Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to All

Just wanted to wish anyone that drops by here a Merry Christmas!

I went to our children's Christmas event back on the 16th. The event itself was great but there were a couple people in the pew behind me discussing how great it would be to wake up tomorrow and have it be December 26th! It reminded me of that movie "Skipping Christmas". It also made me very grateful to be looking forward to Christmas this year and celebrating the birth of our Savior.

May all of you find peace and joy in knowing that, indeed, our Savior has been born!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Inexhaustible Cup

I took a few minutes this afternoon to run through a couple of the blogs that I frequent (see the list/links at bottom left). Since today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception many are posting article about Our Mother (Jesus' words, not mine! cf John 19:26-27). Over at "The Way of Our Fathers", Mike Aquilina had posted short piece entitled "Immaculate" to which a poster made a comment, "I’m sure you will find the 'Akathist to the Theotokos' of value, as well.

I tried to use the link but it was a dead-end so I started poking around at and found the right link. Give it a read, I think you'll enjoy it, too.

Then I did a Google search on "Akathist to the Theotokos" to see what else I could learn. I am not real familiar with the icons of the Orthodox Church though I find them beautiful. Our pastor had a beautiful one painted for our parish Church. So I started looking at the Google "hits" and found the beautiful icon above, Theotocos The Inexhaustible Cup. There is a wonderful story of recovery from "drunkenness" associated with the icon you can read here. The link also has the "Akathist", or hymn, associated with the icon which I think you will find equally beautiful.

I have been collecting religious items to eventually adorn the quiet room I intend to construct in my home and this icon will definitely be a part of it. Gotta run over to eBay now and find it!

Monday, December 7, 2009

True Freedom

Have you ever had one of those periods where a particular theme seems to be hammering away at you? I had that happen over the weekend and the theme was Freedom!

A couple of very close recovery friends and I travelled on Saturday to York, PA where we attended the monthly Calix Mass for the York group. We were blessed to have Bishop Kevin Rhoades, formerly of the Harrisburg Diocese and now with the Ft. Wayne/South Bend diocese of Indiana, as our celebrant.

During the two hour car ride the topic of freedom came up. Not the kind of freedom where a person is able "to do their own thing". Rather, the freedom to do what is right! Sobriety and Jesus Christ do exactly that. They give us the freedom to do the next right thing. Though we have the freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want, addictions take away that freedom. When we are able to find the 12 Steps and a spirituality that works, we now have the freedom to do what God intended for us to do from the beginning of time! We must exercise that freedom wisely, praying always "for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out".

As the conversation wrapped up in the car I played a couple songs from Darrell Evan's greatest hits CD, one of which was Freedom! You can give a listen here and the lyrics are short enough that I will post them:

Where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom
Where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom
There is peace there is love there is joy
It is for freedom you’ve set us free
It is for freedom you’ve set us free

I’m free, I’m free

We will walk in your freedom walk in your liberty
We will walk in your freedom walk in your liberty
We will dance in your freedom dance in your liberty
We will dance in your freedom dance in your liberty

Then we get to St. Patrick's in York to celebrate Mass. The Opening Prayer during the liturgy was:

"God our Father,
you loved the world so much
you gave your only Son to free us
from the ancient power of sin and death.
Help us who wait for his coming
and lead us to true liberty.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. AMEN!"

During Bishop Rhoades' wonderful homily he emphasized the freedom Jesus wants us to have. This freedom is not only gotten through the 12 Steps but, even more importantly, through the sacraments of the Catholic faith, primarily confession and the Eucharist.

I owe a debt of thanks to both the York group and Bishop Rhoades for driving home this theme for me this weekend. My prayer is that you will find His freedom, too!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

iPhones.....Benefits for Catholics!

At a conference over the summer I dropped my cellphone (AT&T Tilt) and the LCD screen broke. I replaced the screen on my own but the keyboard still had issues and there were some other minor issues. I was soon due for an upgrade so I started researching phones again. I really liked my Tilt but was hearing great things about the iPhone. After about a week I took the plunge for the iPhone and am really glad I did.

I can't say that I chose it because of the great applications (apps) because my original necessities were access to my email accounts and GPS software. I had that down the first day I had the phone. It's the apps that I've found since then that really make the phone a useful tool. Here's some of them:

Divine Office - visit for information about this great app. For $9.99 you get the Liturgy of the Hours daily. This is great for the car and now I can pray Morning prayer on my way to work and Evening Prayer on my way home. I use either a bluetooth headset or a cassette adapter to play it through the car stereo. I intend to get this bluetooth device that will both serve as handsfree phone in the car as well as play the iPhone apps through the car stereo.

Mass Times - visit or do a search for "Mass Times" and you'll find a free app called "Catholic Mass Times". It is a free app. It uses the built-in GPS to locate you and then finds the nearest churches for you. Click on the churches and you get addresses and times for Masses, Confession, Adoration, etc. Also, there are buttons at the bottom of the screen, one of which links you to the Saint of the Day and Mass Readings for that day.

3 Minute Retreat - visit or do a search in the App Store. For $0.99 you get a nice little application that gives you a mini-retreat everyday. Having a tough day at the office? Pull out your iPhone and for 3 minutes you can retreat from work and focus on what's really important.

RC Calendar - in the app store do a search for "catholic calendar" and you'll see a free app from Universalis called Catholic Calendar. This will provide the Liturgical Calendar from 1970 to 2300! Select a day and it will provide a short read about the Saint of the Day along with the Mass readings. Unfortunately they do not provide the text of the Psalm.

iConfess - a nice little app for $1.99 that is a great help when doing an Examination of Conscience in preparation for Confession. You can keep notes and then use them when you go to Confession. Also has the prayers and everything you need to make a good Confession. Have to admit, when I first came across it that maybe they actually had an app that let you go to Confession via the phone :-)

So those are the five I have so far. There are many, many others for prayers, the rosary, bibles, thoughts for the day, etc. But these 5, and especially the first three are great helps to my spiritual life

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI - "Will you also go away?"

At the Sunday Angelus on August 23 Pope Benedict XVI gave the following talk on the 6th chapter of John's gospel. What I ran through my mind after reading it is that the question Jesus asks, "Will you also go away?", can be a question we ask ourselves all the time. When faced with difficult issues and questions in our own minds we can use Jesus question to remind us to use our informed conscience when developing our answers.

Here is the text of his talk:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
You see my hand, it is free of the plaster cast but it is still a bit lazy: I shall have to remain for a while at the school of patience, but we are making progress!

You know that for several Sundays the Liturgy has proposed for our reflection Chapter Six of John's Gospel, in which Jesus presents himself as the "Bread of life... which came down from Heaven", and, he adds: "if anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever: and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh" (Jn 6: 51). To the Jews who were arguing heatedly among themselves, questioning: "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (v. 52) and the world still debates it Jesus replies in every age: "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (v. 53). We too should reflect on whether we have really understood this message. Today, the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, let us meditate on the last part of this chapter in which the Fourth Evangelist mentions the reaction of the people and of the disciples themselves. They were shocked by the Lord's words to the point that having followed him until then they exclaimed: "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" (v. 60). After this, "many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him" (v. 66) and the same thing has happened over and over again in various periods of history. One might expect Jesus to seek compromises to make himself better understood, but he does not mitigate what he says. On the contrary, he turns directly to the Twelve and asks them: "Will you also go away?" (v. 67).

This provocative question is not only addressed to listeners in his time, but also reaches the believers and people of every epoch. Today too, many are "shocked" by the paradox of the Christian faith. Jesus' teaching seems "hard", too difficult to accept and to put into practice. Then there are those who reject it and abandon Christ; there are those who seek to "adapt his" word to the fashions of the times, misrepresenting its meaning and value. "Will you also go away?" This disturbing provocation resounds in our hearts and expects a personal answer from each one; it is a question addressed to each one of us. Jesus is not content with superficial and formal belonging, a first and enthusiastic adherence is not enough for him; on the contrary, what is necessary is to take part for one's whole life "in his thinking and in his willing". Following him fills our hearts with joy and gives full meaning to our existence, but it entails difficulties and sacrifices because very often we must swim against the tide.

"Will you also go away?". Peter answers Jesus' question on the Apostles' behalf, and in the name of believers of every century: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (vv. 68-69).

Dear Brothers and Sisters, at this moment we too can and want to repeat Peter's answer, aware of course of our human frailty, of our problems and difficulties, but trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit which is expressed and manifested in communion with Jesus. Faith is a gift of God to man and at the same time man's free and total entrustment to God; faith is docile listening to the word of the Lord who is the "lamp" for our feet and a "light" for our path (cf. Ps 119[118]: 105). If we open our hearts to Christ with trust, if we let ourselves be won over by him, we can also experience, like, for example, the holy Curé d'Ars, that "our only happiness on this earth is to love God and to know that he loves us". Let us ask the Virgin Mary always to keep awake within us this faith imbued with love, which made her, a humble girl of Nazareth, the Mother of God and Mother and model of all believers.

God Bless!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cardinal Justin Rigali Addresses Addiciton in New Book

I recently learned that Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, has written book entitled “Let the Oppressed Go Free - Breaking the Bonds of Addiction.” An August 6 article in the Catholic Standard & Times (Philadelphia's weekly Catholic newspaper) describes the book, its background and a possible "conference based upon the book and its topic of addictions through the lens of Catholic teaching, most likely to be held in Spring 2010 in the Philadelphia Archdiocese."

I am trying to get an update on the planning for the conference and hope to get the word out about the Calix Society and the success we are having in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Stay tuned for more information........

UPDATE: I actually found a copy of the book in the local religious store today (8/28). I'll be reading and posting a review in the next few days!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Have you ever had a theme seem to constantly come up over time?

Awhile back I had a friend call me out of the blue asking me if the alcoholic has a choice when it comes to the first drink.

The book "Alcoholics Anonymous", on page 24, states, "The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink". After much thought I came to the conclusion that the power lost is not so much in the "choice" but our ability to see more than once choice. As drinking alcoholics we have few choices when it comes to the drink, if we even have more than one. When things are going good we celebrate with a drink. When things are not going so good we drink for relief. When we are numb, we drink. We decide to drink because either the drink is the only choice or the choice we believe that will work for us in any given situation.

By putting down the drink and working the 12 steps of AA one of the first gifts we get is more choices. The first choice I added was ice cream! Seriously, though, I found I immediately learned there were other choices besides alcohol. As a result I began to make better decisions and better decisions helped me to not desire the drink.

Since then I have come to learn that life is nothing more than a series of decisions. I decide whether or not to get out of bed in the morning; whether or not to go to work; whether or not to go to Church; whether or not to eat and, more importantly, whether or not to eat healthy; and, greatest of all, whether or not I will take that first drink. All of these decisions determine whether or not I become happy, joyous and free! So sobriety isn't a decision, sobriety is what gives me more choices when making a decision.

Which leads to the reason for "blogging" this topic. Today's readings at Mass (Joshua and John) speak directly to choices and decisions. In today's first reading, Joshua makes the Israelites make a decision as to which god(s) they will follow and offers them a couple choices: "the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling" or the Lord. They choose the Lord.

In John's gospel we continued the Bread of Life discourse. After Jesus tells them that (v53) "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you". Now his apostles and disciples must decide whether or not they will continue to follow Jesus. In the New American Bible v66 reads "As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him". In addition, in v64 it states that "For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him". Many made the decision to no longer follow Jesus; and verse 64 may even imply that Judas made his decision to betray Jesus because he could not understand Jesus teaching.

As Catholics this is a very important lesson for us on the Eucharist. If the host/bread we receive in Church is only a symbol why didn't Jesus call out to all those that left him immediately following this sermon and tell them so? He knew they would not understand it and nothing he said would convince them that we needed to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Fortunately, the apostles, less Judas, did believe, Jesus celebrated the Last Supper, and in the Catholic Church we now have the Eucharist available every single day!

So take a few moments and think about how many decisions you made today and what the choices were when you made them. Were there choices available that you were not aware of? What did you base your decisions on? Were you happy with all of your decisions? Did you learn from any of them.

For me - I am starting to look at all the decisions that are automatic and determine what the other choices are. In doing so I can change my life in little ways, hopefully for the better!

God Bless!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Renewal and Recovery: Archbishop Charles Chaput's Address to the National Catholic Bible Conference

Was catching up with the latest news out of Rome via the Zenit website and came across a keynote address given by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver to the National Catholic Bible Conference which was being held in his archdiocese. You can find that address here.

As I read this I thought about the "debate" we had in my backyard on the 4th of July regarding nationalized healthcare and the "fireworks" that took place. (NOTE: I will not debate that here!). But people are talking about the evening news, newspapers, CNN, Fox News, etc. The point being that they make time to watch these talking heads and sometimes can't give an hour each week to our Lord, let alone crack open a Bible on a daily basis (including myself some days!).

I would encourage you to read the address, especially how it so aptly refers to renewal and recovery. And in particular, renewal of ourselves first before we worry about the rest of the world. Archbishop Chaput writes, "Yet, Scripture tells us that 'while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father' (2 Chron 34:3). Here's the first lesson that I want to highlight. To renew the Church and the world we need to begin with ourselves. It's tempting to see the moral problems of the wider culture and want to begin there, outside ourselves, focused on others. But all authentic reform begins within our own hearts."

I encourage you to read the address and please submit some comments!

God Bless! Ken

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

St. Ignatius Thought For The Day

In today's meditiation from "Take 5: On-the Job Meditiations with St. Ignatius". Ignatius points to Proverbs 13:4 and I took a quick look online ( has the New American Bible online) at this chapter and found it extremely relative to how we attempt to live in AA and our faith. Specifically phrases like "hang
with the winners", "do good, get good, do bad, get bad", etc. I'll
include the short chapter here for you to ponder:

A wise son loves correction, but the senseless one heeds no rebuke.
From the fruit of his words a man eats good things, but the treacherous one craves violence.
He who guards his mouth protects his life; to open wide one's lips brings downfall.
The soul of the sluggard craves in vain, but the diligent soul is amply satisfied.
Anything deceitful the just man hates, but the wicked brings shame and disgrace.
Virtue guards one who walks honestly, but the downfall of the wicked is sin.
One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
A man's riches serve as ransom for his life, but the poor man heeds no rebuke.
The light of the just shines gaily, but the lamp of the wicked goes out.
The stupid man sows discord by his insolence, but with those who take counsel is wisdom.
Wealth quickly gotten dwindles away, but amassed little by little, it grows.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a wish fulfilled is a tree of life.
He who despises the word must pay for it, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.
The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that a man may avoid the snares of death.
Good sense brings favor, but the way of the faithless is their ruin.
The shrewd man does everything with prudence, but the fool peddles folly.
A wicked messenger brings on disaster, but a trustworthy envoy is a healing remedy.
Poverty and shame befall the man who disregards correction, but he who heeds reproof is honored.
Lust indulged starves the soul, but fools hate to turn from evil.
Walk with wise men and you will become wise, but the companion of fools will fare badly.
Misfortune pursues sinners, but the just shall be recompensed with good.
The good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the just.
A lawsuit devours the tillage of the poor, but some men perish for lack of a law court.
He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him takes care to chastise him.
When the just man eats, his hunger is appeased; but the belly of the wicked suffers want.

God Bless! Ken

Monday, March 23, 2009

St. Igantius Thought for the Day

Always looking for information about St. Ignatius, I came across a book published in 1887, "A Thought From Saint Ignatius For Each Day Of The Year". It has a sentence or two from one of St. Ignatius' many writings that can be used as a "daily reflection". The book is out of print* but there are online versions that I have located:
Copy of actual book PDF Version Word Version

The reason I mention it today is that today's quote really struck me. It is from the Spiritual Exercises and says "I will carefully consider how, on the day of judgement, I would wish to have discharged my office or my duty; and the way that I would wish to have done it then, I shall do now."

I can't help but think how much different our world would be if this was the primary thought everyone had upon waking each day. I know on most days that I set out along these lines but often fall short - sometimes early, sometimes later - but most days I do fall short of this ideal.

If you are online daily I highly recommend bookmarking one of the the links above and using it as part of your daily "spiritual exercise".

* There is a current (2006) version of the book available from Fordham University Press on Amazon . I purchased this version but find the 1887 version much more to my liking