Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
While the numbers attending and participating in the annual March For Life have certainly dropped over the years, my hope is that the number of people praying for an end to abortion and for the legal protection of the unborn has increased - especially on January 22.  That is the day that our United States Bishops have asked us to pray privately and in public, for legal protection of unborn children.

PLEASE join with millions of Catholics in our country to flood heaven on this day for this life-saving cause.  We will pray the patriotic rosary this Monday, January 22 at 8:30 a.m. as this special rosary prays particularly for our elected and appointed officials who make and preserve the laws of our land.  The Mass that follows at 9:00 a.m. is a special Mass for the legal protection of the unborn.  If you cannot join us for the patriotic rosary and/or Mass this Monday, please say a rosary for life on your own (especially in our Perpetual Adoration Chapel if you can) and/or pray the prayer penned by then Pope Benedict XVII, which follows in this pastor's column.

Lord Jesus:  You who faithfully visit and fulfill with your Presence the Church and the history of men;  You who in the miraculous Sacrament of your Body and Blood render us participants in divine Life and allow us a foretaste of the joy of eternal Life;  We adore and bless you.

Prostrated before You, source and lover of Life, truly present and alive among us, we beg you.

Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life, make us capable of seeing in the fruit of the maternal womb the miraculous work of the Creator, open our hearts to generously welcoming every child that comes into life.

Bless all families, sanctify the union of spuses, render fruitful their love.

Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies with the light of your Spirit, so that peoples and nations may recognize and respect the sacred nature of life, of every human life.

Guide the work of scientists and doctors, so that all progress contributes to the integral well-being of the person, and no one endures suppression or injustice.

Give creative charity to administrators and economists, so they may realize and promote sufficient conditions so that young families can serenely embrace the birth of new children.

Console the married couples who suffer because they are unable to have children and in Your goodness provide for them.

Teach us all to care for orphaned or abandoned children, so they may experience the warmth of your Charity, the consolation of your divine Heart.  Together with Mary, Your Mother, the great believer, in whose womb you took on our human nature, we wait to receive from You, our Only True God and Savior, the strength to love and serve life, in anticipation of living forever in You, in communion with the Blessed Trinity.
Many people make "New Year's Resolutions" to be more physically healthy and there are many avenues to explore and adopt to help a person (or persons) within a family to do this.  I can only hope and pray that more people (like all of you) will resolve to be more spiritually healthy and alive in the Lord as we start a new calendar year.  There are various avenues we can explore that can help us in this regard.  If you haven't logged on to the FORMED website (, access code CNT7WK), I invite you to try it and become a registered member which gives you access on an ongoing basis to reading, video and audio material that can help us to grow in union with The Lord and His church.

I want to encourage the men in the parish to consider two wonderful opportunities for spiritual growth that are coming up in February.  One (February 3) is the "Catholic Men's Conference" which is a one-day event in Little Rock at Christ the King Church (4000 N. Rodney Parham Road).  Please look for more information within this bulletin and consider participating.  One speaker is Bishop Bredan J. Cahill of Victoria, Texas who I have heard a number of times, including a day of recollection for our diocesan priests a few years ago, and I can attest that he is a good speaker.  There is a cost ($25) that increases after January 20, so please register as soon as you can.  

The other opportunity is a Lenten Retreat for the men of our parish in Little Rock beginning on Monday, February 26 and ending March 1.  The retreat master will be Monsignor Scott Friend, the vicar general and vocation director of our diocese who has much experience giving retreats in Arkansas and other places.  Due to his sometimes fragile health, he is not doing many retreats anymore, so we are blessed that he agreed to do ours.  The space for this retreat (which will have talks, Mass each day, opportunity for quiet, reflective time and fellowship) IS LIMITED to the first 40 to sign-up.  Be looking for more details, including how to register, in the coming weeks.

I pray that all of our men will consider one or both of these opportunities that challenge us to get away from our comfort zones so the Lord may speak to us and make us stronger Catholic Men in thought, word and deed.

Ladies, please look for upcoming opportunities for you, including a day of recollection sometime in April.

I truly believe that year 2018 has great potential to make us what the Lord wants us to be, which is almost always better than what we might have in mind for ourselves.  Please come and "Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord."
There's an old saying, I believe, that speaks a truth.  "If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you get."  I have come to the unhappy conclusion that such is the case when it comes to the times I make the Sacrament of Reconciliation available to all who recognize the need for us to be reconciled to God and His people, the Church, on a regular basis.  I can attest to more than a few people who tell me that they don't come to Confession more often because:  "At my age, I don't sin like I used to."  I want to analyze such a statement.  I will say that sin happens through our thoughts, words and deeds which covers much ground for all of us to ponder if our entire being is continually giving praise to God and doing good in the name of Jesus for others.

I challenge all of us to consider going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often in this new year and be blessed with the graces we receive from God, the opportunity to practice humility (especially as we confess our sins), and the opportunity to do our part to make the Body of Christ whole and healthier than it is.  To that end, I have decided to change scheduled times for the Sacrament as follows.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays I will offer the Sacrament after the morning Mass until 10:00 a.m.  On Wednesdays and Fridays (and Mondays when we have Mass), I will continue to offer the Sacrament from 8:30 a.m. to 8:50 a.m.  On the weekends I will offer the Sacrament on Saturday from 1:00-2:00 p.m. and 3:30-3:45 p.m., and on Sunday from 7:30-7:45 a.m. and 9:30-9:45 a.m.  Finally, the Sacrament will be offered on Tuesdays when we have one of our Sacred Heart Men's meetings - from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m.  If I need to increase those scheduled times by some minutes, I will gladly do so.

I promise to make your experience of Reconciliation a positive and helpful one.  Also, if you are at the stage of life when your memory is not so good, I encourage you, if you would like, to have your sins written down before you come and/or be ready to say a general confession that you have sinned and want the blessings of forgiveness and peace that God and the Church are so ready to give.

I hope those who agree to participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often (at least monthly or bi-monthly) will come out and go around echoing the words of a song which say:   "Peace is flowing like a river, flowing our of you and me. . ."