Archive for the ‘Reflection’ Category

Mary in History: A Mystical Marriage

March 9, 2019

March 9, 1368 – Siena, Italy

Catherine Benincasa was born the youngest of twenty-five children in Siena, Italy. She was so joyful as a child that they nicknamed her “Eu-phro-sy-ne,” from the Greek word for “merriment.” At age six, while walking home with her brother, she stopped in her tracks. When she did not respond to his calls, he walked back to her and shook her, as from a dream. She burst into tears, having beheld in the sky a vision of Jesus seated in glory with the Apostles Peter, Paul, and John. A year later, she made a secret vow to give her whole life to God.

In her teenage years, Catherine’s parents began pressuring her to enter marriage, but she voiced with her intention not to. When her parents persisted, she cut short her beautiful golden-brown hair. As punishment, they made her do menial work in the household and, knowing she craved prayerful solitude, never allowed her to be alone. She bore all this with patient sweetness, later writing that God showed her how to build within her soul a private chamber where no tribulation could enter.

On Fat (or Shrove) Tuesday, while the people of Siena were celebrating carnival, the 21-year-old Catherine was praying in her room. A vision of Jesus appeared, with by Mary and the heavenly angels. Our Lady took Catherine’s hand and held it up to Christ, who placed a ring upon it and mystically married her to himself. Though invisible to others, this ring of St. Catherine of Siena was always visible to her.

Some misunderstand the meaning and purpose of celibacy in the Church. Jesus Christ, St. Paul, St. Catherine, and others have encouraged and lived this way of life not because human connection or natural marriage are bad, but because celibacy allows for a higher and broader intimacy. Every person is called to marriage, be it natural or spiritual; and everyone one is called to have children, be they biological or spiritual.

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Mary in History: A Healing Spring

February 24, 2019

February 25, 1858 – Lourdes, France

By the time of this, the ninth appearance of the beautiful Lady to the fourteen-year-old St. Bernadette Soubirous, word had spread about these apparitions and the visionary. On this date, about 300 people accompanied Bernadette to the grotto near the Gave River outside Lourdes. No one except Bernadette could see the Lady nor hear her speaking aloud in their local French dialect.

On this occasion, the Lady told Bernadette, “Go and wash and drink in the spring.” But Bernadette became confused because there was no spring to be seen. At first she thought she meant the river, but the Lady directed her to the back of the grotto cave. Bernadette walked there, kneeled down, and dug at the earth with her hands. Water began seeping into the hole, turning the soil to mud. Bernadette drank it and washed her face with it. She also, at the lady’s command, ate some of the grass there. Understandably, the crowd was dismayed and thought her crazy. Bernadette answered, “It is for sinners.”

There had been no spring there before, but by the next day the spot was producing a thin stream trickling down to the river. Later, Louis Bourriette, a blinded stonecutter, bathed his eyes in its water and regained his sight. In another famous case, a desperate mom prayerfully plunged her weak and dying infant into the cold spring waters and he became healthy and strong for the first time, amazing the doctors. (This child, Justin Bouhort, who would go on to attend the canonization of St. Bernadette seventy-five years later, on December 8th, 1933.) Though there is nothing scientifically unique about the chemical makeup of this water, more than 7,000 miraculous healings have been counted at Lourdes, of which 67 have been officially recognized as “medically inexplicable” by the International Medical Association of Lourdes. As we see in the spring at Lourdes, St. Bernadette, and Our Lady, the Lord exults the lowly, leading all future generations to call them blessed.

Sound Interpretations

February 17, 2019

Last year, the internet hotly debated whether a particular sound clip was saying Yanny” or “Laurel.” While most people can only hear one name or the other, some people can make out each. In fact, both of the names are sounding in the clip together but at higher and lower pitches. In another online curiosity, a short video shows a small figurine glowing and emitting a sound, either “Brainstorm” or “Green Needle.” The amazing thing is that if you listen to this clip with either phrase in mind then that is the phrase you’ll hear. You can even alternate back and forth between the two. In each of these examples, the messages are indeed there to be heard if one has the ears to hear them.

These phenomena suggest how people in the Bible may have been present to the same auditory events but heard things quite differently. On one occasion recorded in John’s Gospel, Jesus prayed aloud, “Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from Heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” John notes, “The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.‘” Later, at Pentecost in The Acts of the Apostles, the disciples “were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” At the sound of it others in Jerusalem from many nations gathered in a large crowd “but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. … They were all astounded and bewildered, and said to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others said, scoffing, ‘They have had too much new wine.’” Sometimes people can hear more than one thing in the same divine message, or dismiss it all as nonsense.

Does each passage of the Bible have only one true interpretation? Some reject that Isaiah 7:14 (“The virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel”) could foretell the virgin birth of Jesus, arguing “the author was referring only to the political situation of his day, not to an event centuries later he couldn’t possibly have known.” But this view forgets or denies that human beings are not the sole authors of Scripture. They are co-authors inspired by the Holy Spirit. God is all-knowing and alive outside of time. He can inspire prophesies with both near and distant fulfillments. And God can invest passages with multiple true and divinely-intended meanings. For example, in the Book of Revelation, John beholds in the sky, “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” She gives birth to a son, the Christ, and then she is protected by God from a red dragon, the Devil. Does this represent God’s people of the Old and the New Covenants, or does it symbolize Mary the Mother of God? Yes. The answer is both.

Sacred Scripture, like other things of God, may be compared to a magic pool. It is a pool in which a small toddler may safely play and a great whale may deeply swim. Let us not remain shallow in our understandings, but explore the true depths of God’s Word.

Mary in History: A Surprising Lady

February 11, 2019

February 11, 1858 – Lourdes, France

On the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (which is called “Fat” or “Shrove” Tuesday,) Bernadette Soubirous, her sister, and a friend were gathering firewood in the cold outside their small French town. They were near a river and a grotto (a shallow cave) where the locals would dump their garbage. Then fourteen-year-old Bernadette heard the sound of a sudden swish of wind. As Bernadette would later recall:

“I had just begun to take off my first stocking [intending to cross the shallow river barefooted as my companions had done] when suddenly I heard a great noise like the sound of a storm. I looked to the right, to the left, under the trees of the river, but nothing moved; I thought I was mistaken. I went on taking off my shoes and stockings, when I heard a fresh noise like the first. Then I was frightened and stood straight up. I lost all power of speech and thought, when, turning my head toward the grotto, I saw at one of the openings of the rock a [rose] bush, one only, moving as if it were very windy. Almost at the same time there came out of the interior of the grotto a golden colored cloud, and soon after a Lady, young and beautiful, exceedingly beautiful, the like of whom I had never seen, came and placed herself at the entrance of the opening above the bush. She looked at me immediately, smiled at me and signed me to advance, as if she had been my mother. All fear had left me, but I seemed to know no longer where I was. I rubbed my eyes, I shut them, I opened them; but the Lady was still there continuing to smile at me and making me understand that I was not mistaken. Without thinking of what I was doing, I took my Rosary in my hands and fell on my knees. The Lady made a sign of approval with her head and took into her hands a rosary which hung on her right arm. When I attempted to begin the Rosary and tried to lift my hand to my forehead, my arm remained paralyzed, and it was only after the Lady had signed herself that I could do the same. The Lady left me to pray all alone; she passed the beads of her Rosary between her fingers but she said nothing; only at the end of each decade did she say the ‘Glory Be’ with me.”

St. Bernadette Soubirous then returned to her family’s poor home, but this would be just the first of eighteen apparitions to her by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, over the five months to follow.

Mary in History: The Conversion of Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne

January 20, 2019

January 20, 1842 – Italy

Alphonse, a French, upper-class, secular Jew, was no fan of religion. He particularly opposed Catholicism after his brother converted and became a priest. Yet providential circumstances brought Alphonse to Rome where Baron Theodore de Bussières, a family friend and fervent Catholic, challenged the 27-year-old skeptic to wear the Miraculous Medal and say the Memorare prayer each day. Alphonse obliged and, on the morning of January 20th, he felt drawn to walk into a church.

I was scarcely in the church when a total confusion came over me,” he later wrote. “When I looked up, it seemed to me that the entire church had been swallowed up in shadow, except one chapel. It was as though all the light was concentrated in that single place. I looked over towards this chapel whence so much light shone, and above the altar was a living figure, tall, majestic, beautiful and full of mercy. It was the most holy Virgin Mary, resembling her figure on the Miraculous Medal. At this sight I fell on my knees right where I stood. Unable to look up because of the blinding light, I fixed my glance on her hands, and in them I could read the expression of mercy and pardon. In the presence of the Most Blessed Virgin, even though she did not speak a word to me, I understood the frightful situation I was in, my sins and the beauty of the Catholic Faith.

That day, he went to meet a Catholic priest. Eleven days after, Alphonse was baptized, confirmed, received Holy Communion, and added “Marie” (that is, “Mary”) to his name. That same year a formal Vatican investigation into his instant conversion judged it a divine miracle operated through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Marie-Alphonse was ordained a priest five years later and alongside his priest-brother labored twenty-nine years establishing religious houses and evangelizing Jews in Palestine, or present-day Israel. At the first Pentecost, 3,000 people in Jerusalem were converted to Christ through the Apostles. The Lord Jesus would have us also use our personal testimonies, invitations, and prayers to win souls for him today.

Christ Calls in Ordinary Time

January 16, 2019

As [Jesus] passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they left their nets and followed him.

— Mark 1:16-18

A remarkable thing about this calling of Simon Peter and Andrew is its ordinariness. The pair are not called through a vision or by angels. Mark mentions no miracles performed there on the shore. We know from John’s Gospel that they have met this rabbi before. Jesus simply tells them to follow him.

This call does not happen on a Jewish holy day, in the Temple, or in a palace, nor at Jerusalem or Rome. (The region of Galilee was an unesteemed place for the Jews and doubly so for the Romans.) Simon and Andrew are not clergy nor scholars, neither governors nor generals. They’re fishermen who work nights doing manual labor. They’re not on spiritual retreat or pilgrimage, they haven’t journeyed for days to a holy mountain of God. Yet Christ walks up to them and calls these two brothers during an ordinary day at their place of work.

Jesus Christ the God-Man does extraordinary things through the ordinary. He makes use of water for his baptism, bread for his Eucharist, and human pairing to reveal his loving union with the Church. He uses our human words to communicate God’s Word in the most published book on earth. He dwells (and waits) for us in every Catholic tabernacle. He makes himself so accessible that, if we are unattentive to him, we can disregard his presence and graces amidst familiar things.

Ordinary Time has returned in the Church. Though not a “special” season like Advent, Lent, Christmas, or Easter, its name does not derive from a lack of value but from the ordinal numbers which count its weeks (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) The color of this time is green because it is a season for our ongoing growth. So let us follow the Christ who greets and calls us like Simon Peter and Andrew even in Ordinary Time.

Mary in History: Help of Christians

January 12, 2019

January 12-13, 1866 – Czech Republic

For more than a decade, Magdalena Kade suffered from very poor health. At age 30, her condition took a turn for the worse such that her two physicians thought she would soon die and her priest gave her the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick with Last Rites. One Friday night, while Magdalena lay in bed attended to by Veronika Kindermannová, her friend from next door, “All of a sudden the room became luminous, full of more light than daytime.” As Magdalena would later testify in the bishop’s investigation, “I was frightened. I elbowed Veronika, saying to her: ‘Veronika, wake up, do you not see this glow?’ Veronika said: ‘But I do not see anything.’ In front of my bed was a figure that emanated a very white light, with a golden crown on its head. I quickly thought it was the Mother of God. I united my hands in prayer and began to pray: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit exults in God, my Savior.‘ [Mary spoke these words at the Visitation.] Having said this, I heard a voice – but an unusual voice, different from that of people: ‘My child, from this moment on you will be healed.’ And in that moment the person disappeared and I no longer felt any pain.

That night, Magdalena rose from her bed to the great joy of her family and on Saturday morning she walked to the local bakery to buy bread. When the townspeople of Filipov saw her and asked how she was well, she replied, “Last night I saw the Virgin Mary and she told me I would be healed. And I am healed. Nothing more and nothing less happened.” Magdalena would go on to retell her story many times to inquirers and the room where she was healed became a place of pilgrimage. After her bishop’s investigation affirmed the supernatural character of Magdalena’s cure, a church was built on the site. In 1885, Pope Leo XIII elevated it to a minor basilica and officially consecrated and dedicated it to “Mary, Help of Christians.” Like Mary before her, Magdalena could rejoice that “the Almighty has done great things for me” and, by plainly sharing her firsthand experience, she led others to deeper faith in Christ. Let us likewise share the stories our own miraculous, God-touched moments with family, friends, and neighbors as well.

Mary in History: Our Lady of Prompt Succor

January 8, 2019

January 8, 1815 – Louisiana

Mary as Our Lady of Prompt Succor (which means, “rapid aid”) has been celebrated in New Orleans, Louisiana on this date for more than 200 years since a famous military victory. The Ursuline Sisters in New Orleans had honored a statue of Mary by this title for several years in their chapel, but when the British army threatened to capture their city during the War of 1812 these nuns and many townsfolk spent the night beseeching her help. The convent’s prioress made a vow to have a Mass of Thanksgiving sung annually should the American forces prevail. During Mass the next morning, as Holy Communion was being distributed, a messenger rushed into the chapel with the news that the British had been defeated.

Though the British army had outnumbered the American troops (about 8,000 to 5,700) the invaders were repulsed and swiftly defeated in just over a half hour of fighting. The commanding general of the American side, the future president Andrew Jackson, went to nuns’ convent afterwards to thank them for their prayers: “By the blessing of heaven, directing the valor of the troops under my command, one of the most brilliant victories in the annals of war was obtained.” For each American soldier lost or wounded in that battle, the British had experienced roughly thirty casualties. This victory was commemorated by Johnny Horton’s 1959 #1 hit song “The Battle of New Orleans.” Since 1928, Our Lady of Prompt Succor has been honored as the principal patroness of the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana.

Mary in History: Our Lady of the Flowers

December 29, 2018

December 29, 1336 – Italy

Egidia Mathis, a pregnant, young wife, was walking alone at the edge of nightfall near Bra, Italy. Near a pillar bearing a coarsely painted image of the Virgin Mary with Child, she crossed paths with two foreign soldiers-for-hire (that is, mercenaries) whom she sensed wished to do her harm. Incapable of defense or escape, Egidia flung herself towards the pillar, begging Mary’s help. A great light came forth from the image. Mary scared off the wicked men with a commanding gesture and smiled at Egidia with maternal empathy. The stress of the moment caused Egidia to go into labor and she delivered her baby there. As she held her newborn closely in the winter cold, the blackthorn thicket surrounding the pillar was now in full bloom with thousands of white flowers. Upon reaching home, she told her husband of the whole episode and he with their relatives and neighbors all beheld the miraculous, out-of season flowering.

Some might dismiss this tale as merely pious legend. But virtually every winter since 1336, this blackthorn thicket, contrary to its species and scientific explanation, has flowered between December 25th and January 15th. Two rare exceptions were 1914 and 1939, the years the two World Wars began. Furthermore, on three occasions, this winter flowering has extended for months, corresponding each time with rare public expositions of the Shroud of Turin (the possible burial cloth of Christ) housed twenty-seven miles away.

Mary in History: Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 11, 2018

December 12, 1531 – Mexico

The Blessed Virgin had previously appeared to St. Juan Diego, a Native American, Catholic convert, twice sending him to the local bishop to ask that a church be built near Tepeyac Hill in what is today Mexico City, Mexico. The bishop was not persuaded by the native’s story but asked him for some kind of sign from Mary. On this date, Mary directed Juan to pick some non-native roses miraculously in bloom out of season on that hill and to bring them to the bishop. Juan gathered these in the front of his poncho-like garment (called a tilma) and set off.

When Juan opened the front of his tilma before the bishop to reveal the roses, Our Lady of Guadalupe’s image was found on the humble fabric of his garment. Her appearance was that of an Aztec princess, clothed in the Sun with the Moon under her feet, bearing a Divine Child in her womb. The image’s rich symbolism spoke compellingly to the native people and Mexico was converted to Christ.

That tilma, made of rough cactus fibers, should have deteriorated centuries ago, but this garment and its brushstroke-less image remain on display in Mexico’s greatest shrine to this day. Like many things, it’s a miracle existing in plain sight. Our diocese also has a beautiful shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, located just south of La Crosse. If you’ve never visited, it’s worth the pilgrimage.

Good Reasons for Missing Mass

December 11, 2018

Attending and participating at Mass every Sunday (or Saturday evening) and holy day of obligation is one of the precepts of the Church. This flows from the Third Commandment: “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.” Yet there can be good and holy reasons for missing Mass.

Are you ill? If you are nauseous, for example, definitely do not come to church. Are the weather or road conditions dangerous for you? Then stay safe indoors. Do you have to care for another person, perhaps someone newborn or elderly? Then you can be away for them. For good reasons like these, one may watch the Mass on TV or online or prayerful meditate on the Scriptures at home to spiritually commune with the Lord.

Jesus once asked, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” So he prefers that you not get accidentally killed or injured or spread diseases by coming to Mass. On another occasion, Jesus asked, “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” Thus, the necessity to care for others supersedes the normal rules.

On the other hand, willfully, deliberately skipping Mass (such as on a family vacation or for hunting season) is a serious sin. With the internet and cellphones and so many Mass times available, anyone can plan ahead to find and celebrate our Lord’s Sacrifice. I tell children in Confession who are not taken to Mass that “what’s not your choice is not your sin,” but I encourage them to ask their parents to bring them to church, since this is what Jesus desires for everyone as far as they are able.

Mary in History: The Immaculate Conception

December 8, 2018

December 8, 1854

On this date, to the delight of the Church in Heaven and earth, Pope Pius IX employed the gift of papal infallibility to dogmatically affirm our ancient belief in the sinlessness of the Mother of God: “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.

In her apparitions at Lourdes, France three years after, Mary affirmed, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The Church celebrates Mary’s Immaculate Conception on December 8th and her birthday nine months later, on September 8th. Every one of us, from the greatest to the least, begins very, very small. But God loves to make great things of the small.

Mary in History: The Miraculous Medal

November 29, 2018

November 27, 1830 – France

Our Lady appeared to St. Catherine Labouré, a 24-year-old novice (training to become a vowed religious sister,) in the Daughters of Charity’s convent chapel in Paris, France. In this, Mary’s second of three appearances to her, Catherine saw something like two living paintings, one fading into the other, in which the Blessed Virgin stood in a white silk dress upon a half-globe, her feet crushing a serpent. Mary held a small golden globe topped with a cross which she lifted up towards Heaven. Catherine heard a voice say, “This globe represents the entire world, including France, and every person.”

In the second image, beautiful rays of light streamed from Mary’s open hands, her fingers covered with jeweled rings. Catherine heard, “These rays are a symbol of the graces that I pour out on those who ask them of me. The gems from which rays do not fall are the graces for which souls forget to ask.” Then an oval formed around the apparition and Catherine saw in a semi-circle these words in gold letters: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.”

Then a voice commanded Catherine, “Have a medal made according to this model. For those who wear it with confidence, there will be abundant graces.” The image turned and Catherine saw the reverse side of the medal: an “M” topped with a little cross and two hearts, one crowned with thorns and the other pierced by a sword. With approval by the Archbishop of Paris, the medal was minted and shared, leading to such gifts of grace that it came to be called “The Miraculous Medal.”

A Prayer Litany for the Souls in Purgatory

November 2, 2018

O Jesus, Thou suffered and died that all mankind might be saved and brought to eternal happiness. Hear our pleas for further mercy on the souls of:

My dear parents & grandparents,

     [Response: “My Jesus, Have Mercy”]

My brothers & sisters & other near relatives,

My godparents & sponsors of Confirmation,

My spiritual & temporal benefactors,

My friends & neighbors,

All for whom love or duty bids me pray,

Those who have suffered disadvantage or harm through me,

Those who have offended me,

Those whose release is near at hand,

Those who desire most to be united to Thee,

Those who endure the greatest sufferings,

Those whose release is most remote,

Those who are least remembered.

Those who are most deserving on account of their services to the Church,

The rich, who are now the most destitute,

The mighty, who are now powerless,

The once spiritually blind, who now see their folly,

The frivolous, who spent their time in idleness,

The poor who did not seek the treasures of heaven, The tepid who devoted little time to prayer,

The indolent who neglected to perform good works, Those of little faith, who neglected the frequent reception of the Sacraments,

The habitual sinners, who owe their salvation to a miracle of grace,

Parents who failed to watch over their children, Superiors who were not solicitous for the salvation of those entrusted to them,

Those who strove for worldly riches & pleasures, The worldly minded, who failed to use their wealth & talent for the service of God,

Those who witnessed the death of others, but would not think of their own,

Those who did not provide for the life hereafter,

Those whose sentence is severe because of the great things entrusted to them,

The popes, kings, & rulers,

The bishops & their counselors,

My teachers & spiritual advisors,

The priests & religious of the Catholic Church,

The defenders of the Holy Faith,

Those who died on the battlefield,

Those who fought for their country,

Those who were buried in the sea,

Those who died of strokes,

Those who died of heart attacks,

Those who suffered & died of cancer,

Those who died suddenly in accidents,

Those who died without the last rites of the Church,

Those who shall die within the next 24 hours,

My own poor soul when I shall have to appear before Thy judgment seat,

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them: For evermore with Thy Saints, because Thou art gracious. May the prayer of Thy suppliant people, we beseech Thee, O Lord, benefit the souls of Thy departed servants and handmaids: that Thou mayest both deliver them from all their sins, and make them to be partakers of Thy redemption. Amen. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine on them. Amen. May their souls & the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Faithful Citizenship

October 31, 2018

This Tuesday, November 6th, we can promote the good for our society by voting in the midterm elections. Not only is voting our great right as Americans, it is also our duty as Catholics. As the Catechism teaches, “co-responsibility for the common good make[s] it morally obligatory… to exercise the right to vote…” (CCC #2240)

Though the Catholic Church participates in the political process as a moral voice in the public square, she does not institutionally endorse candidates or political parties. Within the Church, clergy and laity have different but complementary roles. The calling of the clergy is to preach the Gospel message so that all may properly form their consciences. The mission of lay people is to transform politics and culture.

As Pope Benedict XVI once said, “The Church is not a political power, it’s not a party, but it’s a moral power. Since politics fundamentally should be a moral enterprise, the Church in this sense has something to say about politics.” In their recent document on “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” the U.S. bishops highlight these nine fundamental moral issues particularly pressing at this time:

■ The ongoing destruction of over one million innocent human lives each year by abortion.

■ Physician-assisted suicide.

■ The redefinition of marriage – the vital cell of society – by the courts, political bodies, and increasingly by American culture itself.

■ The excessive consumption of material goods and the destruction of natural resources, which harm both the environment and the poor.

■ The deadly attacks on fellow Christians and religious minorities throughout the world.

■ The narrowing redefinition of religious freedom, which threatens both individual conscience and the freedom of the Church to serve.

■ Economic policies that fail to prioritize the poor, at home and abroad.

■ A broken immigration system and a worldwide refugee crisis.

■ Wars, terror, and violence that threaten every aspect of human life and dignity.

As a mighty wave is made of many single drops, please cast a vote this week for the common good.