Wednesday, December 24, 2008


My friend and fellow blogger Abby Caperton always impresses me with her spiritual insights. She has a knack for expressing profound truths in a simple, relatable way. I someday hope to see Abby's byline on a vast number of print and online publications, but until then you should check out her blog. Here's a brief excerpt from a recent post that might help people thinking about New Year's resolutions change themselves for the better:

I’ve recently started going to spiritual direction with Fr. Tom. I love that man. He has a way of helping me see things in a different light, and yesterday was no different.

For the past year of my life, I have been going through a sort of rediscovery and as Fr. Hebert Alphonso says (and I am paraphrasing), revealing my true identity and personal vocation.

You often hear people say, “I’m trying to find myself” and while I think people are sincere in that endeavor, I think they are way off base. From the beginning of time, God knew me. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1. The God who created and formed me knows me and He knows what He has planned for me.

Read that verse again. The word “you” is very important. It’s about you!

God has a unique plan and purpose just for you.

So, how does that negate the worldly view of “finding myself”?

You are not lost. You cannot find what is not lost. God created you to fulfill a specific role in the story of creation. Now, all you have to do is listen to God and allow Him to whisper His grandest plans for your life and then it’s up to you to say yes.

(To read the rest of the post, click here.)

Sunday, December 21, 2008


One of my all-time favorite television moments comes from a MASH Christmas episode titled "Dear Sis." Father Mulcahy feels depressed because he doesn't think he contributes anything vital to the doctors, nurses and patients at the 4077. Hawkeye's tribute to the priest results in the type of beautiful, transcendent moment rarely seen on TV. Watch below.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Tisha Young, a mother of three from Texas, and Tami Gappa, whose 4-year-old son, Sam, received a life-saving gift of a kidney from Tisha, tell their inspiring story on Christopher Closeup. The half-hour interview is now available for free download here. It will also.air on Sunday, December 28th, at 7 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. EST on The Catholic Channel, Sirius 159 and XM 117.

Tami, a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Dallas, TX recounts how, at nine months, Sam was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a potentially-fatal form of childhood cancer, the treatment for which required several rounds of chemotherapy and numerous surgeries, resulting in him needing a kidney transplant.

Enter Tisha, a virtual stranger, whose sister worked with Tami's husband. Though she had never met Sam or his parents, Tisha explains how having young children herself – one just three weeks older than Sam – the Gappa's plight really "hit home."

Both women credit their faith and families as sources of strength, and say the journey only deepened their respective relationships with God. Though both admit it wasn't all smooth sailing emotionally, Tisha and Tami describe experiencing a similar serenity throughout the ordeal.

Tami recalls how on the same day that Sam was confirmed – in the hospital as he was about to undergo one of his many procedures – Pope Benedict was elected. They chose "Benedict" as his confirmation name. Ironically, St. Benedict turned out to be the patron saint of kidneys.

Tisha, who spent several nights "on my knees" in prayer, said overall the choice was easy, seeing God's hand in her decision, "This is what He wanted me to do." In trying to explain the peace-of-mind she felt, she chuckles confidently, "God's got my back."

Maryknoll Father James Keller founded the Christophers in 1945 with the purpose of encouraging individuals to use their God-given talents to make a positive difference in the world by bringing Gospel values into the mainstream of life.

To learn more about The Christophers visit

(Photo credit for attached photographs: Ann Beck Photography)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter Amy Grant recently released “The Christmas Collection” which features perennial favorites from her first three holiday albums along with several new songs. I had the opportunity to talk with Amy on “Christopher Closeup” (full interview here) about the album and about the roots of sharing the blessings she’s been given in life. Here’s an excerpt:

TR: I’m always happy to hear a new Christmas song that I think can fit in with the old classics, and I think one song on this album that can do that is “I Need a Silent Night.”…How do you find peace during the holiday season with all you’ve got going on – the tours, the shopping, the usual stuff? How does Amy Grant find a silent night and a prayerful night?

Amy Grant: For the last several years, at least one night after everybody’s asleep, I will go build a fire, turn off all the lights except for the Christmas tree lights, pull out my guitar and sing. I guess all by myself with music and quiet, I’m welcoming the Christ child – just so the season doesn’t come and go and it was all wrapping paper and craziness, and I never really said, “I’m sure glad you came.”

TR: Amy, I want to jump to another project you had done. You wrote a book called “Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far.” In the book you mentioned that your grandparents taught you that with “great blessing comes great responsibility.” How did they teach you that?

Amy Grant: At one point in my life, when I was in my early college years, there were 5 generations alive in my family…and the gathering place was my great-grandmother’s farm. And this farmhouse was just the neatest thing...I refer to that because I knew from the time I was a little girl that they had willed that farm to a college, a university in Nashville. They really believed in education. I just grew up knowing that that was the plan. I think that just gave me a feeling in life that we are stewards, and not owners…

I think money is an important thing to give, but so much more than that is our time, our ideas, our encouragement. I’ve got a really good friend who moved to the states from Trinidad. She has a son with cerebral palsy and he’s racked up so many hospital bills. She called me the other day and said, “Amy, I’m not asking you for a handout but could you please get your women friends together and help me brainstorm? If I’m not afraid, I believe we can pay these bills off.”

I’m on the road all of October, November, December. I hung up the phone from my friend Deb and I called my assistant and said, “Would you check the Farmer’s Almanac and see what the weather’s going to be November 7th and 8th” - because usually in Tennessee there’s one little warm patch in November. In two weeks, we pulled together a yard sale. And actually I called the university that my great-grandparents willed their farm to. I said, “Is it okay if we have this yard sale on your campus?” And they said, “Yes.”

We had one day of drop-offs. I had no idea if anyone was going to drop anything off. We set up a hundred tables. We made $25,000 in one day!

And it was just – I said “bring your trash, bring your treasures.” I got on the radio, I got on TV. And I’m telling you the atmosphere at that yard sale – there were people from both sides of the tracks, every nationality from Nashville was there. You know, I look at that and think, ‘How boring if somebody had written a check for $25,000.’ And how exciting (it was) when a few hundred people in a community came together. There was so much love in that yard, it was awesome!

(To hear the full interview with Amy Grant, visit

Monday, December 8, 2008


I recently won a Sirius satellite radio and free 6 month subscription so I've finally gotten the opportunity to listen to The Catholic Channel. Both times I've turned it on, "The Catholics Next Door" show hosted by Greg and Jennifer Willits has been airing. And it's great! The conversations about life, faith and popular culture are engaging, fun, funny and relatable.

On this morning's show, Greg was feeling a little down because he was left off writer Lisa Hendey's list of the 10 most fascinating Catholics of the year even though his wife Jennifer made the list. Not that this will earn him any accolades, but I will name Greg one of the most fascinating Catholics of the year for one primary reason. While introducing guest Tim Drake from the National Catholic Register on this morning's show, Greg made several references to Tim Drake also being Batman's sidekick Robin. Comic book references on a Catholic talk show hold a lot of weight in my book so props to Greg for going there.

So if you can, check out The Catholic Channel on Sirius 159 or XM 117.