May 2021 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. … This is my commandment: Love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:9-10, 12-13)
Archbishop Reflection – Christ tells us we will remain in his love if we keep his commandments. Saying you love someone can be easy, but it is really our deeds that reveal our love — or lack of it. Christ showed us how to love by his example and by sacrificing his very life for us. To love as Christ commands us to love demands action. The Letter of James says, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves” (1:22). May each of us commit to keeping the commandments and offering our very selves in service and sacrifice for others.
May Goal – This month, I challenge you to meditate on the meaning of the Ten Commandments in your life by picking one on 10 different days and praying about it for at least 10 minutes. Second, during this month devoted to our Blessed Mother, I challenge you to assist your council in implementing the Faith in Action Rosary program — showing your love of Christ by showing your love of Mary.
Questions for Reflection – Are you willing to proclaim to others that you love Christ? Does your life show this love by your obedience to Christ and the teachings of the Church, or are there areas of your life where you seem not to heed the Gospel? Are there times when you find it hard to love as Christ commands, and if so, how can you seek to grow in love?
April 2021 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.” (Luke 24:36-39)
Archbishop Reflection – After Jesus rose from the dead, the apostles were confused and afraid. But showing them his wounds, Jesus proved his identity. Whenever we find ourselves confused or fearful, let us remember that Christ is risen, and that it was “by his wounds we were healed” (Is 53:5). If Christ had not suffered and died, he could not have risen from the dead: without Good Friday; there would be no Easter Sunday. May we unite our suffering to Christ’s, rejoice always in his resurrection and base our lives on his peace and presence among us.
April Goal – This month, ideally on Good Friday, I challenge you to visit your local parish and pray the Stations of the Cross. Second, I challenge you to participate in the Faith in Action Good Friday Family Promotion program to aid your fellow parishioners in remembering Christ’s passion, in anticipation of his resurrection.
Questions for Reflection – When you are suffering, do you tend to find yourself forgetting God or drawing closer to him? What does it mean to “offer it up” when we are suffering? How does the reality of Christ’s resurrection offer us comfort, peace and hope during the trials and tribulations of this life?
March 2021 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” (Mark 14:22-24)
Archbishop Reflection – At the Last Supper, Jesus gave us the gift of himself in the Eucharist, our essential spiritual food and drink, which gives us the life of Christ. We live at a time when many Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist — the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ under the appearances of bread and wine. May we, brother Knights, never forget the true nature of the Eucharist nor lose our desire to receive Christ in the sacrament of the altar.
March Goal –This month, I challenge you to spend 10 additional minutes each Sunday before Mass preparing to receive the Eucharist and 10 minutes after Mass in thanksgiving for this gift. Second, I challenge you to assist your brother Knights in the Faith in Action Sacramental Gifts program to help your fellow parishioners understand the great gifts of the sacraments.
Questions for Reflection – Do you examine your conscience before receiving holy Communion and go to confession first, if necessary? Do you show reverence for Christ in the Eucharist in such a way that you witness to the Real Presence to your family and fellow parishioners? During the consecration, are you attentive to the mystery taking place at the altar?
February 2021 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – A leper came to him [and kneeling down] begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. (Mark 1:40-42)
Archbishop Reflection – What profound faith this leper possessed. He knew beyond a doubt that Christ could heal him and make him clean. The leper’s humble cooperation with the healing grace of Christ allowed him to be cured. Do we recognize our own need to be healed? Do we approach Christ in the sacrament of confession with similar faith, saying to the Divine Physician, “If you wish, you can make me clean”? May we continually return to Christ on our knees, aware of our sins, so as to be made clean again through his mercy.
February Goal – This month, I challenge you to make a comprehensive examination of conscience at the end of each day and make at least one good and humble confession. Second, I challenge you to begin (or continue) viewing as a council the Knights of Columbus Into the Breach video series, putting a particular emphasis on the “Spiritual Warfare” episode.
Questions for Reflection – The effects of the terrible disease of leprosy were impossible to ignore, but are there times when you forget the seriousness and horror of sin? Do you examine your conscience regularly, so that you might humbly know of your need to be made clean again? Do you seek to avoid those things which lead to sin, or are you careless or prideful when it comes to occasions of sin?
January 2021 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11)
Archbishop Reflection – It’s quite a magnificent scene: Intellectuals from a faraway land, not even of the Jewish faith, travel to pay homage to the newborn king. Their gifts acknowledge the child’s kingship and foreshadow the sacrifice he was to make. They are also a sign of what a gift this newborn king is to the entire world. We must also recognize every child as a gift to the world, created in the image of God himself. May we recommit ourselves with renewed vigor to protect and cherish the life and dignity of every human person.
January Goal – I challenge you to take a concrete, tangible action to support the cause for life in your community, by donating money or supplies to a pregnancy resource center, praying outside an abortion facility or joining your parish’s pro-life group. Second, I challenge you to participate with your brother Knights in the Faith in Action Novena for Life program or, if possible, the March for Life program.
Questions for Reflection – Do you see the image of God in every child, in every person, or do you sometimes look at others as objects to be used? What does taking action to defend life show you about how individuals can impact the world? What more can you do to support the cause for life, whether the contribution is great or small or consists of prayer or works?
December 2020 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
Archbishop Reflection – Mary’s fiat, her “yes” to the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, models perfect discipleship. It was a total acceptance of and submission to the will of God. What faith and trust our Blessed Mother exemplified! Because Mary unreservedly said yes to God, Jesus became man in order to redeem the world from sin. God worked wonders in her life and the world through her trust in him. May each of us strive to place our unconditional trust in the will of God, so that he may work wonders in our own lives.
December Goal – This month, I challenge you set up a Nativity scene in your home and pray before it, meditating on Mary’s fiat. Second, I challenge you to join with your brother Knights in the Faith in Action Keep Christ in Christmas program to help your parishes and communities celebrate the Son of God and Son of Mary.
Questions for Reflection – Looking back over your life, are there things that happened that you didn’t understand at the time, but later saw that God was at work? Are there currently things in your life God is asking you to answer fiat to? How can the life of Mary help you to better understand how to submit your will to God’s?
November 2020 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Archbishop Reflection – St. Teresa of Calcutta observed that in the poor we can see Christ in a distressing disguise. Quite frankly, it can be difficult to see Christ in some of those who suffer. But we, by virtue of our baptism, are Christians on a mission: We are called not to ignore those who suffer, but to attend to their physical and spiritual needs. May we, my brother Knights, strive to recognize the face of Christ — however obscured it may seem — in the faces of the poor and suffering around us and respond to them with Christ’s love and compassion.
November Goal – This month, I challenge you to find a way to directly serve the poor, the sick, the needy or the imprisoned in some way, such as by serving in a soup kitchen. Second, I challenge you to join with your brother Knights in the Faith in Action Food for Families program so as to help feed the hungry in your midst.
Questions for Reflection – Why is it so difficult at times to see Christ in every human person? What obstacles exist in your life that prevent you from being more aware and attentive to the serious needs of others? How can serving others help you see Christ in them?
October 2020 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
Archbishop Reflection – The connection between these two commandments is unmistakable: We must love both God and our neighbor. They are in keeping with the “new commandment” that Jesus gave us at the Last Supper: “Love one another as I love you” (Jn 15:12). What does it mean to “love one another” as Christ has loved us? Jesus further told his disciples at the Last Supper, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). May we lay down our lives daily in love of God and neighbor.
October Goal – This month, I challenge you to make a small financial sacrifice (such as forgoing a daily cup of coffee, a subscription to a streaming service or eating out one night) and donate the money you save to the poor. Second, I challenge you to show your love for your neighbors by participating in the Faith in Action Coats for Kids program with your council.
Questions for Reflections – What are some specific ways you can love God with your heart, your soul and you mind? How does laying down your life for another show you love them? What are some small, everyday ways you can lay down your life for God and others?
September 2020 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
Archbishop Reflection – There is power in numbers. It’s often how we get things done. When men are united by a clear mission, they become a “band of brothers” whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And when that mission is given to us by Jesus, we are united in Christ, who directs and strengthens us to accomplish great things. May we, my brothers, form strong bonds of fraternity founded on Christ as we labor to build up the kingdom of heaven.
September Goal: This month, I challenge you to learn more about fraternity by viewing the “Brotherhood” episode of the Into the Breach video series produced by the Knights of Columbus. Second, I challenge you to help build bonds of brotherhood in your parish by offering the Faith in Action Into the Breach program.
Question for Reflections: Are you willing to “stand in the breach” with your brother Knights and fellow Catholics to serve Christ and defend the faith? Are you a good “brother” to others, forming male friendships marked by shared faith, honesty and accountability to fight the spiritual battle? How can a “band of brothers” ensure that they are gathered in the name of Jesus Christ?
August 2020 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
Archbishop Reflection – That’s quite a promise! Christ established Peter as the head of his Church on earth, with his teaching authority and the guarantee that hell itself would not defeat it. How we practice our faith in word and deed influences the moral and spiritual formation of others — our family, friends, fellow parishioners and neighbors. With the help of God’s grace, fathers have a sacred role to protect their families from the devil’s assaults. May we all take seriously this responsibility to be a “rock” of the Catholic faith in our domestic churches, parishes and communities.
August Goal – This month, I challenge you to join with others — family, friends, brother Knights — in praying the rosary for the intention of remaining steadfast in the faith. Second, I challenge you to encourage members of your parish to stand firm in the faith by starting or promoting the Faith in Action Building the Domestic Church Kiosk program at your church.
Questions for Reflection – Do you regularly lead your family in prayer by saying grace before meals, reciting the rosary, reading Scripture or practicing other devotions? Do you openly discuss the Catholic faith so that your children know and understand the faith and its truth, goodness and beauty? Do you pray for your wife and children that God may protect them from the attacks of the devil?
July 2020 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27)
Archbishop Reflection – Have you ever known a man who was just like his father; who not only looked like him, but also acted, spoke and thought like him? Jesus is the very image of his Father and reveals the Father to us. By striving to know God the Son more intimately — through prayer, the Mass, the sacraments and Scripture — we also come to know God the Father more intimately. May we better understand the Father’s love for us and model our own fatherhood after his.
July Goal – This month, I challenge you to commit to at least one hour each week in prayer before Jesus in the tabernacle, spending some of this time meditating on God the Father. Second, I challenge you to work with your brother Knights to implement the Faith in Action Holy Hour program in order to help others grow closer to Christ.
Questions for Reflection – What is the difference between “knowing about the Father” and “knowing the Father”? Jesus always sought to do the will of his Father in heaven, so how does the life of Christ show you how to be a good son to God the Father? What are some attributes of God the Father, and how can you model your own fatherhood on these attributes of the first person of the Holy Trinity?
June 2020 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” (Matthew 10:32-33)
Archbishop Reflection – The logic is pretty clear-cut, isn’t it? In this memorable promise, Jesus assures us of his intercession before the heavenly Father if we acknowledge him before others. Historians tell us that the 20th century saw more martyrs than any before. These brothers and sisters courageously acknowledged Christ before others at the cost of their lives. In our comparative freedom, do we nonetheless deny Christ or hide our faith in little ways? Mindful of Christ’s promise and inspired by the faith of recent martyrs, may we acknowledge our Savior before others with serenity, courage and love.
June Goal – This month, I challenge you to offer to keep another person’s need in your prayers. Second, I challenge you to sustain the priesthood and its witness to the faith by supporting the Faith in Action Refund Support Vocations Program (RSVP) or by helping seminarians in some other way.
Questions for Reflections – What does a full “audit” of your public profession of faith reveal? How does offering to pray for others acknowledge Christ before others?
May 2020 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:9-10)
Archbishop Reflection – We’ve all gone through times when it seems like we’re just keeping our head above water, or moments when we feel overwhelmed by life. So what does Jesus mean when he says that he came in order that we might have life “more abundantly”? Some think that Jesus is offering a “prosperity gospel” that awards the faithful with happiness, good health and financial success. Yet Christ experienced suffering, as do his followers, so an “abundant life” must mean something else. Whether a given day brings health and success, or trials and suffering, we experience all these things with Christ. By living our lives for Christ, he shows us the way to fullness of life.
May Goal – This month I challenge you to write down Psalm 27:1 — “The Lord is my light and my salvation” — put it up where you’ll see it daily (on the fridge, on your mirror, etc.), and recite it regularly. Second, I challenge you to promote the cause of life by participating in the Faith in Action Ultrasound or Pregnancy Center Support programs or by making a donation to a pregnancy center.
Questions for Reflections – What obstacles do you face in living with more abundance, generosity and magnanimity? Has reminding yourself that God is your light and salvation helped you to live more abundantly? How does supporting the pro-life cause help you, others and our society live more abundantly?
April 2020 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” … But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit. And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:46, 50-51)
Archbishop Reflection – Sometimes we can get the idea that Jesus was a “nice guy” and that our purpose as Christians is to be nice people who do nice things and don’t bother with anything unpleasant. Jesus’ heart-rending words from the cross should demolish this misconception. Here the Son of God cries out, quoting Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He gives us permission to make these words our own — in whatever moments of pain, anguish and suffering we experience. You and I are invited to pour our hearts out openly to God in trust and confidence.
April Goal – This month, as we enter Holy Week and celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord, I challenge you to pray the Stations of the Cross to meditate on Christ’s anguish in his Passion.
Questions for Reflections – Have there been times that God has seemed distant to you? How can you model faith that goes beyond being a “nice guy” to be open to the reality of suffering? In praying the Stations of the Cross, how does the reality that Christ accepted suffering and death help you to share your suffering with him?
March 2020 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” (John 11:33-36)
Archbishop Reflection – One of the shortest verses in the Bible — “And Jesus wept.” — is among the most powerful. The Son of God who became man mourns the loss of his friend. And he weeps, just as you or I would. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” Jesus said. Here he models his own teaching. In our busy day-to-day lives, we may be in danger of skipping this beatitude. And though many of the psalms are laments, we can be good at skimming them. Instead, may we follow Jesus by praying these psalms and mourning the losses we and others have suffered.
March Goal – This month, I challenge you to request a Mass for the repose of the soul of a recently deceased person. Second, I challenge you to support those who mourn by participating in the Faith in Action Christian Refugee Relief program or individually through prayer or other aid for those who have suffered persecution for their faith.
Questions for Reflections – How can we properly mourn the losses we and others have suffered in life? How does having Masses said for the deceased aid not only them, but also those still alive? With so much suffering in the world, how can we best show compassion for others?
February 2020 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5:13)
Archbishop Reflection – Imagine that you’re at a steakhouse, and your plate finally arrives. Then, just as you are looking for the salt, you learn that the restaurant has completely run out of it. It’s easy to see that without salt, our food can be bland and tasteless. Turning to the words of our Lord, has your life of faith become bland and insipid? Jesus did not die for our sake in order that we might offer the world a mediocre reflection of his life. As we embark on our Lenten journey, may we strive to be men who season the world and our communities with the salt of an authentic and inspiring Christian life.
February Goal – This month, I challenge you to sharpen your Christian witness by saying grace before meals at home and in public. Second, as you begin your Lenten journey, I challenge you to develop your “saltiness” through spiritual reflection, either with the Faith in Action Spiritual Reflection program or on a more informal basis.
Questions for Reflections – When was the last time you intentionally brought up your faith in a conversation? How did saying grace in public differ from saying it in the home? Practically speaking, what would you need to do to take your Christian “saltiness” to the next
January 2020 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. (Matthew 2:9-12)
Archbishop Reflection – Whenever I meet a refugee, immigrant or traveler, I am reminded of things I take for granted. Those who come great distances to find something often draw our attention to the blessings we enjoy. Most of us are fortunate to have Jesus nearby, truly present in the tabernacle of our local church, but we take his close presence for granted all too easily. The Wise Men embarked on a difficult journey to encounter Jesus, but a five-minute drive can seem too far for us. May our daily familiarity with Jesus never result in indifference. May we instead, like the Wise Men, enter the Lord’s house to do him homage.
January Goal – This month, I challenge you to take to heart the example of the Wise Men and go out of your way occasionally to visit the Blessed Sacrament in a local church. Second, I challenge you to participate in the Faith in Action March for Life or Novena for Life programs or to personally support a local pro-life initiative.
Questions for Reflection – What daily opportunities do you have to encounter Christ? Because gratitude counters our tendency to take things for granted, how can you demonstrate daily gratitude in your life? Why is it important to visit Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and have you benefited from this experience?
December 2019 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: “A voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” (Matthew 3:1-3)
Archbishop Reflection – We are all familiar with the sense of panic that sets in when guests are due to arrive at our home. With people coming any minute, we rush to finish the cleaning and make the final preparations. My brother Knights, in this Gospel passage we find John the Baptist racing through the house, calling on everyone to prepare for the guest of a lifetime: Jesus Christ. This is our common task every day of Advent: to inspect every corner of our spiritual house and clean out the clutter, for Christ’s arrival is at hand. Let us pray for the grace to repent and prepare our souls for the coming of our Lord..
December Goal – This month, I challenge you to fast or abstain from meat one day a week to prepare for Christ’s coming. Second, I challenge you to help prepare for Christ’s coming through the Faith in Action Keep Christ in Christmas program or by simply wishing others a “Merry Christmas.”
Questions for Reflection – How does treating Advent as a time of repentance and preparation change how we understand and celebrate Christmas? What is one practical way you are shifting the focus from materialism to the light of Christ and the spirit of giving this season? How can I remind others of the joy of Christmas during this time of year?
November 2019 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – Then [one of the criminals] said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”( Luke 23:42-43)
Archbishop Reflection – We’ve read these words so many times that it’s easy to miss their power. Here is Jesus using his last minutes of earthly life to show mercy to a dying criminal and to promise him life in heaven that very day. We may not like to admit it, but we have a tendency to insulate ourselves from entire groups of people — perhaps the poor, the homeless or the sick. Yet these are precisely the people with whom Jesus spent so much time. While the religious “upper class” often ignored or mocked Jesus, the poor acknowledged him as Lord and were transformed. May the unlikely words of a criminal — “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom” — become our own urgent prayer.
November Goal – This month, I challenge you to ask God’s pardon and mercy by making a thorough examination of conscience and going to confession. I also challenge you to serve those in need individually or with your council through Faith in Action programs such as Coats for Kids or Food for Families.
Questions for Reflection – Are there habits in your daily routine which exclude or ignore those on the margins of our society? What are some ways, large or small, that you can increase your efforts to help the poor and the needy? How does going to confession help us to imitate the penitent thief, and what can we learn from his prayer?
October 2019 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
Archbishop Reflection – We live in the age of the selfie, in what the writer David Brooks has called the culture of “the Big Me.” Such a culture constantly urges us to “exalt” ourselves, but as Christians we need to be radically different by striving for humility. This means coming to terms with our pride, our desire for “likes,” approval and recognition. As Mother Teresa put it, “It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent.” Surrounded by the message to exalt ourselves, may we instead seek to humble ourselves and demonstrate real love to others.
October Goal –This month, I challenge you to kneel before a crucifix each morning and ask Christ to give you the gift of humility. I also challenge you, in this month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to pray the rosary (either as a council through the Faith in Action Rosary program or as an individual) for an increase in humility.
Questions for Reflection – What are some ways you can grow in humility? How can you strengthen your resistance to the lure of others’ praise and the sting of their criticism? Did the act of humbling yourself before Christ on the cross teach you anything about how to be humble?
September 2019 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?” (Luke 14:27-28)
Archbishop Reflection – In more than four decades as a priest and bishop, I’ve been involved with building a number of new churches and schools. We often start by “dreaming big.” Then reality hits: What are we willing to spend? Jesus is asking each of us a similar question about our life of faith. In our lifelong journey to become saints, are we regularly sitting down to consider the cost and fully prepare ourselves to pay it? My brothers, above all other things, may we always prepare to carry our crosses and give our entire lives to Christ.
September Goal –This month, I challenge you to learn more about the life of one of the martyrs and how he or she was prepared to pay any price to follow Christ. Second, I challenge you to participate in the Faith in Action Into the Breach program or read Into the Breach on your own with a particular eye toward how we can best prepare to carry our crosses.
Questions for Reflection – What cross is Christ asking you to carry in your life? Are you willingly taking up the cross and seeking to follow Christ or trying to avoid the cross? In what concrete ways can you imitate the martyrs’ total commitment to Christ?
August 2019 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.”(Luke 12:35-37)
Archbishop Reflection – Semper Paratus — Latin for “always ready” — is the motto of the U.S. Coast Guard, but it also could serve as a motto for you and me in the Christian life. In this Gospel passage, Jesus calls us to constant vigilance. My brothers, whether it’s day or night, we cannot allow our perimeter to be breached by any of the powerful temptations to anger, possessions, lust or other sins. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us. You and I can recall someone whose sudden death reminds us that we do not know when we will be called to account. May our master find us vigilant on his arrival!
August Goal – This month, I challenge you to exercise daily vigilance through the time-tested practice of a simple examination of conscience at the end of each day before going to bed. I also challenge you to watch with vigilance with your council through the Faith in Action Holy Hour program, or by spending some time in eucharistic adoration on your own.
Questions for Reflection – Is looking at your phone the first and the last thing you do each day? In this age of distraction, are there ways you can sharpen your vigilance and focus to better pay attention to what is truly important? Did examining your conscience daily help increase your vigilance in your life?
July 2019 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
Archbishop Reflection – Imagine yourself in Martha’s shoes. While your seemingly lazy sister Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, you are the one preparing and serving the food, setting the table and making things happen. And then, all of a sudden, Jesus chides you and compares you unfavorably to your sister. Jesus’ words can strike us as harsh. Wasn’t Martha doing a good thing by serving our Lord? Yet if we are honest, we recognize that it’s all too easy to get caught up in busyness doing good things and all the while miss the opportunity to encounter Christ. By God’s grace, may we hear these tough words from Jesus, resist this tendency to busyness and strive to choose “the better part.”
July Goal – This month, I challenge you to spend five extra minutes sitting before the Lord before or after Sunday Mass. Second, I challenge you to participate in the Faith in Action Sacramental Gifts program or pray for those receiving the sacraments, that they might choose “the better part.”
Questions for Reflection – If it were you with Jesus that evening, would you have been more likely to be a “Martha” or a “Mary”? What does it mean to choose “the better part”? How did spending a few extra moments with the Lord before or after Mass affect your encounter with Christ in the Eucharist?
June 2019 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – Jesus said to his disciples, “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (John. 14:23B – 26)
Archbishop Reflection – Try putting yourself in the disciples’ shoes at hearing these words at the Last Supper. They probably felt frustrated, anxious, and confused. Perhaps they even sensed that their days with Jesus in his earthly body were drawing to an end. This month, we will celebrate Pentecost and train our focus on this promise which Jesus made to each one of us: that He would never leave us; that He would send the Holy Spirit as our guide, advocate, and helper. Your body is in fact a temple of this same Holy Spirit. As disciples of Jesus and beloved sons of the Heavenly Father, let us be known as men who are constantly drawing closer to the Holy Spirit and unlocking the Spirit’s power in our lives.
June Goal –This month I challenge you to deepen your relationship with the Holy Spirit by praying the words “Come, Holy Spirit” as you begin your daily time of prayer, your workday, or an activity at home. Secondly I challenge you to invite a friend or family member (who is not active in their faith) to join you at Mass or at Adoration.
May 2019 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – Jesus said, “My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34).
Archbishop Reflection – “I give you a new commandment: love one another,” we hear in the Gospel reading. We’ve heard this saying of Jesus before, but do we personalize it this and truly know it to be true? Statistically, we as Catholics in America today are not renowned for loving one another to the point that we risk sharing our faith with others. One recent poll found that only 6% of Catholics characterized sharing their faith as a “high priority.” But Jesus invites us to do more. He does not call the equipped; he equips the called. And each one of us is called to love one another in the most profound way—by caring about others’ eternal well-being.
May Goal – This month I challenge you to invite one person out for coffee, to your home, or an event at your parish. Tell them what you enjoy about the Catholic faith. Secondly, if they have been away from the Catholic Church, invite them back. If they are not Catholic, ask them if they would consider joining. Either way, be welcoming and nonjudgmental when they give their response.
April 2019 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” ( Luke 24:30-32)
Archbishop Reflection – A “fire in the belly,” passion, a drive: these are some of the ways we talk about others who can summon a deep, inner motivation and who make a difference. My brothers, can we say the same about our inner drive to go deeper in our Church’s teaching? Do our hearts “burn within us” and cause us to daily familiarize ourselves with the riches of our faith? Do we have a fire in the belly to be the kind of men who don’t stand silent at the water cooler when we hear our Church’s teaching denigrated by colleagues? In order to lead with faith we need to know our faith. We can’t give what we don’t have. By God’s grace, may we each become disciples whose “hearts burn within us.”
April Goal – This month I challenge you to deepen your desire to have a heart ‘burning within you’ for new knowledge of the Church’s teaching and doctrine. Invest five to ten minutes a day reading the Catechism or other resource, watching a Catholic talk online, or taking advantage of a local formation opportunity. Secondly I challenge you to talk with a brother in Christ about what you’re learning.
March 2019 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)
Archbishop Reflection – My brother Knights, here we encounter upon some of the most stunningly beautiful words in the entire Gospel: the reunion of the prodigal son with his father. As Jesus describes the scene, I invite you to put yourself in three different sets of shoes. First, imagine that you are the father, seeing your own flesh and blood, your son, coming home. Second, imagine that you are the prodigal son, expecting the worst, but finding that your father is moved with compassion. Third, imagine that you are the hard-working older brother, watching this reunion from a critical distance. Becoming the man we are means that we can learn from all three: embracing others with the mercy of the father; running to our heavenly Father like the Prodigal, and with the older brother, hearing the father’s words spoken to us—that “all that I have is yours’.”
March Goal – This month I challenge you to be like the Prodigal Father by making the first move: take the first step toward another person in your life to encourage or forgive them. Secondly I challenge you to prayerfully write a list of things in your life for which you are grateful.
February 2019 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.(Luke 5:10-11)
Archbishop Reflection – “They left everything and followed him.” My brothers, these words shock me every time I hear or read them. If we are honest, we have to admit how hard it is to leave everything to follow Jesus. After all, we are so good at taking stuff with us as we attempt to follow him—our pride, our possessions, our desire for power, more comfort and pleasure. We attempt to drag this heavy luggage along, or sometimes try to sneak little trinkets into our bags to take with us: maybe it’s our wandering eyes, our temper, a critical spirit, or our workaholism. But Jesus and his disciples travel lightly. He invites us to leave everything and follow him. Let’s experience this genuine freedom of being his disciple: a freedom which hits the open road with our Lord, free of everything that hinders us.
February Goal – This month I challenge you to join other Catholic men who are striving to “leave everything and follow him.” Join them for some time of prayer, fellowship and encouragement, possibly at a Knights meeting, for breakfast, or a drink after work. Secondly I challenge you to be open with a brother in Christ about some area of your life where you are facing challenges. “Leaving everything” means that we also need to leave behind our pretense and appearances, and meet each other as true brothers.
January 2019 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22)
Archbishop Reflection – Think about it. Do you really see yourself as a beloved son in whom your Heavenly Father is well pleased? To be honest, most men, including this archbishop, go through seasons when we don’t seem to sense that our father is well-pleased. Maybe we see ourselves as self-made men who don’t owe our father anything. Maybe we did not experience love from our dad, and the very idea of being beloved is ludicrous. Maybe instead of Jesus’ actual words, we hear, “This is my wayward son, in whom I am much disappointed.” Yet we know that we are baptized into Christ and share in his identity as the beloved son. Being beloved sons is the bedrock of our identity. The plain fact is that your heavenly Father is well-pleased with you.
January Goal – This month I challenge you to hear the Heavenly Father saying these words—“you are my beloved son”—personally to you, and reflect on your identity in him. I recommend that you do so, if possible, in Adoration. Secondly I challenge you to spend time with someone who loves you unconditionally. Ask them why? Their answer should give you a small glimpse of God’s unconditional love for you.
December 2018 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. …Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:39; 41-42)
Archbishop Reflection – “In great haste”: my brother Knights, these three words teach us volumes! Mary set out “in great haste”—and the rest is history. Mary is the first evangelist. With the incredible news of the annunciation, she wastes no time fulfilling the command to visit her cousin Elizabeth. My brothers, we know that so many things can weigh us down and prevent us from delivering the good news to others with that speed and urgency. The Lord knows our every sorrow, weakness, fear, or excuse. And yet He invites us to look to our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and call upon her intercession. May we be known as her reliable sons who likewise carry the news “in great haste,” leaving behind everything that impedes us.
December Goal – This month I challenge you to pray at least a decade of the Rosary daily. Secondly, we are often in situations in which faith topics come up and we choose to say nothing. This month I challenge you to engage in those conversations and share what you love about the Catholic Faith.
November 2018 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – Jesus said to his disciples, “In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened … and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” — (Mark. 13:24, 32)
Archbishop Reflection – There’s an old country Gospel song with a catchy refrain that asks this question: “What would you do if Jesus came to spend the day with you?” As Advent quickly approaches, the Church invites us to ponder this question — and prepare our hearts and souls accordingly. We frantically prepare for Christmas, buying gifts and decorating our homes. But will we prepare our soul with the same sense of urgency, purpose, and care? Advent is a sobering time of reflection on the second coming of Jesus. “What would you do if Jesus came to spend the day with you?” Soon he will. May we meet him with open arms and pure hearts. This month’s challenge
November Goal – This month, recalling that we do not know the “day or the hour,” I challenge you to go confession, and make a commitment to go monthly thereafter as a means of maintaining vigilant care over your soul. Secondly, I challenge you in the coming month to forgive someone who has hurt you in some way.
October 2018 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – [The blind man] threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” (Mark 10:50-52)
Archbishop Reflection – Most of us can probably recall requesting a meeting with someone influential, and then reaching a point in that meeting where he or she looked us in the eyes and asked, “So, what can I do for you?” We most likely prepared for this moment, and we clearly stated our need or wish. Brothers, can we imagine the Son of God speaking our own name and asking, “What do you want me to do for you?” It seems extraordinary. Even unbelievable! And yet, this is exactly what Jesus invites us to do every day in prayer, reading and reflecting on Scripture, speaking to him about what is in our hearts. That’s a meeting you and I would not want to miss.
October Goal – When having a discussions with people this month (especially your family members), give them your undivided attention and do not look at your cell phones during the conversations. Secondly I challenge you to honestly attempt to answer Jesus’ question to you, “What do you want me to do for you?”
September 2018 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – ” “Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.’ (Mark 9:35)
Archbishop Reflection – When I was in seminary, I had a roommate who was an early riser. Every morning his loud alarm went off at 5:15, at which point he’d say the same thing: “Gladly, Jesus, gladly!” My comments went in a different direction. Let’s be honest. In a selfish, me-first world, it’s just as hard to hear Jesus say “the first shall be last” as it was to hear my roommate at 5:15. And yet, my brothers, Jesus calls us to be servants of all; to step out of our comfort zone and say “gladly!” as we go to serve others in our lives. ‘Gladly, Jesus, gladly!’
September Goal – This month I challenge you to become even more like Jesus, the “servant of all,” by making an act of charity for someone in your life from whom you have been distant, or whom you have wronged. Secondly I challenge you to prayerfully reflect on these words from Scripture: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another” (I Jn. 4:11).
August 2018 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – “Jesus then said to the Twelve, ‘Do you also want to leave?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.’” (January 6:67-69)
Archbishop Lori’s Reflection –I don’t know about you, but I can look back on moments in my life when Peter’s words have been personal and I have said to Jesus in prayer: ‘Master, to whom shall I go?’ I hope that you likewise have reached a point in your life where you know with certainty that there is nowhere to go but Jesus: not to power, to money, to sex, to alcohol, or anything else that can become a false “master” in our lives. My brothers, we have come to believe that Jesus is the Holy One of God, and our lives must bear evidence of this. Let us become men who, with Peter, can truly say, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
August Goal – This month I challenge you to make a daily examination of conscience, probing your heart to find the false “masters” (e.g., comfort, power, appearance) to whom you go. Take a few minutes before bed to review the day, including both your blessings and sins. Second, I challenge you to eliminate one of your vices and when you are tempted to participate in that vice pray, “Jesus I trust in you.”
July 2018 Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge
Scripture Reading – The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they have done and taught. He said to them “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while. (Mark 6:30)
Archbishop Lori’s Reflection – If we are honest, we know that we are not that good at coming “coming away… to a deserted place” to “rest a while”. In fact, over 80 percent of us check our smart phones even before brushing our teeth in the morning and spend time on them in the last hour before we go to sleep. Like the apostles, we focuson getting a lot done. But let’s imagine what would happen if we truly responded to he challenge of Jesus to “come away” to pray in solitude every morning, resting in His presence and holy Word. Jesus invites us to put first things first. Let’s take him at his word and make the changes we need to make.
July Goal – I challenge you to “come away” to a quiet place by praying at least five minutes a day. First thing in the morning before you check your electronic devises or turn on the TV. You will likely have stops and starts, but strive to be as consistent as possible. In addition, I challenge you to respond to Jesus’ invitation to “rest a while” by doing something truly restful on Sunday, the day of rest.