THREE MINUTES A DAY
A perennial favorite, our annual book offers inspirational stories and reflections for each day of the year. View a selection of current reflections here on the site, order the current volume in our shop or to subscribe to receive Three Minutes reflections free-of-charge daily...
The Blessing of a Pothole
Paramedics in Gretna, Nebraska, were racing a 59-year-old man to the hospital because his heart was beating 200 times a minute. He would need an electric shock to return his heart to its normal rhythm, but the hospital was 20 minutes away.
Suddenly, the ambulance hit a tremendous pothole that delivered such a jolt to the vehicle that the man’s heart rhythm returned to normal! One doctor explained that this kind of occurrence is extremely rare, but it can happen—and a man’s life may have been saved in the process.
In life, it’s easy to get distracted by the pursuit of money or comfort or power. As a result, we might lose track of what’s most important. Then, we hit a metaphorical pothole — an unexpected occurrence or piece of news — that shocks us back to reality, restoring our natural rhythm.
Try to live in a way that you don’t need potholes to remind you how precious your health, your loved ones, and all God’s blessings are.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
Guide my steps to live according to Your will, Father.
The Right Attitude
Eddie Luisi has worked in television for most of his life, most notably as “stage manager to the stars” on ABC’s Good Morning America, but also as director of The Christophers’ old television show. While giving a talk to students at Keokuk High School in Iowa, he shared one secret to his successful career: an excellent work ethic.
As an example, he recalled one of his first jobs in TV that started at 6:30 a.m. Luisi noticed that the producers “were coming in tired and cranky, so I got there at six in the morning and had some of the work done when they arrived.” His bosses noticed his commitment, positive attitude, and hard work, so when an opportunity for a promotion came up, he got it.
Luisi advised the students to approach their lives and careers in the same way. He said, “I’ve done the news, weather, sports...whatever they needed. I learned from every job, every experience, and I always treated everybody with kindness. Every person on earth should be treated with kindness.”
Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord. (Colossians 3:23)
Lord, instill me with initiative and a positive attitude.
The World’s Oldest Barber
Does doing what you love keep you young? Ask 108-year-old Anthony Mancinelli.
After 95 years in the barber business and cutting three generations of hair, the Italian immigrant and New Windsor, New York resident has been named the “world’s oldest barber” by the Guinness Book of World Records.
In 1919, Mancinelli emigrated to New York with his family from Naples, Italy. To help his family financially, he decided to learn the barber trade when he was 12 years old. He opened his own shop seven years later, and now – more than nine decades later – he still loves what he’s doing.
He is asked by even his doctor what is the secret to his long life? “Only one man knows the secret,” Mancinelli told Guideposts. “The Man above…I tried never to do anything wrong, so maybe the Man above is rewarding me with long life.”
Mancinelli still has no retirement plans and hopes to keep doing what he loves until the Lord takes him.
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long. (Psalm 23:6)
Lord, help me to live each blessed day to its fullest.
Snow Angels Help Dialysis Patient
Natalie Blair feared the winter weather forecast. As a dialysis patient, a huge snowstorm could be a matter of life or death. To her relief, four high school seniors came to her rescue and shoveled a path so that she could reach her dialysis treatment on time.
When high school student Patrick Lanigan heard the forecast for eight inches of snow in his New Jersey community, he knew he needed to do something to ensure that his neighbor, Blair, could reach her dialysis treatment.
As reported by CNN, Lanigan, along with three other Parsippany High School seniors, helped shovel Blair’s pathway at 4:30 a.m. the following morning. The pathway was cleared in 30 minutes and Blair was able to get to her treatment on time.
The students’ act of kindness was captured by a photo and shared on social media by Lanigan’s father, Peter, who called the four high school students “Snow Angels.” And that is exactly what they were by helping a neighbor in need.
You have shown me great kindness in saving my life.
Loving God, may I put my neighbors’ needs before my own.
Ulster Project Finds Common Ground
When the opportunity presented itself for Melinda Leonard to bring a chapter of the Ulster Project to Louisville, Kentucky, she took it without hesitation. She experienced the project years before while living in Tennessee and understood its ability to build bridges between people of different religions.
The Ulster Project brings both Catholic and Protestant teens from Northern Ireland to live with families in specific places in the United States for one month stays, during which time they engage in activities for the purposes of finding common ground.
The host families always have a teenager of the same age, so the experience becomes a dynamic intersection of people from various backgrounds working to understand how to live in harmony with one another.
In an interview with The Record newspaper, Leonard said, “My hope is that we get to the end of the program and these teens will have been informed and encouraged that they possess the skills to be effective leaders and peacemakers, and that they can make a difference in their communities and in the world.”
Those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. (1 John 4:21)
Lord, help me to build bridges between people.
Wrong Number Spawns Beautiful Friendship
Though Callie Hall was a young adult, she felt devastated when she heard her parents were getting a divorce. Little did she know that a wrong number from a stranger would help her through that difficult time.
One day, Callie got a phone call from an unknown number, so she let it go to voicemail. It was from a woman named Grandmamma Margaret, who mistook Callie’s number for her grandson Barry’s. Callie called her back to explain she had the wrong number, but Grandmamma Margaret kept calling.
“It brought me joy to see that number come up on the phone because of the amount of love and joy she had,” Callie recalled to Southern Living
Soon, Grandmamma Margaret was leaving messages not for Barry, but for Callie herself. These phone calls quickly blossomed into a friendship, so the older woman invited Callie to visit her home in Columbia, South Carolina.
Callie said that Grandmamma Margaret was just as lovely in person and she is “beyond blessed this sweet lady called the wrong number.”
You shall also love the stranger. (Deuteronomy 10:19)
Jesus, I trust You’ll help guide me in difficult times.
Destigmatizing Mental Illness
Twenty-five years ago, Deacon Tom Lambert from the Archdiocese of Chicago learned that his oldest daughter was suffering from a mental illness. When he and his wife looked to the Church for mental health resources, they found nothing. So they decided to do something.
Deacon Lambert helped found a local commission and national Catholic council on mental illness. He told U.S. Catholic, “One in four people deal with a mental illness in any given year. For one in 22 people, that illness is persistent and chronic. These people are in our pews, in our neighborhoods, and in our families...yet we don’t talk about mental health.
“Because mental illness is so stigmatizing, people feel they’re going through this alone. Showing them that there are those who accept them for who they are and what they’re going through and love them for who they are is the ultimate spiritual gift we can bring. One of the most healing things we can do as people of faith is to listen to others, hear what they’re going through, and meet their spiritual needs.”
Since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:12)
May I be a source of healing to others, Divine Physician
God’s Divine Appointment
Foster parenting is close to Hallmark Channel actress Jen Lilley’s heart because she and her husband Jason are foster parents themselves. In fact, they adopted the son they had fostered for two years, and also took in his little brother.
Lilley recalled that, initially, she was hoping for a child that was elementary school age, particularly the 8-year-old girl she and Jason had been mentoring. But that plan didn’t go through so the agency asked them to take in a four-month-old boy with special needs. Lilley felt reluctant to do so, but ultimately agreed. She now calls it “God’s divine appointment.”
She said on Christopher Closeup, “That process ever since has been the most rewarding, emotionally stretching, and spiritually stretching journey of my life. I would do it again, 100 times over, and I hope to foster until I die.”
Parenting has also deepened Lilley’s love and appreciation for her husband. She explained, “If you already have a good marriage, I highly suggest throwing kids in the mix because it opens up your heart on a whole different level.”
Whoever welcomes one such child in My name welcomes Me. (Mark 9:37)
Open couples to the idea of foster parenting, Jesus.
While volunteering at a nursing home, 27-year-old Beth Regan noticed the beautiful relationship between World War II veteran Bob Graham and his wife, Rosie.
“He brushed her hair every morning,” Regan told CBS News. “He’d hold a mirror in front of her and tell her every day how beautiful she was. When she was unable to hold utensils, every day Bob would feed her first before he ate himself.”
When Rosie passed away, Regan continued to visit Bob. Then, two years later, at age 97, he passed away as well. Worried that few people would attend his funeral, Regan used social media to invite people to honor this amazing man at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Westchester County, New York.
What happened next stunned her. Hundreds of people showed up to give him a hero’s funeral, complete with a police motorcade, a pipe and drum corps, and over 200 military veterans, police, and firefighters from all over New York. Regan said, “I’m overwhelmed with emotion and support. The outpouring of love is incredible.”
The faithful will abound with blessings.
Lord, may we always honor those who have served.
Light in Winter’s Darkness
On a frigid January evening, author Mary DeTurris Poust, tired after a long workday, arrived home to take her dog out for a walk. Her mood was as dark as the night sky until she noticed “white twinkling lights on the neighbor’s trees and the sight of a family gathering around a dinner table through a brightly backlit window...I was suddenly overwhelmed by the beauty of everyday life in an artistic creation right outside my front door.”
DeTurris Poust returned home with a new perspective: “With the holidays behind us and a lot more winter ahead, it can be easy to get bogged down in the darkness and drudgery...Our minds are already counting the days to spring and sunshine.”
“What if, instead, we basked in the density of winter darkness, settled in for the season, and focused instead on the flashes of light and color and warmth that are even more brilliant than usual because of the stark contrast to the world around us?...Simple joys hidden in plain sight can make all the difference, if we can learn to stay in—and appreciate—the now of our lives.”
Be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God. (Romans 12:2)
Open my eyes to the lights in the darkness, Savior.
Why Don’t You Just Trust in God?
Anthony Hopkins is one of the world’s most celebrated actors of stage and screen. From his portrayals of chilling psychopaths to reserved English authors, he brings a passion and intensity to his roles. That intensity worked against him in his earlier years, though, leading him towards alcoholism.
When he was in his late 30s, Hopkins knew he had to stop drinking. He was attending AA meetings when a woman asked a question that changed his life: “Why don’t you just trust in God?” From then on, the self-described atheist began to think about God. Whether it was grace or desperation, he turned to God. His desire to drink left him, never to return.
Hopkins has held on to faith in his life. He speaks charitably about his former cohort of atheists, but also muses, “I wonder about some of them: why are they protesting so much? How are they so sure of what is out there? And who am I to refute the beliefs of so many great philosophers and martyrs all the way down the years?”
The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he...sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46)
Your promises, Lord, are worth more than earthly glory.
Business Owner Offers Second Chances
George Vorel of Carnegie, Pennsylvania, is a successful business owner who operates industrial steel plants. The work is dangerous and requires precision. Perhaps that’s why many are shocked to hear that Vorel has hired, and continues to hire, former drug addicts who are in recovery.
He told his story in Guideposts, focusing on his family’s experience with addiction and his personal conversion. Vorel’s daughter was in and out of trouble and rehab, struggling to stay clean. One day, he heard a preacher on the radio talking about St. Paul’s letter to the Romans and about being conformed to God’s will. Vorel began to pray and came to see that the best role he could play in his daughter’s life was to love her, no matter what.
Eventually she was successful with her recovery, and Vorel saw what a difference that made. Like his experience drawing closer to God, recovery was a second chance at a new life. Vorel decided to do everything he could to give that same second chance to others, and he began by welcoming job applicants who were in recovery.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. (Matthew 5:7)
Jesus, may I reflect Your mercy to those in my life.
A Flight Attendant with a Servant’s Heart
Vicki Heath had met thousands of passengers during her years as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, but there was something special about Tracy Sharp, a 35-year-old woman with Down syndrome who was flying back home to Sacramento with her parents. After engaging the family in conversation, Vicki learned that Tracy’s dream was to work as a flight attendant.
Vicki stayed in touch with the Sharps, and several weeks later called with the offer to have Tracy serve as her assistant on a flight from Sacramento to Seattle. Tracy was thrilled!
Her parents joined her on the trip and relished watching their daughter interact with passengers and hand out food and drinks. As reported by Woman’s World magazine, “At the end of the flight, all the passengers applauded their wonderful flight attendant, and Tracy boasted a 100-watt smile.”
Tracy’s dad, Terry, said, “Her self-confidence has expanded.” Vicki added, “I will never know why God chose me to befriend Tracy, but He did. I’ve learned it doesn’t take much to make somebody happy...and it brings you amazing joy, too!”
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:26)
Lead me to bring joy to someone today, Father.
It Was a God Thing
Jamario Howard, JaMychol Baker, and Tae Knight were waiting for their order at Brad's Bar-B-Que in Oxford, Alabama, when Jamario noticed an elderly woman sitting by herself. He wondered if she might be lonely, so he went over, began chatting with her, and learned her name was Eleanor Baker.
Eleanor told Jamario a little about her life, including that she was a widow and tomorrow would have been her 60th wedding anniversary. The young man knew he couldn’t leave this lady by herself, so he invited her to join him and his friends for dinner. She did, and they had a wonderful evening together.
When Jamario posted a picture of them all on Facebook, the story went viral. Eleanor told CBS News that she considers the evening “a God thing. I think God sent me there.”
Jamario added, “I used to say when I was younger, and I still say today, I want to change the world somehow. And I don’t know how. I’m not rich. I’m not famous...But we can show the world it’s alright to be kind. And then, before long, maybe the world will be a much better place.”
If we love one another, God lives in us, and His love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12)
Help me show the world “it’s alright to be kind,” Lord.
Reach Out to Others in the New Year, Part Two
Here are more of Elizabeth Manneh’s New Year’s resolutions (via BustedHalo.com) to help ease the loneliness of others:
■ “Carry yourself with kindness. Treating others with a positive attitude can make a huge difference in someone’s day. Smile and say hello to the supermarket cashier, the bank teller, or the senior citizen in line for the bus.”
■ “Put your skills to good use. When I was a single parent, I dreaded facing household maintenance or repair jobs, and was overjoyed when our neighbor offered to fix our gas fireplace when the switch got stuck. For some, even a small job like repairing a leaky faucet is a task that can seem mountainous, but it’s easy for the handy DIY enthusiast. Think about what needs you might be able to meet in your community.”
■ “Send a handwritten card. Snail mail is not dead!...Why not dust off your pen and write a good old-fashioned letter? Many older people struggle with modern technology, but will keep and reread a letter over and over again.”
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. (Psalm 25:16)
Teach me to be of service to others, Jesus.
Reach Out to Others in the New Year, Part One
After reading about a study that showed loneliness in the United States had reached epidemic proportions, Elizabeth Manneh felt that God was challenging her to improve the lives of others as her New Year’s resolution. Writing on the website Busted Halo, she shared some of her ideas:
■ “Be observant. It’s easy to miss signs of loneliness, so keep an eye out for those on the fringes who might benefit from words of welcome, a friendly conversation, or a kind gesture.”
■ “Give your time. Maybe somebody you know is struggling with a stressful job, coping with a personal crisis, or lives alone and doesn’t feel like going out without a companion. Offer to take them for a much-needed night out.”
■ “Taking someone to medical appointments is another way to give your time. A few years ago, my mother needed regular hospital treatments every day for three weeks, and the hospital was over 25 miles away. Her church made up a rotation of people who drove her there, chatted with her while she waited, and brought her home afterwards. She felt very loved.”
Bear one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2)
Make me sensitive to the loneliness of others, Lord.
Ten Things You’ll Never Regret Doing
“She tried, with God’s grace, to be caritas [charity] to those around her.” So writes Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble about her friend and fellow Daughter of St. Paul, Sister Caritas Forte, who died in 2018 after a long, debilitating illness.
After Sister Caritas died, the other sisters discovered a list in her journals, called “10 Things I Will Never Regret Doing Before Death.” The list offers good advice (and possible New Year’s resolutions) for everyone, so here it is:
1. Do good to everyone.
2. Do not speak ill of anyone.
3. Reflect before speaking.
4. Do not speak when agitated.
5. Help the less fortunate.
6. Admit your errors.
7. Be patient with everyone.
8. Listen, but not to gossip.
9. Don’t believe displeasing things about others.
10. Prepare for death.
Do not forget My teaching, but let your heart keep My commandments. (Proverbs 3:1)
Remind me to integrate wise advice into my life, Father.
A Thanksgiving Prayer
Today, we’d like to share excerpts from a Thanksgiving prayer, written by Vienna Cobb Anderson for Beliefnet.com.
“God of all blessings, source of all life, giver of all grace: we thank You for the gift of life: for the breath that sustains life, for the food of this earth that nurtures life, for the love of family and friends without which there would be no life...
“...We thank You for setting us in communities: for families who nurture our becoming, for friends who love us by choice, for companions at work, who share our burdens and daily tasks, for strangers who welcome us into their midst, for people from other lands who call us to grow in understanding, for children who lighten our moments with delight, for the unborn, who offer us hope for the future.
“We thank You for this day: for life and one more day to love, for opportunity and one more day to work for justice and peace, for neighbors and one more person to love and by whom to be loved, for Your grace and one more experience of Your presence...For these, and all blessings, we give You thanks, eternal, loving God, through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.”
Enter His gates with thanksgiving. (Psalm 100:4)
Thank You for my blessings, Holy Trinity.