Monthly Archives: April 2016

Arbor Day and Our Catholic Faith by Deacon Marty McIndoe

JPIIOliveTreeThis Olive Tree was planted by St. Pope John Paul II in 2000 on Mt Nebo at the beginning of a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands.  This is where Moses looked over  in to the Promised Land. 

Happy National Arbor Day.  There are so many ways that we can find God.  So often people look at the beauty of nature and see God there.  We know that our God is the Creator and to be quite frank, he did a wonderful job of creating the world we live in.  Everywhere you look in nature you can find true beauty.  The poet Joyce Kilmer, in her poem, “Trees” declares the beauty of the tree and ends her poem with, “Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.”  Although man can make some beautiful structures, and some beautiful pictures and art, it all pales compares to what we find in God’s creation.

One of the most popular Saints in the Catholic Church is St. Francis of Assisi.  He is known for his love of God’s creation, plant and animal.  His songs of Praise of God always mention the beautiful pieces of creation.  He even sees the close link between our creation as a human and the creation of plants and animals.  To Francis, we are all brother and sister to one another.  He knew that there is a strong link between all the plants and animals.  Modern day scientists tell us that we need plants just to live.  They give off Oxygen and take in Carbon Dioxide while we take in Oxygen and give off Carbon Dioxide.  There is a real balance between all of the parts of creation.

The Catholic Church has seen this from even further back then St. Francis and has called for a special honoring of all of creation.  In modern times, Pope Paul VI, who had a deep love for the outdoors and for all of creation, decided to do something.  He knew that our modern society was helping to destroy the environment so in 1971 he published an apostolic letter entitled Octogesima Adveniens— “A Call to Action.” In the letter, he listed 11 new social problems that the Church should confront, including the environment.  He wrote, “Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation.”  He even went on to address the United Nations Conference on the Environment in 1972.  In 1991 the Conference of American Bishops issued a pastoral letter arguing that environmental ethics are an integral part of Catholic teaching.

Pope John Paul II, a year after being elected Pope, named St. Francis of Assisi the patron saint of ecologists.   In 1990, he issued a statement where he warned that the Earth was in danger not just from a nuclear arms race, or regional conflicts, but also a “a lack of due respect for nature, by the plundering of natural resources and by a progressive decline in the quality of life.”   He added that things like “industrial waste, the burning of fossil fuels, unrestricted deforestation, and the use of certain types of herbicides, coolants and propellants” all contributed to the degradation of the environment.

Arbor Day began back in 1872 in Nebraska where over one million trees were planted.  Since then Arbor Day is to help remind us of the beauty of nature, as well as our responsibility to care for it.  As Catholics, we are supposed to do our share in caring for the environment.  Perhaps this year you might want to plant a tree, or better yet, plant an idea in others about the need to care for the beauty of God’s creation.

One Mistake We Make When We Want to Make a Difference as Catholics by Shaun McAfee


Do you have Catholic heroes?

When I converted to the Catholic faith I was on fire to make a mark. Having been into blogging before I converted, my conversion gave me a deep zeal and the new information I had learned was quickly converted into content. But it ran out quickly. The more I wanted to be like my heroes, the more impossible that became, and the more frustrated I ended up.

Perhaps you didn’t notice, but there are many Catholics who are just crazy about Catholics. I mean it. I mean it like I mean I absolutely love thick cut, applewood smoked, crisp and greasy bacon. There’s a serious error many commit and I’m guilty of it, too. And I’m not talking about the bacon.

It all began when…

No, it didn’t ever really begin. It’s sort of ingrained into us. We have a problem with being innovators sometimes. We see something that entertains us, and we want to replicate it. We grow to look up to someone, and we want to be just like them. We create this picture in our mind of what a successful Catholic looks like, and we convince ourselves that we cannot be good Catholics or fulfil our purpose until we achieve X, Y, Z.

Imagine the pressure!

Imagine the pressure of the ambitious seeker who read Tim Staples just once, had to convert, converted and the whole nine yards, then felt the call to convert other souls—cause after all that’s what the Bible says we’re called to do—and got started. This person read every book, listened to Catholic Answers Live every day, and was determined to make their mark. Then, just a few months later, the blog this person started wasn’t getting traffic. There was an initial spike, but the ideas were running out, too. The zeal was not converting to numbers as quickly as his/her conscience had. Suddenly, it all seemed like a waste of time. How was this person ever going to replace Scott Hahn?

For real, that’s the idea some people create in their mind. Especially bloggers; but it happens to so many Catholics. The zeal sometimes creates tunnel vision for us, and we create one single lane that we must follow in order to feel like we’re making a difference.

It makes sense, really. But don’t fall into this trap! It’s terribly attractive to look at our Catholic heroes and want to be just like them. While it’s healthy to follow their example, it’s not healthy to narrow our vision on God’s will. Doing that only suffocates our openness to the Holy Spirit and deafens His voice.

I think the pressure people put on themselves when they gain their newfound zeal caused tunnel vision in many people. To avoid this, here’s a couple things to keep in mind:

First, you must focus on personal holiness before you step out and attempt to education and evangelize others. I’m not talking about being a hypocrite, because removing the log in your own eye is much more about clear vision than about hypocrisy. There are nine fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Interestingly, God chose the dove to represent the Holy Spirit, whose wings are made up of nine main feather stems. You must develop the fruits of the spirit in order to truly take fight.

Second, after developing your personal holiness and taking flight, you’re able to use the corresponding gifts of the Holy Spirit. But be conscious of the temptation of that tunnel vision. God has a unique plan for you. What would the world look like if we were all Scott Hahn? There would be a lot of Bible knowledge and handsome beards. No, seriously: remember that Martha’s revelation was understanding that there is something more important that impressing ourselves (and others) with our works. What really matters is how we spend our time with God. Mother Angelica didn’t get into the art of media until her later years. She was able to be so effective because she made priority of the Mary duties, then the Martha.

Third, be yourself. The world will tell you that you need to go out into the world and find yourself. But what you really need to do is find the One who already knows who you are. When you get to know God, whose depth of closeness and relationship is endless, you’ll really get to know who you are.

Hero worship can create a false sense of duty and achievement, contentment and virtue. There’s so many ways to be Catholic. It might not be apologetics or writing. It might be having a certain amount of children. It might be a degree you have to get or a teaching job you have to have. It could even be the priesthood or cloistered life. Whatever it is, don’t be over-eager. The only thing you need to be eager about is knowing and developing your relationship with the One who is eager about you. The rest falls into place.

Check out this article and others at Shaun’s home at the National Catholic Register –

The Lazy Priest by Dan Gonzalez


Throughout my childhood, I never attended a Mass that was assisted by a deacon. I grew up assuming that it was the role of the priest to read the Gospel.

A closer parish eventually opened which was blessed to have a deacon. I noticed that it was he who read the Gospel week after week. My thought was “Man, that priest is LAZY! He has his helper doing all the work!” Little did I know that it is the deacon who is supposed to read the Gospel—this is what the Church envisions.

The Deacon and the Gospel

In the proclamation of the Gospel, Jesus is speaking to us—Christ himself is addressing his bride, the Church. For that reason, only a deacon, priest or bishop may read the Gospel at Mass—but the Church is quite clear that the preference is for the Gospel to be proclaimed by the deacon:

“The function of proclaiming the readings is by tradition not presidential but ministerial. Therefore the readings are to be read by a reader, but the Gospel by the Deacon or, in his absence, by another Priest. If, however, a Deacon or another Priest is not present, the Priest Celebrant himself should read the Gospel, and moreover, if no other suitable reader is present, the Priest Celebrant should also proclaim the other readings as well.” —The General Instruction of the Roman Missal #59

At least by the 600s, it was the function of the deacon to read the Gospel in the liturgy:

“To the deacons it belongs to assist the priests and to serve in all that is done in the Sacraments of Christ, in baptism, to wit, in the holy chrism, in the paten and chalice, to bring the oblation to the altar and to arrange them…to carry the cross, to declaim the Gospel and Epistle, for as the charge is given to lectors to declaim the Old Testament, so it is given to deacons to declaim the New. To him also pertains the office of prayers and the recital of the names. It is he who gives warning to open our ears to the Lord, it is he who exhorts with his cry, it is he also who announces peace.” —Letter of St. Isidore of Seville to Leudefredus

The ordination of a deacon underscores his ministerial function to proclaim the Gospel. During the ceremony, a newly ordained deacon kneels before the bishop, who places in his hands the Book of the Gospels and says:

“Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” —Ordination of a Deacon

However, one must also keep in mind that all priests are deacons—a man cannot receive the Order of Priest without having first received the Order of Deacon. In addition, his priestly ordination does not invalidate or supplant his diaconate.

When celebrating the Eucharist, the priest is performing the function of his ministry. That is why it is preferred, in the absence of a deacon, that a concelebrating priest read the Gospel. But, if the celebrating priest does proclaim the Gospel, he does so by virtue of his deaconate, not as a function of his priesthood.

Instruct the Faithful

The deacon has also been set apart by the Church to instruct the faithful throughout the Mass—it is he who will direct the actions of the people:

  • Let us kneel.
  • Let us stand.
  • Let us offer each other the sign of peace.
  • Bow your heads and pray for God’s blessing.
  • Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.

The voice that guides the assembly is also the one that proclaims the Gospel—a subtle reminder that the Gospel message is indeed a call to action.

What about you? Who proclaims that Gospel at your Mass? Did your childhood parish have a deacon? Share and let’s learn together!

Check out Dan’s webpage at


Miracles from Heaven by Deacon Marty McIndoe


“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”   Albert Einstein


My wife and I just saw the movie, “Miracles from Heaven” starring Jennifer Garner, Kylie Rogers, Martin Henderson and Queen Latifah.  It was certainly a movie that I would recommend to anyone.  It is based on a true story about an initially happy Christian family living in Texas.  When the movie opens, everything seems as it should be.  There is good family communication, a beautiful farm that they live on, and every Sunday they attend an active Evangelical Church with good music and worship.  The father even says to the mother, “this is the good life”.  Then, the ten year old daughter, Anna, becomes ill.  She has a rare, incurable, digestive disorder where her body cannot handle food.  This disorder causes her severe pain, and there doesn’t seem any hope from the medical world.

The girl’s mother, played extremely well by Jennifer Garner, will do anything to help her daughter.  She struggles with doctors until she finally forces herself upon a specialist in this field at Boston Children’s Hospital.  Even this specialist doesn’t give her much hope.  The mother never gives up on her daughter, but does give up on her faith in God.  The family exhausts all of their financial resources trying to bring comfort to their daughter.  The scenes where she is suffering so badly, while the family cannot do anything to help her, are quite intense and you certainly feel the mother’s anguish.

Then, something happens.  The daughter is climbing a tall dead tree in their yard in Texas.  A branch breaks and Anna plummets thirty feet in to the hollow tree.  It takes rescuers many hours to get her out.  When they do, she is brought unconscious to the hospital.  When Anna awakens, the symptoms of the incurable disease are gone.  Anna shares with her mom how God spoke to her in heaven about how he was healing her.  I don’t want to get in to too much detail because I don’t want to spoil the story for you, but her healing is seen as a real miracle by all involved, including the doctors.  This miracle brings back the faith of her mom as well as the faith of many involved.

At the very end, the mother speaks to their church and says some things that are very important.  She recognizes the miraculous healing of her daughter, but also shows how she saw miracles happen throughout the whole journey involving many different people in what would be seen as doing ordinary things.  There is a lot of power there, especially when they flash back on these things.  After the movie ends, they have pictures and videos of the real family.  Make sure you stay for those.

As Catholics, we believe strongly in miracles.  Our history is full of them.  We also know that miracles don’t always happen in the way we want them.  To me, the strength of this movie is not just the actual miraculous healing, but in the family and friends and what they did during the difficult times.  God works miracles in so many ways.  More often than not, he works them through every day, ordinary actions of love.  I would really suggest you take the time to see this movie.  It is so much better than so many movies we are exposed to.  The faith, love, and gift of family and friendship that this movie offers is so refreshing.  God bless.

Door A or Door B by A.J. Avila


When I was growing up, there was a game show on television called Let’s Make a Deal. The host, Monty Hall, would give members of the studio audience the opportunity to swap one prize for a different, unknown prize inside a box or behind a curtain. Sometimes the recipient got a better deal by making the trade. Sometimes not.

Of course, if you could see beforehand what was in the box or behind the curtain, you would know whether or not making the trade was a good idea.

I was reminded of this when considering something St. Faustina said in her Diary. She describes being led by an angel into Hell itself. The images she paints of the torments there are staggering. (Diary, 741)

I was more shocked, though, by what she said at the end of it all.

She said she would rather undergo incredible agonies and the greatest sufferings until the end of the world than offend God by the least sin.

So let me get this straight. You have two doors, and you have to choose one of them. Behind Door A is incredible pain and suffering until the Second Coming. Behind Door B is stealing a cookie.

And she’s saying she would choose Door A. Because, apparently, that’s the better deal.

What’s difficult to accept is that she’s right.

We all have a tendency to downplay sin, especially venial sin. Well, yeah, I told a lie, but it’s not like it was a big lie. Not like lying on the witness stand or something. It was just fudging a bit on my taxes. It was just claiming the light was green instead of red when I entered the intersection. No big deal, right? Sheesh, it’s not like I’m Hitler or something!

When we start comparing ourselves to Hitler instead of the Person we should be comparing ourselves to (namely, Jesus), we’ve lost sight of just how diabolical sin is. God is infinitely greater than the universe, and I, little mote of dust that I am, sinned against That? Against Utter Perfection? Against Grace?

That’s exactly what I’ve done. And that’s exactly what Jesus went to the Cross for.

See how much my sins cost? How can sins paid for by such a great price be considered “little”?

That’s why, despite what I’ve heard out of the mouths of a couple of priests, there’s no such thing as a “little sin.” Yes, some are incredibly bigger than others, so big, in fact, that they destroy God’s grace in our souls. But none of them are small.

And that’s also why God wiping them out is such an incredible act of mercy.


Visit author, A.J. Avila at her blog at

Conversion to the Bread of Life by Deacon Marty

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The Jewish Synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus gave his sermon on eating His Body and Drinking His Blood (John 6:52-59) in today’s Gospel.

I was sitting in mass this morning listening to the fascinating account of Paul’s conversion (Act 9: 1-20) and I thought of my own conversion story that happened about 44 years ago.  I then proclaimed the Gospel where Jesus tells us that we MUST eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:52-59) to have LIFE within us.  As I read that Gospel, thoughts of my own conversion became so very vivid.  I would like to share some of those thoughts with you now.  This is certainly a brief testimony; there are so many other details to it.   Those are for another time.

I was raised as a Methodist and we celebrated “Communion Sunday” one time per month.  We all received cut up squares of white bread and drank small, shot sized, glasses of grape juice.  We were taught that we did this because Jesus wanted us to remember what He did at the last supper.  I really didn’t think much about this, but liked “Communion Sunday” because the sermon was always shorter.  I did drift away from that church, and from God, during my college years.  I married a Catholic girl and would occasionally attend mass with her, but without much thought about the mass, I thought more about going out to breakfast afterwards.  Many things happened that caused me to be in somewhat of a “funk”, and through a series of interesting events (miracles) my wife and I were invited to go to a Life in the Spirit Seminar.  At the time, I wasn’t sure what made me say yes to going.  Today I know that it was God’s Spirit that led me there.  We attended the Seminar and things began changing, for the good, in my life and in my relationship to my wife.  On the fifth week of the Seminar, we were prayed over for the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”.  My life hasn’t been the same since.  Everything seemed to take on new meaning.  I was especially moved by the Bible and began reading it and praying with it at every possible chance.  This new found relationship with Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit brought new life to the scriptures for me.  I was especially drawn to the Gospel of John.  So many times in that Gospel, Jesus talks about being the Bread of Life.  I read the Gospel mentioned above and thought that it was VERY clear that Jesus wanted us to do more than just remember the Last Supper.  He very clearly told us that we must eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood.  I found the same thoughts in other Gospels and in Paul’s letters.  The only church that I knew that taught this was the Catholic Church.  I am a person who has to research everything, so I began getting out Church documents such as Vatican II documents.  As a person who also loves history, I also began reading early Church history and began to devour information on the early Church fathers.  It was very clear to me that the Catholic Church in its beginnings and today followed Jesus in teaching what He taught.  It was also very clear that what the Church taught today was essentially identical to what it lived out in its very beginning, from the time of the Apostles in to the later centuries.  There was no doubt that Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper and wanted us to continue that, through the Church that He had established.  I had found the source for my being able to do what Jesus taught, to eat His Body and drink His Blood.  I went to my local pastor and He brought me in to an RCIA program and then brought me in to His Church.  I am a daily communicant, and I fully believe that each day I eat His Body and drink His blood and have LIFE because of Jesus.  God is so good.

Do Catholics Believe Jesus had no Earthly Brothers and Sisters? by David Rummelhoff


Let’s begin by asking, does anyone believe that Jesus had biological siblings — brothers or sisters born of the same biological mother? Yes. (And that’s probably no revelation to you.) The follow-up question is, why does anyone believe that Jesus had biological siblings? The most prominent answer to that question will be, “Well, the Bible says Jesus had siblings.” And if that’s why you believe that Jesus had biological siblings, born of the womb of Mary, then I understand where you’re coming from. I believed the same thing for a long time.

The task then is to read the Scriptures that lead people to believe that Christ had biological siblings, and to examine them closely enough to determine whether or not that is the most tenable or probable case. And where do we begin? Perhaps the best place would be Matthew 13:55-56 (which has a close parallel in Mark 6:3). In this passage, the people of Nazareth are responding to Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue:

Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”

Again, that seems straight-forward enough, so nobody is jumping to any conclusions here by thinking these are biological siblings. That said, we must note that in the language of the New Testament, the terms here are not absolutely indicative of siblings. The Greek term, which is adelphoi, is also indicative of other familial relations. Fine, but that’s merely a possibility, that doesn’t demonstrate that these four men named are other than Mary’s children. So, let’s see if the NT can clarify for us who these men are in relation to Jesus and Mary.

Jump to Matthew 27:55-56 :

There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Here we find another mention of “James and Joseph”, and here their mother is named Mary. However, it is fairly clear that this Mary who was looking on from a distance is not the Mary who bore Jesus. Why? Well, the central character is Jesus, and quite frankly, being the mother of Jesus is a far more important and distinguishing piece of information than being the mother of anyone else. And that this is a different Mary than Jesus’ mother is reinforced a few verses later (v.61) when Matthew writes:

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

“The other Mary”? Yes. Once again, the Mary who was paired with Mary Magdalene just a moment ago is now called “the other Mary”. It’s not easy to justify the idea that Matthew would refer to the mother of Jesus Christ as “the other Mary”, which is probably why there’s almost no Scripture scholar on earth who believes this other Mary is the mother of our Lord.

Maybe you’re not totally convinced; I get it. So, let’s look at another account of the crucifixion to see how another Gospel writer recorded the presence of these people. John 19:25 :

but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

Alright, John has given us three Marys. One he identifies by her being the mother of Jesus. Another is the famed Mary Magdalene, and the last is, we’re fairly certain, the “other Mary”, the wife of Clopas and the sister of Jesus’ mother. So, Jesus’ mother is named Mary, and his mother’s “sister” is named Mary. Of course, that Jesus’ maternal grandparents gave two daughters the same name is extremely improbable. So, this is probably another one of those instances where that Greek term adelphoi is used to indicate a non-sibling relation. In other words, it’s quite likely that Clopas’ wife is the cousin of Jesus’ mother.

  1. So, that gives us good reason to conclude that the first two “brothers”, James and Joseph, named in Matthew 13 are of some other familial relation to Jesus. In fact, the evidence strongly indicates that they are Jesus’ second cousins. And if the first two adelphoi named are only second cousins of Jesus, it is certainly improbable that the men and sisters mentioned after are of closer relation, certainly not the children of Mary and Joseph.

Does this “prove” that Jesus had no siblings? No, but it tells us that it’s highly improbable. When the people of Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth thought of Jesus’ family members, the first people they named are second cousins

Visit David’s website at


David Rummelhoff is a stay-at-home dad whose three little girls have him on a short leash since he finished his MA in theology. He pretends to have time to read and write, but he really spends his days incessantly preparing food for children with insatiable appetites and dangerous minds. He is the founder of Peter’s Mark.

Divine Mercy Too by Deacon Marty

20160403_112933Corpus Christi Parish in Lexington, SC on Divine Mercy Sunday

20150923_111200Unschooled orphan children in Lufwanyama, Zambia

Last Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, I was down in Lexington, South Carolina for my father’s funeral.  I attended Corpus Christi Parish.  I went by myself as my wife was still in New York and could not be there, and my brothers and sisters living near there were not Catholic.  Even though I went by myself, the parishioners were very warm and welcoming and I felt at home.  The priest who said the mass gathered all of the children around him on the altar steps.  He asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Each child responded and there were things like, Teacher, Astronaut (what I would have answered at that age), Police man or woman, Fire man or woman, etc.  The children were all excited at the personal attention the priest gave them and at his interest in their ideas.  After hearing from all of the children, he said that all of them could probably become what they wanted to be with a little bit of work.  Then he said, “what if your parents told you that age eight you had to leave school and help with the farm; or what if there was no school at all near you; or what if the school consisted of a metal shed with no books or blackboards or other learning tools.”  He told them that for a very large number of children in the world, that was what they faced.

When he said this it reminded me of my own mission trip down to Zambia in Africa last fall.  I went with a charity (HALO Missions) that helps bring medical and educational help to orphans throughout that area.  I remember the wonderful, happy children who could not attend school because they did not have the money to buy the government required school uniforms.  I remember visiting the local school that was definitely under sized and quite primitive compared to what we have.  I remember helping bring medical assistance to these orphans, sometimes saving their lives with less than $4.00 worth of medicine.  I remember the school headmaster’s smile when we told him we were giving him enough money to complete the school extension that the government had stopped due to lack of funds.  I also remember the joy on the faces of the 109 orphans that we dealt with telling them that we would purchase their school uniforms so they could attend school.  Helping others brings such joy, and there are so many who need help.  That was the message that the priest gave the children.  They were having a special fund raiser for a charity that helped children around the world.  I hope that the parents of these children heard that message and contributed generously.

So what does this have to do with Divine Mercy?  It has plenty do to with it.  John Paul II told us that Divine Mercy was twofold.  The emphasis we have most of the time is the first part:  God is Merciful; he is filled with unending Mercy.  We do need to hear that and take it in to our heart.  But we also have to live out the second part.  The second part is that we too are called to be like God and be filled with Mercy.  That means not only being forgiving, but also being generous in our dealings with others, especially the poor.  We need to touch the people around us by showing God’s Mercy in our everyday lives.  But we also have to be Merciful to those who do not have what we do.  We need to shower them with generous, merciful actions.  This Sunday, as we continue our Easter celebration and hear Jesus tell St. Peter that he must feed and tend the sheep, we too must think about how we can feed and tend God’s children who are in need.  This should be a time when we think about the other part of Divine Mercy, Divine Mercy Too, our response to God’s Mercy and our call to bring Mercy to others.  God bless.

To check out the the HALO missions website go to

Light the Fire by Patrick Sullivan

FB_IMG_1459080671146The picture is from lighting the Easter Vigil Fire at St. Francis de Sales in Patchogue, NY


Well it is Monday…and it is cold in my house.


I assumed that with the winter almost over I would not need to maintain the wood furnace so much but waking up this morning it is now obvious that I was wrong.

So here I am sitting by the fire hopeful as I look at the coals and yet consistently disappointed that any flame that seems to appear is blown out the moment I turn my eye from it.

I have stuff to get the fire started, and I have been relying on it heavily, but now I am awake to the possibility that it might not be the right kind of kindle at all.

And the thought has struck me…

Isn’t this precisely what has been happening in the world of evangelization?

There are some who really do think that we are beyond the need to evangelize; that it had its place in something like the winter of the Church perhaps, but since Vatican II it has come and gone, and it is time to move on.

There are others who are constantly amazed that the fire is not ablaze already.

After all, they had already tended to that need; answered that person’s question; provided the parish program that would really knock them off their feet.

And some of us have learned the hard way that every soul is like a single coal just waiting for the right kindle.

Knowing that when you first see the flame that it was called to be, you cannot take your eyes from it assuming that it will break forth into some self sustaining heat.

No, you must constantly feed it, encouraging where you can; providing it with all the oxygen of God that you can convey.

So today, while you tend to the soul our God has called you to, remember that soul will ‘light’ if you find the right fuel; and it will burst into flame over time IF you don’t forget about it.

Have a great day, friends.

in Christ,



Patrick Sullivan is a lay Catholic Evangelist, Author and Speaker.

So far, this has meant YouTube videos on various topics from a Christian perspective, speaking at many parish, conference, school and other events, as well as the completion of two books.

The first book was written to meet the needs and challenges of teachers and their students who want to clearly distinguish the Christian Faith from any other (Four Monks Walk into a Pub). And the second book was written to assist all of the faithful Christians out there who want a real plan of action for how to evangelize (Dare to Be an Evangelist).

check out his web page at:


The Annunciation by Deacon Marty

The lower church of the Basilica looking in to the house of Mary where the angel appeared for the Annunciation
The lower church of the Basilica looking in to the house of Mary where the angel appeared for the Annunciation
The house of Mary in the lower church
The house of Mary in the lower church

This special Solemnity is usually celebrated on March 25th, exactly nine months before the birth of Jesus.  This date, and its importance, comes down to us from the apostolic age.   St. Irenaeus, a second century Bishop, received the tradition from disciples of the Apostles themselves.    This year we celebrate the Solemnity on April 4th because March 25th of this year was Good Friday.  Think about that, this year March 25th was the date of the conception of Jesus, as well as the date of His death.  Since both of these events show the great Mercy of God, it is quite appropriate that this falls during the Year of Mercy as declared by Pope Francis.  The Church moves celebrating this Solemnity whenever it falls during Holy Week.  It is moved to the Monday following the Octave of Easter.  While this is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is an important Feast that needs to receive special attention.  At the end of this article, I will look at several ways we can do that.

I had the privilege, of visiting the actual place where our tradition holds that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary.  This is in the child hood home that Mary occupied in Nazareth.  Today there is a beautiful large Basilica built over the spot that has within it two previous churches built around the house.  The first church is from the Byzantine era (4th Century) and the second church is from the Crusaders era (12th Century).  The pictures that I took above show ruins from both churches.  The free standing pillars were brought from Rome by St. Helene, the mother of the Emperor Constantine in the early 300’s.  If you look inside the two churches you will see the actual home itself.  Behind the altar are stairs that led up to the street.  Outside of the Basilica you can see excavations down to the street level of Mary’s time.  You can see the entrance to her home.  The Basilica itself was built in 1964 and is quite large with several areas for Mass and prayer.  Around the inside of the Basilica you see mosaics and pictures from all over the world that depict the Annunciation and other Marian devotions.  There are more pictures outside that go around the courtyard.  It is a most beautiful, and holy, place to visit.  It is quite interesting to see how so many various cultures of the world depict Mary.

St. Luke, in his Gospel account (Luke 1: 26-38), tells us that the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a virgin, name Mary, in Nazareth of Galilee.   Gabriel tells Mary of God’s plan and that she was being asked to become the Mother of Jesus.  She certainly had questions about this mind blowing revelation, but she quickly said YES to God.  You cannot help but to think back to the Garden of Eden account where Eve said No to what God had asked.  This new Eve, Mary, now says a big resounding “be it done to me according to thy will”.  Oh how the Devil must have cringed at Mary’s consent!  What a gift this young  woman was to God’s plan of salvation.  The incarnation of the Savior could now happen because of Mary’s yes.  Satan saw the beginning of his defeat by the words of Mary.  The Word became flesh because the word of a young, female human consented.  No wonder the Church has always given Mary such a special place.  No wonder that Satan seems to flee when Mary is brought present.

So how do we celebrate this great Solemnity?  Going to mass is certainly a great start.  Praying the Rosary is another great thing.  Praying the Divine Mercy prayers is another.  Try praying the Angelus prayers and making a habit of it, especially at noon time.  I would certainly recommend that every family read the Gospel account, as listed above, together as a family, and then discuss what God has done through Mary and through the gift of the Incarnation.  Also, you can prepare (or purchase) an Angel food cake for dessert or snack and talk about the gift that God has given us in Angels.  Think about a friend or family member that is pregnant and give them a call.  Lend support to a Pro-Life group by giving prayers, actions or donations.  All of these are great ways to celebrate the YES of Mary.

The Angelus:  The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. (say the Hail Mary).  Behold the handmaid of the Lord, Be it done to me according to Your Word. (say the Hail Mary).  And the Word was made flesh, And dwelt among us. (say the Hail Mary).  Pray for us O Holy Mother of God.  That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.  LET US PRAY – Pour forth, we beseech Thee O Lord, Thy Grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection.  Through the same Christ Our Lord.   Amen

Divine Mercy by Deacon Marty

DIVINE-MERCY-IMAGE1This Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter, is Divine Mercy Sunday.  This is such an important day for us, especially during this YEAR OF MERCY.  We are called to see how the love of God is poured out upon us in His Mercy.  Now we especially see Divine Mercy in relationship to our death, but I think we should also see it in our day to day walk with Jesus.   We should experience all of life with a sense of gratitude for the Mercy God shows us.  The gift of life itself calls us to be filled with gratitude for what God has given us.

This last week I have personally seen God’s love and Mercy at work.  On Monday I received a call from my brother that my 90 year old dad had become seriously ill.  He lived in an assisted living home in Columbia, SC.  I live in Long Island, NY.  His care workers saw that he did not come out of his room for breakfast.  They knew that he never missed a meal, so they thought something was wrong.   They went in to find him unconscious on his bed and immediately called an ambulance.   He was rushed to the hospital and my brother was called.  After some testing they found that he had a bad infection caused by his divitriculitus.  It was severe enough that they believed he would not recover.  My brother told me I should come down as soon as possible.   Since the airfare was extremely expensive,  I planned to drive down, which would have taken me two days.  Fortunately,  God has given me a wife who had the wisdom to tell me that I should fly down.  I did that and came to dad Tuesday afternoon.

As soon as I got to the hospital, I  talked to my brother.   Dad was getting worse.  I went in to see him and dad was fairly awake because the nurses had just washed him.  He lit up as soon as I walked in and tried to talk, but could only mouth “Marty”.  His look on his face when he saw me is one I will never forget.   God, in His Mercy, allowed me to get there just in time.  Right after that,  he never fully awoke.  All four of his children,  and several of his grandchildren were gathered around him.  We stayed with him until finally,  on Wednesday morning, he breathed his last.  I see God’s Mercy in allowing all four of his children to be there for his last few days.

I also see God’s Mercy in his death.  Although the doctors told us that he could have a prolonged and difficult death, he didn’t.   On Wednesday  morning his blood pressure kept failing and the hospital allowed all four of us gather around him in his ICU bed.  We told him how much we loved him and we first prayed the Numbers 6 prayer and then prayed the Our Father.  As we prayed the last words of the Our Father, he breathed his last breath.  He died peacefully,  with his children and grandchildren around him.  I certainly saw God’s Mercy in this.

My dad was originally baptized a Methodist and when I was about 20 he became a Jehovah Witness.   This conversion of his has caused a great deal of difficulty within our family.  However,  the last few years have brought a lot of healing to us all and I see God’s Mercy at work in this.   I really believe the Jehovah Witnesses are very misled in their beliefs and I would certainly consider them to be in apostasy.   I have worried about my dad (and Mom’s) salvation , but I know that dad loved God and served Him in the way he thought was correct.   Because I know of God’s Mercy, I feel better about my Mom and Dad’s salvation.   I do believe that we all have to face God in judgment for our lives.  However,  it is good to know that we have a good and Merciful  judge.

The Second Greatest Act of Mercy by A.J. Avila

The Second Greatest Act of Mercy


The second greatest act of mercy I’ve ever known was performed by somebody whose name you have probably never heard.

She was Assunta Goretti, mother of St. Maria Goretti.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the story of Maria Goretti, at the tender age of eleven she was threatened by a neighbor, Allesandro Serenelli, to give in to his sexual advances. When she refused, Allesandro stabbed her 14 times. She survived the attack long enough to make it to the hospital but later died of her injuries.

Allesandro was of course arrested and sent to prison. While there, he had a conversion experience in which Maria appeared to him in a dream with 14 white lilies, one for each time he had stabbed her.

Maria did forgive her murderer, which was a great act of mercy, but one even more incredible was to come.

Allesandro was released from prison 27 years after the attack. He sought out Maria’s mother, Assunta Goretti, to beg her forgiveness.

Amazingly, she not only forgave him but (get this!) adopted him as her own son.

If your initial reaction is “How could she do that?” you and I are a lot alike. To tell you the truth, if a man murdered one of my daughters, I don’t think I’d have it in me to adopt him as my son, no matter how repentant he was. He would always be there, as a reminder. I would every day see the hands that had snuffed out my daughter’s life.

Forgive . . . yes.

Adopt . . . are you crazy?

Then it occurred to me that there is another act of mercy similar to this one, in fact, the Number One Act of Mercy.

You see, someone did for me what Assunta did for Allesandro.

Those were my sins that scourged Jesus. Those were my sins that crowned His head with thorns. Those were my sins that nailed Him to the cross, that shed His Precious Blood, that caused His excruciatingly painful death.

That’s what I did to a certain Someone’s Son, and yet . . .

And yet He not only forgave me but adopted me as His daughter.

I’d always known about God’s great mercy in dying for my sins. But I had not stopped to consider the second part of the story: God making me His own child.

When I came to this realization, for the first time it hit me like a bullet between the eyes what it actually means that God’s Love and Mercy goes to such great lengths.

And I will be eternally grateful.