Roman Catholic 
Diocese of Ogdensburg


The Office of New Evangelization exists
To support parishes in forming
Joy-Filled, Intentional,
Missionary Disciples of Jesus Christ
So that On Fire with the Holy Spirit
They will be witnesses that
transform the culture around them.

Book Review: Salvation, What Every Catholic Should Know



Salvation, What Every Catholic Should Know

"Are you saved?" When I was in college, some random student came up to me and asked me this question out of the blue. At the time, I wasn't a practicing Catholic. I wasn't practicing anything. I had no clue what the question even meant.

If you've ever wondered how to answer that question or what the question even means, the book  Salvation, What Every Catholic Should Know, by Michael Patrick Barber, is for you. Most practicing Catholics probably understand that Salvation is important. After all, every Sunday, in the Creed, we pray that Jesus came down from heaven "for our salvation." We know that Christ is the Savior, but what are we being saved from and what are we being saved for?

What I love about this book is that it takes common objections or oversimplifications and begins to tell us what Salvation is by explaining what it is not. Each chapter covers what salvation is not: it's not self help, not just fire insurance, not without cost, not just personal, not just a legal transaction, not a spectator sport, not simply a moment, not inevitable, not just for other people and it is not just about the future. In each chapter, in clear and concise language, Michael Patrick Barber unpacks each of those distortions and strips away the misunderstandings and confusion. Then using from Sacred Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Tradition of our faith, he draws us into the deeper meaning of salvation that calls us to a relationship with Jesus. This relatively easy to read book  will not only help you do answer the question "Are You Saved" but more importantly it will help you pray for the graces needed to truly become a new creation in Christ.

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Readings: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17/1 Pt 3:15-18/Jn 14:15-21

If you love me you will keep my commandments. Love God and neighbor. The Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son. It is through the gift of the Spirit that we are able to love at all.  It is through the Holy Spirit that God is with us, always.  Encouraged by the gift of the Spirit, we can witness to this great love to all those who feel alone, abandoned and discouraged. As we enter these last two weeks of the Easter Season and look forward to Pentecost, let us pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit’s gifts, that others may know us by our love.


My faith life in this time of physical distancing …

This article is based on a talk I gave for our region’s virtual Ultreya meeting, which is a gathering of those who have made a Cursillo weekend. To learn more about Cursillo and making a Cursillo weekend see this LINK

My faith life in this time of physical distancing …


No public masses. Social distancing keeping us from gathering at church. For a while, I was really struggling in my faith life because my spirituality is so centered on the Eucharist. Daily Mass, Adoration, short visits to the Blessed Sacrament… Those who know my story know the integral part that the REAL PRESENCE has played in my conversion back to church when I was in college. And for a while, cut off from receiving Communion, I felt very much adrift, like someone had cut the chain to the anchor of my boat …

Slowly I came to realize that even now, even in our isolation, we are not without the REAL PRESENCE of Christ. Yes, receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is the most intimate way we have of communion with our God. But it is not the only way. We are not the first people to be without access to public Masses. I was thinking of places that normally do not get to see a priest, except maybe once a year. It does not mean that they do not have access to God! When I was in college, our campus minister was a Franciscan priest who was also a reserve Air Force chaplain … He would go to an Air Force Base in Greenland near the Arctic Circle every summer and then travel by dogsled to local Inuit village.  There, he would offer Mass, baptize all the new babies, confirm kids ready for confirmation, witness marriages, etc. etc. They only got to see Father once a year, but they were not without God! 

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During this time, we need to find other ways to stay connected. Prayer has changed for me: I am more faithful in praying parts of the Liturgy of the Hours. It helps set a rhythm for the day. It is also a way to connect with others in prayer --- both spiritually, in knowing people around the world are praying these same psalms, readings, and also virtually, by praying vespers together with groups of friends over the internet.

And Christ is REALLY PRESENT in my friends. Relationships and friendships I was taking for granted have pushed themselves to the forefront. I realize that even the most casual friendships/relationships require effort: people you saw at work every day and people you saw at church every day now require that you make an effort to reach out. Relationships are more intentional. We aren’t going to see each other every day. We are not going to bump into people at church.

Similarly, I find that people who never talked about faith before, are sharing prayer requests. There is a new willingness to share our vulnerability. Maybe it's because we are not sharing face to face, but also because we realize that no one is okay. Everyone is struggling with this strange situation, which makes is somehow easier to say: “I am having a bad day today. Could you pray for me.” Because we are all struggling, it is okay not to be okay. Perhaps we can carry this learned vulnerability into the future when things go back to “normal,” even as we know that “normal” is going to be different than it was before.

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Lastly, I think this situation has changed a lot of my priorities – trying to find a new balance between work/home and solitary lifestyle versus friends. Everything takes more creativity. It is one thing to be solitary as an introvert – I like my alone time … but I don’t like being forced to be alone. I think work wise, I have been focusing less on production than on learning new things, new ways and thinking about process rather than product. In a strange way, working from home has really made me think more about the fact that we only have one life. We are not different people at work, at home, at school, at church, at prayer. Rather we are one person and God is present to us everywhere and we should be able to be ourselves everywhere.

Thus, in a way, the REAL PRESENCE of Christ is present everywhere. Masses are continued to be celebrated and we receive the spiritual graces from the Blessed Sacrament on the altar. Heaven still touches Earth on the altar, but we must be creative in accessing those graces: through prayer, through friends, and out in nature going for a walk. When the churches open back up, we need to keep what we have learned during this time of isolation and allow it to broaden and deepen our faith and our relationships with each other and with Christ.

What I am praying about a lot these days is how can we take what we are learning in this time of isolation – whether technical knowledge, book learning or knowledge about ourselves so that when the world opens up again, we can be better disciples, and fan into flame a new Pentecost.

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Resource of the Week: Catholic Hipster: The Next Level

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Book Review: Catholic Hipster: The Next Level

You may recall my earlier recommendation of The Catholic Hipster Handbook. It was a quirky book of Catholics practices, prayers, saints and other cool Catholic Stuff.  It also won the 2019 Catholic Press Award. 

Tommy Tighe ( has brought together another group of great  Catholics authors, bloggers, evangelists and thinkers all exploring how to live our Catholic faith with passion and conviction.  The 39 essays are subdivided into three categories: Living with Faith, Living with Hope and Living with Love.  The essays cover topics as varied as Jesus, I Trust in You (Easier Said than Done); Deck the Halls (with Weird Old Testament Ornaments), Punk Rock Catholicism (aka Tattoos), Catholic Bees. 

Each chapter follows the same format: the essay by one of the contributors, a cool saint that exemplifies the subject, a forgotten prayer and then a living faith activity which will help you put your faith into action.  Each chapter is short (a couple pages at most), and the book should not be rushed through, but rather, allow each essay to challenge you to explore an aspect of your faith that you might not have known about, or that you might have taken for granted.

I think this book would be great as a discussion started for young adult groups or older teens, but would be a great read for Catholics of any age. 



RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer

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A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer: Discovering the Power of St. Ignatius Loyola’s Examen  by Jim Manney


Perhaps you are familiar with praying the Examen.  Perhaps you are not.  In a way, it is a simple prayer to see where God was present in your day, where you met him, and times you might have avoided him.  I have known about the examen for quite some time, but have been inconsistent in praying it. 

On the surface, it is a simple 5 step prayer:

  • Ask for light
  • Give thanks
  • Review the day
  • Look at what is wrong
  • Resolve what to do the next day

Seems simple enough, but for some reason I have always struggled with it. Perhaps because  in the past, I have tried to pray it at the end of the day when my mind is too tired.  Or maybe I  saw it too much as a formula to be prayed "correctly", and so chafed against the step-by-step process. What I missed in my attempts at praying the examen was that the prayer really is about is our relationship with God. He is present here and now, and in all the messy little details of our lives. As Jim Manney writes:

“In fact, this is the goal of the daily examen. Our aim is to be sensitive to God all the time. The daily examen is a training exercise designed to cultivate a reflective habit of mind that makes us sensitive to God everywhere and at all times.”

The book was a great help in explaining the process and the goals of the each step of the prayer.  It made the prayer format seem more reasonable and less of another chore to be checked off my to-do list.

Jim Manney writes in an easy going style that feels like he is sitting across the table from you, just chatting with you over a cup of coffee.  He is simply sharing his experience of the examen prayer and how you, too, might get something out of it.  There is a sense of "try it, you might like it." No pressure, just an invitation, and an invitation which I wanted to respond to.

The book has given me the inspiration to try the examen prayer again … but this time, I plan to pray it in the morning or perhaps at lunch time.  So I am starting with step 5: I resolve to start praying the examen.  If you have been struggling with prayer, or even if you would simple like to deepen your relationship with God, I recommend this little book, and invite you, too, to try this simple prayer.


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