Gazing: Finding an image that speaks to you…

Call To Holiness welcomes guest blogger Ann Chapin.  Ann is a talented artist who has painted many icon tapestries for my home parish at Church of the Incarnation.

Crucifixion Oil Sketch by Ann Chapin

Crucifixion Oil Sketch by Ann Chapin

Gazing:  Finding an image that speaks to you… (by Ann Chapin)

St. Teresa of Avila and other Contemplatives have commented at various times in their writings how prayer is in some fundamental sense responding to Christ who is looking at us by us standing in the presence of God and looking back.  This is not necessarily an easy thing to do, nor immediately obvious what that ‘looking back’ is supposed to involve concretely.  However, one thing St. Teresa does say is to find an image of Christ that moves you, that enables you to connect with him, and don’t be influenced by any of the fads of the culture at the moment.
So, what that means in this day is that you can go to the internet to any search engine that supports image searches, and search for things like “Face of Christ” or “Face of Jesus” or something like that and scan through them till you find one that speaks to you, that makes Christ present.  I’ve painted several versions of the face of Christ, but you may like none of them and that’s fine.  If your tradition doesn’t use icons, but an old Russian or Greek icon speaks to you, use that.  And here’s a good use for your smart phone or tablet: use it as a portable icon.  Put the image that makes Christ present to you on it, and then you have it with you wherever you are, so that even if all you want to do is recollect yourself in the midst of chaos, there He is.  If you want to review the ones I’ve done, they are here at this site.
Christ with John the Beloved at Last Supper

Christ with John the Beloved at Last Supper

Note:  Ann Chapin’s artwork are copywrite material (reuse with permission only)


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Peace & War & Memorial Day

I write this blog today with a heavy heart knowing that there is so many places in the world that still suffer the ravages of war, but also hopeful there are great efforts for making peace in this world such as the messages and actions of Pope Francis.  Pope Francis condemned those who supply weapons and help prolong wars and request we pray for their conversion.  I pray that his efforts help bring peace to the many peoples and religions of the Holy Land.

Pope Francis in the Holy Land

Pope Francis arrive in Jordan.

Pope Francis arrives in Jordan.

This Memorial Day Weekend began with the historic pilgrimage that Pope Francis is making to the Holy Land.  Just before leaving on his trip the Vatican website began to offer an Arabic language version for the first time in history, showing the efforts Pope Francis is making with interreligious dialog.  When Pope Francis arrived in Jordan, he thanked for Jordan for their efforts for peace and helping the many refugees who have fled Syria in their war.  Here is a condensed version of his speech in the arrival in the Holy Land:

I thank God for granting me this opportunity to visit the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the footsteps of my predecessors Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. …

Jordan has offered a generous welcome to great numbers of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees, as well as to other refugees from troubled areas, particularly neighboring Syria, ravaged by a conflict which has lasted all too long. Such generosity merits the appreciation and support of the international community. The Catholic Church, to the extent of its abilities, has sought to provide assistance to refugees and those in need, especially through Caritas Jordan…

I take this opportunity to reiterate my profound respect and esteem for the Muslim community and my appreciation for the leadership of His Majesty the King in promoting a better understanding of the virtues taught by Islam and a climate of serene coexistence between the faithful of the different religions. I am grateful that Jordan has supported a number of important initiatives aimed at advancing interreligious dialogue and understanding between Jews, Christians and Muslims. I think in particular of the Amman Message and the support given within the United Nations Organization to the annual celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week.

I would also like to offer an affectionate greeting to the Christian communities present in this country since apostolic times, contributing to the common good of the society of which they are fully a part. Although Christians today are numerically a minority, theirs is a significant and valued presence in the fields of education and health care, thanks to their schools and hospitals. They are able to profess their faith peaceably, in a climate of respect for religious freedom. Religious freedom is in fact a fundamental human right and I cannot fail to express my hope that it will be upheld throughout the Middle East and the entire world. The right to religious freedom “includes on the individual and collective levels the freedom to follow one’s conscience in religious matters and, at the same time, freedom of worship… [it also includes] the freedom to choose the religion which one judges to be true and to manifest one’s beliefs in public” (Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 26). Christians consider themselves, and indeed are, full citizens, and as such they seek, together with their Muslim fellow citizens, to make their own particular contribution to the society in which they live.

Finally, I cordially invoke peace and prosperity upon the Kingdom of Jordan and its people. I pray that my visit will help to advance and strengthen good and cordial relations between Christians and Muslims.

I thank you for your courteous welcome. May the Almighty and Merciful God grant happiness and long life to Your Majesties, and may he bless Jordan abundantly. Salaam!

This visit to the Holy Land also marks 50 years since Pope Paul VI has made the same visit and met with Patriarch Anthenagoras to end 900 years of division between the Eastern and Western Catholic Churches.  Pope Francis will be meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew to continue the friendship and work toward Christian unity in the modern era.


Pope Francis at the River Jordan (site where Jesus was Baptized)

Pope Francis at the River Jordan (site where Jesus was Baptized)

Memorial Day Weekend


This is a special weekend for many Americans in honoring those who serve our country in the military, and especially for those who gave their lives in service to the United States of America. Archbishop Timothy Broglio serves the largest single diocese — the Archdiocese of the Military.  He offers this inspiring message in the following video from Catholic News Service in what Memorial Day means to Catholics:

Suicide in the US Military

One of the very sad issues facing many men in the military is the increasing problem of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression that has caused many to take their own lives through suicide.  The number of veterans committing suicide now is a 22 per day or 660 per month.  This is twice the rate in the general population, and an increase from just two years ago.  The military and veterans are trying to offer better education and supports.

Here in Charlottesville the Center for Peace and Justice collaborated with Vets for Peace to help raise awareness about the large suicide rate and to help with prevention.

My friend Evan is a vet, and in the following picture,  got a local artist to display 660 dog tags on a tree on our Downtown Mall Plaza to represent visually the impact of how many people commit suicide every month in America.


Veterans for Peace — 660 Dogtags on tree represent the monthly suicide rate in America currently.

Vets were also passing out the ACE card with instructions to family and friends of vets in how they can help prevent suicides.



How can we change the world towards making peace?


Making peace is a hard task, and actually even harder than making war, BUT it can be done.  First, I think that the power of prayer can help, and one of the best prayers is the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. Amen


Second, we can take individual action to help working towards peace and healing.  We should be engaged in government to advocate for peace – maybe a letter to a congressman, or attending a rally, standing up to talk publically to show action for peace.


Third, we need to have better advocacy for peace.  There are too many lobby groups in Washington for making war, and the military companies who make weapons have too powerful a lobby at this time.   We need to personally & financially support groups locally and in Washington, that make efforts for peace to match the power of these opposing lobby groups–to have effect of legislators and change attitudes.  You can support groups like Pax Christi, USA,  Catholic Relief Services, Caritas, and World Beyond War.


Custos of the Holy Land (Franciscans)

Pope Francis’ Visit to the Holy Land (Catholic News Agency)

Archdiocese of the Military, USA

Veterans Affairs Mental Health

Suicide Rate for Veterans (Center for Public Integrity)

Veterans for Peace

Pax Christi, USA


Catholic Relief Services

World Beyond War

David Swanson (Peace Activist and Blogger)


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3rd Anniversary of Call To Holiness



Today is the 3rd Anniversary of Call To Holiness, which started on May 10th, 2011.  I have been very honored to have over 85,000 readers of this blog and appreciate the feedback and encouragement I have received in the comm box.  It has been a great year with many stories to share, and have recently upgraded the website:

  • New WordPress Theme that now is mobile responsive in design, so it should work well on your smartphone and tablets.
  • New comment system using Disqus, and your feedback is always welcome
  • I have moved from BlueHost to Catholic Web Services which is offering a faster website using Amazon Web Services 64 bit service.
  • Added the Social Networks (Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) of the stories and links I share at Catholic Web Services
  • RSS Feed Link
  • Google Translator offering 250+ languages including Latin


Today is also the Feast of St. Damien of Molokai, and my friend Brandon Vogt is about to release a fantastic book about the saints and how their teachings and lives relate to social justice.  This book is being endorsed by many prominent theologians and fellow authors.

Brandon Vogt offeres an excerpt of his new book in the Word on Fire Blog about St. Damien from “Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World”, by Brandon Vogt


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Also, Happy Mother’s Day and have offered a special edition for mothers at Sweet Tweets with Lisa Hendey’s Blog at Patheos



Saints and Social Justice:  A Guide to Changing the World by Brandon Vogt (Amazon)

Sweet Tweets at A Good Measure Blog by Lisa Hendey (Patheos)

Previous Blog about St. Damien (Call To Holiness)


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Canonizations of John XXIII & John Paul II from Washington, D.C.

New Portraits of Saints John Paul II & John XXIII at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

New Portraits of Saints John Paul II & John XXIII at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

It was an amazing weekend visiting Washington D.C. for the canonizations of two new saints — Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday.  These two men helped to bring the Roman Catholic Church into the modern world with great courage, love, joy, humor, grace, and humility.  To celebrate this historic event, the John Paul II Shrine was hosting a series of events over the weekend.

Saint John Paul II National Shrine

Saint John Paul II National Shrine

It started with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament for three miles around the area in Washington, D.C. fondly known as “Little Rome,” because there are so many Catholic organizations, churches, and shrines in a concentrated area of the city.  The procession went from the JPII Shrine to the Basicilca of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, then to Catholic University of America, then to the John Paul II Seminary, and returning back to the JPII Shrine.   At each stop there was speech honoring both saints, and then time for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  Many faithful devoutly joined this procession, despite having rain and wind to endure, nature was not going to stop this joyous occasion.

Adoration of Blessed Sacrament at Catholic University Chapel

Adoration of Blessed Sacrament at Catholic University Chapel


After the procession, there was a midnight Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday, a Feast instituted by Pope John Paul II.  There were about 1,000 people in attendance of this beautiful Mass celebrated by the chaplain of the John Paul II Shrine, Fr. Gregory Gresko.  This temporary chapel was set-up for the weekend, and had a beautiful artwork in the background of Christ, and there were protraits of John Paul II and the Divine Mercy image on each side of the altar.  There were TVs for viewing the Masses locally and in Rome throughout the facility, and a wall also had the live Twitter Feed from people posting from around the globe on #2PopeSaints.

Mass and Live Event in main chapel at JPII Shrine

Mass and Live Event in main chapel at JPII Shrine

There were two first class relics of Saint John Paul II that were taken out for veneration, one is a permanent gift from Cardinal Donald Wuerl, a blood soaked cloth from the time of the shooting of JPII, and the other was on loan from the Knights of Columbus that is a vile of blood from JPII.

Fr. Gregory Gresko carrying the First Class Relic the Blood of Saint John Paul II

Fr. Gregory Gresko carrying the First Class Relic the Blood of Saint John Paul II

Fr. Gresko said that the walls will enclose this space and an artists is coming who had worked with John Paul II on some iconic art in Rome, and will be working on beautiful art to cover the walls of the new chapel opening in the Fall of 2015.  The basement museum space is currently being overhauled, and will have a wonderful permanent interactive exhibit opening in July 2014.  The exhibit will invite visitors to walk in the footsteps of of Saint John Paul II while exploring how his understanding of the dignity of the human person informed his life and papacy.  It will also explore his teachings and spirituality through computer interactives, personal artifacts, and original artwork.  This inspiring Shrine will always offer Mass, Confession, The Angelus, Adoration, and Veneration of JPII relics (see website below for schedule)

A Gift Of Love:  The Life of Saint John Paul II -- a permanent exhibit to open July 2014

A Gift Of Love: The Life of Saint John Paul II — a permanent exhibit to open July 2014


The crowds who came cheered when Pope Francis and Pope Bendict XVI embraced to start the Holy Mass for the Canonizations of these two holy men about to become saints.  When it was official everyone rejoiced and the Holy relic if John Paul’s blood was processed out and people had opportunity to pray with the relic.  Saint John Paul II was with us both in spirit and body during this special event in Washington, DC, where he designated the place for his own shrine to be during his lifetime.  It is interesting that he did not choose Italy or Poland, but chose Washington, DC since he knew it was a place that welcomes all peoples around the world. You and your parish should make a pilgrimage to Washington, DC to see this inspiring shrine, which now also includes the nearby Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land & The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Catholic Celebrate the Canonizations from the Saint John Paul II National Shrine (Catholic News Service)

Saint John XXIII (1881-1963)

I made a short video to highlight the history and great contributions that the “Good Pope” gave to our faith.

Fr. James Martin, S.J. also shared the joy and humor and humility of Saint John XXIII.  Fr. Martin also wrote an excellent article in The Washington Post called Do we still need saints?

Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)

Rome Reports offered a good short history of John Paul “The Great” who many called for his sainthood during his funeral in 2005.

Chris Stefanick walked the grounds near Denver’s World Youth Day and spoke about the powerful influences on youth Pope John Paul II made with so many.

Catholic New Media Coverage of the Canonizations

This was really the first canonization of a modern saint that had such modern media coverage with radio, tv, internet, and social media, that brought many more stories to light that was not true of any similar canonization before.  It was also historic having two current popes in attendance who are canonizing two saint popes.  Below are some of the best stories and media that I was able to see during this event that offer some unique insights and behind the scenes that you may not have seen just watching or hearing from one media source.

Behind the Scenes in Rome

It was fun to follow and number of great priests who were helping to tell the stories of the saints and what was happening in Rome.

Fr. Robert Barron was reporting for NBC News, but also was made five behind the scenes videos that are worth watching:

The Church’s One Purpose (Word From Rome #1) — more in link below.

Fr. Roderick VonHogen was reporting for SQPN and produced 18 videos (more in link below) showing how it was to be a pilgrim from the crowd perpective at the events in Rome.  Fr. Roderick is a wonderful priest who started podcasting at the funeral of Pope John Paul II, and has grown a network of the best Catholic podcasters through work of many around the world and help from the Holy Spirit.  Here he is visiting the tombs of both John XXIII and JPII.

Fr. Leo Patalinghug was reporting for Grace Before Meals, and cooked up a meal in honor of what the two saints would like to eat.  Fr. Leo is an inspiring priest, chef, and media personality who helps preach his message of faith, food, and family.

Pilgrims, priests, sisters, and kids in Rome dancing to Pharrell Williams Happy:

Students from John Paul the Great Catholic University read the inspirational Letter to Artists by Saint John Paul II


Saint fans having fun with Social Media

Here is an entertaining cartoon regarding the two new saints by Jason Bach:

JasonBach 2

Here is a fun photo showing the Fab Four Popes walking a Roman Road to the Abbey:



Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Dies Domini

To end Divine Mercy Sunday, I attended an event hosted by the Institute of Catholic Culture at St. Veronica’s in Chantilly, Virginia.  The speaker was my cousin, Monsignor Charles Pope, who offered a very insightful and heart-felt speech about this important papal document from Pope John Paul II.  I urge you to please view this video, and the speech starts at the 11:30 mark

Monsignor Charles Pope talking at the Insitute of Catholic Culture

Monsignor Charles Pope talking at the Insitute of Catholic Culture

Video of Monsignor Charles Pope for the Institute of Catholic Culture



Saint John Paul II National Shrine

Divine Mercy (Marians of the Immaculate Conception)

Institute of Catholic Culture

Fr. Robert Barron’s Word From Rome

Fr. Roderick Vonhogen – The Catholic Insider

Many More Links in the “Popefest” edition of  John Clem’s Sweet Tweets


Sign for Saint John Paul II National Shrine

Sign for Saint John Paul II National Shrine



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Archbishop Charles Chaput visits UVA


Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap., D.D.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap., D.D.

We were very honored to have a visit in Charlottesville from Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., on February 18th, as a speaker at the St. Anshelm Institute for Catholic Thought at the University of Virginia.  Archbishop Chaput gave a very good talk entitled City Upon a Hill:  Augustine, John Winthrop and the soul of the American Experiment Today.  Archbishop Chaput has been a great advocate for American Catholics to know their role in being faithful citizens, and it is part of everyone’s call to holiness to be involved in making a free and just society.

Archbishop Chaput speaking at The University of Virginia's St. Anshelm Insitute of Catholic Thiught

Archbishop Chaput speaking at The University of Virginia’s St. Anshelm Insitute of Catholic Thought

Archbishop Chaput is a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe, and was the second Native American to be ordained bishop in the United States, and the first Native American archbishop. He chose as his episcopal motto: “As Christ Loved the Church” (Ephesians 5:25)  Archbishop Chaput has served as a bishop of South Dakota and worked in the church for Native American issues, and spoke about Indian Spirtuality and its good and bad points, and why many Native American’s are drawn to the love of Jesus Christ.  Archbishop Chaput has also served as bishop of Denver, and presently in Philadelphia.  I find it most interesting that he as a Franciscan Capuchin, and his fellow bishop (Cardinal Sean O’Malley) were both called to “rebuild the church” in two of the most challenging dioceses in America (Philadelphia & Boston) that were affected by scandal and corruption.  I am extememly proud of my fellow Franciscan bishops, and that Pope Francis, in choosing his name, to take on this task of renewing our beautiful Catholic Faith in the spirit of St. Francis “to rebuild God’s house.”

Archbishop Chaput was just two weeks earlier called by Pope Francis to join the new Pontifical Council on the Laity.  Archbishop Chaput spoke in his talk of the great importance of the laity to help with the church in evangelization, prayer, support, and active participation amongst everyone, including those in the secular world.  Archbishop Chaput said he does not know yet what he will be doing on this new council, but looks forward to the challenges ahead.  I was pleased to meet him after his talk, and wished him well and said that he will be in my prayers.

I encourage you to view his entire talk, because I can’t do it justice in my writing, and the Q&A afterward in link below.


Video of Archbishop Chaput’s Talk

St. Anshelm Institute for Catholic Thought at UVA

Archbishop Chaput’s website at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Pontifical Council for the Laity (Vatican)

Previous Blog about Archbishop Chaput at the Fortnight for Freedom Mass in DC

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Cold Hard Truth — March for Life 2014

It was a cold five degrees today in Washington, D.C. for the 41st Annual March for Life, but that did not dampen the enthusiam for tens of thousands of people from across America advocating for the dignity of life from conception to natural death in this country.  I was very moved at the fortitude of so many people coming out in harsh weather conditions to fight for a noble cause in saving innocent life.  Life that is under constant threat regarding abortion, aging, healthcare, and developemental disability rights.  It is sad to report that the count is now up to 55 million babies murdered since the passage of Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973.

Many arriving at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for prayers and Masses.

Many arriving during snow storm at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for prayers and Masses.

The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

There were thousands of people who came to visit the National Shrine on Tuesday for many activities including, Eucharistic Adoration, Mass, and Confessions, and Prayer Vigil for Life that filled the many chapels and the Basilica with faithful from around the nation.  It was so upilifitng to see the youth of today practicing their faith so devoutly.

Pilgrims arriving to pray at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel

Pilgrims arriving to pray at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel

Blessed John Paul II Shrine

I then went to visit the Blessed John Paul II Shrine which is just a few blocks away from the National Shrine.  I was blessed to attend a Mass at the Shrine and the chaplain invited attendees to  venerate a new relic that was a piece of the vestment that Pope John Paul II wore when he was shot.  It was a moving experience for many, and especially this year when he will be officially canonized on April 27th (Divine Mercy Sunday) along with Pope John XXIII.  During our Mass there was a lot of construction noise as the Knights of Columbus are busily getting the Shrine ready for events in April.  There will be many events announced soon for the canonization including a Masses at the National Shrine and a procession of the Holy Eucharist up the road to the “Saint John Paul II Shrine.”  There will be a new 400 seat chapel unveiled for the canonization that includes a new sacristy and confessionals where the sacrament of reconciliation will be offered every day.  They are also remaking a 14,ooo square foot area in the basement featuring interactive displays on the life and teachings of Saint John Paul II, but unfortunately will not be ready until July.

Veneration of a new Blessed John Paul II relic (his vestment when he was shot).

Veneration of a new Blessed John Paul II relic (his vestment when he was shot).

March for Life 2014

I arrived early at 10am on the National Mall and was one of the first to see all the crews setting up the sound system.  I was really psyched to meet Matt Maher as he arrived for his sound check in fridged tempertures to play an accoustic guitar.  I have included a link to his last music album below from SoundCloud – definately worth a listen.

Matt Maher warming up for March for Life performance

Matt Maher warming up for March for Life performance

I was also priviledged to meet Gus Lloyd and Fr. Jonathan Morris from The Catholic Channel on XM/Sirius Satellite Radio.  Great to see them in action providing wonderful Catholic radio programming accross the nation.  I also met Teresa Tomeo, from EWTN, and seeing their camera teams in action offering live TV coverage interviewing many eager participants in the march.

Gus Lloyd braodcasting for XM/Sirius Satellite Radio

Gus Lloyd braodcasting for XM/Sirius Satellite Radio

Catholic New Media

The March for Life became more involved with using social media including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  The March for Life also unveiled a new logo for 2014.  There were also two new Apps that became good resources for the March for Life this year.

  • The March for Life App offered a list of events, maps, ticket links, news, video, take action, and education resources.
  • Nine Days for Life App offering a nine day novena from January 18-26.  It offered prayers, meditation, and suggested exercises of faith.  I also like that it offered the time of day you could select to get a reminder text sent to you from the USCCB.

New Ways in Saving Lives

Save The Storks Bus

Save The Storks Bus

Save the Storks is a new program offering mobile vans that offer loving support to women thinking about abortions.  The vans are equipped with a screen to watch supportive pro-life videos, and offer 3-D sonograms of their babies.  Pregnancy resource centers are able to park these units outside abortion clinics to show Christ’s love and compassion to help women in making a lifesaving decision.  Save the Storks is looking to grow this program to more communities, and has made a wonderful start in serving the Archdiocese of Boston over the past three years.

Interior of Save the Storks van.

Interior of Save the Storks van.

Lifeboat Coffee is a new coffee company that offers gourmet coffee in both ground and whole-bean.  All the proceeeds from the sale of these coffees go to help for the cause of the pro-life movenent.  You can find out more about their wonderful story and how to get their coffee at the link below.







Bagpiper playing Hail Holy Queen

Bagpiper playing Hail Holy Queen

The Supreme Court

Monsignor Charles Pope in front of the Supreme Court

Monsignor Charles Pope in front of the Supreme Court

The crowds from many walks of life marched up Capitol Hill to the Supreme Court.  When I arrived with the other photographers before the crowd turned the corner, I was pleased to see my cousin, Monsignor Charles Pope there praying the rosary.  He is a wonderful priest for the Diocese of Washington, and is the main writer for the diocesan blog which now has many readers.  He recently rededicated the Ten Commandments monument which is just behind the Supreme Court which had been vandelized.  I continue to pray for the end of legalized abortions and the protection of innocent life in our country and thankful for so many people who came out for the 2014 March for Life — God Bless you all.

The Ten Commandments Monument

The Ten Commandments Monument

God’s Grace

I did have one other casualty on the March for Life — my iPhone battery.  It was so cold that it drained much quicker than anticipated.  I think the Holy Spirit intervened– while visiting a Starbucks, some very kind young people from Florida who were here for the March for Life, let me borrow their charger, which was a life-saver (God Bless you again).

Angels from Florida

Angels from Florida


March for Life

National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Blessed John Paul II Shrine

Matt Maher on SoundCloud

March for Life App (iTunes)

March for Life App (Google Play)

9 Days for Life Website

9 Days for Life App (iTunes)

9Days for Life App (Google Play)

Save the Storks

Lifeboat Coffee

Crowds Marching up Capitol Hill

Crowds Marching up Capitol Hill


March for Life 2014 up Capitol Hill

March for Life 2014 up Capitol Hill


A person's a person no matter how small (Dr. Suess)

A person’s a person no matter how small (Dr. Suess)

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Catholic App Roundup for 2013

Catholic Apps


There were a number of new and updated Catholic Apps that were released this year that you may find useful to add to your mobile device:

In case you missed it, here is the Catholic App Roundup for 2012

Coming in 2014:

God Bless,



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WWJD = What Would Jesus Drive


2014 Pagani Huayra

2014 Pagani Huayra

I am a big fan of automobiles, and have always kept up with the latest innovations in the auto industry.  I have always wanted to drive an exotic supercar, but am content to motor around town in my 2005 Honda CRV.  Pope Francis has certainly been frugal with his mode of chosen transportation with a Ford Focus over the Mercedes-Benz Popemobile. Pope Francis recently wrote in the opening of his Apostolic exhortation The Joy of The Gospel:

1. The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness.

2. The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.

The Catholic Church is NOT against the wealthy, we all need wealthy citizens to help in making a robust economy for a nation, as well the need to be generous in giving in charity.  I think that Pope Francis is saying that the disparity of the wealthy and the middle/poor class has gotten to be too great.  Does a wealthy person really need a home of 50,000 square feet, or a $1,400,000 automobile?  Could they buy something of fine quality and perhaps still have money left to give to charity or invest in jobs?

Here is a suggestion for the wealthy to live closer to living the Gospel Life that Pope Francis suggests.  Following is a video of one of the most expensive and exotic sports cars with a $1,400,000 price tag called the 2014 Pagani Huayra.   I admit that after viewing the video about this incredible hyper car, it creates a desire to own and drive one, BUT this is the type of excess that Pope Francis is preaching against.  This car will be owned by very few people, and employs very few people in its production and maintenance.

Now here is a video of the new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Z-51 with a $70,000 price tag,  which is still an incredible car with a much more reasonable price.

Could there be a happy medium for the wealthy that still allows for enjoyment of toys travel, and technology, and also helps the middle-class and poor?  Here is a suggestion to the wealthy in living the Gospel Life, that will bring driving joy, as well as a joy in life of giving to the needy:

  • Buy a 2014 Corvette Z-51 at $70,000 and help build a more just society with the savings.
  • Suggested donations & investments of $1,330,000 to charities and industries that help the poor and middle-class from remaining savings from buying a Pagani:
  1. Invest $1,000,000 in salaries for new or existing employees (helps economy & employment)
  2. Donate $200,000 to Catholic Charities (helping feed, shelter, and clothe many of the poor and homeless in many areas of the world including Haiti, Syria, Sudan, and Afghanistan)
  3. Donate $130,000 to St. Jude Children’s Hospital (helping pay for children who can’t afford needed healthcare)

This Christmas reminds me of a quote from Henry Ford who invented the mass production process for automobiles with the Model-T and believed in paying good wages, so his employees could afford to buy the products he manufactured.  Henry Ford sent the following Christmas message in 1923:

“Christmas stands for the human factor which makes life tolerable midst the hurry of commerce and production.  All of us need the annealing effect of Christ’s example to relieve the hardening we get in the daily struggle for material success.”

Henry Ford

Pope Francis has certainly been an inspiration with his choice of vehicles and purchased a Renault 4 that runs in bio-diesel, and requested that priests purchase modest cars for their use.

Pope Francis' Renualt 4

Pope Francis’ Renualt 4

My own pastor recently need a replacement for his car, and purchased a Toyota Prius which is economical and environmentally friendly.  Apparently an artist agreed with this choice and made this mock-up ad for Toyota:

What Would Jesus Dive by Chris Dalton

What Would Jesus Dive by Chris Dalton

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  May we all help to build a more just society in 2014 and the years to come.

God Bless,


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Angels in My Hair


Lorna Byrne

Lorna Byrne

Have you started to read a really good book, and not wanted to put it down.  Well, this is one of those books that is addictive to read, and kept me up later than usual on recent nights.  Angels in My Hair (2008) by Lorna Byrne tells the amazing story of a woman who has the gift of being able to see angels and people’s souls.  Lorna grew up in Ireland in poor circumstances, but ended up living a very rich spiritual and joyful life because of her gifts.  She is now sharing these gifts with the world in her books, talks, and spiritual direction with those in most need.

Early in her life, she was diagnosed by health and school officials as being mentally retarded.  In actuality, she was distracted by the many angels engaging her that led to this misdiagnosis.  She talks about the trauma this brought to her childhood, as she was an outcast by those in the school, the community, and even her own family.  I truly understand her pain with this issue, after being a social worker with adults with developmental disabilities, I would regularly witness the ridicule that these people face on a daily basis.  Despite the ridicule, Lorna got incredible support from her angels, and they told her to not tell anyone about her gifts.  It was not until the writing of her first book in 2008 that the angels permitted her to tell this amazing story.  I know to, from working in mental health, that the angels gave her incredible advice, knowing that sharing her gift at the wrong moment would risk her being institutionalized in a mental health facility.

I will tell you that I was a bit skeptical about first reading about her gifts, but after reading her book, and seeing her videos, that it is hard to believe she is making up all these incredible stories.  She comes across with such warmth, sincerity, and deep understanding of spirituality that it is hard not to come away an unbeliever in angels.  I know too that The Vatican could never officially endorse an Irish mystic who says she sees angels (but I would not be surprised if Pope Francis himself secretly would endorse Lorna’s gifts).

Lorna had a near death experience and went for a brief time to Heaven.  She learned of the incredible love she experienced in Heaven and did not want to return, but realized that it was not her time, and God had further plans for her on Earth.  I think God’s plan ultimately was to share these incredible gifts with others through her writings, prayers, and mass media as she now shares on Facebook many of her works of faith.  It is funny that this was how I found Lorna, as I had shared a link about angels, and she wrote me a thank you note in Facebook which led me to buying her “International Bestseller” now printed in 21 languages.

Lorna recently came to America and spoke in New York and in Philadelphia to enthusiastic crowds about her experiences.  These talk were also with two other people who also had near death experiences and feeling the love of Heaven.  One of them is Dr. Eben Alexander, a University of Virginia Hospital neurologist who previously worked with coma patients who shared their experience of going to Heaven and he blew-it off as neurosis in these patients.  Then one day Dr. Alexander was afflicted by a rare brain illness putting him in a coma for seven days.  Now, Dr. Alexander is a believer and has penned a best-seller called Proof of Heaven: a neurosurgeons journey into the afterlife.  God must have a sense of brilliant humor in showing people from all walks of life the love in Heaven, and bringing them home on a new mission.

Lorna Byrne & Dr. Eben Alexander

Lorna Byrne & Dr. Eben Alexander










Lorna says that everyone, no matter your religion, race, or unbelief, you have a guardian angel.  Lorna is very lucky to have this amazing gift of seeing angels and souls all the time.  Sometimes it is a burden, but she has been amazing in sharing her gifts with the world.  Lorna is lucky to regularly talk with Michael the Archangel, and he told her that “God hears all your prayers.”  Michael instructed her to write down and share this prayer given by God to her:

Prayer of Thy Healing Angels,

That is carried from God by Michael, Thy Archangel.

Pour out, Thy Healing Angels,

Thy Heavenly Host upon me,

And upon those that I love,

Let me feel the beam of Thy

Healing Angels upon me,

The light of Your Healing Hands.

I will let Thy Healing begin,

Whatever way God grants it,


I really encourage you to read Angels in My Hair, The True Story of a Modern-Day Irish Mystic, by Lorna Byrne (2008, Three Rivers Press).  Lorna has added two additional chapters to the most recent printing:  Afterword: America The Gateway to Humanity’s Future and Twelve Ways to Connect with Your Guardian Angel.  Lorna has also just published another book going on my wish list entitled A Message of Hope from The Angels (2013).  You can check out more about Lorna’s work with the links below.

I would like to recommend an upcoming movie called Heaven is for Real (2014).  Greg Kinnear stars in this true story about a man with a young son who has a near death experience who talks about his experiences in Heaven.  Coming to theaters April 16, 2014.  Check out the official trailer below:


Lorna Byrne’s Website  (plus newsletter, her prayer wall, Facebook & Twitter links)

Lorna Byrne’s Official YouTube Channel

Dr. Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven, a neurosurgeon’s journey into the afterlife (Amazon)


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Greater Good Technology – NEW ministry

Greater Good TechnologyGreater Good Technology is a new ministry developed by Catholic Web Services to help give disadvantaged people access & training in technology.  We have developed a successful pilot program here in our hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia.  Greater Good Technology’s program aims to help homeless people, by giving them a fair seat at the table to search for a job.

 Empowering those transitioning from homelessness

Today’s society requires modern communications to be on a level field for employment.  We train a Lead Training Mentor that targets 12 other men and women transitioning from homelessness to train.  The lead trainer receives a Google Chromebook with which to train his trainees and receives payment for each trainee they graduate that is verified by our online training system at Catholic Web Services.   Each trainee receives a Google gmail account, Google Voice number for email, begins to create a resume, and receives training on how to make calls online.

Successful Pilot

Catholic Web Services is successfully working with Howard, our first Lead Training Mentor, in the Charlottesville pilot program.  Our Director of Technology, Carl Stacy became friends with Howard through a local mentoring program. Howard wanted a way to give back to the community, the same community that had provided him assistance in his time of need, and was very enthusiastic about sharing his new technology skills with others to help them find employment.

We were thankful for an initial grant from the Lions Club, but need your help to grow this deserving ministry.  Please contact us if you are interested in bringing Greater Good Technology to your community.


Charlottesville’s Support Network for Homelessness

One of the reason’s this program works well is because it adds to a great support system of people and agencies who provide a network of services helping the homeless gain independence, housing, and employment.   Charlottesville’s system of supports has grown over the years and is getting better through the cooperation of our great provider groups: PACEM, The Haven, Lion’s Club, The Salvation Army, and county and city social services.


PACEM is a grassroots organization that coordinates space and volunteers to provide shelter for individuals in our community who are homeless.  Charlottesville currently has no permanent shelter for the homeless, so the religious community united to help in the cause of sheltering the homeless during the cold months of the season.

More than sixty congregations in the Charlottesville area take turns opening their doors – setting up cots, serving warm evening meals, and providing companionship. Through PACEM, congregations of many faiths and community groups come together to address the need for shelter in our community.  The name, PACEM, is an acronym for (People And Congregations Engaged in Ministry). Pacem is also a Latin word meaning peace.


Director Tom Shadyac visiting his friends at The Haven

Director Tom Shadyac visiting his friends at The Haven

The Haven is a safe and welcoming place for the homeless and very poor of Central Virginia to be during the day. Opened for business on January 18, 2010, The Haven provides this community with a central place to receive vital services and get connected to social service providers.  The Haven came into being through the generosity of UVA alumni & Movie Director Tom Shadyack.  Tom came back to Charlottesville in 2006 to film the movie Evan Almighty, a hit comedy retelling of the Noah’s Ark story, and he gave proceeds of the film to buy an old city church to make it a “haven” for the poor and homeless.

The Haven provides meals, short-term storage, showers, laundry facilities, computer access, living room, community garden and referrals to on-site service providers offering substance abuse assessment, mental health peer support, financial literacy and counseling, legal assistance, public housing applications, resume development and job search coaching, health advocacy and navigation, social services such as food stamp screening.  It has been a wonderful asset to bring all the services under one roof, and Greater Good Technology is working to help with technology training to give these men and women an opportunity at a better life.


We would like to continue this program and grow it to other communities, but we need your support.  Your help with financial support, and through prayers are very much appreciated.   We are seeing a great need to help the homeless and your support in any way helps us to keep our ministry going.  We are looking for people who could donate any size donations which are very much appreciated.  We are fundraising now through Christmas with an indiegogo crowd-source funding campaign.  You can contact Catholic Web Services Director, John Clem, if you have any questions:

John Clem, Director of Catholic Web Services

Office (434) 202-4297


Please click here for secure donation to Catholic Web Services using Indiegogo Campaign & PayPal to support Greater Good Technology ministry

indiegogo for Greater Good Technology


Greater Good Technology (Catholic Web Services)

PACEM (People And Congregations Engaged in Ministry)

The Haven

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