Finding New Worlds

We could detect oxygen in Proxima Centauri b's atmosphere. It's a biosignature, but not proof of life.

Some extrasolar planets are like Earth, almost. Many are unlike anything in the Solar System.

I'll be looking at recently-discovered worlds; some almost familiar, others wonderfully unexpected. Also an informal 'top 10 best exoplanets' list.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Modern life´s cracks that drain love from our hearts. ( Spanish) Las grietas de tu vida que dejan escapar el amor.


Jesus Desires To Heal Our Wounds With His Heart

Jesus desires to heal the world with His Most Sacred Heart. He desires to purify the wounds of our hearts with the flames of His Most Healing Heart. The wounds that cause us to sin, to harbor hatred, anger, and rage, the wounds that turn into depression and anxiety, the wounds that cause racism and prejudice, the wounds that demand revenge over mercy, and the wounds that develop into sins of jealousy, vanity and the most destructive sin of pride.

While Jesus desires to heal our wounds more than we could ever imagine, in His love for us, He will not force this healing upon us. He desires we come to Him freely, openly and without reserve. For it is then He can provide the greatest healing He so desires to give.

Shall we wait a second longer to receive this healing? Shall we deny our Savior what He desires so much? His Heart yearns to surround us with His love and compassion. Let us turn to Him, completely surrender ourselves to Him and never more depart from His Heart.

A Prayer to The He…

Christian Novel Free on Kindle

From October 12-16, my Christian novel Rain from Heaven will be free on Amazon Kindle.
About the story: What would you sacrifice to save the eternal soul of your enemy?

Dellan Whitcom has every reason to hate Eliat Rebysh, the man who has unleashed a deadly virus on the world. It has not only killed Dellan's parents and friends but threatens all of mankind. Rebysh also controls the only vaccine that can save everyone from certain death.

God chooses Dellan to destroy this nefarious evil, and the young man is delighted with the opportunity to exact revenge. But the more he strays from God's path of love, the more Dellan becomes like Rebysh, the object of his hatred. Before it is over, the life of the woman both men love hangs in the balance.

Only by making an extraordinary sacrifice will Dellan be able to destroy Rebysh's evil and free the world from a heinous plot that enslaves the entire population.

For ages 13 and …

Saint Pope John XXIII “Open the Windows” - A Man of Peace

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Pope John XXIII, who opened the Second Vatican Council, in 1962, by proclaiming, “open the windows and let in the fresh air.” His rationale for convening the Second Vatican Council was to usher in reform; refreshing the liturgy, and engaging the laity. Because of Saint Pope John XXIII’s vision, numerous church documents were promulgated. Yet, he did not live to see the finished products. His purpose was to plant the seed for change within the Church, and that he did well.

Saint Pope John XXIII’s Teaching
Saint Pope John the XXIII’s most popular encyclical was Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth). In this encyclical Saint Pope John XXIII lays out man’s relationship with God and with each other; discussing human, economic and political rights and duties. He called for collaboration amongst men, respect for life, equality, and dignity– true foundations of peace. Saint Pope John XXIII elaborated on applying efforts that promote the common good, and government’s…

Lessons from Las Vegas

We Americans are reeling from the unholy terror that was unleashed in Las Vegas. Our news is saturated with videos and details about the massacre. It will leave a deep scar in the memories of the families and friends who were directly affected by the attack as well as of people like me who grieve over the violence too often ruining our nation. Let’s pray for the victims: eternal peace for the dead, a speedy recovery for the injured, and comfort for those who loved them. Dare I say that we should also pray for the perpetrator, who for whatever reason committed this crime. Let’s also pray that God provides us with insight to find a solution to gun violence and heal our broken country. At times like this, it seems as though darkness is overcoming the light. When heinous acts of terror snuff out the lives of innocent people, we may struggle to hold onto our faith in the good God. We face the age-old mystery of the presence of evil in this world of ours that God created good.…

A Question of faith of Fear




Fuller House: A True Family Show?

I watched the original “Full House” quite a bit when I was little. My parents didn't let us watch just anything, but “Full House” seemed to be a no-brainer for them to allow. Cheesy, sure. But pretty darn clean.
And now we've got its sequel streaming on Netflix, with part 1 of season 3 having recently come out. Like its predecessor, “Fuller House” is rated G and touted as being a show the whole family can watch together. What a concept!
If it's true... Continue Reading

On Funeral Music

As November 2nd approaches, I have been preparing for my favorite liturgy of the year: the Solemn Requiem for All Souls. A big part of why I love it so much is because I get to sing what I will argue is the most powerful piece of liturgical music ever written, the Dies Irae. In addition to sounding positively heart-stopping, the lyrics are so solemn and convicting. Take this excerpt for example:
Then shall with universal dread/ the Book of Consciences be read/ to judge the lives of all the dead.
For now before the Judge severe/ all hidden things must plain appear/ no crime can pass unpunished here.
O King of dreadful majesty!/ grace and mercy You grant free;/ as Fount of Kindness, save me! It fills you with such a sense of dread and awe! You can't help but leave that Mass with an acute awareness of your own mortality and need for conversion and mercy.

Contrast that with the sentiment at most modern funerals. Its not unusual to leave feeling more like you attended a beatification …

Can You Claim Good Samaritan Status? Find Out...

In today’s Gospel reading from Luke 10:25-37, we hear the story of the Good Samaritan. When you read this story, what role do you see yourself in? Might you be the victim, who everyone seems to ignore? Or perhaps, you are the priest, who walked on the opposite side of the street to avoid the incident? Maybe you are the Levite, who looked the other way, so as to not acknowledge the pain and suffering of the victim. Or perhaps, you just might be the Good Samaritan. And let’s not forget about the innkeeper who acted as caregiver to the victim. Perhaps that’s where you fit in this story.

How many of us could claim “Good Samaritan” status?
I think that it is safe to say, that given the different circumstances of one’s life, we can find ourselves taking on each one of these roles, at different times. We’ve all been a victim of some degree of injustice at least once in our lives. There have been times when we... Read more...

Are you a self-made man who worships his maker?

Like most European Catholics I was born and brought up in the aftermath of the Renaissance influenced by a spirituality that owed as much to the rise of humanism as to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Naturally I thought that if I were to attain the perfection to which I aspired it would be primarily the result of my own efforts. I was in effect a Christian Stoic, a Pelagian who had failed so comprehensively to make myself into the saint of my dreams that I was about to give up the spiritual life for good. It was then that I came across Pax Animae written by a Spanish Franciscan John of Bonilla in 1588. It was a spiritual gem untouched by the spirit of the Renaissance. Reading it was the nearest I came to a Damascus road experience. It immediately enabled me to see that I had been misled into believing that I could be the architect of my own perfection. On the very first page the author made it clear that: With love you may bring your heart to do whatsoever you may please. The hardest thin…

Anxiety Optional

Today's second reading from Philippians 4 says to have "no anxiety at all," praise God, and "your requests known to God." Then we'll have the "peace of God...."

I think that's a good idea: but it's not the whole picture.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

I Like Atheists


The Twenty Mysteries of the Rosary

Madonna of the Rosary, Lorenzo Lotto [Web Gallery of Art]
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son ofJames. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers (Acts 1:12-14).
First Reading, Mass of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.
Still-Life with Symbols of the Virgin Mary, Dirck de Bray [Web Gallery of Art]
In October 2014 I published here a series of posts on the Rosary under the general title The Rosary with the Great Painters, each post featuring five mysteries. Here I give links to each of those posts.
Continue here.

Einstein's Waves: New Views

Einstein's theories gave scientists good reasons for thinking gravitational waves exist. A century later, instruments detected the elusive radiation.

Three American scientists won this year's Nobel Prize in Physics for work that led to the discovery.

Observatories in America and Italy have detected three more gravitational wave signals. What they learned wasn't quite what they expected....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

St Francis of Assisi - Part 10 - The Desire for Martyrdom

For the first three centuries after the death of Christ, martyrdom came to be seen as the perfection of the Christian life. Asceticism came to be seen as the preparation for it, so that a believer would be ready and prepared for what came to be called ‘the final sacrament of love’.  Martyrdom was for the early Christians the sign of the perfect disciple, the sign of perfect imitation and the sign of perfect identity with the Risen One. As his love for Brother Jesus grew and grew, St Francis wanted to express that love by embracing this unique ‘sacrament’.
Shortly after arriving in Rome in 1212 therefore, Francis sought permission to go on the Crusade to the Holy Land with John of Brienne, brother of Walter, who Francis had wanted to serve as a knight eight years before. The desire to become a knight was not dead in him, but now he wished to become a spiritual knight who would fight with the sword of the spirit to convert the Moslems to the faith.  continue reading ... 

'You are the heirs of a great testimony, a precious witness to Christ.' Sunday Reflections, 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Virgin of the Grapes, Pierre Mignard [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Matthew 21:33-43 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed.)

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get h…

Bearing Our Cross And The Generosity of Jesus

By Laura Durant

When Jesus heals us spiritually, mental and physical anguish no longer have power over us. We can then, without fear or reservation, without trepidation of pain or suffering, unite our mental and physical anguish and pain to that of Jesus on the cross for the salvation of all souls. For when Jesus heals us spiritually, we can both bask in the heavenly peace and joy of knowing we are one with Christ, and at the same time, experience the mental and physical pain from our earthly ailments. No longer in fear of our pain, we can freely give ourselves over to Jesus, and He then takes what could be very painful suffering, and carries the heaviest burden, lightens the load, and sometimes, in a great act of mercy and love, takes away the pain altogether. For we must remember, Our Lord is never outdone in generosity.

I know a very generous and holy soul for which the Lord granted this favor. She was prepared by her doctor for a procedure in which she was warned would be very pa…

Saint Francis of Assisi - A Man after God's Own Heart

Today we celebrate the feast day of one of my favorite saints – Saint Francis of Assisi. If anyone lived a Christ-like life it was Saint Francis. His goal in life was to live out the Gospel with these three passages in mind:

Jesus said to him, ‘if you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me’” (Matt 19:21).“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me’” (Matt 16:24).“He said to them, ‘Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, not food, nor money, nor let no one take a second tunic’” (Luke 9:3).
Saint Francis – A Man after God’s Own Heart
What do these three passages have in common? They each share a disregard for earthly comforts, wanting only God. Saint Francis of Assisi found joy in humility, strength in meekness, and freedom in his slavery to Christ. He gave... Read more...

Wanted: A Pure Mind

Why, God? Why the senseless tragedy? 
Help us, send us angels of protection!

In the wake of senseless violence (Vegas) and the death of a man who championed lust and using women (Hefner), I think what is needed in our culture today is a pure mind. And of course we need men and women of pure minds, who scorn lust and all of Satan's empty promises!

I remember when I was a young Mom, I participated in a Bible Study every week. Although many times I wasn't in the mood to go, I was always glad when I did!! One week, one of the Moms ahead of the journey- a bit older than me- opened up about her own life when we were talking about having a servant's heart.  
read the rest at

Roses, Mystical Rose, Rosary

My mother was very proud of her roses. She knew them by name: the American Beauty rose, the John F. Kennedy rose, and so on. When roses were in season, her kitchen table was never without at least one gorgeous rose from her garden gracing it. Roses are the most popular flower. We present them to loved ones as a sign of our love, to the sick, to graduates, and to others who have achieved success. Roses are not only beautiful, but they have a lovely fragrance. For good reason they are known as the queen of flowers. We associate roses with the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is queen of heaven and earth. One of her titles is "Mystical Rose." In 1947, during appearances at Montichiari, Italy, to Pierina Gilli, Mary asked that we celebrate July 13 in honor of her as mystical rose. St. Bernard wrote, “Eve was a thorn, wounding, bringing death to all. In Mary we see a rose, soothing everybody’s hurts, giving the destiny of salvation back to all.” A rose's thorns could al…

The Proverbs 31 Woman and Basic Money Management

I don’t know about anyone else but money problems definitely keep me up at night. And I am glad to know that even the “Proverbs 31” woman is up late at night trying to make sure that there’s enough and that our families are going to be taken care of. However, this is not a gendered based thing is it? Everyone is up late at night worrying about money. No matter how rich or poor they may seem. Either way the easiest way I have found to manage my money is to just schedule it week by week. I know like us most of you live week to week. If you begin managing your money week to week, you will begin to worry less because you’ll know what you have. You’ll also realize, that you have more money than you thought. Seriously because of payment scheduling, we were able to afford a much needed new car. The hardest part is sticking to it to be honest. Click here to continue 

ABC's The Mayor: A Good Start

The new network TV season is upon us. I've been on the lookout for anything promising among the new series, and I think I've found one.
It's a half-hour PG comedy called “The Mayor,” airing Tuesday nights on ABC. And if the pilot is any indication of the type of show it's going to be (which, theoretically, a pilot should be), then I'm excited to see the rest of it...Continue Reading

A True Angel Story for The Feast Day of the Guardian Angels

Angels saved my son’s life. The phone call comes on a Saturday night. I listen to the police in shocked silence. “Your son has been in a serious car accident.” “No, we have not ascertained the extent of his injuries.” “We did use the jaws of life to extract your son and his girlfriend from the vehicle.” continue

Las Vegas: little things we can do

"When I woke up this morning at 2:15am to feed the baby, I scrolled through Facebook to stay awake for ten minutes, not imagining what I would find. I didn't sleep well the rest of the night, and like all of America, I haven't been mentally calm all day. I've been listening to the radio, following the latest revelations online, and watching with deep sorrow as the death toll continues to rise.

There is something extremely aggravating about the uncertainty of the events and the knowledge that we will probably never know what happened exactly. I hate having to wait and see what narrative is trotted out, and I hate even more the opportunistic posturing from both political sides. But most of all, I hate the feeling of helplessness that comes after a tragedy like what happened in Las Vegas last night.

As I reflected, listened, and prayed today, three non-partisan, non-controversial, and actually productive things came to mind that I, and all of America and the world, could…

Death in Las Vegas, and Life

My plans for today did not include writing about mass murder on the Las Vegas Strip and rush hour panic in Wimbledon.

Instead of trying to ignore what is now international headline news, I decided to look for whatever useful facts might be filtering through.

I'll share what I found, along with what I think about the events.

How I feel about them is — sad, for what happened in Nevada. No words can console folks who lost family and friends there. I won't try.

The Wimbledon panic? I'm not entirely sure what I feel about that....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Spokes, by Deanna Klingel – Book Review

Spokes, by Deanna Klingel, a fast paced, easy to read novel, sends Kelsey Merritt and Brendon Cohen on an adventure to solve a mystery. Kelsey, a home-schooled teen, is a triathlon athlete. While cycling one afternoon with her mom, in preparation for an upcoming triathlon event, tragedy strikes. This tragedy sends Kelsey on a mission; to determine who is responsible for a hit and run accident. In her pursuit, she teams up with fellow triathlon athlete and home-school student, Brendon Cohen.

Together, these two teens, take us on a wild ride through the hills of North Carolina. We come across some unsavory characters. But, we also come across some rather funny, and down-to-earth Franciscan Friars. These Friars add a comical, yet heartwarming dimension to this wonderful story.

As I raced through this book (a real page turner), I kept asking myself... Read more...

The hidden shovel from the Catholic Church after Mexico´s earthquake. ( Spanish) La ayuda ignorada de la Iglesia Católica tras Sismo en México.

Tras el sismo del 19 de Septiembre del 2017 en México, la realidad de los ciudadanos se vio invadida por el miedo, la impotencia, el dolor, pero también por la solidaridad, la unión y la heroicidad. Muchas de estas expresiones y acciones solidarias fueron transmitidas y retransmitidas a través de medios y redes sociales: Frida, la Marina, los soldados, los topos, los brigadistas, Telcel, el metro, otras empresas y muchos voluntarios, cuyas caras, brazos y hasta sillas de ruedas se plasmaron en tuits y posts.
Al mismo tiempo muchos otros ayudaban de forma discreta y desapercibida avideos ycámaras, entre los que se encontraban los voluntariosy organizaciones católicas que han ayudado desde el primer sismo de septiembre de este año y que pocos han retuiteado o compartido, e inclusive han recibido el escarnio del mundo virtual.

Amaranth Now in Paperback

My third Christian novel, Amaranth, is now available in paperback. Here’s the story: Would you take an elixir that made you perpetually young and physically immortal?
What if the price for it was your eternal soul?
Billionaire Desmond Sceller acquires such a wonder drug. But when eighty-year-old Marie Long is rejuvenated by it against her will, she quickly discovers unending beauty and youth is not the paradise it seems. Sceller, however, intends on using the elixir to entice all mankind into submitting to his tyrannical control. When Marie and her grandson Peter unearth this evil scheme, they soon discover that only an extraordinary sacrifice on their part can free humanity from Sceller’s nefarious plan. Amaranth on Amazon Also, right now the Kindle version is on sale for just 99¢. Amaranth on Kindle