Book Review: “JOY TO THE WORLD,” by Scott Hahn

Joy to the World by Scott Hahn

“If the Lord is our joy, our joy cannot be taken away. It cannot be lost…Joy had come to the world, and it had come to stay.” – Scott Hahn

As I turned the pages of Scott Hahn’s “Joy to the World”  the light of understanding God gave each of us sparked, and soon I was experiencing the instilling gifts of the Holy Spirit. Anyone who has prayed for such gifts knows how joyful it can be when they appear…Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge – who knew this book of inspiring meditations would give such a comprehensive glimpse into the story of Christ’s birth.

Among Scott Hahn’s scholarly reads, I was most taken with “Joy to the World,” because his usual preciseness is mingled with such childlike wonder as he takes us through this holy season with Sacred Scripture in one hand and the Church’s life giving Tradition in the other. Already in the first chapter I was heartened when he “sees” the radiance of the teenaged Virgin Mary on his young daughter’s face during their pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

In the end, we come to understand why he believes this wonder is the key to the New Evangelization, “Christmas sets us apart. Christmas calls us to share in divine love and then to share that love with an unbelieving world…People find it irresistible and irrefutable.”

So this year as we light the first candle on our Advent wreaths, we can do it with a deeper understanding of the events surrounding the reason for this miraculous season of God’s saving love.  The Truth is here, but like the Magi, we must seek it. The Truth is Christ, and like the star, “Joy to the World”  helps us find Him.


need a someone? be a someone.


This evening on Facebook, someone posted one of those reassuring Pinterest boards that read, “Sometimes in life we just need someone to be there for us. Someone who will listen.  Someone who will understand us.”

In past years, I would have grabbed onto this one and held tight.  But I’ve come to believe that when we really feel deprived of SOMEONE, we must be a SOMEONE and remember that if we have Jesus, we are not not needy; we are poor in spirit.

Today’s Responsorial Psalm gives us fighting words of prayer for these times of loneliness, “Give me back the joy of Your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me” (Psalm 51:17).  It’s in these times that we need to pick ourselves up by the scruff of our necks and quickly set out into the world to be a SOMEONE.  There are countless SOMEONES lonelier than we are, and they’re not hard to find; hospitals, nursing homes, cancer wards…the street.  God will put His SOMEONE in front of us. The moment He sees us using our will to be His Heart, the Holy Spirit arrives.

Check out the back pew of the church; you’ll often find SOMEONE’S sitting there next to their tears. We don’t need their story, but can lay a hand on their shoulder or share a knowing smile.  The Catholic Church has powerfully beautiful holy cards and pamphlets, filled with the strength of God’s Truth. Softly drop one next to SOMEONE, or make your own heartening little Pinterest-type card to give.  And should we find they want to share their story, we don’t need a SOMEONE degree to listen.  All we need is Love.  “…do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say.  You will be given at that moment what you are to say.  For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19-20).

Jesus wants to be our SOMEONE by faith so that through us, His other SOMEONES might find His compassion, “…for in You the orphan finds compassion.  I will heal their defection, says the LORD, I will love them freely”  (Hosea 14:4-5).


“Dear young people, let yourselves be taken over by the light of Christ, and spread that light wherever you are.” – Blessed John Paul II

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature”  (Mark 16:15)

Good Saturday morning, world!  We have the grace of the Resurrection.  Let’s go out and proclaim without shame, without fear and without doubt.  God is so much greater than that.  Through Him we can do anything.  So this weekend, on the canonization of two courageous men of God, fortitude to us all!  E.

”He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

While driving home, I was stopped at a red light behind a brand new pickup truck that was flaunting a hateful, anti-Christian bumper sticker. I was stunned by the wicked display against our Lord, and as a Christian, was also personally insulted. It provoked me to want to get out of my car and give the guy the what for, but while waiting for the light to turn, realized what a poor Christian example that would make. Remembering St. Paul’s description of Christian charity, I opted for silence over arrogance or rudeness, knowing I’d need a lot of grace to show any patience or kindness toward this guy. Besides, I thought, he must be pretty enraged to display such a message, so there was no telling how he’d respond. The light turned green and I drove on, still irritated.

I followed the truck further than expected until it finally turned onto a street fairly close to mine, and since that day, have spotted it several times in the area. I noticed how young he is and how he had strategically placed the sticker on the driver’s back window, which actually keeps his identity hidden from behind. I wondered what sort of hurt he is trying to conceal and why he purposely defaced his new truck with such a hostile message. Something had embittered him enough to publicly persecute our Lord and every Christian who might read it. By now, my resentment had turned into compassion, and I was grateful I had kept quiet and eventually used my grace to pray for him, as Jesus teaches us to do in today’s Gospel, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:44).

God gives to all His creation its food in due season, but in the meantime, we as loving Christians are to pray sincerely for everyone, not only for those we feel affection for. Today, Jesus asks us to be unusual with our love, “If you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that?” (Matthew 5:47). We’re also reminded by St. Paul in today’s First Reading, that God puts all sorts of people in front of us to test the genuineness of our love by our concern for others.

God loves this angry young man just as much as He loves every Christian and non-Christian in the world. That’s why I’m called to love him too.

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“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.” – George Washington Carver

After a ten-day stretch at the office, today I was able to enjoy my morning coffee outside.  I didn’t realize how much I missed the consistent surprises nature affords me in my own backyard, where I’m always tuned in to God’s voice, and I wondered, did this squirrel hear Him too?

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” – Abraham Lincoln


The spirit that guided Abraham Lincoln was clearly that of his Second Inaugural Address, now inscribed on one wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C.: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…. “

* * *

Abraham Lincoln

The son of a Kentucky frontiersman, Lincoln had to struggle for a living and for learning. Five months before receiving his party’s nomination for President, he sketched his life:

“I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families–second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks…. My father … removed from Kentucky to … Indiana, in my eighth year…. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up…. Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher … but that was all.”

Lincoln made extraordinary efforts to attain knowledge while working on a farm, splitting rails for fences, and keeping store at New Salem, Illinois. He was a captain in the Black Hawk War, spent eight years in the Illinois legislature, and rode the circuit of courts for many years. His law partner said of him, “His ambition was a little engine that knew no rest.”

He married Mary Todd, and they had four boys, only one of whom lived to maturity. In 1858 Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas for Senator. He lost the election, but in debating with Douglas he gained a national reputation that won him the Republican nomination for President in 1860.

As President, he built the Republican Party into a strong national organization. Further, he rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union cause. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy.

Lincoln never let the world forget that the Civil War involved an even larger issue. This he stated most movingly in dedicating the military cemetery at Gettysburg: “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain–that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom–and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Lincoln won re-election in 1864, as Union military triumphs heralded an end to the war. In his planning for peace, the President was flexible and generous, encouraging Southerners to lay down their arms and join speedily in reunion.

The spirit that guided him was clearly that of his Second Inaugural Address, now inscribed on one wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C.: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…. “

On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who somehow thought he was helping the South. The opposite was the result, for with Lincoln’s death, the possibility of peace with magnanimity died.

The Presidential biographies on are from “The Presidents of the United States of America,” by Frank Freidel  and Hugh Sidey. Copyright 2006 by the White House Historical Association.

“love is the beauty of the soul.” – st. augustine


This morning after the final blessing at St. Christopher’s 9:00 Mass, Father Hynes announced that at 10:30 the funeral mass would be held for 15-year old Briana Lawson, who’s been the topic of so many conversations in and around Stuart after she was tragically killed in a car accident last week.

In his beautifully resounding Irish brogue, Father then began to recite an excerpt from one of William Yeats’ earliest poems, “Stolen Child,” written in 1889,

“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”

Even if like me, you don’t know Briana, please say a prayer of comfort for the hearts of her family members and friends, and for her innocent, young soul as she sees our beautiful Savior, face to face.

weekly photo challenge (theme of the week) shoot an object

Weekly Photo Challenge (theme of the week)

I remember licking one of these five centers and pressing it onto an envelope containing a letter to my pen pal who lived in Sylvania, Ohio. Today I carefully removed one like it from my childhood stamp collection to photograph it for this week’s photo challenge. Since we moved to Florida a year ago, I’ve taken an interest in the nature here, especially the birds, thus, my choice for an object. Does anyone remember this stamp?

“a discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.” – albert szent-gyorgyi

Florida’s largest of its species…the Pileated Woodpecker. I spied him in the parking lot of St. Christopher’s in Hobe Sound. St. Chris is located near a national wildlife refuge, so together with its gorgeous grounds, you can always discover something (as well as Someone!) beautiful.

super moon

Just came in from enjoying the clear starry night. Attempted a snap at the moon but wasn’t pleased with the shot. On an up note, I caught this little white frog watching me. It took a little work – had to shine the porch light on him then sit on the wet grass at his level to get him face to face. He didn’t seem to mind, and I think he was happy for the company.

don’t shutter


Mondays challenge me to be what God intended us to be. If I accept a challenge rather than resist it, I get to see the miracle in the outcome of it. The moment I sense something unpleasant, I can choose to mentally embrace it, arms open wide. My choice for the good always brings with it God’s grace, which can move hearts. But naturally, I don’t always choose that.

So just for today, let’s reach through the fog and be a light for someone, even if that someone is us.