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For our priest jubilarians: 'Ad multos annos!' To many more years!
A jubilee is a milestone, a time to pause and to take time, looking back and looking forward.
Thursday, April 27, 2017

The seamless cloak of God's grace
God's mercy is a lot like light.
This should not surprise us. Jesus reveals Himself to us as light: "I am the light of the world." In His light, all things are revealed in the splendor of original grace -- how things were meant to be.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The sorrowful events of Holy Week lead to an unexpected and explosive outburst of joy on Easter Sunday.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The sacrament of peace of mind
Penance is one of the two great healing sacraments. Along with the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, it is an invitation to a personal encounter with none other than Jesus Christ Himself -- in the flesh, one might even say -- to experience His healing touch as the divine physician.
Thursday, April 6, 2017

Real love goes deep
The story of the woman at the well (Jn 4:5-42), the subject of the Gospel last Sunday (the third Sunday of Lent), might be called a primer on evangelization.
Thursday, March 23, 2017

Building up the family
This column is the last in a three-part series on marriage and on support for those in marital stress or collapse.
Thursday, March 16, 2017

The vocation of marriage
This column is the second in a three-part series on marriage and support for those in marital stress or collapse. Read last week's column at www.evangelist.org. Next week, Bishop Scharfenberger will address ecclesiastical annulments and other remedies for people struggling with family-life issues.
Thursday, March 9, 2017

A papal pep talk
"Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), a so-called "apostolic exhortation" Pope Francis issued last spring, celebrates the many ways in which divine and human love engage and intermesh.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Almsgiving: more than an option
Ash Wednesday is March 1, less than a week away. During the Lenten season, it's customary and spiritually beneficial for Christians to "give up" something good in which we take material pleasure: typically, something we like to eat or drink, such as alcoholic beverages, chocolates or even sweets altogether. It might also be some wholesome but time-consuming form of entertainment, like movies or video games.
Thursday, February 23, 2017

A vacation for winter?
Ads in these northern climes are filled with fantasies of trim, tanned, bathing-suited twosomes, sauntering blithely along edens of coconut palm-fringed beaches. Cruise ships sporting banners like "Carnival Sunshine" and "Regal Princess" beckon us to paradise, offering celestial banquets of rum punch and exotic fruits, magic carpets of crystal-blue waters and sun-drenched sands, and all at painless prices.
Thursday, February 16, 2017

Super Bowl Sunday and being who we are
Watching the halftime show at the Super Bowl telecast last Sunday, I was wondering, like many Americans, whether Lady Gaga was going to hijack her performance by careening off her strong points into a political diatribe.
Thursday, February 9, 2017

March for Life with love
Last Friday, I joined the March For Life, the 44th since its inception following Roe v. Wade (Jan. 22, 1973), the landmark decision of the Supreme Court legalizing abortion on demand.
Thursday, February 2, 2017

Feeding our neighbors
Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Albany is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Throughout its entire existence, providing food for the hungry has been one of the pillars of its Gospel-inspired mission.
Thursday, January 26, 2017

Seeds of faith, hope for future
Were it not for the Catholic schools I attended in my formative years, in all likelihood I would not be writing this column.
Thursday, January 19, 2017

Trust in the Holy Spirit
Last weekend, I had the joy and pleasure to confirm 13 young disciples from the Catholic community of St. Patrick's parishes in Athens and Catskill.
Thursday, January 12, 2017

Focusing our prayers during National Migration Week
In his message for the World Day of Peace (Jan. 1), Pope Francis calls attention to the effects of war and violence on those human beings who are most vulnerable. Among them are migrants, the infirm, the unemployed, those imprisoned and the unborn.
Thursday, January 5, 2017

More than a story
The Christmas story continues, as it always has, to fascinate and to disturb, to inspire and to irritate both people of great faith and people of little faith, depending on how it is heard and how seriously heeded.
Thursday, December 22, 2016

Mary, the great connector
No wonder Mary is so controversial: a human being who dared to say, "Yes," to give birth to a divine being as her child!
Thursday, December 15, 2016

Four steps to finding the treasure of Advent
Finding the treasure of Advent is the key to getting into the Christmas spirit. Even with Advent almost half over -- or perhaps especially because of that -- claiming the time to accept its graces will deepen both the joy and peace Christmas promises.
Thursday, December 8, 2016

Reclaim Advent
Each Advent come exhortations from Christian pulpits to "slow down." Just when every other force and fury around us is screaming, "Hurry up!" the Church is out there being its counter-cultural self, ever the sign of contradiction in the world.
Thursday, December 1, 2016

Occupy home!
Not everyone enjoys a welcome home at Thanksgiving, but on that day there is hardly a soul who does not long to be with family and friends.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Our heart, God's throne
We are drawing to the close of both the liturgical year and the "Year of Mercy" that the universal Church has been observing.
Thursday, November 17, 2016

Experiencing the Divine Mercy
The new evangelization is not about what we know, but whom we know.
What is evangelization? It is spreading the Gospel. "Gospel" means "Good News:" the good news that Jesus Christ is our Savior. He is everyone's Savior, my Savior, the Savior of the world.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Too young to vote?
So, you can't vote because you're not old enough? Nonsense. Everyone can vote!
Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thank God for our priests
The focus this week in The Evangelist on vocations invites us to thank God for the blessing of the vocations of the ordained -- in particular, priests -- and to thank them for following freely God's invitation.
Thursday, October 27, 2016

Faith is a way of seeing
Yuri Gagarin -- the first Soviet cosmonaut in space -- is said to have commented while in orbit, "I don't see any God up here." It may never have occurred to him that God could still see him.
Thursday, October 20, 2016

Displaced 'love'
During my 20-odd years of service in a diocesan Tribunal, assisting people with marital difficulties, the many heart-wrenching stories of emotional and family devastation taught me much about the paradox we call love.
Thursday, October 13, 2016

The love that welcomes and saves
It is well recognized -- our experience confirms it -- that the nurse or doctor with the better bedside manner is all the more likely to find both patient and family responsive. That is why successful professional people almost always cultivate a welcoming, affirming demeanor in their practice.
Thursday, October 6, 2016

No one is worthy
If there is something that might be called, with a certain measure of ironic humor, a Catholic "heresy," something that can really separate us from the communion of faith in which we are united with God and one another, it is none of the hot-button issues which are typically all over the media: abortion, say, or sexual ethics, or the ordination of women.
Thursday, September 22, 2016

Opening the door of mercy
How much patience does God have? When will His mercy finally run out with all the evil in the world?
Thursday, September 15, 2016

We hold these truths
'These rights are constitutive of our humanity and the very order of civil society itself. Without them, as history can illustrate, civilization comes apart at the seams. Deny or distort these rights and the seeds of violence are sown. That is why it is so important for us to come back to our first principles before we decide whether we want to be (or vote) Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal.'
Thursday, September 8, 2016

What about hell?
Purgatory is like a "second chance" for God's mercy to purify us, so that we can enter His presence free of the sinful baggage we have dragged around with us through our lives.
What about hell, then?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Purgatory: becoming who we are
Want a little relief from the heat of summer? Listen to these soothing words of Jesus. Read them aloud, slowly: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light" (Mt 11:28-30).
Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Assumption is a revelation
At the risk of making a bad pun, the Assumption stands for much more than we might just assume.
Thursday, August 18, 2016

Jesus, our savior from boredom
I have the impression that many people feel overburdened, frustrated, confused and maybe even irritated that God is not revealing Himself enough in the world in general and in our personal lives in particular.
Thursday, August 11, 2016

My experience at World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland
Gather 1.5 million young people together in any small city of the world for a week. Billet them in hostels with no washing machines, bars of soap or hair dryers. Put them on a nine-mile hike the day before the last, followed by a sleepless overnight camp-out with no amenities but Porta-Potties and bottled water. Awaken them at 5 a.m. (or earlier) and have them wait four hours for a two-and-a-half-hour Sunday Mass, outdoors, under a sweltering sun. Send them back on a nine-mile return to their close quarters.
Thursday, August 4, 2016

The real cure
What ails you?
I thought I would get right to the point.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Just do it
Most of us, I think, have no idea of the good we can do -- if that is what we want to do.
Thursday, July 21, 2016

We can do better than this
Violence is violence by any other name. What civil society can long tolerate it yet remain civilized?
Thursday, July 14, 2016

We're all called to holiness
Every one of us, without exception, is called to holiness!
How often have you heard something like that and thought, "Well, that's nice, but this had to be for somebody else, not me."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

All about Auriesville
The Auriesville shrined has never been just about the Albany Diocese or even New York State.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

In defense of human life
How much more violence does it take?
Do we need any further reminders than what our nation has just witnessed: the evil of any way of thinking or acting that treats any class of human beings differently, as inferior or less worthy of God's love and mercy than any other?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Graduation time
The lyrics of a song, popular about 50 years ago, described a romantic relationship as "step by step, I fell in love with you." The first step was "a sweet hello" and, like the progression of grammar school grades, it all led up to the seventh ("I took a chance") and then the final step: "true romance."
Thursday, June 9, 2016

Summer recess
The Memorial Day weekend just past is the traditional harbinger of the summer season. We've barely noticed spring, and already hints of the hot and slow-going days of summer are upon us.
Thursday, June 2, 2016

Love without limits
Back in the 1960s -- a time when the so-called "sexual revolution" was boldly proclaimed -- a culture of newfound liberation was beginning to emerge, celebrating itself as a movement toward "free love."

Thursday, May 26, 2016

In the glow of Pentecost
Pentecost is a feast of divine mercy. Like every Mass, it happens where sinners are gathered together, longing for God's peace. Isn't that why we gather at Mass -- because we need peace; we need God's mercy?
Thursday, May 19, 2016

Abortion mandate violates religious freedom
Recently it has come to light that a New York State agency had, without any prior public notice, approved and issued mandates forcing church institutions, employers and individuals to cover so-called therapeutic and non-therapeutic abortions in their health insurance plans.
Thursday, May 12, 2016

Religious freedom: a fundamental right rooted in humanity
The publication of the Declaration of Independence some 240 years ago provoked a chorus of guffaws from continental elites, many of whom scoffed at the naive notion that humans could be trusted to govern themselves.
Thursday, May 5, 2016

Walk through door of mercy
Have you walked through the door of mercy? Have you taken that big step of trust that Jesus invites all of us, as His disciples, to do, so that He can pour His divine mercy into our hearts?
Thursday, April 28, 2016

Priesthood reveals God's foolishness
Unlike priestly classes of pre-Christian cultures, the priesthood initiated by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper represents no kind of upward mobility as the world might view it. In reality, it is a humiliation.
Thursday, April 21, 2016

The gift of family
Friday, April 8, saw the arrival of Pope Francis's long-awaited apostolic exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"). The first reactions have been quick and vigorous.
Thursday, April 14, 2016

Rich in mercy
On Monday evening, April 4, many of the faithful joined me at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany in a consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Thursday, April 7, 2016

Made for love forever
The Easter message is much more than a clever spin or even a "faith-take" on the staggering encounters and events of Holy Week.
Thursday, March 24, 2016

The cross is all about love
Everyone knows that true love can neither be bought nor sold. In fact, it is the one thing we all want and need and can never get by paying for it, no matter how much we spend.
Thursday, March 17, 2016

Come and know God's mercy personally
By now just about everyone has heard of the all-nighter Rev. Bob Longobucco pulled last Friday. He decided to take up the challenge that Pope Francis extended for larger parishes to offer the sacrament of penance and reconciliation for 24-hour periods.
Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lift us up, o Lord!
Call it what you will -- the parable of the prodigal son or of the forgiving father -- this Sunday's Gospel is really about a prodigal God whose mercy is almost wasteful.
Thursday, March 3, 2016

Living the Way of the Cross
Lent is, above all, a journey with Jesus, an invitation to walk with Him by living the Way of the Cross.
Thursday, February 25, 2016

When mercy came to me
The story I would like to tell this week is so simple, ordinary and unspectacular that I almost hesitate to share it. It happened in a kitchen on a Saturday afternoon, if my memory serves me well, one February long ago.
Thursday, February 18, 2016

Conversion at the water cooler
The woman at the well is my favorite evangelization story. I always think about this passage at the start of Lent, because it is a real account of a conversion, a life-changing experience.
Thursday, February 11, 2016

We feed our neighbors
Each year around this time, we make an effort to heighten awareness about hunger in our community and to raise funds to replenish the shelves at our food pantries and soup kitchens.
Thursday, February 4, 2016

New episcopal vicars sow seeds of hope
Earlier this month, our new episcopal vicars spent the better part of three days praying, reflecting, brainstorming and dialoguing about their new mission.
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Keeping our schools Catholic
This week's edition of the The Evangelist celebrates Catholic education and, specifically, the mission and focus of our Catholic schools. All of the research continues to find that Catholic schools, when they are true to their mission and focus, are the best means of forming our young people in the Catholic faith.
Thursday, January 21, 2016

Do not be afraid to answer
One of the first casualties that beset Adam and Eve after the fall was their fear of being summoned by God's voice.
Thursday, January 14, 2016

Make it happen
"History is made up of three kinds of people: those who make it happen, those to whom it happens and those who wonder what happened!"
Whoever first observed this was onto something. Each of these options is a personal choice. What will yours and mine be?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Why can't every day be Christmas?
While the historical question about the actual birthdate of Christ remains unresolved, some have been intrigued by the coincidence (or perhaps not?) of that date with the arrival of the winter solstice, the time when sunlight begins to increase perceptibly.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas through Mary's heart
In the twilight of 2016, we are naturally inclined to reflect on what we've lost and what we've gained this year.
Thursday, December 17, 2015

Love is easy? Think again
I have heard it said that the standard our Lord Jesus will use to judge us in the end is how much we have loved throughout our life. It makes sense, then, for us to be sure we know what love is -- and that we are doing that loving.
Thursday, December 10, 2015

The price of mercy
We are at the dawn of a holy Year of Mercy for the Catholic Church. On Dec. 8, Pope Francis will open the symbolic bronze doors at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome as a reminder of God's extraordinary compassion for sinners, for anyone who wants to turn away from sins and sinful habits and be given a fresh start, surrounded by grace and love.
Thursday, December 3, 2015

Giving and Thanksgiving
What does God do all day long? Above any other action, it belongs to God's very nature to give.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Toward openness and healing
In the interest of transparency and openness, I have reviewed the criteria we use for releasing names to the public and have decided to make available on our diocesan website the most up-to-date information possible.
Thursday, November 19, 2015

Let the spirit flow
You have many of them -- no doubt, more than you know. Jesus had all of them. You didn't earn them. God gives them to you gratuitously. They are, indeed, graces, but they are not for you; they're solely for the benefit of others.
Thursday, November 12, 2015

'The harvest is abundant, but...'
It's harvest time. Thanksgiving is three weeks away. But I would like to go out on a limb and say, why not start working on that Thanksgiving list right now?
Thursday, November 5, 2015

Never hurts to ask
Many people today describe themselves as "spiritual, but not religious" -- at least, that is how they respond in surveys that ask about their religious affiliation.
Thursday, October 22, 2015

Our wit's end
It happens to everyone: We come to the end of certain stage in our life....
Thursday, October 15, 2015

Catholic schools form tomorrow's leaders
Long before the advent of the Common Core academic standards, Catholic schools have identified the source of their phenomenal success in consistently delivering academic excellence.
Thursday, October 8, 2015

The peaceful presence of God
If there is one thing that I suspect I will always remember about the days of Pope Francis among us, it is the deep peace I felt in his presence.
Thursday, October 1, 2015

God pays attention
It's tough enough, in our busy, often multi-tasking lives, to pay the best attention all the time to what we are doing. But when a loved one like a teenage daughter or son comes to us with words like this, it melts our heart. Deep down we know (and they know) that what they are really saying is that they feel "nobody loves me."
Thursday, September 24, 2015

What will the pope say?
So many people are asking me, "What do you think Pope Francis is going to say when he comes to the United States? What will he talk about?"
Thursday, September 17, 2015

Make Jesus number one
In his remarkable book on evangelization, "Reclaim the Fire: A Parish Guide to Evangelization," Rev. Martin Pable hits the nail right on the head. He writes: "The purpose of the Church is not to increase its membership rolls. The purpose of the Church is to make known the person and message of Jesus Christ."
Thursday, September 10, 2015

The evangelizing moment
What does "the new evangelization" look like? Doing it can be much simpler than one might at first think.
Thursday, September 3, 2015

Jesus heals the deepest wound
At the most intimate core of the human soul churns an unsettled, yearning, burning sea of...incompleteness. It's a longing or desire for something more that is never quite quenched by anything that life on this earth can fulfill.
Thursday, August 27, 2015

Our Church
What if "the" Church really became "our" Church?
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Women do not need Planned Parenthood
Much of the cachet that Planned Parenthood has cultivated over the years -- including its increasingly tenuous claim to be worthy of the half-billion dollars of taxpayer money doled out to it each year -- has been based on the astounding pretext of its being an essential and indispensable provider of women's health services in the United States.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Proclaiming the Gospel means living in Jesus
Each and every disciple of Jesus is tasked both to live the Gospel and to proclaim the Gospel. Like the title of the newspaper in which this column is published, every disciple of Jesus -- or Christian -- is called to be an evangelist.
Thursday, August 6, 2015

The main subject of Catholic education
What is the main subject of Catholic education? A correct response might be, "Religion;" or, more specifically, "The Catholic faith." But is that really the best answer?
Thursday, July 23, 2015

Driving out demons
As summer sets in and temperatures rise, there is nothing like a few political hot potatoes on the grill to add to the heat.
The meaning of marriage, immigration policy dysfunction, climate change, voting rights, drones and espionage -- matters about which few feel indifferent -- are all smack at picnic-table discussion before the charcoal is even out of the bag.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Real friends
Everything we do affects others in some way. If you think about it, there is no such thing as a "private" sin. Our every thought, word, deed -- even every click on a web browser or social media site -- is like a stone cast into a lake, creating ripples as far as the eye can see.
Thursday, July 9, 2015

'Who am I to judge?'
One of the most applauded and most often quoted statements of Pope Francis has been his, "Who am I to judge," response to a question posed to him aboard the plane as he was returning to the Vatican from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lord, teach us how to pray
Prayer is not in time; time is in prayer. It is the language of God, the music of heaven.
Thursday, June 25, 2015

A time to rest
Summer is here. We may well find ourselves tempted to let our thoughts wander toward dreams and fantasies of things that were, could have been or might yet be.
Thursday, June 18, 2015

God's work, too!
It is time to make some structural changes in order to serve the needs of our pastors, parish leaders and parishioners even better.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Numbers don't lie
The heat has been rising in Albany the last couple of weeks, and it's not just because the calendar has turned to June. The issue of parental choice in education has turned up the temperature in and around the State Capitol as the legislative session winds to a close.
Thursday, June 11, 2015

Graduation or commencement?
Spring is a time of growth and transition. In the natural order, we are seeing (finally) greenery and flowering things emerge from the brown earth and around the edges of the gray pavement along our streets. It has been a long winter and we welcome these beautiful gifts of God's ever-renewing creation.
Thursday, June 4, 2015

Seeking truth in friendship
It matters who or what your "God" is.
By "God," in this writing, I mean the one, ultimate ground that constitutes the center of one's entire existence: what one lives for, that without which one's life itself has no meaning.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thanksgiving in May
Nothing brings more joy to the human heart than words or actions that bespeak "thank you."
Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why a 'Rosary Walk?'
Last year, on Tuesday, June 17, nearly 1,000 lay faithful and clergy joined me for a peaceful "Rosary Walk."
Thursday, May 14, 2015

Getting holy
"Are you feeling better?"

When we visit or call a friend who is recuperating from a bout with the flu or surgery, we naturally care if they are getting better. It matters to us and them. We want them to be well and we are willing to take the time, even at great personal sacrifice, to let them know that and to help them in any way we can.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The wound of love
Without exception, the spiritual masters, saints and sinners alike, tell us that the more we turn to the Lord, the more imbued we become with His presence, the deeper our trust in Him becomes - and the more we will feel unworthy.
Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mercy on the way
It's easy to feel lost in a crowd. It even seems natural. No one knows anyone else. No one knows why anyone else is here or where anyone else is going. It's almost a feeling of isolation.
Thursday, April 16, 2015

Peter's eyewitness report
Jesus did not shed His humanity when He breathed His last. Eyewitnesses testify that the risen Christ was "visible," that they "ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead" and that He "commissioned" them to preach and testify so that "everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins in His name."
Thursday, April 9, 2015


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