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Three Minutes a Day


February 11
Humble Heroes Save a Life

         Four New York City transit workers were honored last year for saving the life of a fellow employee.

         The chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Thomas Prendergast, presented “Hometown Hero” awards to track workers Clyde Ferguson, Louis Albino, Stewart Azzato and David Soto for coming to the rescue of Hoi-Shan Leung, who was in danger of falling 60 feet—and, in all probability, to his death. Leung had tripped during a track replacement job and was knocked unconscious. New York’s Daily News, which was a partner in this third annual award ceremony, reported on the men’s story.

         “They saved my life,” said Leung. “It’s good to be alive. I’m alive because of them.”

         Albino, speaking for his co-rescuers, shrugged off all references to the heroics they had demonstrated. “I was just helping my buddy,” he said. “This is just great. He was able to see his granddaughter’s first birthday. That’s awesome!”

[We] cry to you in our distress, and You will hear and save. (2 Chronicles 20:9) 

Imbue me with courage in all aspects of my life , Lord.

 


February 10 
An Overlooked Trait in a Spouse

Kevin A. Thompson, pastor of Christ Community Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas, knows that young people hoping to get married often look for qualities like a good sense of humor or common interests in a spouse. But he advises considering a different characteristic: “Find someone who suffers well.”

Pastor Thompson wrote on his blog, “The older a person gets, the more we realize that suffering is not a rare occurrence, but is a common aspect of our lives...Some live in denial—unable to confront the deep realities of life. Some live in despair —unable to recognize the convergence of laughter and tears...

“Yet, when our spouse knows how to suffer, when they don’t live in denial, but confront the sorrows of life; when they don’t live in despair but know how to laugh and cry at the same time; when they offer support and hope in all of life’s challenges; when they can see the big picture of life, every sorrow is matched with love and every hurt paired with healing.”

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. (2 Corinthians 4:8)

May husbands and wives be a comfort to each other during sickness and health, Father.

 


February 9
A Lit Candle, An Act of Hope

Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI, once shared the following reflection on the power of lighting a candle: “In the days of apartheid in South Africa, Christians there used to light candles and place them in windows as a sign to themselves and to others that they believed that some day this injustice would end.

“A candle burning in a window was a sign of hope and a political statement. The government didn’t miss the message. It passed a law making it illegal to place a lit candle in a window, the offense being equal to owning a firearm, both considered equally dangerous.

“Lit candles, more than firearms, overthrew apartheid. Hope, not guns, is what ultimately transforms things. To light a candle as an act of hope is to say to yourself and others that, despite anything that might be happening in the world, you are still nursing a vision of peace and unity based upon something beyond the present state of things. And this hope is based upon deeper realities and powers than the world admits.”

 You are the God of the lowly...protector of the forsaken, savior of those without hope. (Judith 9:11)

 Help me to choose hope every day, King of Kings.

 


February 8 
The Homeless Guardian Angel

When six-year-old Sergio Zepeda wandered off from his San Jose, California home, his parents weren’t just panicked because of his age; they feared for his life because he has autism and has trouble communicating.

KTVU-TV reported that the boy was missing for 17 hours before police finally found him in an unusual place: a homeless encampment near a local highway. A resident of the camp, Jose Salmeron, had found Sergio wandering through the area and offered him food, water and a blanket. Meanwhile, another homeless person at the camp called 911.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Salmeron said, “We’re not heroes. It was the only right thing to do. When you see a helpless kid like that, you are supposed to do the right thing and just call the cops right away.”

Remember, guardian angels come in various forms.

 Whoever welcomes one such child in My name welcomes Me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes not Me but the one who sent Me. (Mark 9:37)

 Guide the lost and suffering, Jesus, to peace and security with You.

 


 February 7
Brake that Fall into Anger

The elevator is not a modern invention. Lifts have been used in construction from the time the pyramids were built. But they were too dangerous for passengers. Cables could break with disastrous results.

Then, in 1854, Elisha Otis of Vermont found a way to make elevators safe. His invention used a large compressed spring. If the elevator cable went slack, this spring automatically snapped out, pushing two iron bars into notched guide rails in the elevator shaft. This locked the elevator in place, protecting passengers.

When tempers snap and anger gets out of control, the results can also be disastrous. Obviously, we can’t help feeling angry at times because anger is a normal emotion. But we can put a “safety lock” on what we say or do. Then, while keeping our anger in check, we can explore the cause of the anger and see what can be done about it.

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret—it leads only to evil. (Psalm 37:8)

Help us keep our anger in check, patient Jesus who knew anger, but so often checked it.

 


February 6 
Pulling People Out of Their Own Pain

Volunteering to help others doesn’t just have a benefit for them; it has a positive effect on you as well. 

Peter J. Economou is a cognitive and behavioral psychologist in Bloomfield, New Jersey, who notes the health benefits of volunteering. While it’s good for people of all ages, he told Costco Connection magazine’s Malia Jacobson that it’s especially “beneficial to adults over 65, or individuals with health woes.” The reason? “My theory is that it pulls people out of their own pain.”

Jacobson adds, “Those experiencing symptoms of disease or illness also can experience significant gains; research shows that patients with chronic pain have lower levels of depression and fewer painful symptoms while volunteering.”

If you’re dealing with illness but are still able to reach out to others in some way with your time or talent, consider opportunities to do so in your community or church. It could be an effective painkiller with no side effects.

 We are what He has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works. (Ephesians 2:10)

 In bringing healing to others, may I find it myself, Lord.

 


February 5 
Call Your Parents

At the 2015 Academy Awards ceremony, actor J.K. Simmons earned the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.  His acceptance speech could have won him another award: Best Son.

Simmons appropriately started off by thanking his wife and children for their support of him and his career.  Then, he encouraged the crowd with an important message. 

He said, “Call your mom.  Everybody, call your dad…If you’re lucky to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call them.  Don’t text.  Don’t email.  Call them on the phone, tell them you love them and thank them and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you.”  He concluded his speech by saying, “Thank you, Mom and Dad.”

It was refreshing to see an actor on one of the most-watched broadcasts of the year celebrate not himself, but the mother and father whose love and sacrifices shaped him as a person.  It was also a reminder for millions of viewers—and each of us—to do the same. 

So what are you waiting for?  Go call your mom or dad.

 The glory of children is their parents. (Proverbs 17:6)

 Inspire children to better appreciate their parents, Father.

 


February 4 
They Welcomed Everyone

In the 1840s and 50s, want ads still ran in New York newspapers stating, “Neither Irish nor Catholic need apply.” Members of the anti-Catholic Know-Nothing party were elected to office throughout the country, and there were anti-Catholic riots in Brooklyn. So how did Catholics finally become accepted in the land to which they’d fled to find religious freedom?

During a Christopher Closeup interview, Pat McNamara, author of New York Catholics, explained, “The Catholics just wore them down. They kept coming and building churches and schools…and the hospital system and old age homes…and they started these orphanages, where they welcomed children of all denomination or none, of all races, of all backgrounds...

“One of the great pioneers of Catholic childcare was a priest named John Drumgoole, who said, ‘I’ll take any kid from any religion, background, race; I don’t care.’ And he did. He created Mount Loretto in Staten Island, which at the time was the largest childcare institution in the United States.”

There is no longer Jew or Greek...for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

Guide us in bridging divisions by welcoming strangers, Holy Spirit.

 


February 3
Spiritually Able

David and Mercedes Rizzo didn’t know how they would raise their autistic daughter Danielle in the Catholic faith because they couldn’t find any material to help them. So, they paved new ground themselves and are sharing what they learned in the book Spiritually Able: A Parent’s Guide to Teaching the Faith to Children with Special Needs.

During a Christopher Closeup interview, the Rizzos admitted that the odds sometimes seemed “insurmountable,” but their parish church was “very welcoming and willing to help us.”

When asked what priests and parishioners can do to enhance that spirit of welcome, David said, “[We] want them to know that we’re not being bad parents when our children [misbehave]. That’s part of the disability; it’s not a sign of their irreverence. That gives us the opportunity for the child to learn the expected behaviors. And they will, because children with disabilities do learn. It is possible for them to learn to attend Mass, participate, and become an active participant in the faith.”

Let the little children come to Me. (Mark 10:14)

Help me be welcoming to special needs children and their families, Jesus.

 


February 1
The Courage of Her Convictions

The Civil Rights movement owes much to the courage of one woman; Rosa Parks. In 1955, she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. The event sparked protests and boycotts which led to the Supreme Court ruling that racial segregation is unconstitutional.

“I have learned over the years that knowing what must be done does away with fear,” she said later.

“When I sat down on the bus that day, I had no idea history was being made – I was only thinking of getting home. But I had made up my mind…I did not feel any fear sitting there. I felt the Lord would give me the strength to endure whatever I had to face. It was time for someone to stand up—or in my case, sit down. So I refused to move.”

Let God guide you in living a life filled with courage.

I am continually with You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me with honor. (Psalm 73:23-24)

Help us live according to Your values, Lord.

 


January 30
The Kindness Diaries, Part Four

The Kindness Diaries is filled with Leon Logothetis’s adventures in the United States, Europe, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Canada, but things don’t always go his way—at least not initially. He admits that pain and struggle and asking people for help are humbling experiences.  

However, he engaged in this “social experiment to take myself out of my comfort zone and to connect myself with the rest of humanity. The magic is the power of human connection.” 

Logothetis also hopes that readers take another lesson from his book: “Kindness doesn’t have to be a grand expedition, like traveling around the world. That’s just one form of kindness. Kindness can simply be saying, ‘Have a happy day!’ to a barista at Starbucks. It’s a spectrum. You have the small acts and you have the big acts. But it’s a way of life. It’s a smile when you check into a hotel, it’s a ‘good day’ to someone you see on the street. Little things like that go a long way.”

 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness. (Galatians 5:22)

 Guide me in making more human connections grounded in kindness, Father.


 January 29
The Kindness Diaries, Part Three

Another example of selfless goodness that Leon Logothetis encountered came on the streets of Pittsburgh. He approached a man in a park, told him what he was doing, and asked if he could provide him with a place to stay. The man, named Tony, said that he was homeless and living on the streets. 

At first, Logothetis was ashamed at having imposed upon someone in such a dire situation. But as he explained during a Christopher Closeup interview about his book The Kindness Diaries, “[Tony] offered to put me up for the night, which was basically to sleep next to him. He protected me, he fed me, he gave me some of his clothes. I was sleeping on the streets next to this man who had nothing, and gave me everything! 

“The next morning, I felt that I needed to help this man, so I set him up in an apartment and sent him back to school because he wanted to become a chef...Tony says to me, ‘Leon, you changed my life.’ But what he doesn’t realize is that he changed my life. Tony changed my life.”

Tomorrow, Logothetis sums up his travels.

Let us love...in truth and action. (1 John 3:18)

May we learn from those who have little but give much, Messiah.

 


January 28
The Kindness Diaries, Part Two

During his travels, Leon Logothetis met Willy, a man from Scotland who had moved to Colorado and dedicated his life to helping others after hearing Billy Graham speak in 1984. He and his wife Cheri were working at a retirement home where they planned to celebrate the 96th birthday of a resident named Kay.  

In The Kindness Diaries, Logothetis quotes Willy as saying, “If we don’t bring [Kay] cake, no one else will.” When Logothetis met Kay, she said, “[Willy] makes me feel like I’m part of the human race and not just some old leftover luggage.”

Logothetis realized that this was the perfect opportunity to show kindness to a man who was helping others. When he discovered that Willy and Cheri were going to miss their son’s wedding in Scotland because they couldn’t afford the plane fare, he paid for their trip himself. Willy shed tears of gratitude.

Regarding Willy, Logothetis recalled, “We turn on the news and it’s all bad. Willy was someone who showed me how much goodness there really is out there.”

More kindnesses tomorrow.

Let us work for the good of all. (Galatians 6:10)

Remind us to care for lonely seniors, Divine Savior.

 


January 27
The Kindness Diaries, Part One

Leon Logothetis originally moved to the United States from England where he worked as a successful broker. Despite earning excellent money, he felt miserable and, at times, suicidal until he abandoned his comfortable life to walk across America with only $5 in his pocket.  That journey became the basis for a book and television show, during which Logothetis encountered a lot of good people who showed him kindness. 

When he returned to Los Angeles, he still believed he wasn’t living the life he really wanted to pursue. Then he saw a homeless man holding a sign that read, “Kindness is the best medicine” and it triggered a new goal.

Logothetis decided to travel around the world and literally live off the kindness of strangers. He wouldn’t spend any money on food, gas, or shelter himself. Everything would have to be provided by the people he met along the way. In turn, he would respond to people’s generosity with kindnesses of his own—and chronicle his adventures in a book called The Kindness Diaries. 

So what happened?  More of the story tomorrow.

Kindness is like a garden of blessings. (Sirach 40:17)

May kindness become second nature to me, Divine Savior.

 


January 26 
Here’s to Somebody

Here’s a story you may have heard before. It’s about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. 

There was an important job to do in the organization to which they all belonged. Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. 

In reality, Anybody could have done it. But Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.

Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up with Everybody blaming Somebody. That meant that Nobody could really blame Anybody.

Sound familiar? You can give it a different ending. All you have to do is decide that you want to be Somebody. If you do not do your job, who will?

The people did the work faithfully. (2 Chronicles 34:12)

Carpenter from Nazareth, help me to work with care.

 


 January 25
The Purge

Matt Archbold asked his five kids to clean the front room of their house because “it looked like a tornado teamed up with a rabid chimpanzee in a toy factory.” Reluctantly, the kids did as he asked, but then his wife made the task even more of a challenge. She told them they needed to give away some of the old toys they no longer played with. 

Heartbroken at having to give away their old memories, they complied anyway. But then Mrs. Archbold made a final request: pick a few more toys to give away to poor children.

Archbold saw rebellion in his children’s eyes until his wife dropped a loaded question on them. “Doesn’t Jesus want you to share?” she asked. Writing in Catholic Digest, Archbold recalled, “This disconcerted them. They looked around at each other, unsure. They were all set to go up against their mother, but not Jesus. It was a clever strategy, I’ll admit. If you’re going to tag team, having Jesus on your side is a pretty good partner.”

And so, the Archbold kids once again complied. But that day in their home will forever be known as “The Purge.”

Share what you have. (Hebrews 13:16)

Help me appreciate the humor of family life, Jesus.

  


January 24
Don’t Be Too Hard on the Weather Forecasters

In late January 2015, weather forecasters predicted that a paralyzing blizzard would hit the New York/New Jersey area.  Major roadways as well as public transportation were closed down as a result.

The snowstorm, however, wasn’t as bad as expected. The three feet of anticipated snow turned out to be only one foot.  While most people were grateful to be spared, there were others who complained that the meteorologists had gotten it so wrong.

Well, here’s some perspective. Meteorology is a science, but not always an exact one. Weather patterns can change quickly and deviate from the path they were supposed to follow.  It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

And here’s another scenario to consider. Let’s say you were in a car accident. Your vehicle sustained minor damage, but you escaped unscathed. Would you complain, “Darn it, that wasn’t as bad as I expected!”—or would you say, “Thank God, it wasn’t that bad.” Chances are you’d pick the latter, so if the weather this winter isn’t as bad as expected, be grateful.

An intelligent person will not complain. (Sirach 10:25)

Help me maintain a positive outlook, Lord.

 


 January 22
From the Crack House to West Point

When Leah Chavez discovered she was pregnant, abortion or adoption were the only two options she was given by her family.  When she refused both, she was thrown out of her home.  After giving birth to her son, Dion, the hardships continued.

As reported by Wayne Coffey in New York’s Daily News, Chavez “wound up living with her baby in a crack house and other sorry outposts in the poorest precincts in Phoenix. She wound up being forced into prostitution, getting by with food stamps and public assistance.” Through it all, she remained devoted to giving her son the best life possible.

Twenty-two years later, Dion graduated from West Point as an accomplished swimmer “with an economics degree and a commission as a first lieutenant.” He told Coffey, “My mother dropped everything to support me.  She was the one to teach me that if you want something you have to be the one to make it happen. I wake up every morning with the intent to work towards achieving my goals because I know it will reinforce the fact that my mother was the best mother I could have ever asked for.”

Love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

Bless all mothers who make sacrifices for their children, Lord.

 


January 20
Everyone Wins with Finnegans

Let’s hear it for Finnegans Beer! People in Minnesota can hardly be blamed for repeating the slogan, since all the profits from the beer that’s sold—every penny of it—goes to feed the hungry. That’s a great record, and Finnegans means to make sure it keeps going for a long time to come.

Here’s the way the arrangement works: all the profits from the beer sold to restaurants, bars and liquor stores go into the Finnegans Community Fund, which in turn buys produce from local farms and donates it to food banks in the area. Since the firm was founded in 2000, it’s donated more than half a million dollars to the anti-hunger campaign.

Jessica Trygstad wrote about the company in The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese, pointing out that next to Newman’s Own brand, Finnegans is the second longest-running company in the U.S. with a 100 percent profit business model. “The most important thing for me,”  said Jacquie Berglund, Finnegans’ founder, “is creating wealth—and then giving it back.”

 It is better to give alms than to lay up gold. (Tobit 12:8)

 Inspire businesses to help the less fortunate, Jesus.

 


January 19
I Wish You Could See What I See

Ellen Stumbo acknowledges that life with her special-needs daughters can sometimes be difficult. They deal with Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, poor speech, and more. But their life together can also be glorious, which is a message she shared on her blog recently. Here are some excerpts:

“My kids are so much more than what your eyes perceive...I wish you could see how typical our lives are. Sibling fights, trips to the park, grilling burgers in the backyard...I wish you could recognize the sweet sound of those labored words, and how hearing, ‘I love you’ even with missing sounds, is beautiful. I wish you could see that we love our life, and we love our family, and we love how well we fit together, all of us flawed in our own way, all of us loved for exactly who we are.

“Yes, I wish you could see the love. And I wish you could feel it too. Because it’s the type of love that surprises you, because you never thought you could love this way. Love changes things, even perspectives. I know it changed mine.”

Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:4)

 Messiah, remind us that love is the most powerful grace.


January 18
The Friendship Nine

 The crime was clear-cut, and it turned out to be punishable by working on a chain gang for one month. What did the nine men do to bring on such a penalty? They were all black, and they had the effrontery to sit down at an all-white lunch counter, that’s what.

 That all took place 55 years ago, at a McCrory’s 5 & 10 in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and it stood on the books for all that time. But finally last year the eight surviving members of the “Friendship Nine”—all students at Friendship Junior College—heard a judge wipe the slate clean.

“We cannot rewrite history,” said Judge Mark Hayes last January, “but we can right history.” He signed an order vacating the mens’ convictions. Spectators cheered, and one member of the group, Clarence Graham, spoke for them all when he said:

 “It’s been a long wait. We are sure now that we made the right decision for the right reason. Being nonviolent was the best thing that we could have done.”

 His soul hates the lover of violence. (Psalm 11:5)

 Guide me in creating change in this world through peaceable means, Prince of Peace.

 


 January 17
The $10,000 Thank You

         In January of 2015, Marilyn Mecham got a call from Kevin Perz, a former student in her cooking class at Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, Missouri. Perz graduated in 1977 and just wanted to express his appreciation to her for being such a great teacher. Two days later, Mecham received a handwritten note from him in the mail with a check for $10,000. 

Perz had done this sort of thing before. In 1992, he sent $5,000 to his calculus teacher, and two decades later, he sent $10,000 to his business teacher. “Everybody can always think back to someone in their life who had an impact,” Perz told ABC News, “if it’s a teacher or a Boy Scout leader or anyone.” 

         In his note, Perz wrote, “The enclosed Christmas gift is intended to be 100% used on you and your personal life.”    

         Mecham cried over the gratitude shown to her and shared her thoughts on Facebook. “Gratitude is something in this society today that we just don’t do enough of,” she said. “It’s made me stop and think: Who do I want to thank?” 

         You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity. (2 Corinthians 9:11)

Lord, may we strive to live in a state of perfect gratitude.

 


January 16 
Hope is Sweaty

When Father Jeff Putthoff arrived in Camden, New Jersey, in the late 1990s, he discovered that the high school graduation rate there was below 50 percent. That statistic didn’t bode well for the city’s younger generation. The Jesuit priest then turned this problem into an opportunity to serve his new community.

Father Putthoff founded Hopeworks ‘N Camden, a nonprofit that teaches technology and entrepreneurial skills to teens and young adults. As reported by Jesuits.org, nearly 3,000 youths have earned the equivalent of a high school diploma from their in-house tutoring program. Two hundred young people have gone on to college, while others have found jobs at companies like Google. “And about 30 percent of Hopeworks’ annual operating budget comes from businesses that students have created and run within the organization.”

All that accomplishment took a lot of hard work combined with hope. But as Father Putthoff told the Philly Voice, “We’re about claiming hope. Hope is sweaty. The people of Camden taught me that.”

 My hope is from Him. (Psalm 62:5)

 Inspire me to do the hard work that hope requires, Lord.

 


January 15
Simon Says Give

At age seven, Mandi Simon wanted to make life a little more enjoyable for children in need, so she came up with the idea to host birthday parties for them. With help from her mother, Dina, the Minnesota girl established the aptly named nonprofit Simon Says Give, which to date “has thrown birthday parties for 500 kids…who are growing up in poverty.”

“I think it is really important for every kid to have one day, or at least a few hours, when it’s all about them,” the now 11-year-old Simon told Good News Network writer Helaina Hovitz. “It’s important for kids to go to a different environment and be able to have fun with their friends.”

         Recently, Mandi received the prestigious GlobeChanger Award, courtesy of the Jefferson Awards Foundation. The publicity from this honor garnered Simon Says Give worldwide acclaim, which Simon hopes will only continue to grow. Mandi’s goal for her organization is to impact “two million kids by the year 2022.”  This just goes to show you’re never too young (or too old) to make a difference.

         Show yourself…a model of good works. (Titus 2:7) 

Jesus, may we remember actions speak louder than words.

 


January 14
Words That Work Wonders

         May I? Thank you. Forgive me. 

         Three simple phrases, all familiar. Yet we don’t hear them as often as we used to, and that’s not as it should be. Pope Francis himself urged their frequent use. 

         Speaking at one of his general audiences last year, he said, “Sometimes it seems that we are becoming a civilization of bad manners and dirty words, as if they were a sign of emancipation. We hear them so often, even publicly. Kindness and an ability to say ‘thank you’ are almost seen as a sign of weakness.”

         Gratitude, the pope said, is at the heart of faith. “A Christian who does not know how to give thanks,” he said, “is one who has forgotten God’s language.”

         Family ties are at the heart of his thinking on this. The Holy Father said, “So many wounds in the family begin with the loss of those precious words, ‘forgive me.’” Even when “plates fly” in the heat of the moment, apologies and forgiveness can work wonders, he concluded.

            Be kind to one another...forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Messiah, may I choose my words wisely and humbly.

 


January 15
Simon Says Give

At age seven, Mandi Simon wanted to make life a little more enjoyable for children in need, so she came up with the idea to host birthday parties for them. With help from her mother, Dina, the Minnesota girl established the aptly named nonprofit Simon Says Give, which to date “has thrown birthday parties for 500 kids…who are growing up in poverty.”

“I think it is really important for every kid to have one day, or at least a few hours, when it’s all about them,” the now 11-year-old Simon told Good News Network writer Helaina Hovitz. “It’s important for kids to go to a different environment and be able to have fun with their friends.”

         Recently, Mandi received the prestigious GlobeChanger Award, courtesy of the Jefferson Awards Foundation. The publicity from this honor garnered Simon Says Give worldwide acclaim, which Simon hopes will only continue to grow. Mandi’s goal for her organization is to impact “two million kids by the year 2022.”  This just goes to show you’re never too young (or too old) to make a difference.

         Show yourself…a model of good works. (Titus 2:7) 

Jesus, may we remember actions speak louder than words.

 


 January 12
A Nighttime Prayer

Lutheran pastor and German native Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was imprisoned and killed for his anti-Nazi efforts during World War II, wrote a number of prayers over the course of his life. Here is one to be said at the end of the day:

“O Lord my God, thank You for bringing this day to a close; Thank You for giving me rest in body and soul. Your hand has been over me and has guarded and preserved me. 

“Forgive my lack of faith and any wrong that I have done today, and help me to forgive all who have wronged me.

“Let me sleep in peace under your protection, and keep me from all the temptations of darkness.

“Into Your hands I commend my loved ones and all who dwell in this house; I commend to You my body and soul.

“O God, Your holy name be praised. Amen.”

When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden panic, or of the storm that strikes the wicked; for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. (Proverbs 3:24-26)

Grant me a peaceful and restful sleep, Lord, so that I can better serve You and my loved ones tomorrow.

 


January 11
Joy That Makes You Believe in Heaven

The sound of his eight-month-old daughter crying jolted Jake Frost out of a sound sleep in the middle of the night. He groggily made his way to her crib and brought her into the living room where he sat in a rocking chair to feed her. When the infant finished her bottle, she snuggled up against her father and returned to sleep.

Writing in Catholic Digest, Frost recalled, “I looked down at her lovely little face nestled in the crook of my arm. Her eyes closed, a smile dimpling her chubby apple-dumpling cheeks, an expression of contentment and serenity across her brow...It was beautiful. I was surprised by the moment of joy.

“It wasn’t the frothy kind of jocularity that goes with party hats and off-key singing, but the quiet, seeping all the way down into your bones kind of joy that’s almost too much to bear. The kind of joy that makes you believe in heaven....Maybe when we find ourselves ambushed unexpectedly by joy and beauty, it’s because God has sent them out on a search-and-rescue mission to track us down and remind us that good things are still out there.”

 Let all who take refuge in you rejoice. (Psalm 5:11)

 Sustain my spirit with moments of joy, Divine Savior.

 


January 10
It’s Not Over for You

After spending several years studying to be a screenwriter, Joan Bauer signed with a big talent agency in New York City. Two days later, she endured a debilitating car accident that left her in a great deal of pain and requiring neurosurgery. 

Angry and scared, she imagined that she saw her dream of being a writer flying out a window. Then, she heard a voice inside giving her ideas for a story about a girl with a big dream. The voice said, “You can write this. It’s not over for you.”

Considering she had trouble even sitting at a desk, Bauer believed this to be impossible. But as she said during a Christopher Closeup interview, “Paragraph by paragraph, I wrote my first young adult novel and it ended up winning a big award.”  That novel was Squashed and it was the first of 12 novels geared toward young adults that Joan has now authored.  

She concluded, “When we open ourselves up to that power that is beyond who we are and we let God have His way, let Him have our disappointments yet still believe that there’s something good, that’s what [life] has been for me again and again.”

Cast your burdens on the Lord. (Psalm 55:22)

When disappointments crush me, Lord, guide me in a new direction.

 


 January 9
Can I Pray with Your Daughter?

Patheos blogger Rebecca Frech was loading groceries into her trunk while her 10-year-old daughter Ella, who is confined to a wheelchair, sat in the car. Frech then heard a woman nervously ask, “Excuse me, can I pray with your daughter?” 

The woman identified herself as part of her church’s ministry for the sick. She had seen Ella in the wheelchair and wanted to know if she could pray for her healing. 

Frech looked at Ella, who gave her a sign that it was okay. “The stranger walked over to Ella,” Frech wrote, “and asked, ‘Is it okay if I hold your hands while I pray?’ She held out her shaking hands, and, to my surprise, I watched my shy girl reach out in return.”

On the ride home, Frech asked Ella what she thought about the stranger. Ella responded, “At first I thought it was weird, but then I thought ‘This is what we’re supposed to be doing, praying for people who need it.’ You know, Mom?” 

Frech realized that she and her daughter had experienced a moment of grace that day.

The prayer of faith will save the sick. (James 5:15)

Grant me the courage to pray with the sick, Lord.

 


January 8
Is Anything Really Missing?

Shel Silverstein tells a story called The Missing Piece. A circle was missing a wedge and felt it had to find it in order to be happy. The circle rolled around the countryside in search of its missing piece. Along the way it stopped to talk to the flowers and animals and warmed itself in sunshine.

Finally, the circle found its missing wedge and excitedly attached the piece to itself. Now the circle could be happy. It started to roll along so much faster that it didn’t stop to talk to the friends it had made when it was incomplete. The circle grew unhappy being whole, removed the wedge and slowly rolled away.

How many times do we human beings say, “I would be happy if only I had…..?” Yet we often find that life does not suddenly become perfect if we get that something. Each want is almost always immediately replaced by another. True happiness is being grateful for what we have, as well as with what we haven’t got.

Bless your Maker, who fills you with His good gifts. (Sirach 32:13)

            Lord, teach me that I am made whole by Your love.

 


January 7
A Groom’s Unusual Vows

A husband reciting vows to his bride on their wedding day isn’t unusual.  But NASCAR driver Brian Scott also professed vows to his four-year-old stepdaughter Brielle.

Scott married Whitney Kay in 2014 and wanted Brielle to know that she would always be a vital part of their new life together.  He therefore wrote and read the following vows:

“I promise to always hold your hand and skip with you down the street, to bring comfort to your life.  I vow to make you say your prayers before you eat.  I promise to read you stories at night, to always tuck you in real tight.  I vow to show you how a man should treat a woman in my relationship with your mother.

And above all else, I vow to protect you, care for you and love you forever.”

The Scotts were surprised that the video of the vows went viral a full year after their wedding.  Still, Whitney hopes it will “bring hope to anyone who feels hopeless” and remind them that “God has a beautiful plan for everyone.”

Set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

Strengthen the hands and hearts of all fathers, Creator.


 January 6 
A Smile is an Act of Mercy

Tara and her one-year-old daughter went to visit her great-grandparents at their nursing home.  She could see on the faces of the elderly couple the joy that her visit brought them.  

 On her way home, Tara listened to The Jennifer Fulwiler Show on Sirius-XM’s Catholic Channel radio station and heard Christopher Award-winning author Kerry Weber being interviewed about her book Mercy in the City. The conversation prompted Tara to reflect on the idea of mercy, so she shared the following thoughts on her Instagram page:

“Sometimes the corporal works of mercy don't look like we expect. Visiting the imprisoned doesn't always mean visiting those in jail. Sometimes the imprisoned are those imprisoned by their bodies, unable to make them do the things they want them to do. Sometimes the imprisoned are those who receive no visitors from the outside world. Sometimes your daughter offering a smile to the elderly and the infirm can teach you more about love and mercy than years of theology. Opportunities for mercy abound in our lives, if only we take the time to see them.”

He makes room for every act of mercy. (Sirach 16:14)

May I be a source of joy to the elderly and infirm, Lord.

 


 January 5 
The Shoplifter’s Second Chance

In September 2013, unemployed mother of three Jessica Robles attempted to steal $300 worth of groceries from a Publix Super Market in Miami, but was caught before she could get away. Police Officer Vicki Thomas arrived at the scene and asked Robles her reason for shoplifting.  

She responded that she did it to feed her three kids. Instead of taking her to jail, the kindhearted cop gave her a notice to appear in court on a misdemeanor charge. Officer Thomas then used $100 of her own money to buy groceries for Robles’s family. She delivered them herself and witnessed the joy on the children’s faces that they actually had something to eat. 

When the story spread, another $700 was donated for the Robles’s food expenses. And, as reported by TV station WSVN, a local business owner soon hired Robles for a job.  Through tears, Robles expressed her gratitude for Officer Thomas’s actions, which gave her a new chance at life.

A generous person will be enriched. (Proverbs 11:25)

Sometimes people make poor decisions, Lord. Help them realize their error and give them a chance to do right.

 


January 4
When We Forgive...

Forgiving those who have hurt us is one of the most challenging but necessary decisions we can make in this life. The late priest and author Henri Nouwen offered the following reflection to make choosing forgiveness just a little bit easier:

“Forgiving does not mean forgetting. When we forgive a person, the memory of the wound might stay with us for a long time, even throughout our lives. Sometimes we carry the memory in our bodies as a visible sign. But forgiveness changes the way we remember. It converts the curse into a blessing.

“When we forgive our parents for their divorce, our children for their lack of attention, our friends for their unfaithfulness in crisis, our doctors for their ill advice, we no longer have to experience ourselves as the victims of events we had no control over.  Forgiveness allows us to claim our own power and not let these events destroy us; it enables them to become events that deepen the wisdom of our hearts. Forgiveness indeed heals memories.”

Forgive the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your steadfast love. (Numbers 14:19)

Help me cast off the burden of old resentments, Father.

 


January 3
When a Star-Lord Prays

Actor Chris Pratt may have played the Marvel comic book hero Star-Lord in the blockbuster movie Guardians of the Galaxy, but his personal life is centered around a different Lord.

In 2012, Pratt’s wife, actress Anna Faris, gave birth to their first child, Jack, nine weeks early. Jack was required to stay in the intensive care unit, and doctors said he might wind up suffering from various health problems.

Pratt cherished every second he spent with his son because they weren’t sure he would even survive. “We were scared for a long time,” he told People magazine. “We prayed a lot.”

Thankfully, Jack improved and is now a healthy three-year-old. The whole experience, said Pratt, “restored my faith in God, not that it needed to be restored, but it really redefined it. The baby was so beautiful to us, and I look back at the photos of him and it must have been jarring for other people to come in and see him, but to us he was so beautiful and perfect.”

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

When my faith in You wavers, Lord, help me redefine it and make my way back to You.

 


January 2
The Empowerment Plan

When Veronika Scott was a student at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies, a teacher gave her class the assignment to create a product that fulfills a social need. With an interest in helping the homeless, Scott regularly visited a local shelter to determine what that could be.

As reported by PBS Newshour, “The final design was a coat that transformed into a sleeping bag,” made with fabrics that would keep people warm and dry. Though it took some trial and error, the product was a success and led Scott to launch her own non-profit business called The Empowerment Plan.

She now employs 10 formerly homeless women, who have made more than 1,000 coats that have been distributed to the homeless nationwide. Elisha Carpenter, a mother of three whose wages from working with Scott allowed her to pay for housing, said, “What I really like most about the job is the sincerity of Ms. Scott because she reaches into the cesspool of homelessness and transitional housing, and she’s steadily pulling people out.”

 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full. (Proverbs 19:17)

 How can I use my initiative to help others in need, Lord?

 


January 16 
Hope is Sweaty

When Father Jeff Putthoff arrived in Camden, New Jersey, in the late 1990s, he discovered that the high school graduation rate there was below 50 percent. That statistic didn’t bode well for the city’s younger generation. The Jesuit priest then turned this problem into an opportunity to serve his new community.

Father Putthoff founded Hopeworks ‘N Camden, a nonprofit that teaches technology and entrepreneurial skills to teens and young adults. As reported by Jesuits.org, nearly 3,000 youths have earned the equivalent of a high school diploma from their in-house tutoring program. Two hundred young people have gone on to college, while others have found jobs at companies like Google. “And about 30 percent of Hopeworks’ annual operating budget comes from businesses that students have created and run within the organization.”

All that accomplishment took a lot of hard work combined with hope. But as Father Putthoff told the Philly Voice, “We’re about claiming hope. Hope is sweaty. The people of Camden taught me that.”

 My hope is from Him. (Psalm 62:5)

 Inspire me to do the hard work that hope requires, Lord.

 


January 1 
I Am the New Year

Bible Illustrator magazine once published a reflection about the potential for change that a new year brings.

It read, “I am the new year. I am an unspoiled page in your book of time. I am your next chance at the art of living. I am your opportunity to practice what you have learned about life during the last twelve months.

“All that you sought and didn’t find is hidden in me, waiting for you to search it but with more determination.

“All the good that you tried for and didn’t achieve is mine to grant when you have fewer conflicting desires. All that you dreamed but didn’t dare to do, all that you hoped for but did not will, all the faith that you claimed but did not have—these slumber lightly, waiting to be awakened by the touch of a strong purpose.

“I am your opportunity to renew your allegiance to Him who said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”

If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Guide me in making wise choices this new year, Father.

 


December 31 
New Year’s Eve Reflections

For many people, New Year’s Eve means a party.  But author Bill Vaughan’s take on the holiday also rings true.  

He once wrote, “Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.”

For a more traditional New Year’s wish, consider the words of the late advice columnist Ann Landers, who wrote:

         “Let this coming year be better than all the others. Vow to do some of the things you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t find the time. Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge, and replace it with some pleasant memories. Vow not to make a promise you don’t think you can keep.  Walk tall, and smile more. You’ll look ten years younger. Don't be afraid to say, ‘I love you.’ Say it again. They are the sweetest words in the world.”

Finally, consider these words from author Vern McLellan: “What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year.”

Now begin the work, and the Lord be with you. (1 Chronicles 22:16)

Lord, guide me through the year ahead.

 


December 30 
The Origins of a Bottle of Bubbly

If you plan on buying champagne for New Year’s Eve, you know you’ve got Benedictine monks to thank for it, right? 

As Frank Weathers documented on his Patheos blog, the first ever sparkling wine, called Blanquette de Limoux, was invented by Benedictine monks in France’s Abbey of Saint Hilaire in 1531.  According to Wikipedia, “They achieved this by bottling the wine before the initial fermentation had ended.”

They’re not the ones who perfected the process, however.  That honor goes to a different Benedictine monk: Dom Pierre Pérignon.  He spent 47 years at the Abbey of Saint Pierre d’Hautvillers, near the Champagne region of France, working to get the creation of sparkling wine just right.  He achieved his goal in 1670, and his legacy lives on today.

Whenever you pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly, remember that you’re not just drinking something that tastes good.  It’s also a testament to the years of hard work it can take to make something great that will stand the test of time.

 In all toil there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23)

 May I not lose patience when hard work is called for, Lord.

 


December 29
Distressed? You Can Still Help Others

         When you’re feeling overwhelmed by problems, you might conclude you have nothing to offer since your energy and emotional strength are limited. But facing struggles adds to your humanity and need not stop you from sharing another’s burdens.

         When you’ve known pain, your insight can help you to become more selfless and better able to rally to the aid of someone with troubles worse than your own.

         “We may be sitting alone, lost in self-doubt or self-pity when the phone rings with a call from a friend who’s really depressed. Instinctively, we come out of ourselves, just to be there with her and say a few reassuring words,” write Ram Dass and Paul Gorman in How Can I Help?

         “When we’re done, and a little comfort’s been shared, we put down the phone and feel a little more at home with ourselves. We’re reminded of who we really are and what we have to offer one another.”

          Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)

          Holy Spirit, inspire us to be generous even if we feel we have nothing more to give.

 


December 28 
Diapers and Good Deeds

Katie Kanefke went to her local Walmart in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, because she needed to buy four large boxes of diapers for her son Marcus.  They were more expensive than she had expected, so she asked the cashier if they would match the lower price of the diapers at a different store.  When Walmart would only price match one box, Kanefke prepared to return the other boxes…until a stranger, Carol Flynn, got involved.

Flynn told Kanefke that she would pay for the extra diapers.  All she asked in return was that Kanefke perform a random act of kindness for somebody else someday.  The grateful mom happily agreed.

Unbeknownst to both women, another shopper, Jason Yoshino, saw the whole exchange and recorded it with his phone.  After posting the video on Facebook, it gained national media attention.  Kanefke told local TV station KSFY, “If you ever needed a sign that God’s there for you in the hardships and the struggles, this is it.  It’s pretty awesome.”

You will be enriched…for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11)

Increase my willingness to show kindness to others, Savior.

 


December 27
Too Many Choices

In today’s world, we’re faced with a wide array of choices when it comes to what products to buy, what websites to visit, or how to spend our free time.  But an overabundance of choices can actually be a bad thing because it results in what entrepreneur James Clear calls “decision fatigue.”

“Making decisions over and over again will drain your willpower,” writes Clear, thereby making it hard to maintain good habits.  “When we place a constraint on ourselves, it can become much easier to get something done. This is especially true if it is a constraint that forces us to start small.”

If you want to start exercising, for instance, Clear recommends limiting yourself to five minutes a day initially because it’s a small enough amount of time that you’ll stick with it.  You can always increase slowly after several weeks.  

Clear concludes, “We often think that we want an open road and the ability to choose any direction for ourselves.  But sometimes, what we need is a tunnel that can reduce our choices and send us in a focused direction.”

Choose this day whom you will serve. (Joshua 24:15)

Holy Spirit, guide me in making wise choices.

 


December 26
What Awaits You in the New Year?

The start of any new year is a great time for making predictions, and here’s a list of a few that are bound to come true. This came our way via the Internet, and we thought enough of it to pass it along to our readers.
■ The Bible will still have all the answers.
■ Prayer will still be the most powerful thing on earth.
■ God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
■ Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.
■ Jesus will still love you.
     The listing concludes with these words:
     Isn’t it great to remember who is really in control?  Remember also that “the Word of the Lord endures forever.”

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on Him that God the Father has set His seal. (John 6:27)

As we move into a new year, Father, help me to move beyond needless worry and instead rest secure in the knowledge of Your love.

 


 December 25 
Peace on Earth

The inspirational newsletter Apple Seeds reprinted the following prayer, written by Pope John XXIII in his encyclical letter Pacem in Terris, which means “Peace on Earth:”

“May [Jesus] banish from the hearts of all men and women whatever might endanger peace.  May He transform them into witnesses of truth, justice and love.

“May He enkindle the rulers of peoples so that in addition to their solicitude for the proper welfare of their citizens, they may guarantee and defend the great gift of peace.

“May He enkindle the wills of all so that they may overcome the barriers that divide, cherish the bonds of mutual charity, understand others, and pardon those who have done them wrong.

“May all peoples of the earth become as brothers and sisters, and may the most longed-for peace blossom forth and reign always among men and women.”

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, to His faithful, to those who turn to Him in their hearts. (Psalm 85:8)

May peace in our hearts lead to peace in the world, Jesus.

 


December 24
When the Spirit of Christmas Prevailed

It involved only one house and a few soldiers, but there was a Christmas truce in 1944, at the height of World War II.  

The Week magazine told the little-known story, which began when a German woman named Elisabeth Vincken opened the door of her cabin on the Belgian-German border to find three lost American soldiers. Moved with pity, she invited them in to join her in a Christmas dinner. Soon after, four German soldiers knocked on the same door. Aware of the severe penalty for harboring the enemy, she took a deep breath and told them that three Americans were inside. She invited the Germans to join them, but then laid down the law: “It is the Holy Night and there will be no shooting here.”
         The atmosphere was tense at first, but gradually, aided by dinner and wine, tensions eased, and before everyone left a German soldier gave the GIs directions back to their lines. Soon all involved were fighting again, and it would be another several months before a permanent peace took hold. But in that one cabin, for a few hours, the Spirit of Christmas prevailed.

I will grant peace in the land. (Leviticus 26:6)

May we honor Your Son’s birth with peace, Father.

 


November 23 
The Antidote to Anxiety

“The antidote to fear isn’t courage. The antidote to worry isn’t faith. The antidote to anxiety isn’t a devil-may-care attitude. Rather, the antidote, I believe, is gratitude. It’s thanksgiving.”

That idea might seem to defy conventional wisdom, but Patheos blogger David R. Henson makes a compelling case.

He continues, “Something profound and transformative happens when we give thanks and live our lives in gratitude to God and to one another. And if we make a lifelong practice of it, it fundamentally shifts the way we view the world. Worry and anxiety are rooted in fear, scarcity and isolation. Gratitude is rooted in love, abundance and connection.”

Henson then notes that the word Eucharist literally means “Thanksgiving,” and “Thanksgiving is a sacrament, an outward sign of an inward grace. Each week there is a table set and feast of love and thanksgiving which we share with each other…It is the ultimate reminder that we are not alone in this world or in our struggles. It is the ultimate reminder not to worry or to fear not. For God is with us—and with us through this community.”

 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving. (Psalm 147:7)

May I ground my life in gratitude, Divine Giver.

 


September 11 
Death is Nothing

With inspiration from St. Augustine, Henry Scott Holland—the late Canon of Christ Church, Oxford—once wrote this reflection on death to bring comfort to those who grieve.

“Death is nothing at all.  I have only slipped away into the next room.  Whatsoever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used to.  Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.  Let my name be the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effort.

“Life means all that it has ever meant. It is the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of your mind because I am out of your sight?  I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is past, nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before, only better, infinitely happier and forever—we will be one together with Christ.”

Today you will be with Me in Paradise. (Luke 23:43)

Bless me with the comfort of knowing my lost loved ones have been embraced by You, Jesus.

 

 

 

 


August 12 
Awesome Dad

 “You really couldn’t ask for anything better as a young kid. It was awesome,” said Chase Elliott, 18. Quoted in USA Today, Elliott spoke admiringly about his father Bill, a NASCAR icon who won many races during his nearly 40-year career. “It was the coolest thing ever,” said the younger man. “Getting to watch your dad race on weekends was a dream come true.”

Although the racetrack was significant for this family, what’s most important for kids is time with parents. If you can be together that’s great but it’s key for children to know their dads care about them. For Chase, now a racer himself, Bill modeled a solid work ethic, shared his accumulated knowledge, and taught his son practical skills. 

Dads don’t have to win the Daytona 500 to be special. Youngsters thrive when their fathers are emotionally present in their lives and when they feel love and support.

As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear Him. (Psalm 103:13)

 Father, help dads appreciate their importance in the lives of their children.