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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...

April 2

Ministering to Patients and Parishioners

“I was basically born to minister to people, either in a white coat or a white alb,” says Deacon Mike Madden regarding his service in the Church and his career as a doctor who cared for people with kidney problems.

After joining the Navy, Deacon Mike chose to become a nephrologist. As reported at, it was during dialysis training in Madison, Wisconsin, that he met a nurse named Nancy, whom he later married.

Deacon Mike volunteered at his church and eventually felt called to pursue the diaconate. He sees some overlap in his medical and spiritual work, noting, “Most of the stuff that you do is sit in a room and listen to [patients] and talk to them. I always say, ‘Priests say confessions and give absolutions. I heard a lot of confessions. I just can’t give absolutions.’”

When Nancy died in 2022 after 38 years of marriage, Deacon Mike felt her loss deeply. His faith helped him through that time, and he returned to serving on the altar on Easter Sunday. “It was the greatest thing,” he said. “Talk about replacing some sorrow with joy.”

I will turn their mourning into joy. (Jeremiah 31:13)

Help me find ways to replace my sorrow with joy, Jesus.

April 1

A Laugh with the Queen

After Queen Elizabeth II’s death in 2022, former Royal Protection Officer Richard Griffin shared a story on Sky News that highlighted Her Majesty’s sense of humor.

Griffin was with the Queen at a picnic site when two American hikers came towards them. However, the couple didn’t recognize her. She began chatting with them about their holiday, prompting one of them to ask her, “And where do you live?”

Good-naturedly, the Queen responded, “I live in London, but I have a holiday home just the other side of the hills.” The Americans then asked her if she had ever met the Queen. With her trademark wit, the Queen responded, “Well, I haven’t, but Dick here meets her regularly.”

The Americans handed their camera to the Queen and asked her to take a picture of them with Griffin. The Queen complied, then Griffin took a picture of the couple with the Queen, still not letting on who she was. After parting ways, the Queen said to Griffin, “I’d love to be a fly on the wall when he shows those photographs to friends in America, and hopefully someone tells him who I am.”

God has brought laughter for me. (Genesis 21:6)

May I always have a sense of humor about myself, Lord.

March 31

The Legend of the Easter Flower

Though lilies have become associated with Easter, Msgr. Owen Campion shared the legend of the holiday’s original flower in Our Sunday Visitor. “At the time of Jesus, a plant grew in abundance in Palestine,” he wrote. It looked ugly, produced no fruit or grain, and drooped as if exhausted.

         “On Easter morning, this miserable plant witnessed the Resurrection,” continued Msgr. Campion. “Jesus appeared as brilliant as ‘lightning’ (Mt. 28:3). The intense brightness miraculously changed the ugly plant forever.

         “No longer did its blossom hang limp, but it stood boldly upright, energized by the sight it had seen. Its petals were transformed into golden yellow, absorbing and reflecting the burst of light that accompanied the Lord’s return to earthly life and victory over death.

         “As the plant grew to maturity, its blossom shifted its position during the day, always following the sunlight, searching for another sight of Jesus. They call this plant the ‘sunflower.’”

I know that you are looking for Jesus…He is not here;

for He has been raised. (Matthew 28:5-6)

May the spirit of the Risen Christ bloom within me.

March 27

Compassion Walks the Road to Calvary

         Years ago, when Sister Ave Clark worked as a second-grade teacher, her student Elizabeth was diagnosed with cancer. Sister Ave brought her an angel doll to hold onto for comfort.

         Some time later, Elizabeth’s parents called Sister Ave to say the end was near and ask if she would come with them to the hospital. Despite feeling emotionally devastated herself, Sister Ave mustered up the spiritual strength to accompany them because she realized, “Compassion walks the road to Calvary.”

         Upon entering Elizabeth’s room, her mother broke down in tears, so Elizabeth told her, “Mom, don’t cry. I’m going to go to heaven, and you said it’s the best home I could ever have.” Her father said, “You’re our little angel.”

         Elizabeth turned to Sister Ave and said, “Sister, I don’t need the doll anymore because I’ll have all the angels in heaven. You take it, you give it to someone else.” Sister Ave agreed. Elizabeth passed away an hour later.

         Sister Ave recalled, “When they drove home, the mother said, ‘Sister, your being with us gave us peace.’ Did it take away their sorrow? No. But our presence can [bring] peace.”

Clothe yourselves with compassion. (Colossians 3:12)

Give me the fortitude to be compassionate, Jesus.

March 26

A Community for the Homeless

         The Casa Anita Complex in Chula Vista, California, was opened with one goal in mind: to give people experiencing homelessness a community to help them build stability. With homelessness becoming an increasing problem in California, this 90-unit complex aims to not only give people a roof over their heads, but to also build social bonds, friendships, and life skills.    Speaking to San Diego’s ABC 10 News, Rebecca Louise, the President and CEO of Wakeland Housing and Development, said, “We have an onsite after school program. We do cooking classes, financial literacy, and for residents who are experiencing homelessness, we go deeper with intensive case management services to help them overcome their obstacles.”

         People living in those buildings can take advantage of the medical and support services available onsite. For residents like Amalik Rawsl, this community has been a lifesaver. “I had to be mentally ready to come off the streets because I was still in shock I was living in my car,” Rawsl said. Now, living at Casa Anita has opened up new doors for him.

Share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house.

(Isaiah 58:7)

May those who need a hand up find willing helpers, Paraclete.

March 25

Gabriel: God’s Messenger

         Gabriel Cobb from St. Louis, Missouri, isn’t deterred by adversity. Growing up with Down’s Syndrome, he often faced—and defied—the expectations of others. One by one, he piled up accomplishments, from reading Shakespeare, to playing the piano, to competing in triathlons. One of his biggest challenges, however, still lay before him: public speaking.

         Gabriel, now age 22, was invited to speak at the United Nations in New York, on the topic of people with disabilities. Though he felt nervous, he practiced for a year and grew in confidence. Speaking to Our Sunday Visitor, Gabriel and his parents talked about the experience, his faith, and speaking out for people with disabilities.

         “Gabriel is not a professional speaker, but somehow God thinks he has a message to share,” said Gabriel’s mother, Lori, adding their family stopped by nearby St. Agnes Church on their way to the U.N. building. Gabriel himself added, “After all, I am Gabriel, God’s messenger.”

I am Gabriel…I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.

(Luke 1:19)

Let me stretch my talents for Your service, Lord.

March 19

Farming for a Better Future

         For several summers, the Sisters of St. Joseph have invited a large group of environmentally conscious individuals to live on their 212-acre Brentwood, New York property. The visitors include ecology interns and individuals from the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), who want to participate in the Sisters’ vital gardening ministry.

         These nuns have always made good use of their green thumbs, being in possession of the “largest privately-owned solar array [solar panels] on Long Island,” as well as having leased “28 acres of [their] land to local organic farmers and gardeners” for the past eight years.

         Volunteer Josephina Starr told The Tablet, “It’s super important to have knowledge of how to have an organic farm because it’s being seen as one of the most important potential ways to feed America.”

         “I feel this farm in particular has an underlying acknowledgement of spirituality,” Starr continued. “And the fact that the nuns own this land, and how they acknowledge the importance of…green methods of energy…is a good example.”

The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it. (Psalm 24:1)

Abba, may we strive to take good care of our environment.

March 18

To Reconcile with a Brother

Steve Dalton and his brother David grew up with a father who was an angry alcoholic. In one instance, their father screamed at David, “You were a mistake!” That comment scarred David for the rest of his life.

David processed his emotional pain by acting out, while Steve tried to be a fatherly influence on his younger brother. It was a role Steve was not prepared for, and it only led David to resent him deeply as he dealt with mental illness and addiction.

When they were adults, Steve tried calling David to reconcile, but David would just yell at him and hang up the phone. Finally, Steve got the idea to text him instead. As Steve recalled on his website Musings Amid the Thorns, the message was simple: “I love you, David, and I wish we could be friends.”

David responded angrily for a while, but eventually he softened. The brothers even began talking again, ending their conversations with, “I love you.” When David died at age 61 due to complications from diabetes, Steve was at his bedside, holding his hand as he passed into the next life.

Be reconciled to your brother. (Matthew 5:24)

May divided family members know that it is never too late to pursue peace with each other, Redeemer.

March 17

More than Shamrocks                              

         In the United States, St. Patrick’s Day is a time to celebrate Irish heritage and culture—and for some, an excuse to party. But who was the famous saint known for driving the snakes out of Ireland and Christianizing the island?

         On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day 2023, the San Diego Union-Tribune published an interview with Noreen Madden McInnes, director of the Office for Liturgy and Spirituality for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego.

         “The story of St. Patrick is about a heart bursting with love for the Lord,” she explained, recalling how he was sold into slavery and taken from his family. “In dark years and in difficult times, when he experienced hardships and loneliness, he turned to God for comfort and consultation.”

         St. Patrick spent 40 days fasting on a mountain before preaching. He used the shamrock clover to demonstrate the Holy Trinity. And above all, he is credited with bringing the love of Christ to Ireland. But it wasn’t all seriousness. “He had to have been a fun guy,” McInnes observed. “The Irish love him. He had a twinkle in the eye.”

         You are our glory and joy! (1 Thessalonians 2:20)

         Let my joy in my faith radiate to warm others, Lord.

March 16

Irish Blessings

The Irish are known for their blessings, which can lift someone’s spirits. Here are several, collected by the websites and

■ “May peace and plenty be the first to lift the latch to your door, and happiness be your guest today and evermore.”

■ “May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door.”

■ “May you always find three welcomes in life: in a garden during summer, at a hearth during winter, and in the hearts of friends throughout all your years.”

■ “May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow. May the soft winds freshen your spirit. May the sunshine brighten your heart. May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you. And may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.”

■ “May those who love us love us. And those that don’t love us, may God turn their hearts. And if He doesn’t turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles, so we’ll know them by their limping.”

The blessing of the Lord be upon you! We bless you in the name of the Lord!

(Psalm 129:8)

Bless and strengthen me and my loved ones all the days of our lives, Creator.

March 15

Novel Therapy Saves Child with Cancer

At age five, Emily Whitehead was the picture of good health until bruises started appearing on her body for unknown reasons. Soon, her gums started bleeding, and she began suffering from excruciating leg pain. Tests revealed that Emily had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Traditional treatments didn’t help her, so her father, Tom, prayed, “God, if You’re up there, we need help right now.”

Soon after, Tom had a vision of Emily getting better at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). After Tom and his wife, Kari, contacted CHOP, they learned that doctors there believed they could save Emily’s life through a cutting-edge procedure called CAR T-cell therapy.  

People magazine explained, “The treatment involves taking T-cells—a type of white blood cell critical in fighting infection—from the body, genetically engineering them in a lab over a three-week period to teach them how to fight cancer…then putting them back into the patient’s blood.” The treatment worked for Emily, and she has been cancer-free for 10 years.

Honor physicians for their services, for the Lord created them. (Sirach 38:1)

Guide doctors and scientists in saving lives, Creator.

March 14

Pawsitive for Heroes

         The old adage about a dog being man’s best friend holds true for Dwayne Jensen, a U.S. Postal Service employee in Olean, New York. Jensen served in the first Gulf War as an Army air traffic controller, and as a result, suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which triggers bouts of “anxiety long after the trauma is over.”

         After learning about a Home Depot employee with PTSD who benefited from a service dog, Jensen looked into getting one of his own. Despite the adversarial relationship postal workers sometimes have with canines, he did his research and signed up for Pawsitive for Heroes, a program through WNY Heroes which pairs veterans with handlers who help them find and train the right service dog. Jensen was matched with Beau, a rescue shepherd mix from Alabama.

“[Beau] can sense if I have anxiety,” Jensen told The Postal Record. “He can rub against me to take my mind off…[it] so I pay attention to him…He’ll go everywhere around with me…The community loves it…I protect him; he protects me.”           

Who teaches us more than the animals? (Job 35:11)

God, bless service animals, healers and guardians to all.

March 7

Baseball Great’s Faith-Driven Decency, Part 1

         Carl Erskine may not be a household name, but he deserves to be. He was New York baseball royalty during the 1940s and 50s, helping the Brooklyn Dodgers win their only World Series in 1955 against their crosstown rivals, the Yankees. But as great a pitcher as he was, Carl’s legacy far exceeds anything he accomplished on the field.

         Long before the word “inclusion” became a mainstay in our national conversations, Carl modeled an attitude of openness and welcoming to others who were different from him. He did this during his childhood, as a teammate of Jackie Robinson, and as the father of a child with Down syndrome in an era when special needs children were often institutionalized.

         In fact, Carl served as a pioneer in helping those with intellectual and physical challenges better integrate into their families and communities. His story is now being told in the Christopher Award-winning documentary The Best We’ve Got. Filmmaker Ted Green joined us recently on Christopher Closeup to discuss Carl’s remarkable life. More tomorrow…

Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. (Matthew 6:20)

Help me to walk in Your ways of love, Jesus.


March 8

Baseball Great’s Faith-Driven Decency, Part 2

         Carl Erskine’s earliest memory was visiting the site of a lynching. He was four years old in 1930 when his father took him to Marion, Indiana, to see the aftermath of what had happened the day before. The elder Erskine’s goal was to demonstrate to his son that this was “hate at its worst.”

         Thankfully, Carl’s parents lived their Christian faith in a way that was courageously enlightened for the times. They taught him to love God and love his neighbor—and they included people of all colors in their definition of “neighbor.”

         A defining incident occurred when Carl was 10 years old. He was playing buckets in his neighborhood one day when Johnny Wilson, a nine-year-old African American child, saw him and watched shyly from the side. Carl walked up to Johnny, held his ball out, and asked, “Do you want to play?”

         That simple action flew in the face of the prevailing worldview that white and black kids should stay apart. Carl and Johnny became great friends, and Johnny was welcomed into the Erskine’s home many times. More tomorrow…

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 19:19)

May I see all people as my neighbor, Christ.

March 9

Baseball Great’s Faith-Driven Decency, Part 3

         In 1948, Carl Erskine became a pitcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers and a teammate of Jackie Robinson, who had broken Major League Baseball’s color barrier just one year earlier. Robinson faced racism from many people, but he and Carl became fast friends. In fact, Jackie was amazed at how easily Carl accepted him and his family.

         For instance, one day, Carl walked over to a section of Ebbets Field that was fenced off for the players’ families. Fans were reaching through the fence to get autographs. Carl noticed Jackie’s wife Rachel and young son Jackie Jr. standing alone with nobody talking to them, so he approached them and made them feel welcome. The next day, Jackie thanked Carl for going out of his way to make Rachel and Jackie Jr. feel accepted. Carl responded that it was the most natural thing in the world for him.

         Ted Green, the filmmaker behind the Christopher Award-winning documentary The Best We’ve Got: The Carl Erskine Story, said, “Carl shows how easy it can be if you put decency first, if you put others before you.” More tomorrow…

Look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)

May I be a friendly presence to the marginalized, Jesus.


March 10

Baseball Great’s Faith-Driven Decency, Part 4

         Carl Erskine also had a major impact on children with special needs, an impact whose ripple effects are still being felt today. On April 1, 1960, Carl’s wife Betty gave birth to their son Jimmy, who had Down syndrome. This was not a welcoming era for people with intellectual challenges.

         During a Christopher Closeup interview about his Erskine documentary The Best We’ve Got, Ted Green explained that people with special needs were viewed as pulling society down. That attitude led to the eugenics movement, which said people with intellectual disabilities “need to be eliminated or not allowed to have children.”

         In 1907, Erskine’s home state of Indiana passed the country’s first compulsory sterilization law for people with intellectual disabilities. Other states soon followed suit. The eugenics movement in the U.S. finally lost steam during World War II because it was similar to what the Nazis were doing.    That’s when institutionalizing children with special needs became popular. But the Erskines chose a different path. More tomorrow…

Speak out for those who cannot speak. (Proverbs 31:8)

Help us fight injustice with kindness, Savior.

March 11

Baseball Great’s Faith-Driven Decency, Part 5

         Carl and Betty Erskine resisted the prejudice against special needs children during the 1950s and 60s. When Betty’s doctor suggested that their son Jimmy, who was born with Down syndrome, be sent to an institution, she responded, “No way. I’ve been carrying this guy for nine months, and he’s coming home with me.”

         Carl and Betty were not the first to make this choice. They became part of what was called “The Parents’ Movement,” in which moms and dads raised their own disabled children, emphasizing that the best treatment for them is love and respect.

         The Erskines, however, took it one step further. Ted Green, who earned a Christopher Award for his documentary The Best We’ve Got: The Carl Erskine Story, explained that not only did the couple bring Jimmy home, they refused to hide him at home, which was the norm for people who couldn’t afford institutions.

         Instead, they took him everywhere and started setting up play dates in churches and the community for other children with special needs. The idea spread and thrived. More tomorrow…

Whoever welcomes one such child in My name welcomes Me. (Matthew 18:5)

May I be welcoming to all with special needs, Creator

March 12

Baseball Great’s Faith-Driven Decency, Part 6

         When Jimmy Erskine was born with Down syndrome in 1960, doctors predicted he would only live to age 30 or 35. Well, Jimmy turned 63 in 2023. He worked at Applebee’s for 20 years, competed in Special Olympics for 50 years, and has even moved out of his parents’ home to live by himself (with some outside assistance). He is living a rich and full life, thanks to his parents.

         Both Special Olympics of Indiana and The Arc of Indiana cite Carl and Betty Erskine as being at the epicenter of improving inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental challenges in their state.

         In addition, the Erskine Green Training Institute, which offers job training to people with intellectual challenges, has an 80 percent placement rate, compared to the standard 20 percent elsewhere.

         The key is that Carl Erskine used his fame as a Brooklyn Dodgers’ star and World Series champion not to build up his own ego, but to improve the lives of others. And now those efforts are spreading to a new generation. More tomorrow…

Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)

Lord, may we use our influence to improve life for others.

March 13

Baseball Great’s Faith-Driven Decency, Part 7

         Because of his background modeling racial inclusion and an embrace of children with special needs, Carl Erskine’s life is being shared with a new generation. Christopher Award-winning filmmaker Ted Green and Special Olympics Indiana are promoting an educational initiative called EPIC (the Erskine Personal Impact Curriculum). 

         The project uses a shortened version of The Best We’ve Got documentary, as well as different age level books about Carl’s life and accomplishments, to teach students about diversity and inclusion. The program is being practiced in 500 Indiana schools, with hopes that it will spread to other states.

         “I’ve seen it in action at schools,” Ted noted. “People are including different people in their friend groups. To me, [it’s great] that maybe, 20 years from now…a kid in an Indiana classroom could look across the room and see somebody else who doesn’t look like him or think like him or walk like him. And [that kid might] think after going through EPIC, ‘There’s no reason why I can’t be that person’s friend.’”

Welcome one another…as Christ has welcomed you. (Romans 15:7)

Teach me to be a good friend, Prince of Peace.

March 6

Café Boosts Confidence

         Hackettstown High School in New Jersey has a café that serves up much more than coffee. A student-created business helps its special education students move ahead on their road to adult independence.

         In the morning, participants sell coffee to staff. In the afternoon, they work in local businesses which will offer them jobs after graduation.

         “I’ve learned different job skills, money skills, interacting with customers,” one coffee shop participant told CBS News.

         Principal Kyle Sosnovik explained, “We identify students that may need some support socially,” and then “build the program that gives them structured learning experiences here in the school and then outside in the community.”

         A teacher noticed how the youngsters “really gained confidence” by creating and running a business.

Whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all. (Galatians 6:10)

May we give youngsters the nourishment they need to grow into contributing adults, Jesus.

March 5

Still the Best Policy

         Many years ago, it took one man in Birmingham, Alabama, more than a year to give back to the government money he said didn’t belong to him.

         Robert Harwell was granted Social Security disability payments following a nervous breakdown. He was able to return to work sooner than expected, but Social Security kept sending him checks every month, despite his efforts to get the bureaucracy to stop. Eventually, $19,000 came his way.

         Harwell put it all in the bank. He said he gave the money back because he didn’t want to be found out later and lose his benefits when he became a senior citizen. Social Security accepted the funds back, eventually.

         Honesty is the best policy, even if one’s motive is self-interest. Others may give you a hard time for refusing to take what doesn’t belong to you. But there is satisfaction in knowing that you are doing what is right.

Let us live honorably. (Romans 13:13)

God, help me to be a person of integrity.

March 4

How to Help Kids Decrease Screen Time

Phone and tablet screens have become a part of our kids’ daily lives. However, screens can have a damaging effect, with some studies claiming they are cultivating distracted, grumpy, and argumentative little people.

One family, the DeFranks, took this dilemma into their own hands and instituted a “30-day screen detox.” Now, they’re helping other families do the same.

On her blog, mother of five Molly DeFrank recommends five steps to help detox your family from screen time:

■ Cut out screens completely for 30 days.

■ Go to the library, and let kids find a stack of books.

■ Compile a list of free play options.

■ Observe your kids and which activities they enjoy most.

■ Make a long-term plan that works best for your family.

DeFrank saw positive results. She concluded, “Technology can, of course, be useful—in its right place. The key is making technology work for us, rather than the other way around.”

Be renewed in the spirit of your minds. (Ephesians 4:23)

Jesus, help me to avoid distractions in my daily life.

March 3

The Reciprocity Effect

         No matter how much you achieve in life, you should never forget where you come from—or the people who helped you find success. Maryland native and recent Harvard Law School graduate Rehan Staton follows this belief. Coming from a family of sanitation workers—and having worked as one himself—Staton knows what it's like to struggle just to make ends meet. According to The Harvard Gazette, Rehan never would have gotten into Harvard without the sacrifices and help of his family, not to mention Tyler Perry, the famed actor/director who heard his story and offered to pay for his law school tuition. “No one does it alone,” Staton noted in The New York Post. “Just keep paying it forward.”

To that end, Staton and his former boss, Brent Bates, established The Reciprocity Effect, with the intent of recognizing and assisting the “unsung heroes” of the everyday working world. They began by hosting a banquet honoring 30 members of the sanitation staff at Harvard, whose efforts were often ignored by students. One year and $70,000 later, this organization is still going strong.

Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)

Lord, may the golden rule guide my life.

March 2

Centenarian Finds Purpose in Volunteering

Most people would complain about a four-hour commute, especially when facing the unpredictable weather in Edinburgh, Scotland. But David Flucker isn’t most people. He spends 12 hours a week commuting to and from the charity shop where he works—and he’s 100 years old!

David started working at St. Columba’s Hospice Shop a few years ago after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. The hospice cared for him for two weeks, and when he was released, he decided to repay them for their kindness.

The Scotsman enjoys working at the shop three days a week, even though it’s a four-hour round trip to his home. He also enjoys checking the donations to ensure they are good. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be doing something,” he told Good News Network.

What David loves most about his job are the people he interacts with. Some even “come in just to chat.” It’s the best part of David’s day—giving back to others. That makes the commute nothing more than a journey to live a purposeful life.  

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. (Psalm 138:8)

God, may I seek to live a purposeful life.  

March 1

A Pilgrimage for Prisoners

Many prisoners hope to follow the metaphorical road to rehabilitation and redemption. But for 110 inmates from 15 prisons in Spain, the road they followed was altogether real.

As reported by the website Aleteia, the Department of Prison Pastoral Care of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference arranged for prisoners to embark on a one-week pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago (aka, “Way of St. James”), accompanied by 100 officials, chaplains, and volunteers.

The goal was to give the inmates a spiritual experience which also offered them some freedom and responsibility. Thankfully, they rose to the occasion. A prisoner named Darly observed, “We felt valued. We were able to forgive each other and leave behind the negative things in life.” Gustavo, another inmate, added that the pilgrimage was “an opportunity to redeem ourselves, to forgive ourselves.”

The pilgrimage ended when everyone arrived at the Santiago de Compostela cathedral, where priests celebrated a Mass during which all the participants felt a renewed sense of hope and God’s love.

Bring me out of prison, so that I may give thanks to Your name. (Psalm 142:7)

Guide prisoners toward redemption, Merciful Savior.

February 29

Once in a Blue Moon

         If you ever wondered just how often “once in a blue moon” is, here’s the answer: it happens about every 32 months.

         A blue moon is the term for the second full moon in a given month. Since a full moon occurs every 29-and-a-half days, a blue moon is possible in every month except February.

         And, yes, when the weather conditions are just right, the moon really can look blue in color.

         When can you see the next one? Make a note to check your almanac or look it up online. Then, look up to the sky—and even the area around you—and realize that there is a universe of wonder and beauty that God has given us all to appreciate.

Take a moment today to notice, to enjoy, and to say, “Thank You.”    

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and them firmament proclaims His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)

Thank You for the beautiful gift of Your creation, Father.

February 28

The Legacy of M*A*S*H

In 2023, the TV series M*A*S*H marked the 40th anniversary of the airing of its final episode, a two-and-a-half-hour movie titled Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen. More than 100 million viewers tuned in live.

Rather than fading from the public’s consciousness, this show about a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War continues to be popular. Between daily reruns and streaming services, it has been discovered by a new generation of fans—and remains relished by its old fans as well.

CBS News explored why M*A*S*H continues to resonate. One New Yorker noted, “The show was one of the first attempts I had to learn to laugh at something as serious as war, to know that humor can invade the most serious of our topics.”

Rob Kelly, who hosts the podcast M*A*S*HCast, added, “There are people who, even under such tremendous pressures as the characters are on M*A*S*H, inherently are kind to one another. And the show’s point of view is a kind one, a thoughtful one. It feels kind of revolutionary at this point.”

Pursue peace with everyone. (Hebrews 12:14)

War is always a tragedy, Jesus. Guide us towards peace.


February 22

A Second Chance at Life & Gratitude

         Basketball referee John Sculli was officiating a semi-pro game in Rochester, New York, when he suddenly collapsed on the court, suffering what’s known as a “widow-maker” heart attack.

         As people gathered around him, one member of the visiting team from Toledo, Myles Copeland, stepped forward and began performing CPR. Copeland, who works as a firefighter, saved Sculli’s life. He told CBS News, “I’ve never witnessed someone just collapse, but I knew what had to be done.” Copeland added that knowing he helped save Sculli's life is “one of the best feelings in the world.”

         Since that day, Sculli has undergone quadruple bypass surgery and returned to refereeing—all because one player knew what to do in an emergency. When Sculli returned to that same gym where he collapsed, Copeland was invited to stop by. It was the first time the pair met since the day of Sculli’s collapse. The two men embraced, and a visibly emotional Sculli said, “You know I love you.”

Their gift of healing comes from the Most High, and they are rewarded by the king. (Sirach 38:2)

Thank You, Lord, for the healers in my life.

February 28

The Legacy of M*A*S*H

In 2023, the TV series M*A*S*H marked the 40th anniversary of the airing of its final episode, a two-and-a-half-hour movie titled Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen. More than 100 million viewers tuned in live.

Rather than fading from the public’s consciousness, this show about a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War continues to be popular. Between daily reruns and streaming services, it has been discovered by a new generation of fans—and remains relished by its old fans as well.

CBS News explored why M*A*S*H continues to resonate. One New Yorker noted, “The show was one of the first attempts I had to learn to laugh at something as serious as war, to know that humor can invade the most serious of our topics.”

Rob Kelly, who hosts the podcast M*A*S*HCast, added, “There are people who, even under such tremendous pressures as the characters are on M*A*S*H, inherently are kind to one another. And the show’s point of view is a kind one, a thoughtful one. It feels kind of revolutionary at this point.”

Pursue peace with everyone. (Hebrews 12:14)

War is always a tragedy, Jesus. Guide us towards peace.

February 21

Veteran Graduates College at Age 77

Timothy Brown, a Vietnam War veteran, always wanted to graduate from college, but he had dropped out in the 1960s to focus on work. He got a second chance to live out his dream when a veterans affairs program enticed him to enroll.

In 2018, Brown heard about the program that helps veterans go back to college, so he seized the opportunity and enrolled at South Carolina State University, majoring in drama. Being 73 at the time, Brown said the age gap didn’t bother him. He told CBS News that he saw all the 20-year-olds as his “grandkids,” and they “welcomed me very much.”  

Brown also discovered he had a talent he never realized he possessed: playwriting! For his final project, he wrote a play about a real-life incident in which he shook hands with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He hopes to turn this into a real production for future generations.

Brown graduated in 2022 at the age of 77. He observed, “I guess sometimes in life, your dreams actually do come true. That’s exactly what happened in this case.”

An intelligent mind acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. (Proverbs 18:15)

Jesus, bless our veterans and guide them always.

February 20

Sisters in a Time of War

When Vladimir Putin launched his war against Ukraine in February 2021, the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great in the western Ukrainian city of Ivano-Frankivsk responded with selflessness and courage.

Prior to the war, the Sisters ran a Catholic school, while also caring for the community’s lonely, elderly, and needy, reported Rhina Guidos in Global Sisters Report. When refugees arrived from heavily battered cities, the St. Basilians provided them with “food, clothes and shelter at their monastery.” Many of their regular students fled the country with their families to seek peace elsewhere.

Through it all, the Sisters adapted and held fast to their mission. They hold in-person classes and prayer services for the local community, while also livestreaming them for those who now live in other countries. In addition, they collect humanitarian aid for those in need. Sister Yeronima Rybakova said, “Every day, we pray for peace in Ukraine and for the victims of war.”

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for You are with me.

(Psalm 23:4)

Bring peace to war-torn countries, Blessed Redeemer.

February 19

A Role Model’s Greatest Gift

Do you remember what childhood role model had the greatest influence on your life? The late newspaper columnist William Raspberry, writing in the Washington Post many years ago, offered this observation on that topic:

“Ask adults about their childhood role model. They’ll nearly always name a parent or other adult who spent time with them and paid attention to them and nudged them toward better behavior. What those fondly remembered adults did for a living or how much they made at it is largely irrelevant.”

It’s a mistake for parents or relatives to think they must have prestigious jobs to make children proud of them—or must buy children expensive toys to make them happy.

It’s the encouragement that adults give children, as well as the example they set, that helps shape their lives and has the greatest influence.

Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray. (Proverbs 22:6)

Remind me to offer encouragement to all who need it, Redeemer.  

February 18

A Stitch of Faith

         For expert seamstress, knitter and crocheter Gail Frohlinger, faith has always been the underlying thread that held her life together. Born into a Jewish family, Frohlinger converted to Catholicism 20 years ago, wearing a baptismal robe she sewed herself. Her illustrious career achievements include working for 15 years as a costume curator at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House.

         Out of all her sewing jobs, however, Frohlinger considers her religious creations (i.e. banners, veils, etc.) for churches throughout the Diocese of Brooklyn to be the highlight of her career. She especially enjoys crocheting baby blankets for the Sisters of Life, a religious order that supports women in crisis pregnancies.

         “Every stitch I do, I think of as a prayer,” Gail told The Tablet’s Paula Katinas, having already stitched 35 blankets for the Sisters of Life. “I…feel it brings me closer to my faith…when I do the blankets. I think of the children, how innocent they are, and how they deserve something to keep them warm. I feel like I’m giving back.” 

You knit me…in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)

God, may we seek to use our talents for Your glorification.

February 17

Heartfelt Home Improvement

         Out of one man’s experience came an organization that allows poor people to buy or keep their own homes.

         The story is that of Joe Giron, a Colorado construction worker. Two Denver ministers helped him buy his own home when he had nowhere else to turn. Subsequently, he founded Brothers Redevelopment Incorporated to assist others.

         The organization kept growing over the years and went on to include thousands of volunteers that provide help in buying homes, renovating older homes, and providing home upkeep assistance for the elderly and many others.

         Since 1971, Brothers Redevelopment Inc. has had a hand in more than 100,000 projects. And all because two ministers saw a problem and did something about it.

         This once again proves the Christopher message: you can make a difference by lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness.

Be doers of the word. (James 1:22)

What can I do, God, to put my faith into action on behalf of  those who are needy in any way?

February 15

Seniors for Seniors

 100-year-old California resident Johanna Carrington was feeling lonely after the death of her precious dog, Rocky. Then, an 11-year-old rescue dog named Gucci changed her life for the better. “It was quiet and sad, and then Gucci brought joy into the house,” Carrington told the Today Show.

Carrington was worried that a shelter might not allow a woman of her advanced age to adopt a pet. Fortunately, the Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco offers a Seniors for Seniors program.

According to Alice Ensor, Adoptions Coordinator for Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, the program allows senior citizens to adopt senior pets (dogs, ages seven and up) because it can be a win-win situation. One study found pet ownership can help older adults by providing companionship, reducing loneliness, and giving a sense of purpose. 

Carrington agrees, saying she believes that spending time with pets is one of the secrets to a long, happy life. “Animals bring so much happiness to our home,” she concluded.

The righteous know the needs of their animals. (Proverbs 12:10)

Lord, thank You for giving us the companionship of pets.

February 14

Ashes on the Go!

         Father Peter Adamski of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was thinking of ways that he could answer Pope Francis’s call to “meet people where they are.”

         Four years ago, an idea came to him that seemed so simple, yet it might work: distribute ashes on Ash Wednesday to local commuters taking the train into New York City. And what better place to do that than on the train platform early in the morning.

         Speaking to the diocesan news site, Father Adamski said, “I’ve had Baptist people come up to me and say, ‘Wow, look at you, Father.’ It makes our Church…present to everyone that comes on this platform today.”

         Father Adamski stood in the 30-degree weather from 5:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. He was dressed in a coat, earmuffs, hat, and mittens with holes in the thumb so he could keep his hands warm in between ash distributions. Regarding his mission, he noted, “I wake up with a smile on my face, [saying], ‘Thank You, Lord, for this opportunity for me to be Your instrument as we begin this Lenten journey.’”

The Lord has made my journey successful. (Genesis 24:56)

May I bring Your light to those I encounter on my journey, Christ.

February 12

On Fasting and Modeling Faith

Actor Mark Wahlberg is known for openly discussing his Catholic faith, while also being respectful of other people’s beliefs. During an appearance on the Today Show on Ash Wednesday in 2023, he explained, “I don’t want to jam [my religion] down anybody’s throat, but I do not deny my faith.”

Wahlberg discussed his approach to fasting and noted it can take different forms. He said, “If you have issues with food, there are other things. God knows the things that He wants you to detach from. We all know those things that make us feel guilty, don’t make us feel as good as we should. So [it’s about] being able to detach from those things and focus on good habits as opposed to bad habits.”

In addition, Wahlberg revealed that the way he is passing down his faith to his children is primarily by example. He noted, “I don’t force it on them. But they know that Dad can’t start the day without being in prayer, can’t start the day without reading my Scripture or going to Mass. And hopefully, instead of forcing that on them, they’ll say, ‘Well, if it works for Dad, maybe it’ll work for us,’ and they’ll…gravitate towards it on their own.”

Let your light shine before others. (Matthew 5:16)

Guide my fasting choices this Lent, Jesus.

February 4

Archdiocese of Newark Helps the Poor              

Poverty has been increasing at an alarming rate in New Jersey, with many families struggling to keep food on their tables or a roof over their heads. The Archdiocese of Newark is stepping in to help with this great need by opening Mercy House in Jersey City.

Mercy House will provide necessities such as food, clothing, baby supplies and furniture to those in need. The upper floor will continue to operate as an existing boarding house that provides shelter to several dozen women.

One resident, Devern Jones, told CBS News that Mercy House provided her a place to live after she lost her apartment: “God brought me from a long way, from being almost homeless to here, and I thank God for this house here.”

Another resident, Gloria Brown, lost her job during the pandemic and is grateful to Mercy House for providing “an emergency place to just lay my head and put my life together.”

You sent me help for my needs more than once. (Philippians 4:16)

Lord, help me to give back to those who are in need and give comfort to those who are most vulnerable.  

February 1

The First Paramedics, Part 1

We take it for granted that when we experience a medical emergency, we can call 911 and paramedics will arrive soon after. But this wasn’t the case until fairly recently in our history.

As recounted by former paramedic and Christopher Award-winning American Sirens author Kevin Hazzard in New York’s Daily News, the story began in Pittsburgh in the 1960s, a decade after anesthesiologist Dr. Peter Safar created CPR.

Hazzard writes, “Driven by the recent death of his daughter, Safar knew a long ride to the hospital could be fatal for critical patients and instead wanted to bring the ER to them. He single-handedly designed the modern ambulance and then created the world’s first paramedic training course. He now had everything this new profession needed—except the professional.”

These professionals would come from Pittsburgh’s Hill District, an African American community which saw 8,000 residents displaced due to urban renewal. More tomorrow…

Take courage…Your work shall be rewarded.

(2 Chronicles 15:7)

Creator, guide Your children who strive to save the lives of others.


February 2

The First Paramedics, Part 2                             

After 8,000 African American citizens in Pittsburgh’s Hill District were displaced by urban renewal, civil rights activist James McCoy created a nonprofit called Freedom House Enterprises to provide job training to locals.

In 1968, he connected with Dr. Peter Safar, who was looking for recruits for his new paramedic training course. Thus began a “medical revolution,” writes Kevin Hazzard, Christopher Award-winning author of American Sirens: The Incredible Story of the Black Men Who Became America’s First Paramedics.

The eight-month course was taken by 24 men. Once they hit the streets in their Freedom House ambulances, their work became an immediate success, despite battling both medical emergencies and racism. The rest of the country took notice, and soon Freedom House became the “national standard in paramedic training.”

Unfortunately, racism from politicians led to Freedom House being shut down. But the next time you call 911, be grateful to these pioneers for their foundational work.

In distress you called, and I rescued you. (Psalm 81:7)

Father, may we honor the life-saving legacy of our first responders.

January 28

Life is Too Short

French author Andre Maurois once wrote, “Life is too short to be little. Often we allow ourselves to be upset by little things we should forget…We lose many irreplaceable hours brooding over small grievances that in a year’s time will be forgotten.”

Maurois concludes by saying, “So let us devote our lives to worthwhile actions and feelings—to great thoughts, real affection, and enduring undertakings.”

Anger and hurt feelings are very normal and very human, but life is too short to be endlessly upset or brooding, even over real hurts and injustices.

Work at coming to terms with anger and upsets. Seek inner peace through prayer—and work at achieving God’s peace one day at a time.

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Jesus, move me past anger to find Your peace.

January 27

College in the Convent

With a decrease in the number of women pursuing religious life, Our Lady of the Angels convent in Philadelphia was not as full as it used to be. In fact, half the convent was empty. So, when nearby Neumann University ran out of student housing and began looking for new places it could situate its young adults, the nuns offered their home as an option.

Now, the nuns live on one side, while the college’s students reside on the other. During waking hours, however, there’s plenty of intermingling going on, from fun conversations to shared meals. Student Katela Villasenor told CBS News that the nuns have become like a second family: “They have so many stories…funny ones, serious ones, wise words.”

The nuns are also benefiting from these new relationships. Sister Esther Anderson said they are “gaining so much from the presence of the students here…Life, energy…topics and activities that we might never have sought out.”

One of those activities turned out to be a TikTok dance video, which resulted in joy and laughter for all involved.

One generation shall laud Your works to another.

(Psalm 145:4)

Help me build friendships across generations, Savior.

January 26

Woman with Autism Practices Selflessness

While autism sometimes makes it harder to understand the needs of others, Danielle Rizzo found a way to empathize through donating her used eyeglasses.

At the age of three, Danielle needed to wear eyeglasses, but due to her autism, this proved challenging. Her parents, Dave and Mercedes, wrote at, “Both of us would hold her small hands so she could not remove the glasses as we walked around the house.”

Danielle grew to understand the importance of wearing her glasses and now, 20 years later, the Rizzos donated her old glasses to the Lions Eyeglass Recycling Program. This program gives recycled glasses to children and adults around the world.      When she placed the glasses into the donation box one pair at a time, Danielle’s face lit up. Her parents observed that this selfless action moved her “a little bit closer to realizing that others have needs and that she can help.”

It is in giving to that we receive. (St. Francis of Assisi)

Lord, bless and guide all families dealing with autism, and help all individuals with autism discover their potential to love and do good.

January 25

Vienna’s Dementia-Friendly Concerts

The Musikverein—the beautiful concert hall where the Vienna Philharmonic performs—is hosting a special event: a concert where older people, many of whom have dementia, can attend and be one with the music. 

The series, which began in October 2022, is a “huge success.” Concert moderator Veronika Mandl told, “People are still receptive to music even in an advanced stage of dementia, because it connects to different areas of the brain.” 

Concertgoers are allowed to get up and walk around during performances, and rows of seats are spaced out to allow for movement in wheelchairs. Also, the staff are trained to understand people living with dementia and help them feel more comfortable.

Music has an enormous impact on people with dementia, helping them feel happy and more alive. As Mandl said, “Music is memory, an emotion, a connection with different things.”

There were songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. (Nehemiah 12:46)

Lord, may those who live with dementia always hear Your songs of love and hope.

January 24

A Humble Farmer’s Good Deeds

For approximately 10 years, on the first of every month, Alabama farmer Hody Childress secretly performed a good deed. He would walk into Geraldine Drugs, a pharmacy in his DeKalb County community, and give a folded up $100 bill to owner Brooke Walker. His instructions?

Use the money to help people who couldn’t afford their prescriptions. And if anyone asked where the money came from, he told her to say, “It’s a blessing from the Lord.”

When Childress began experiencing medical problems, he would send a relative to deliver the money to Walker, never telling the relative what exactly it was meant for. His acts of kindness were only revealed after Childress passed away at age 80 in January 2023.

Walker told that she used the money “to help children needing Epi-Pens for allergic reactions, families in-between insurance coverages, and people just leaving the hospital.” Childress’s family and friends are working to establish a fund in his name to continue the practice.

When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. (Matthew 6:3)

Help me be a blessing to others, Jesus.

January 16

I.V. Drips and Rocket Ships, Part 1

         At age 10, Hayley Arceneaux was a healthy, active youngster who had just earned her black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Shortly thereafter, she began experiencing leg pain and discovered a lump above her leg. The diagnosis came as a complete shock: bone cancer.

         Up until that point, everyone that Hayley had known with cancer had died, so she feared her fate would be the same. “God must hate me,” she thought.

         Twenty years later, Hayley has gone on to become a physician’s assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, taken part in numerous medical mission trips around the world, and even orbited the earth three times as an astronaut on SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission. And her perception of God has changed as well.

         So how did all this come about? Hayley shares her story in the Christopher Award-winning book Wild Ride: A Memoir of I.V. Drips and Rocket Ships. We discussed it recently on Christopher Closeup. More of her story tomorrow…

Do not fear, for I am with you…I will strengthen you, I will help you. (Isaiah 41:10)

Guide me through life’s unexpected twists and turns, Lord.

January 15

MLK’s Commandments of Nonviolence

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used to ask volunteers working with him to sign a commitment card that they would adhere to his 10 commandments of nonviolence. While they are specific to his mission, they can also apply to anyone.

The commandments stated: “1. Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus; 2. Remember always that the nonviolent movement in Birmingham seeks justice and reconciliation—not victory; 3. Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.

“4. Pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free; 5. Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all men might be free; 6. Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy; 7. Seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.

“8. Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart; 9. Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health; 10. Follow the directions of the movement and of the captain on a demonstration.”

Do not envy the violent and do not choose any of their ways. (Proverbs 3:31)

Lead us towards peaceful ways of resolving conflict, Jesus.

January 14

A Calling Beyond Retirement

         Phyllis Gipson spent 35 years teaching art in public school. When the time came to retire, she couldn’t imagine just sitting home and doing nothing. Looking for ways to serve, she headed right back to the classroom. 

         Gipson spoke to Cathy Fithian, principal of Christ the King School in Kansas City, Kansas, and told her she would like to teach there. Reluctantly, Fithian said an art teacher was a luxury the school couldn’t afford. But Gipson, a devout Christian, responded, “You don’t understand—this is my calling.”

         “The first year, I would show up in the building with all my bags and stuff,” she said in an interview with The Leaven. “[The kids] would start applauding, yelling, ‘Today is art! Ms. Gipson’s here!’ How affirming is that? It made me know I was doing something to help somebody.”

         For two days a week, Gipson spreads a love for the creative arts and knows she is carrying on a legacy of giving back. “My father told us all the time that when you retire, you serve your community,” she said. “And he was the perfect model for that.”

Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding. (Proverbs 3:13)

May I share my talents with those around me, Lord.

January 12

Respect the Trades

In Lanham, Maryland, the young men and women you’ll find in Plumbers and Gasfitters Union Local 5’s training facility must combine intellect with elbow grease to become masters at their jobs. But they realize they are often seen as being uneducated because they didn’t go to college.

“The division is partly a function of people thinking that because the work is dirty, it must be stupid,” motorcycle repairman Matthew Crawford told CBS News’s Ted Koppel. “If people never attempted skilled manual work, they may not understand just how intellectually rich and engaging it can be, and demanding.”

Tradespeople earn money while apprenticing—and lucrative salaries once they have mastered their crafts. They are hoping that white collar America adopts a new attitude towards them. Jake Thiess, an apprentice at Local 5, said, “We do work with our hands a lot, but a lot of it’s up here [indicating his brain]…People think it’s simple to fix a toilet..[or] to weld a pipe. A guy I work with said it’s art without an audience.”

Do not abuse…hired laborers who devote themselves to their task. (Sirach 7:20)

Creator, may we respect the art and talents of all trades.

January 11

An Actress’s Alternate Career Choice

         If Jennifer Garner hadn’t become an actress, she thinks she would have liked to become a minister. In fact, her mother still thinks she may be a minister some day.

         During an interview with Allure magazine’s Danielle Pergament, Garner explained that she grew up attending the United Methodist Church in her West Virginia hometown—and she still goes to church in California with her kids. Her oldest daughter, Violet, is even a Sunday School teacher.

         Garner said, “What I like about the study of religion, it reminds me of the study of theater—it’s really a liberal arts education. You have to understand history, geography, literature. It’s art, it’s everything.”

         She added, “I think the more you engage, the more you learn about different ways that people believe and worship, the more you can sit next to anyone and be a neighbor. There’s such value in that to me. I don’t know that I will ever be someone who is writing a sermon Sunday morning, but I like the idea of it. I like the idea of going back to divinity school.”

Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. (Romans 15:2)

May my faith help me to be a good neighbor to all, Jesus.

January 10

Believing It’s Never Too Late

         Although Joseph “Gabe” Sonnier took pride in his work as a janitor at Port Barre Elementary School in Louisiana, his future held a different path.

As a young man, he had always planned to attend college, but family difficulties postponed that dream. Sonnier told that a former principal had seen his potential and advised him to become an educator. Being a janitor was “a good and honest living,” this principal explained, “but I’d rather see you grading papers than picking them up.”

         With encouragement and perseverance, Sonnier eventually was able to return to college at age 39. Keeping up an exhausting schedule, he continued to work full-time. The effort paid off as he worked his way up to become Port Barre Elementary’s principal.

While Sonnier’s position as leader is a challenging one, he can now encourage others. Some of his young teachers were inspired by his life story to earn their own Master’s degrees.

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance.

(Proverbs 21:5)

God, give us the strength to persist in pursuing our goals.

January 9

Project Cover-Up

         One cold winter’s day, fourth grader Chase Pinheiro was walking to baseball practice when he saw a woman on the side of the road, asking people driving by in their cars “for food and money.”

         Touched by this woman’s plight, Pinheiro went to see Julie Capirchio, the Dean of Students at his school, St. Joseph’s in West Warwick, Rhode Island. He said, “I’m really upset because it’s getting cold, and I feel like we should have a clothing drive.” Dean Capirchio told the Rhode Island Catholic, “The students at St. Joseph are so good…They will go out of their way to do something kind.”

         Moved by Chase’s plea, Dean Capirchio quickly arranged a “school-wide clothing drive,” named “Project Cover-Up,” for three days in mid-January. All articles of winter clothing collected from this drive were given to the local St. Vincent de Paul Society and “distributed to those in need.”

         “I think this would have been what Jesus would have done,” Pinheiro added. “I hope [the clothing drive] will help them and bring them comfort.”

I…set you an example…Do as I have done. (John 13:15)

Jesus, may we model our lives after Your giving example.

January 8

Pen Pal Offered Prisoner Hope               

For 28 years, Lamar Johnson languished in a St. Louis prison for a murder he didn’t commit. It was only after an original eyewitness admitted he lied when he fingered Johnson as the killer—and when the actual murderer confessed—that Johnson, at age 48, was fully exonerated in 2023.

One thing that kept Johnson’s spirits up during his incarceration was the letters he received from his pen pal, Ginny Schrappen. As reported by CBS News, the now 80-year-old Schrappen was given a letter many years ago by her church’s deacon. That letter came from Johnson, who had written to the church hoping to find a parishioner he could correspond with.

Schrappen was happy to oblige and soon came to believe in Johnson’s innocence herself. Upon his release, the two pen pals met, and he explained what her support had meant to him. 

January 7

Warm and Cozy

As the Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool’s Director of Finance, Jill Boggan was in a unique position to help when she learned that a rise in fuel costs over the winter would hinder many people from warming their homes.

Boggan launched an initiative in which the archdiocese’s 37 parish centers would be opened to provide “not only warmth, but also tea, coffee, cookies, free Wi-Fi, and television” to anyone, reported The project was dubbed “Warm and Cozy,” and found great support and participation.

In addition, visitors were invited to donate old coats, scarves, or other winter clothing to be given to those who couldn’t afford them. 

         Father Stephen Pritchard, pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption in Gateacre, pointed out another key component of the initiative’s success. He explained, “I think there’s an epidemic of loneliness…More than just people coming together to get warm, it’s actually creating a sense of community, a sense of belonging, and people care for each other. That’s why ‘Warm and Cozy’ for me is important.”

Show hospitality to strangers. (Hebrews 13:2)

Guide us towards the warmth of community, Savior.

January 6

Remembering the Three Kings

Though she now lives in Staten Island, New York, Magna Velazquez relishes the memory of growing up in Puerto Rico, especially when it comes to the Feast of the Epiphany, also known as Three Kings’ Day, on January 6th.

On this feast day, children receive gifts that commemorate the Magi visiting Jesus and bringing Him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Magna’s parents would give her and her siblings empty shoeboxes to fill with the best hay, so the camels carrying the Three Kings had something good to eat.

Magna told The Good Newsroom, “Like the birth of Jesus, Three Kings’ Day carries many traditions with the community at their core. In some instances, people were poor and had no gifts to give, but regardless, we found something to share, and the gathering was the celebration.”

Keeping these traditions alive is important to Magna, as is her Catholic faith. She prays that young people believe in God and let Him be born into their hearts. “This is the greatest gift you can give yourself or others,” she said.

They saw the child with Mary His mother; and they

knelt down and paid Him homage. (Matthew 2:11)

May Jesus be born anew in my heart every day, Creator.

January 5

‘What a Great Human!’

         University of South Carolina college student Jake Degnon was staying with his family in Rockville, Maryland, for Christmas break. Unfortunately, two days before he was supposed to return to school, he discovered his wallet was missing. The family spent the whole next day looking for it, a task made more difficult by the fact that it had snowed. 

         As Jake’s mother, Laura, wrote in an email to the Good News Network, her son’s wallet was even more full than usual with “quite a bit of Christmas money, college money, and of course his school ID, license, debit, and credit card.”

         As Jake was getting ready Saturday morning to head back to college, sans wallet, their doorbell rang. “A wonderful man by the name of Juan was standing there,” Laura said, “asking if Jake lived here. I started to cry…and asked if he found his wallet.”

         Indeed, Juan had found Jake’s wallet, in the parking lot of the store Degnon had shopped at just two nights before. Nothing was missing inside; everything was just as Jake had left it. “What a great human!” Laura concluded. “Juan made my son’s day, and mine, more than he will ever know!”

For everyone…who searches, finds. (Luke 11:10)

Father, may we all strive to be “great humans.”

January 4

The Burnt Pie

On his Twitter account, Rabbi Yisroel Bernath recalled an incident he once witnessed between his grandparents during his youth. His grandmother was a fantastic cook, but one day she served his grandfather a burnt pie. “Not just a little burnt,” Rabbi Bernath wrote, “but black as coal.”

Rabbi Bernath waited to see how his grandfather would react. Surprisingly, he simply ate the pie and asked the young Bernath how his day was. Later, his grandmother apologized to her husband for the state of the pie. He responded, “Dear, I like your pie.”

When they were alone, the young Bernath asked his grandfather whether he had told the truth. The grandfather put his arm around Bernath’s shoulder and explained, “Your Grandma had a tough day at work. She was tired. The burnt pie didn’t harm me, but a sharp word could have hurt her.”

Rabbi Bernath then shared this long-lasting lesson from that bit of his grandfather’s wisdom: “We all make mistakes. We shouldn’t focus on mistakes, but support those we love.”

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)

May my words always be loving and supportive, Paraclete.

January 3

A Miraculous Delivery

         In Ocala, Florida, there is a Safe Haven Baby Box at the local fire station, where anyone can drop off an infant, no questions asked. An alarm always rings after a baby is deposited to alert nearby firefighters of the delivery.

         One January morning, at about 2:00 a.m., an Ocala fireman named Vincent heard the telltale peal of the alarm bell. He opened the box to find a baby girl peering up at him as she clutched her bottle.

         “I picked her up and held her,” Vincent told Today’s Selim Algar. “We locked eyes, and that was it. I’ve loved her ever since...The way I found her—this was God helping us out.”

         After he brought her to the hospital, Vincent wasted no time writing a letter to the administration there, expressing his fervent desire to adopt her. He and his wife had been trying for 10 years to have a baby and were even “registered to adopt.”

         By April, this infant, whom the couple named Zoey, “officially” became their daughter. “She’s loved beyond words,” the happy father concluded.
Every perfect gift is from above. (James 1:17)

Jesus, we thank You for the precious gift of loving parents.

January 2

Neighborly Love Helps Elderly Woman

In 2021, Gean LeVar of Glendale, Arizona, lost her husband of 58 years when he passed away in their home. To make matters worse, the police—after entering and seeing how unlivable the conditions were—had no choice but to condemn Gean’s house. She lost her husband and home all in the same day—and she had no family members to help her. 

That’s when her neighbor, Carmen Silva—who barely knew Gean at the time—stepped in. As reported by CBS News, Carmen told Gean, “Don’t worry…We’re going to fix it.”

Carmen invited Gean to live in her home. Although Carmen’s small, three-bedroom house with eight children was already full, the family eagerly made room for one more, treating Gean like an “adopted grandmother.” Carmen explained, “I’ve always taught my kids to take care of their elders.”

In another expression of neighborly kindness, the nonprofit group Operation Enduring Gratitude, which helps Arizona veterans and their families, heard Gean’s story and rebuilt her house, making it livable once more. Gean now plans to share her new home with her adopted family.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (James 2:8)

Jesus, may I always be welcoming towards my neighbors.

January 1, 2024

The Search for Happiness

A story with an important message made its way around the Internet recently. It seems appropriate to share it with you at the beginning of this new year:

“A professor gave a balloon to every student in his class to write their name on. Then, he asked them to throw it in the hallway. The students were given five minutes to find their own balloon, but no one was able to do so.

“The professor then told the students to take the first balloon they found and hand it to the person whose name was written on it. Within five minutes, everyone had their own balloon.

“Finally, the professor said to the students, ‘These balloons are like happiness. We will never find it if everyone is looking for their own. But if we care about other people’s happiness, we will find ours, too.”

If we love one another, God lives in us, and His love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12)

Help me be a source of happiness for others, Lord, and, in turn, find happiness myself.

December 31

A Prayer for Hope

Sometimes we need a reminder that God loves us and wants to be a part of our lives. Here is a beautiful prayer from the Pauline book Live Christ! Give Christ! Prayers for the New Evangelization that can serve as that reminder:

“Lord Jesus, You see my entire life: past, present, and future. You know my thoughts and feelings. You see how hard life can be, how unfair it can seem at times. In all the confusion, one thing is certain: Your love for me never changes. I place all my hope in You.
        “You embrace me as I am. You walk with me and guide me. Help me to recognize Your presence and to follow where You lead with trust. You desire only the greatest good for me; You are on my side. I place all my hope in You.

“Help me to know how much You want to be part of my life. Widen the limits of my heart to make room for You and through You for others. You are God, my Savior. I place all my hope in You. Amen.”

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, so that we might abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Teach me to “abound in hope,” Jesus.

December 25

A Prayer Before Christmas Dinner

It was Noreen McInnes’s first Christmas after her mother died, so she felt the loss deeply. In addition, her father Frank had just moved in with Noreen and her family because he needed 24-hour care due to numerous medical issues. Still, Christmas Day came, and she was delighted to have everyone together.

Noreen’s mother had always led the Christmas blessing before the meal, so this year it fell to Noreen. As she recalled in her memoir Keep At It, Riley!, she felt both pained and comforted as she recited these words:

May all the days of all the years

That God has still in store

Be filled with every joy and grace

To bless you more and more;

May hope of heart and peace of mind

Beside you ever stay,

And that’s the special prayer I have

For you this Christmas Day!

Glory to God in the highest. (Luke 2:14)

Jesus, may the joy and grace of the Christmas season fill and heal our hearts, now and always.

December 24

Flowers of the Holy Night

Poinsettias are the vibrant red flowers we see everywhere during the Advent and Christmas season. Writing at Aleteia, Marge Fenelon recounts the Mexican legend behind them:

“Once, there was a poor Mexican girl named Pepita who had no present to give the Baby Jesus at Christmas Eve Mass. As Pepita walked, sadly, to the chapel, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up. ‘Pepita,’ he said. ‘I’m sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves Him, will make Jesus happy.’

“Still not knowing what she could give, Pepita picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a bouquet. Having only this small present to give Jesus made Pepita embarrassed. As she walked…to the altar, she remembered what Pedro told her…She knelt down and laid the bouquet at the bottom of the Nativity scene.

“Amazingly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that Christmas Eve forward, the bright red poinsettia flowers were known as the ‘Flores de Noche Buena,’ or ‘Flowers of the Holy Night.’”

It shall blossom abundantly. (Isaiah 35:2)

May my love for You blossom abundantly, Jesus.

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