Mt 9:1-8).  The afflicted man is brought to Our Lord by his friends, lying on a stretcher.  “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.’” I wonder if there wasn’tContinue reading “The Paralytic”

St. Junipero Serra

posted 6/30/20 Tomorrow, July 1, is the feast day of St. Junipero Serra.  In recent weeks, we’ve seen statues pulled down by activists decrying what they understand to be crimes committed by historical figures.  Even prior to his canonization by Pope Francis in September 2015, St. Junipero Serra had been the subject of harsh criticism and the defacement of his image, especially in California,Continue reading “St. Junipero Serra”

St. Peter & St. Paul

posted 6/27/20 This Monday, June 29, is the Solemnity of St. Peter & St. Paul.  These two saints are the patrons of the city of Rome, where they died as martyrs for the Faith.  It’s traditionally the day on which new archbishops go to Rome to receive something called the “pallium” from the pope.  The pallium is a white piece of woolenContinue reading “St. Peter & St. Paul”

Images of God

posted 6/25/20 When I was a kid, I liked to read the copy of The Children’s Bible, which was first published by Golden Press in the 1960s.  Even before I learned to read, the pictures depicting the Bible stories fascinated me, especially those of the Old Testament.  In my mind I can still see the picture of the animals entering Noah’s Ark asContinue reading “Images of God”

The Narrow Gate

posted 6/23/20 The first reading for today’s Mass is from the Second Book of Kings (2 Kings 19:9-36).  It is an account of the siege of Jerusalem that took place about 700 years before the birth of Christ.  The ruler of the Assyrian Empire, King Sennacherib, had already conquered the northern Kingdom of Israel and sent 10 of the Israelite tribesContinue reading “The Narrow Gate”

Sacred Heart of Jesus

posted 6/19/20 On a hill overlooking the city of Paris is the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  It is a modern structure, whose construction began in 1875 and was completed in 1914.  Because of the outbreak of the First World War, it was not consecrated until 1917.  Probably the most remarkable thing aboutContinue reading “Sacred Heart of Jesus”

Blessed are You

posted 6/18/20 I had a music teacher in high school named Mr. Guzzi who had regular gigs playing piano in a jazz band.  During one class one day, he told the story about the trumpeter in his band, who was obsessed with Louis Armstrong.  More than anything, he wanted to play the trumpet like Armstrong.  So, Mr. Guzzi said,Continue reading “Blessed are You”

Persecuted for the Sake of Righteousness

posted 6/17/20 Blessed Franz Jagerstatter was born in Austria in 1907.  As a young man, his Catholic faith wasn’t very important to him, but he later had a profound conversion through the influence of his deeply devout wife.  He developed a love for scripture, the stories of the saints, and the Mass.  When Hitler annexed Austria in 1938, the vast majority of Austrians were in favor of it.  But Jagerstatter wasContinue reading “Persecuted for the Sake of Righteousness”

The Peacemakers

posted 6/16/20 In a world where there are so many differing points of view, what makes for peace?  It’s a crucial question because peace is important to Our Lord and His mission.  He is, after all, the Prince of Peace who teaches us: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”  Fr. Simeon Leiva-Merikakis writesContinue reading “The Peacemakers”

The Clean of Heart

posted 6/15/20 There was a book that came out in 2006 by Mark Kurlansky, entitled: The Big Oyster: History on a Half-Shell, that chronicled the history of the oyster beds that used to proliferate in New York Harbor. “Before the 20th Century, when people thought of New York, they thought of oysters.” The mollusks wereContinue reading “The Clean of Heart”

Welcome Home

posted 6/13/20 It’s with great happiness that we welcome parishioners back to celebrate the Mass in church this weekend.  For now, we will be celebrating our parish Masses at the church of St. Cecilia, but soon enough we will return to celebrating Mass together at the church of St. Gabriel as well.  These past several monthsContinue reading “Welcome Home”

The Merciful

posted 6/12/20 On September 6, 2018 a 26-year-old man named Botham Jean was shot and killed in his Dallas apartment by his neighbor, Amber Guyger.  Guyger, an off-duty member of the Dallas Police Department, claimed that she entered Jean’s apartment thinking it was her own, and that she mistook Jean for a burglar.  Initially charged only with manslaughter, Guyger was later charged and convicted of murder for a crime that had racial overtones, with theContinue reading “The Merciful”


posted 6/11/20 For my senior year of college, my friends and I rented an apartment just across the street from campus.  When my parents came to visit at the beginning of the year, my mother told me how much she liked my apartment, and she spent the evening in the kitchen making a big senior year celebratory dinner forContinue reading “Righteousness”

The Meek

posted 6/10/20 When I was an undergraduate at the University of Dallas in the 1990s, the city of Waco was known for three things: 1) Baylor University, 2) fire ants, and 3) Branch Davidians.  Fast forward 20 years and suddenly Waco is the center of the “home improvement” movement, with Chip and Joanna Gaines basically transforming Waco into an interior design destinationContinue reading “The Meek”

Those Who Mourn

posted 6/9/20 Dr. Michael Brescia is a co-founder and the Executive Medical Director (emeritus) of Calvary Hospital in the Bronx.  Calvary Hospital was founded to be a place that would provide palliative care to those with advanced cancer and other terminal illnesses.  For Dr. Brescia, who is a well-respected physician and devout Catholic, it was essential that the hospital be a placeContinue reading “Those Who Mourn”

Poor in Spirit

posted 6/8/20 The gospel reading for today’s Mass is St. Matthew’s account of the Beatitudes.  Everyone is familiar with the Beatitudes, but what actual effect they have on our lives is unclear.  They can seem poetic and obscure – beautiful, but not really helpful in a practical sense.  It’s a lot easier to “get” the 10 Commandments, which seem straightforward. Continue reading “Poor in Spirit”

Te Deum

posted 6/6/20 This Sunday the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.  The truth that God exists is something that one can reasonably deduce through the exercise of one’s natural intellectual gifts.  The inner life of God as a Communion of Three Divine Persons, however, is something that we know only through divine revelation.  Our imaginations are not muchContinue reading “Te Deum”

Finding Refuge

posted 6/5/20 There are times when I’ll be at a family gathering, the adults sitting at the dining room table and the kids playing somewhere (everywhere) else, and inevitably one of the children will come over and bury himself/herself in the side of his/her mother or father. It could be for a multitude of reasons.  It could be the kid is unhappy because someone wasContinue reading “Finding Refuge”

The Ugandan Martyrs

posted 6/3/20 Today is the feast day of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, 22 young Ugandan men who were put to death for the faith in 1886.  While doing some research on these young saints, I came across a video that Bishop Robert Barron did on the Ugandan Martyrs and it’s much better than anything I could comeContinue reading “The Ugandan Martyrs”

The Human Heart

posted 6/2/20 When he was arrested in February 1945 on a trumped-up charge of having committed crimes against the Soviet Union, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was forced to march along with several other detained Soviet soldiers and a German civilian from the jail where they had been processed to the prison which would be their new home.  Solzhenitsyn, an officer in the Soviet Army, wasContinue reading “The Human Heart”

Mother of the Church

posted 6/1/20 There’s a couple I’ve known for many years – I’ll call them Fred and Jane.  They met each other not long after the untimely deaths of their first spouses.  Jane had children with her first husband, and Fred also had children, including a young son with severe disabilities.  I remember a conversation with Jane when she told me about the time she first metContinue reading “Mother of the Church”

The Gift of Fear of the Lord

As a kid some of my favorite books were C.S. Lewis’ series, The Chronicles of Narnia.  If you’re familiar with the stories you know that the greatest of the characters in the novels is, of course, Aslan the Lion.  The philosopher Peter Kreeft has said that Lewis accomplished something remarkable when he created a literary character who makes the reader feel likeContinue reading “The Gift of Fear of the Lord”

The Gift of Piety

posted 5/29/20 Sometimes on my day off I will go to visit one of my sisters who lives in Fairfield.  She has five children, so bedtime is not usually the best time for me to stop by.  But it’s very nice when the kids are all settled in and I get there in time to say prayers with the family beforeContinue reading “The Gift of Piety”

The Gift of Knowledge

posted 5/28/20 Several winters ago, my sister went to a place called White Horse, Canada with her husband.  While they were there, she took a bunch of photographs, including some of the Northern Lights, which were on full display.  She had a copy of one of the photos blown up and framed, and it now hangs on the wall ofContinue reading “The Gift of Knowledge”

The Gift of Fortitude

posted 5/27/20 Maximilian Kolbe was a man who demonstrated great courage and charity throughout his life.  Born in Poland in 1894, he went on to be a Franciscan priest.  He established several monasteries and was also a very successful publisher of religious pamphlets promoting devotion to the Blessed Mother.  When Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Kolbe used his publishingContinue reading “The Gift of Fortitude”

The Gift of Counsel

posted 5/26/20 When a priest hears confessions, there are occasions when he hears himself say something to the penitent that surprises him.  When that’s happened to me, I think to myself: “Whoa! Where did that come from?”  There have also been times when I’ve gone to confession and the priest says something that seems to express exactly theContinue reading “The Gift of Counsel”

On the Mass

posted 5/24/20 As we make preparations for the resumption of public Masses this weekend, it’s hard to believe that it’s been 62 days since the last public Mass in our parish and throughout the Diocese of Bridgeport.  Perhaps now is a good time to consider why, in the absence of the faithful, priests continued to say Masses over these past three months – not just in front of a camera, butContinue reading “On the Mass”

The Gift of Wisdom

posted 5/23/20 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (1 Cor 1:25)  Two months before she died from tuberculosis, one of the nuns in her community said to the 24-year-old Sr. Therese of Lisieux, “you are a saint.”  In response, Therese pointed to the tops ofContinue reading “The Gift of Wisdom”

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

posted 5/22/20 During this 9-day period between the Ascension and Pentecost, it is fitting to reflect on the significance of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  We first receive the Holy Spirit at our baptism, but at Confirmation we receive a full share in the Holy Spirit and a strengthening in the Spirit’s Gifts. I have vivid memories of my own Confirmation at the handsContinue reading “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit”

The Love of God

posted 5/20/20 The wallpaper image on my smartphone is a photo that I took of another photo that was part of an exhibit during World Youth Day in 2016.  It’s a black and white image of a young Missionary of Charity bathing the emaciated body of a woman whom the sisters rescued from dying on the streetsContinue reading “The Love of God”

St. John Paul II

posted 5/18/20 On this day in 1920, Karol Wojtyla was born in the Polish town of Wadowice, the youngest of the three children of his parents.  Today the world knows him as Pope St. John Paul II, who led the Church from 1978-2005.  His family life was marked by tragedy, his siblings and his mother all having died by the time Karol was an adolescent.  His father, withContinue reading “St. John Paul II”

Enduring Hardships

posted 5/16/20 During this season of Easter, the Church gives us readings for Mass taken from the Acts of the Apostles. The Book of Acts tells us about the earliest days of the Church and the missionary work of the Apostles, especially St. Paul.  This past week featured a remarkable passage (Acts 14:5-28) about the experiences of Paul and Barnabas asContinue reading “Enduring Hardships”


posted 5/15/20 Since my posting about the apparitions at Fatima a couple of days ago, some have expressed concern about Our Lady’s revelation to the visionaries that one of their friends who had recently died would be in Purgatory until the end of the world.  It’s certainly a sobering message, and might be a very terrible one ifContinue reading “Purgatory”


posted 5/14/20 “You shall love… whether you like it or not.”  This is a line from the beautiful homily given by the priest character in the film To the Wonder. The film’s director Terrence Malick is famous (infamous?) for his artsy movies that have beautiful images but plots that are extremely difficult to follow – some might say they are incomprehensible.  Because of this, I won’t recommend theContinue reading “Love”


posted 5/13/20 On this day in 1917, the Blessed Mother appeared for the first time to three children in Fatima, Portugal.  The three visionaries were Lucia dos Santos (10) and two siblings, Francisco (9) and Jacinta (7) Marto.  While playing in a place called Cova da Iria, the children saw two flashes of light, after which they saw “a Lady dressed in white, more brilliantContinue reading “Fatima”

A Weird Catholic

posted 5/12/20 Recently, a friend of mine very thoughtfully gave me a new biography about Dorothy Day (1897-1980), who was one of the founders of the Catholic Worker Movement, along with her friend and mentor Peter Maurin.  I became interested in Day when I was in seminary through a friend of mine who had a greatContinue reading “A Weird Catholic”

St. Damien

posted 5/11/20 On Oct 7, 1860, Damien de Veuster (1840-1889) lay prostrate on the floor as he was covered with a funeral pall as part of the traditional ritual for religious profession for the Belgian religious community, the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.  Thirteen years later, when he responded to the local bishop’s call for volunteers toContinue reading “St. Damien”

Don Shula

posted 5/9/20 Last week, Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history, passed away at the age of 90.  Shula is best known for being the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, leading them to two Super Bowl titles, including a perfect undefeated season in 1972.  He also won an NFL championship in 1968 as head coach ofContinue reading “Don Shula”


posted 5/8/20 I remember a conversation with a man named Jim who was sharing with me his life story.  He told me that he grew up as a Protestant, but during his young adulthood he found himself kind of lost, drifting from the faith of his childhood and wondering what life was about.  After some years of real struggles and some darkness, he found himself reading aContinue reading “Faith”

Revealing Ourselves

posted 5/7/20 When I was a kid there was an unwritten (though oft-spoken) rule in our house that when you came home from Tashua Pool in Trumbull you were to hang out your towel to dry in the backyard.  I usually complied with this rule, through there were times when I would just leave it on the floor in theContinue reading “Revealing Ourselves”

Lessons from Mustard Seed

posted 5/6/20 There’s an organization in Jamaica called Mustard Seed Communities that provides homes for people with severe disabilities.  In my last assignment, the members of the parish youth group would go down there each year to volunteer as part of a mission trip.  It was not easy work, but it was very rewarding to see how the teenagers fromContinue reading “Lessons from Mustard Seed”

Acedia: Take Two

posted 5/5/20 So, let me tell you how my life has been ever since I published my reflection on the sin of acedia yesterday.  I wasted at least an hour watching YouTube videos and checking my Twitter feed, I fell asleep during my holy hour in church, I mindlessly snacked on junk food in the rectory kitchen instead of making a proper dinner for myself, andContinue reading “Acedia: Take Two”


posted 5/4/20 When I was the Vocation Director of the Diocese one of the things I was expected to do was have what’s called a “social media presence,” which meant posting content on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.  I quickly realized how social media can easily suck up all your attention and waste huge amounts of time with things that are not very edifying.  While usingContinue reading “Acedia”

The Good Shepherd

When I was in seminary, one of the priests on the faculty told us a story about his first pilgrimage to the Holy Land when he was a seminarian.  He and the rest of the group were near the Sea of Galilee and as the tour guide was telling them about the site they were visiting, theyContinue reading “The Good Shepherd”


posted 5/1/20 Athanasius Contra Mundum.  This is a famous Latin saying that means: “Athanasius Against the World.”  The man to whom this refers is St. Athanasius of Alexandria, a 4th century bishop from Egypt who found himself embroiled in the great Arian controversy of that period.  Now, it’s important to understand that 4th centry Arianism has absolutely nothing to do with the 20th century racist ideologyContinue reading “Consubstantial”

The Rosary

posted 4/30/20 I remember some years ago, to celebrate the beginning of Our Lady’s month of May, we were giving out rosary beads to people as they were leaving church.  One of the parishioners, a very good man in his 40s, who brought his family to Mass every Sunday, accepted a few sets of beads.  Thanking me,Continue reading “The Rosary”


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