Reflections
Editor: Detective Steven McDonald of the New York Police Department, who was shot and paralyzed in the line of duty in 1986, is greeted by then Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New York in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City during the St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2013. McDonald died on Jan. 10 at a Long Island hospital at age 59.
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For many New Yorkers, a beloved neighbor and true hero of mercy died this month. “New York’s Finest” took on new meaning when the world came to know Police Officer Steven McDonald, who was shot by a teenager in Central Park in the summer of 1986, paralyzing him from the neck down.

A Prophet of Reconciliation and Charity

Untitled 2“He became a living, breathing prophet of reconciliation and charity,” is how Cardinal Timothy Dolan described McDonald’s witness of forgiveness on his radio show. He would later even float the “s”-word about him – saint. I thought immediately of a line Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez has used to refer to Dorothy Day: “I don’t know if she is a saint but she makes me want to be one.” That captures the Steven McDonald effect.

Canonization is above my pay grade, but since learning that he liked the band The Who, I think of him as the saint who liked the Who, for whom love sure reigned o’er. His son quoted him as contending that “There's more love in New York City than there are street corners.” Most people certainly don’t think of New York that way. But then most people aren’t Steven McDonald. We’re just called to live the mercy and love like he did, albeit most of us without as obvious physical obstacles.

Perhaps a Patron Saint of Mercy?

I greet all of you and I thank you for taking part in this meeting concerned with the human right to water and the need for suitable public policies in this regard. It is significant that you have gathered to pool your knowledge and resources in order to respond to this urgent need of today’s men and women.

Water – Useful, Chaste and Humble

Untitled 1The Book of Genesis tells us that water was there in the beginning (cf. Gen 1:2); in the words of Saint Francis of Assisi, it is “useful, chaste and humble” (cf. Canticle of the Creatures). The questions that you are discussing are not marginal, but basic and pressing.

Basic, because where there is water there is life, making it possible for societies to arise and advance. Pressing, because our common home needs to be protected. Yet it must also be realized that not all water is life-giving, but only water that is safe and of good quality.

I have some friends who just welcomed two kittens into their household. At just a few weeks old, they are getting lots of attention, and of course, getting into everything that is not tied down. They are simply adorable and have become a welcomed part of their family!
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They each have their own personalities – one quite frisky and looking from trouble; the other more calm and watchful. In short measure, they have captured the hearts and lives of their “masters.” And will be treasured for years to come. 

Yesterday I was speaking with a woman who told me that, as a mother of two teens, she had held out, refusing to allow any pets in their family for fear of the work and attention involved. Yet, since she has gone back on her refusal, she now sincerely regrets her hesitation. Their new dog has “changed our family”. She can attest that that. With the passage of only a few weeks, she sees love pouring forth from everyone, including herself, for their new family member.

The Judeo-Christian scriptures are replete with reminders of seeing God in nature, including our own pets. In the Book of Job, we hear: “But now ask the beasts to teach you, the birds of the air to tell you; Or speak to the earth to instruct you, and the fish of the sea to inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of God has done this? In his hand is the soul of every living thing, and the life breath of all mortal flesh” (Job 12:7-10).

From Other Holy Books

Any Yelp-savvy person looking for a coffee shop in the midst of the University of Southern California’s surrounding urban streets may be lured by extensive positive reviews and a four-and-a-half star-rating to a little café dozens of reviewers call “an oasis.”
Located behind St. Agnes Korean Catholic Church, the Ignatius Café is very easy to miss. Near the bustling intersection of Adams Blvd. and Vermont Ave., the café is gated discreetly behind hedges, making it easy to understand why countless reviewers have described it as “a hidden gem.”
Untitled 1(from left) Ignatius Café Emblem; Fr. Robert Choi at the Ignatius Café, behind St. Agnes Korean Catholic Church, Los Angeles

The Ignatius Café is housed in a beautifully preserved turn-of-the-century home, which stands before blossoming rose bushes, with tables and umbrellas situated under vine arches. Fresh flowers sit on every table of the warmly-decorated house. The overwhelming aroma of the café’s fair trade Ethiopian coffee beans envelope customers in warmth, as cheery volunteers bustle around tables with the most painstakingly-created foamed barista achievements. This is not your average coffee shop. To quote one USC student, “It’s like pressing the pause button on life. Over coffee.”

But the real reason this isn’t your average coffee shop is the patent missionary focus of the café: the statue of Mary standing in gardens as overseer of the café, the church bells ringing on the hour in the background and the visibility of its white-collared founder busily managing the café and greeting every visitor with a luminous smile: Father Robert Choi.


Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials apprehended six men exiting a hypothermia shelter on February 8 at Rising Hope Mission Church in Alexandria, Virginia – violating ICE’s own policy not to conduct enforcement actions at or near “sensitive locations” like houses of worship. 
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The more we penetrate the secret of Mary's tears in her sorrowful Apparition at La Salette, the closer we come to the tragic scene of Golgotha.

Untitled 1Our Lady of La Salette weeping for her people, with France surrounding her
Viewed in this sublime perspective, the vision of September 19th, 1846, evokes the mystery of the first Good Friday. The analogy is too striking to escape the gaze of contemplation. It was on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Seven Dolors that Mary chose to manifest herself to the two little shepherds as the Queen of Sorrows. She wished to reveal to a forgetful world the overwhelming grief that she had borne for us in union with her dying Son.

On the hill of Golgotha. Mary became our spiritual Mother. In the words of St. Augustine, when she offered to the Eternal Father the life of her beloved Son, she cooperated by her love in the birth of the faithful to the life of grace. This our Savior signified when, before expiring, he looked down from the cross on His Mother and on the disciple St. John, and first addressing Mary, he said, "Woman, behold, your son" (John 19:26-27). Then turning to the disciple he said "Behold, your mother", whereby Mary became the Mother not only of St. John but of all God’s people.

Eighteen centuries after Christ had uttered his sacred legacy, our Blessed Mother appeared on another hill of atonement to declare her role of Mother of the Church. The principal phases of her merciful Apparition are strikingly reminiscent of her heroic compassion.

In Agony – Tears and Blood

First, she was seen seated upon a stone in the lonely ravine of the Sezia, her head buried in her hands in an attitude of bitter agony. How like Jesus in the dark Garden of Gethsemane! St. Luke, the Evangelist, reports that our Divine Savior, Jesus “. . . was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground” (Luke 22:44).

If, in a mystical sense, tears are said to be the blood of the soul, then Mary's tears at La Salette recall her share in the agony of Jesus. Well may we apply to her also the words of the Lamentation: "All ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow."

Phil Salois recognized the dire situation six comrades faced near the village of Suoi Kiet. Their platoon was surrounded by the North Vietnamese Army, ducking fire from multiple directions.

Trial Under Fire

Untitled 1Fr. Phil (from left): stands on far right and in the larger group, at front left“We had walked right into a U-shaped ambush,” recalls Salois, who served in the Army’s 199th Light Infantry Brigade. “Six of our guys were separated from the rest of us by an open clearing. They were stranded. We were trying to return fire, but we’re shooting over our comrades’ heads trying to find a place to shoot, so as not to kill any of them.”

The fighting was intense for an hour, maybe longer. Salois grew angry and impatient. Why wasn’t anyone trying to rescue them? “I said a quick prayer to God,” he says. “I said, ‘You know, God, I’m going to go out there and rescue these guys. This is a crazy thing to do. If you get me out of this mess safe and sound without a scratch, I’ll do anything you want.’”

Untitled 1Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), an American theologian, professor at Union Theological Seminary for more than 30 years.
Sometimes our lives can be quite serious, confronting ponderous pressures, and dealing with difficult choices concerning relationship, financial or family concerns.

Over many years, Reinhold Niebuhr’s famous “Serenity Prayer” has given many people much solace and wisdom. He writes:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

But he also adds the following suggestions to attain true serenity:

“Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as (the good Lord) did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that (God) will make all things right if I surrender to (God’s) will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with God forever in the next.”

How right he is! In these past few years of political primaries and our more recent adjustments in President Trump’s early days as President, so many changes and disparate opinions about them have shaken the lives of many of our citizenry.

But, as the famous McDonald’s add reminds us: “You deserve a break today.”

Often enough we need an uplifting moment to our perhaps very challenging day. Here are some third grade brain-teasers, mentioned on television during a recent Ellen Degeneres Show, to give you a pleasant break from your day-to-day concerns.

Take the time to answer or even discuss the answer to these fairly basic questions. The answers are at the end of this article, printed upside down. And, no fare, don’t peek!

For Erika Bachiochi, the Catholic Church has been able to offer a genuine pro-woman theology which not only safeguards and protects her stance as a feminist, but also enhances her ability to be strong in all aspects of her life.

Untitled 1Erika Bachiochi (left) and Dr. Mary Anne Case
Dr. Mary Anne Case would like to differ. She believes that while Catholic feminism exists, the institutional Catholic Church – namely the Vatican and Magisterium – is overtly anti-woman.

These two legal scholars from varied backgrounds met on the common stage of feminism at the Aquinas Institute for Catholic Thought’s 10th annual Great Debate in Boulder, Colo. on Feb. 23, 2017. The two women presented dissenting arguments for both sides of the spectrum on Catholic feminism and tackled the question: is the Church anti-woman?

Pros and Cons

Dr. Case, a law professor at the University of Chicago, answered in the affirmative, while Erika Bachiochi, a visiting fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, answered in the negative.

“In my lifetime, the Church that had made me a feminist betrayed me,” Dr. Case said in her opening statements. “I think the Church has let us down, and I think the Church has let us down relatively recently. The early church was very much not anti-woman. The gospels are not anti-woman,” she continued, saying the Catholic Church of the past was not anti-feminist.

The Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross is a devotion connected with the earliest events of Christianity. They were originally based on the pilgrim’s route through the Holy City of Jerusalem, commemorating Jesus’ Via Sacra or Via Dolorosa (Holy or Sorrowful Way).

Over the centuries, when Christian pilgrims returned home their pilgrimage to the Holy Land, they wanted to imitate the devotion they experienced in Jerusalem.

More recently, in the information found in Wikipedia , “In 1686, in answer to their petition, Pope Innocent XI granted to the Franciscans the right to erect stations within their churches. In 1731, Pope Clement XII extended to all churches the right to have the stations, provided that a Franciscan Father erected them, with the consent of the local bishop. At the same time the number was fixed at fourteen. In 1857, the bishops of England were allowed to erect the stations by themselves, without the intervention of a Franciscan priest, and in 1862 this right was extended to bishops throughout the church.”

Today we expect that every Church would have the fourteen Stations of the Cross to be used by individuals and groups to pray their way through each station, reflecting on Christ who gave his life for us on the cross.

Our Virtual Stations of the Cross

With all this in mind, we offer you these brief (2 minute) virtual “Stations of the Cross”, produced by bustedhalo.org for your personal reflection. You might view them all or choose one for your daily meditation. Enjoy this ancient but ever-new Lenten habit of faith.

First Station: Jesus is condemned to death



Second Station: Jesus carries his cross

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La Salette Missionaries, Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas

Our Community: The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are deeply rooted in the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred near the hamlet of La Salette in southeastern France on Sept. 19, 1846. The Missionaries were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.

Our Province: The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, was founded in 2000AD and is one of several provinces in the congregation. The members of this Province serve mainly in the countries of Canada, the United States and the Region of Argentina/Bolivia.

Our Mission: Our La Salette ministry of reconciliation responds to the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As reconcilers, we together with the laity take seriously Mary’s mandate: “You will make (Mary’s) message known to all (her) people.”