Thursday, December 10, 2020

(210) Knights of Columbus Mobilizing Men to Step Into the Breach in the Spiritual Battle


              The world is in moral decline.  America has been besieged by the COVID-19 Pandemic since March that has led to large scale unemployment.  Intractable problems persist……racial strife, violent riots, extensive crime and corruption, political scandal, widespread drug and alcohol addiction, spiritually dysfunctional and broken families, a flood of pornography, commonly accepted contraception, abortion on demand at any stage of fetal development, assaults on the sanctity of marriage, a misguided gender ideology, coming restrictions on religious freedom of conscience, business social irresponsibility, many pockets of poverty and homelessness, out of control government debt, etc.  

A trend toward socialism that was moving along in the previous administration is expected to accelerate in the coming administration of the president elect.  Simply look at the backgrounds of the new appointees.  At the same time secularism with its so called political correctness is overcoming the United States and Europe.

        People are drifting away from the Church, which is still recovering from the great damage done by clerical sexual abuse.  We are losing our youth.  People are blatantly ignoring much of Church teaching, including many of our national leaders who claim to be practicing Catholics, but blatantly promote measures in direct opposition to its fundamental principles.  Cafeteria Catholicism (picking and choosing what to believe and accept while rejecting or ignoring essential truths not to one’s liking) is penetrating the Church into the parish, down to the man and woman in the pew.   It’s all part of a cultural and spiritual war that has been raging since the turn of the 21st Century and before.

 In 2015 Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, confronted this situation with his landmark apostolic exhortation, calling for the restoration of masculine virtues and exhorting men to step into the breach in the battle for the heart and soul of America……..”Be Confident; be bold.  We need you to step into the breach”.  As soldiers of Christ, read this stirring internationally known document in its entirety.  

(106) INTO THE BREACH: An Apostolic Exhortation to Catholic Men

             The Knights of Columbus followed that with its “Into the Breach Study Guide”.  Go to

       In 2019 or so the Knights of Columbus (KofC) went further with a full fledged national campaign.  Inspired by the Apostolic Exhortation for Catholic men written by Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix, the Knights of Columbus produced its Into the Breach Video Series which seeks to answer the question of what it means to be a man and how to live as a man in today's world.  It is very interesting, convincing, and well done.  According to the KofC website (, “Into the Breach is a call to battle for Catholic men which urges them to embrace wholeheartedly masculine virtues in a world in crisis”. 

    This campaign aims to penetrate into the local parish through the nearest Knights of Columbus council, which is asked to show and discuss the video series.  Each of the 12 episodes is about 12 minutes long, very much suited for a council meeting plus some discussion.  The series includes: 1) Masculinity; 2) Brotherhood; 3) Leadership; 4) Fatherhood; 5) Family; 6) Life; 7) Prayer; 8) Suffering; 9) Sacramental Life; 10) Spiritual Warfare; 11) Evangelization; and 12) The Cornerstone.  Go to

        Men, not necessarily knights, are asked to download and read the “Into the Breach Video Series Study Guide”.   A giant step forward would be to organize and lead a small discussion or study group.  It also can be simply used for personal reflection.  Go to

       May each one of us equip and develop ourselves in every way such as by spiritual reading and viewing such videos as mentioned above.  Then we will be equipped to join the battle and step into the breach in the line that is being penetrated and assaulted by the forces of evil.  Do your part in at least little ways, beginning with your family and extending into the work place and the community. 

 Be alert for opportunities and pray to the Holy Spirit daily for guidance on what to do, what to say, and what to write.  Brother knight Jay Stapleton, a member of our parish and owner of a small business, thought that he could make a difference by running for public office.  Now he’s a county commissioner.    Let’s pray for his success. 

If handicapped, suffering from a chronic illness, aged, or even bedridden, you can still join the battle and go into the breach.  That is through prayer and offering your crosses, your aches and your pains, to the Lord for the conversion of sinners, as advocated by Our Lady of Fatima, thus giving invaluable support to the men on the front lines.  Furthermore, a handicapped person can do clerical jobs in the council or make phone calls to increase the membership rolls and meeting attendance.   

Your little bits done every day count and over a life time can add up to greatness.  Do it all for the glory of God.  You and men like you can make your family a true domestic church; you can be a force for good in your parish, your workplace, and your community; and ultimately change the world for Christ.   

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

(209) Allen Hunt: The Greatest Investment


Dr. Allen Hunt was the main speaker at the 2015 Diocesan Men’s Day of Renewal.  He is a nationally known speaker and best-selling author. His books include: “Confessions of a Mega-Church Pastor: How I Discovered the Hidden Treasures of the Catholic Church; “Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody; “Nine Words: A Bible Study to Help You Become the Best-Version-of-Yourself”; “Dreams for Your Grandchild: The Hidden Power of a Catholic Grandparent”.  Books may be ordered from

          Allen stepped aside July 1, 2007, as Senior Pastor at Mount Pisgah, a congregation serving more than 15,000 persons each week through all of its ministries in Alpharetta, Georgia, outside Atlanta. While at Mount Pisgah, Allen helped to develop comprehensive ministries with children and students as well as a Christian School with over 1200 students; a Beacon of Hope pregnancy resource center; and the Summit Counseling Center.

On January 6, 2008, the Feast of the Epiphany, Allen converted to Catholicism. This transition represented the culmination of a 15 year journey in which God began leading Allen home to the Church. In many ways, this transition was effected by the prayers of a group of Dominican sisters at Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut, who have been praying for Allen since he shared lectures with them during the season of Lent in 1992.

Prior to full-time ministry, Allen worked in management consulting with Kurt Salmon Associates, an international leader in the textile, apparel, and retail industries. Allen was educated at Mercer (B.B.A.) and Emory (M.Div.) Universities, before earning a Ph.D. in New Testament and Ancient Christian Origins from Yale University.

Allen and his wife, Anita, live in Atlanta. They have two grown daughters.

The Greatest investment

An interview of Dr. Allen Hunt by Jay Tramonte taken from



“I distinctly heard in the depth of my soul God speaking to me saying “Allen, when are you going to stop serving yourself and start serving Me?”

That was a particularly jarring moment for Allen because he really didn’t want to leave the business world.

At this point he knew what God wanted him to do…it was just a question of whether he was going to be obedient or disobedient.

“I enjoyed my work, but I was looking out far ahead 20, 30, 40 years ahead and thinking I don’t really want to stay on this train to where it goes.”

“I love to work.  And I realized I better be darned sure I was loving to work the way God wanted me to love to work.”


“Invest in other people as human beings made in the image of God.”

When we invest in the whole life of a person, our faith comes through in ways we don’t see.  Others around us notice not only how we treat people but invest in them beyond work.


Allen’s greatest vocation is as a husband, father and grandfather.  He didn’t come to understand this overnight, but after many years.


Schools can help.  Churches can help.  Other people can help.  But the #1 predictor is the spiritual life of parents and the #2 predictor is the spiritual life of the grandparents.

Part of the American mindset is we outsource everything.  We hire someone to teach our children how to play baseball better, piano better and do better in Spanish.   We act like the point guard distributing the ball of our children’s life to all of the experts.  We think we can outsource the spiritual life of our children, but we can’t.

“One of the reasons we are seeing this large exodus of kids from the Catholic Church is because the parents don’t take their faith life seriously.”

“I experienced this in my own life and then I realized the #1 mission field is not my neighborhood, my workplace or someplace in Africa.  It is in my home because this is the place where I am most likely to have the greatest impact.”

“I don’t want to make the mistake of neglecting the primary mission field God has given me to go focus on ones that are secondary.”


You are what you do. 

“Sloth is one of the 7 deadly sins because it really does kill us.  If we don’t put in the effort and build the habits we don’t get the results.”

What is the outcome you want for your life?

Do you want to live what God would consider to be a good life?

Do you see your life as belonging to God?

What are the habits that will get you there?

Our lives change when our habits change. 

When you stop doing one thing, it allows you to say yes to something else. 

If you want to say a deep yes to something, you will probably need to give up several other things.


Children develop habits that we create in the family.  Once our children develop habits they become a natural part of the rhythm of their life.  The most important habits for any family to form are obvious.

1.   Pray together as a family.  The likelihood of children to have a prayer life is largely determined by whether the parent has a prayer life.  Individual prayer and prayer as a family are both important.  Family prayer can include prayer before meals, after you wake up, before you go to bed or before Mass.


2. Go to Mass together as a family.  It is important to also talk about Mass as a family before you go and after it is over.

 3. Serve together as a family.  This could be an annual family mission trip during the summer or a monthly service project at a soup kitchen or home building. 

Children need to see that these habits are important to the parent and the family does it together.  Most importantly these habits should create conversations between children and parents on a regular basis afterwards.

By building these habits into the rhythm of family life, big conversations flow naturally without it becoming a big deal.


Every day at 2 pm Sister Dianne would walk to her desk in the community room and pickup the same book, Wellsprings of Worship by Corbon.  Then she would walk around the grounds of the convent reading, praying and reflecting.  When she was finished she returned the book to her desk and went about her day.

Eventually Sister Dianne developed Alzheimer’s and began to slip away mentally.  Towards the end she was no longer lucid and no longer recognized any of the other sisters.  However Sister Dianne still went to her desk at 2 pm every day, picked up the same book and walked around the grounds like she had always done.  Even though she could no longer comprehend what she was reading, she still practiced her habit of prayer by flipping through the pages as if they made sense.

This habit of prayer was so deeply engrained in Sister Dianne that it still kicked in even when her mind wasn’t at full capacity.  This habit was so strong she practiced it until the very end of her life.


Virtue is the pathway to holiness.  Virtue is how you live in the details of your life each day.  Every day we make countless decisions.  Each decision is an opportunity to invite God in to our life and try to be the best version of ourselves.

It is through the little decisions of life that we cultivate our souls.  Once we are intentional about making good decisions on a regular basis, it can become a habit.  When it becomes a habit, it becomes easier to make the right decision because we don’t have to think about it.  It just happens.

Virtue is lived out not so much in the big decisions of life, but in the little everyday situations.


Allen reflects on this same verse from Galatians every day because it contains nine virtues that are part of a healthy soul.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.”  – Galatians [5:22]-23

While Allen strives to grow in all nine of these virtues all of the time, he is currently working on one in particular – self-control.


His life is less structured now than 20 years ago when he had a regular daily rhythm as a pastor.  Since Allen travels a lot as a speaker it has become challenging in new ways to practice self-control.  It is a daily struggle to practice it with his diet, exercise, spiritual life and in his relationships.

How does Allen actually try to practice self-control?


“I think I am taking prayer more seriously.  I am not sure I took it as seriously as I should have in my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.”

Allen tries to practice self-control and discipline with his prayer life by making prayer the first thing he does every day.  It is a struggle to resist the temptation to take a shower, check email or even have a cup of coffee as soon as he wakes up.

“If I don’t do prayer first, I still do it, but it’s not as fruitful and it doesn’t spill into my whole day.”

He is also more intentional about what he reads and incorporates it into his prayer life. 

Finally Allen works with a spiritual coach to help hold him accountable to practicing self-control and staying on track with his prayer commitments.


Mathew 25 – Gospel about the Talents

God invests in each of us differently, but in the end we are all judged by what we have done with what He has invested in us.

“For me success is looking at my life…the money God has given me, the health God has given me, the gifts intellectually and physically God has given me and the relationships God has given me and saying to God here is the maximum return on investment for You God.”

Hopefully in the end, God will say “well done good and faithful servant.”


On Business…

“Don’t confuse effort with results.”

On Faith…

“Faith is a journey.  It is not a moment and it is not a destination.  It is in the journey of living with, for, and in God.”

“Faith has to take priority over everything else, otherwise I will wander off and loose my soul.”


·       Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home – by Richard Foster

·      *  Confessions of a Mega-Church Pastor – by Allen Hunt



A Selection of Quotes From His Book

“Confessions of a Mega-Church Pastor:

 How I Discovered the Hidden Treasures of the Catholic Church”


 “When you suffer, you are being conformed to the image of Jesus. When you pray, you are being made holy in the image of Jesus. When you quietly serve a person in need, you are being shaped into the image of Jesus. When you generously give, your heart is being remade into the image of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.”

“It became obvious why Catholics had built such beautiful cathedrals and churches throughout the world. Not as gathering or meeting places for Christians. But as a home for Jesus Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. Cathedrals house Jesus. Christians merely come and visit Him. The cathedrals and churches architecturally prepare our souls for the beauty of the Eucharist.”

“Suffering often draws us closer to God. Instead of being a sign of God's punishment or distance, suffering can purify us, lead us into the heart of God, and transform our souls.”

“You and I are part of the colony of heaven. Right now, we may reside here on earth, but our passport indicates that our citizenship is in heaven. We are on the earth, but not of the earth.” 

* Hear Dr. Hunt’s talk at - The #1 Reason I Love Being Catholic - 2016 Defending the Faith Conference

* Allen Hunt’s radio broadcasts can be heard at

* Hear Hunt’s talk, “A Journey of Trust” at


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

(208) Mike Aquilina: The Christian Origins of the Hospital


Christ heals a blind man.  May health care workers follow in the footsteps of the Great Healer.

Mike Aquilina was the featured speaker for the 2018 Diocesan Men’s Day of Renewal.  He is the author of more than forty books on Catholic history, doctrine, and devotion. The Fathers of the Church and The Mass of the Early Christians are considered standard textbooks in universities and seminaries. Mike’s books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, from Spanish and Hungarian to Polish and Braille. The Grail Code has appeared in ten languages since its publication in 2006. Mike has co-authored works with Cardinal Donald Wuerl, theologian Scott Hahn, historian James Papandrea, composer John Michael Talbot, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artist Dion.

In 2011 Mike was a featured presenter of the U.S. Bishops’ Leadership Institute. He wrote the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ theological reflection for Catechetical Sunday in 2011.

Since 2002 Mike has collaborated closely with the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, which he has served as an executive and trustee. He is past editor of New Covenant: A Magazine of Catholic Spirituality (1996−2002) and The Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper (1993−1996). He is also a poet and songwriter whose work has been recorded by Grammy Award−winning artists Dion and Paul Simon.

Mike and his wife, Terri, have been married since 1985 and have six children, who are the subject of his book Love in the Little Things.


By Mike Aquilina

(Taken from the Catholic Answers Magazine at


Did you know that the institution we know as the hospital is entirely an invention of the Catholic Church?

Well, it was. The ancient world had all the material ingredients needed for such an institution. It had medical professionals, and it had sick people. It had a centuries-old tradition of medical science and technology. And yet it could not bring all that together to make a hospital. There was no way to make such a venture profitable, so there was no compelling motive to keep such a venture running during an epidemic.

What they had instead were individual freelance practitioners, who moved from place to place like traveling salesmen — usually outrunning their most recent failure. They passed down their knowledge, as trade secrets, within their family and never risked public disclosure.

The pagans had medicine. What they lacked was charity, as it came to be expressed in hospital-ity, the virtue that gave the healthcare institution its name.

It was Christians who invented the hospital, and they did this in response to a real need, an urgent need—in a time of epidemic.

It was the middle of the third century, and the world found itself suddenly oppressed by plague. Scholars disagree on whether the disease was smallpox or influenza. Some say it was Ebola. But whatever the bug was, it quickly reached pandemic levels—and it stayed there for thirteen years. In that time, the population of the empire was reduced by thirty percent, and there was a corresponding decline in every sector of the economy, not to mention the military.

The practice of Christianity was illegal. In fact, it was a capital crime and it was punished more severely during the plague. Why? Because traditional Romans blamed their run of bad luck on the Christians’ refusal to sacrifice to the gods.

Governing the Church in North Africa at the time was a bishop named Cyprian. He had been a prominent attorney in the city of Carthage, earning renown for his work in the courts. And now he brought all the powers of his gigantic intellect to bear on the problems of the Church in his day.

Cyprian called his flock to act with heroic charity during the plague, insisting that Christian doctors must give care not only their fellow believers, but also their pagan neighbors—the very people who were trying to kill them.

Cyprian exhorted his congregation: “There is nothing remarkable in cherishing merely our own people … [We] should love our enemies as well … the good done to all, not merely to the household of faith.”

And from this exhortation of a bishop came medical care as we know it. The foremost expert on the history of hospitals, Dr. Gary Ferngren, made this point emphatically in his recent survey published by Johns Hopkins:

The hospital was, in origin and conception, a distinctively Christian institution, rooted in Christian concepts of charity and philanthropy. There were no pre-Christian institutions in the ancient world that served the purpose that Christian hospitals were created to serve … None of the provisions for health care in classical times … resembled hospitals.

This was not a local phenomenon. We possess similar testimonies from Alexandria in Egypt and elsewhere. The great sociologist Rodney Stark noted that the Catholic Church grew during this period at a steady rate of forty percent per decade, and he believes that growth was due, at least in part, to its profound and unprecedented public witness of charity.

The pattern emerged still more clearly in the following century during the epidemic of 312. By then, the Christians were numerous in every major city. So their efforts were more effective, extensive, and visible.  Eusebius, who was an eyewitness, reports that Christians “rounded up the huge numbers who had been reduced to scarecrows all over the city and distributed loaves to them all.”

Gary Ferngren, once again, states most emphatically that “The only care of the sick and dying during the epidemic of 312-13 was provided by Christian churches.” He adds: “No charitable care of any kind, public or private, existed apart from Christian … care because there was no religious, philosophical, or social basis for it.”

Epidemics were among the great terrors of the ancient world. Doctors could identify the diseases, but they knew no way to stop the spread. Antibiotics and anti-viral drugs were still centuries away in the future.

So when the plague hit a city, the physicians were the first to leave. They knew the symptoms from their textbooks, and they knew what was coming, and they knew there was nothing they could do to stop the inevitable horror.

Christians couldn’t stop the plagues either.  But they could and did risk their lives in order to serve chicken soup to the sick. They could and did make a clean, well-lighted place for the sick to find rest. And some of those sick people recovered as a result—and became Christians.

In time, those stable Christian institutions—those hospitals—became de facto sites of medical research. Only there could medical professionals gain experience together, compare notes openly, and make progress.

Often you’ll hear people say that the Church has historically waged a “war on science” or a “war on women.” That’s exactly wrong, and the history of the hospital tells why. Many of the pioneers in the field were women—Fabiola in Rome, for example, and Olympias in Constantinople. They changed society in ways that pagan women could not. The Church made opportunities that had been impossible in classical antiquity.

So, if we can fight this year’s disease with medicine, we should thank our long-ago ancestors in the faith. And we might permit ourselves to ask what wonders God will work through today’s circumstances.

For another article by Mike Aquilina on the Christian origins of hospitals, see “How the Church Invented Health Care” at  Thomas E. Woods Jr. PhD gives an overview of the historical role of Catholic Charity in health care in Chapter 9 of his book, “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization”.  For a video of his lecture on that chapter, see   

Monday, December 7, 2020

(207) Matthew Leonard: Why You Don't Want to Go to Purgatory


An Angel Frees the Souls of Purgatory, Ludovico Carracci, circa 1610

Matthew Leonard was the main speaker of our 2016 Diocesan Men's Day of Renewal.  He is an international speaker, author, podcaster, and founder of Next Level Catholic Academy, an online membership community focused on teaching Catholic spirituality. A convert to Catholicism and former missionary to Latin America, Matthew is a frequent guest on radio and television programs across the country. His podcast, “The Art of Catholic”, is heard in more than 170 countries around the world. Matthew is the author of two books, “Louder Than Words: The Art of Living as a Catholic” and “Prayer Works! Getting A Grip On Catholic Spirituality” published through Our Sunday Visitor. He lives in Ohio with his wife Veronica and their six children. Learn more about him at

Matthew Leonard is the Executive Director of the St. Paul Center. An internationally-known speaker and author, he travels far and wide speaking to Catholic audiences and leading Journey Through Scripture, the St. Paul Center's parish-based Bible study program. Prior to his conversion to Catholicism in 1998, Matthew, a PK (Preacher's Kid), served as an Evangelixal missionary in Latin America. After entering the Church, he obtained a Master's degree in Theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville before becoming vice president and guest theology instructor at Ave Maria College. He has been heard and seen in places like "Deep in Scripture with Marcus Grodi", Sirius Radio, and Our Sunday Visitor.

Before entering the non-profit world, Matthew was partner and president of a Chicago-based real estate development firm. The father of four, he and his wife Veronica now make their home in Ohio.

Follow Matthew on Twitter @MattSLeonard.


By Matthew Leonard

(Taken from www.

The universal call to holiness means we’re supposed to get holy. Every one of us is called to sainthood. And really, what are the alternatives? Well, behind door number 1 is the eternal fire of hell. No thanks.  Slightly less warm is behind door number 2 – purgatory – the place scripture says our work on earth will be “tested” by fire (cf 1 Cor 3:13).

Interestingly, I don’t think we take purgatory seriously enough. In fact, it seems that many of us are pretty resigned to that fact: that’s where we’re going to end up. How many times have you heard someone declare with a sigh, “As long as I make it to purgatory!” Really? That’s what you want? Cuz it’s not going to be cupcakes and brownies.

We may not know exactly what it is or how long it lasts, but we do know it’s gonna hurt. Scripture says nothing unclean can enter heaven, and our impurities are going to be “revealed by fire.” So we’re talking way hotter than James Brown’s hot tub on SNL.*

St. John of the Cross said that purgatory is more terrible than a thousand deaths. Without God’s grace, it’s a purification we couldn’t survive. Yikes!

The good news is, you don’t have to go there. Our Lord provides door number 3 – it’s called sainthood. Love God with everything you’ve got, and there’ll be no reason for the eternal elevator to stop on the way up.

So make sure to set your sights as high as possible. Besides, it’s not a good idea to aim for purgatory…You might miss.

Keep striving, my friends! God bless you.

*SNL: Saturday Night Live–a comedy show

         For more on purgatory go to 

Purgatory is Real; Them Now, Us Soon  A person who has worked hard on educating people about purgatory is Susan Tassone through her talks and books.   Her website is