Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
I would like to start this pastor's column with some good news.  Last year 299 families from Sacred Heart Parish gave to the "Catholic Arkansas Sharing Appeal" which led us to reach and easily surpass our parish goal for 2017.  I must admit that while I'm tempted to focus firstly on the fact that we got "so close" to 300 or more families who made a gift to help fund a LARGE variety of ministries and activities that are happening throughout the state of Arkansas, instead, let me say a loud (or at least a "strong" since you can't hear me) THANK YOU VERY MUCH to those who were so thoughtful and generous to this great cause.

I'm sure some, if not many of you, receive throughout the year, solicitations to help a large variety of causes and needs.  While most of us don't even try to give something to all of them, it takes thought and reflection before deciding which causes we will help.

The good thing about the Catholic Arkansas Sharing Appeal is that the money I give goes to a great variety of peple in need from the poor (Catholic Charities), to the Unborn (through the efforts of the Respect Life Office), to needy students (in Catholic Schools, religious education, and College Campus Ministry Programs) to our seminarians (who are being prepared to be our future priests in Arkansas), to our adults and youth who use diocesan facilities (that have recently been renovated) for retreats (like our own parish men's retreat February 26-March 1, and opportunities for formation and education (like our future permanent deacons).  The list is so long, I might mention more of them in future columns.  The bottom line is THEY ALL need our support and will get it through our gift to the Arkansas Sharing Appeal.  While we, thanks be to God have reached and surpassed our goal this past year and in previous years, the overall goal has not been reached for quite a few years, so some hard decisions have to be made when it comes to who might not get as much as they need.

PLEASE have an open mind and heart to what you hear next weekend, and especially if you haven't given anything to this appeal in the past, consider doing something this year.  I am happy to say, our parish has, in the last number of years, had some of the highest numbers of total givers, and I hope and pray that trend continues and goes even higher this year.

Praise God for all the work that's being done in the name of Jesus Christ and all of us who give to the Catholic Arkansas Sharing Appeal!
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."