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Gospel Reflection


The Secrets of Genuine Happiness

Thoughts on Matthew 5:1-12

by Jeff Shirley

In his book entitled ‘Happiness‘ author Randy Alcorn gave this memorable illustration. He said:

“In 1997, thirty-nine members of the cult Heaven’s Gate, led by Marshall Applewhite, participated in a mass suicide. They’d been taught that once they exited their earthly bodies, they would land on a spaceship following the Hale-Bopp comet. At the time of their death, each member carried a five-dollar bill and three quarters. Why? To pay an interplanetary toll.

Most of us shake our heads in amazement at this kind of gullibility. Yet we fail to see the futility of our own attempts to find happiness. Many people try the age-old practices of turning to money, sex, power, beauty, sports, nature, music, art, education, work, or celebrity for happiness. In the end, each of these proves as big a lie as a spaceship on a comet’s tail. The problem for the Heaven’s Gate followers wasn’t that they trusted too much; it was that they trusted the wrong person. Only Jesus was worthy of their trust. Only he could have granted them, in this life and for eternity, the deep and lasting happiness they sought.”

If what Rand Alcorn says is true, and I believe it is, then the best person to listen to In order to find out how to acquire true inner happiness and peace is our Lord Himself. READ MORE

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Ukraine Update

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I Wanted to Update You...

Last February Russia invaded Ukraine. I was devastated because of my great many friends there made through years of ministry caring for orphans and planting churches. I shared a bit of my history there with you all (READ ARTICLE). Many of you have asked me for updates on what is happening with all my friends who serve as pastors in various regions of Ukraine. Well, they are still in the midst of it. They have seen death and destruction all around them, but they still have an invincible spirit and have banded together with the people of their churches to worship God and serve helping the wounded, and those who now homeless and suffering extreme loss. (See their humanitarian efforts) I received a video this week of one of a spontaneous worship gathering as they were out delivering groceries to a bombed out neighborhoods. While you might not be able to make out their words, I wanted you to see them as the gather in the name of Jesus and worship Him in the midst of their pain and suffering. They are doing remarkably well. Thank you for your love and prayers for them.

Director of Media and Communications

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To view video click on image above

For Your Knowledge

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The following excerpt is taken from Bert Ghezzi’s book Sign of the Cross: Recovering the Power of the Ancient Prayer (Word on Fire Publishing).

During the Reformation of the sixteenth century, some Christians repudiated the sign of the cross because they judged it to be superstitious. But Martin Luther himself did not abandon it and recommended the practice in his Small Catechism in an appendix on family prayer. Today, athletes who sign themselves for good luck at sporting events reinforce the opinion that it is a superstition. But basketball players at the foul line were not the first to abuse the gesture by ascribing to it magical powers that could be turned to dubious personal advantage. As early as the sixth century, St. Caesarius (470–542), the bishop of Arles and one of Christianity’s first best-selling authors, rebuked Christians who signed themselves while on their way to steal or commit adultery.  

But no trace of superstition or magic marred the sign of the cross in its origins. While no direct evidence exists, it seems clear from circumstances that the holy gesture had its roots as a prayer in apostolic times. Fourth-century Father of the Church St. Basil (329–379) said that the Apostles “taught us to mark with the sign of the cross those who put their hope in the Lord”—that is, those who presented themselves for Baptism. 

So early Christians probably learned to make the sign of the cross at their Baptism when the celebrant marked them with it to claim them for Christ. There is some evidence for this in Scripture. For example, St. Paul reminded the Ephesians that they received the sign at Baptism when he said: “You have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit of the Promise” (1 Cor. 1:13). And Paul may have been speaking of his being signed with the cross at Baptism when he told the Galatians that “I carry branded on my body the marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17). I will say more about this later, but for now I merely want to show you that the sign of the cross originated among people who were not far removed from Christ himself.  READ MORE

Upcoming Dates

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January 24 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Women Who Stay

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February 9 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Justice & Peace Ministry Meeting

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February 13 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Reading & Discussion Group

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February 16 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

The Gabriel Project Meeting

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February 26 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

How's the Water, Hon?

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February 26 @ 1:00 pm - 3pm

Virtual Pilgrimage of Mother Mary Lange

“…Mother Lange’s love for all enabled her to see Christ in each person and the pain and prejudice of racial hatred never blurred that vision.” 

Come join St. Ignatius, the Racial Justice Circle and the Pastorate of St. Ann, St. Francis Xavier and St. Wenceslaus on Sunday February 26 from 1 PM – 3 PM as we journey together on a Virtual Pilgrimage of Mother Mary Lange.  It is an opportunity of grace to pray and ask for your particular intention as we come before God in this Sacred Space of the life, trials and triumphs of Mother Mary Lange and the Oblate Sisters of Providence.

Please register for this event by clicking here. If you are having difficulty registering, please contact Toni Moore-Duggan at tjmduggan@aol.com. Upon registration you will receive a Zoom entrance code for this event.

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February 26 @ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm

Embracing God’s Gifts Scripture Study

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If You're Interested...

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Knott Scholarship Announcement for Parents of Catholic School Students

There is an academic scholarship opportunity for St. Ignatius parishioners. The Knott Scholarship Funds provide full tuition, four-year scholarships for Catholic children to attend a Catholic elementary or secondary school in the following geographic areas of the Archdiocese of Baltimore: Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Harford County, and Howard County. For more information, please visit www.knottscholar.org.

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From the Office

End of Year Tax Statement

Please be aware that 2022 year-end donation statements for those who contribute by check, envelope, or asset management firms are available upon request by emailing Gregory Richards at gregrichards@st-ignatius.net. Those enrolled in online giving through Faith Direct can log on to their website to obtain one. Email Gregory Richards if you have any questions.

Retreat Postponement

We wish to inform you that the recently published Ignatian Lenten Retreat at Loyola on the Potomac for March 24-26 Weekend has been postponed. Please read update notice.

In the Media

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Oprah Winfrey and the Moore family – wife, Dawn; children Mia and James; and Wes Moore.

Oprah Introduces Wes Moore at His Inauguration Ceremony for Maryland Governor

by Oprah Winfrey

When I was just 22 years old, I moved to Maryland to start a new job as a co-anchor on WJZ-TV. And as I walked around the city of Baltimore that first week, I saw the strangest thing: my face on billboards advertising the 6 o’clock news with Jerry Turner, and a question, “What is an Oprah?” And honestly, I didn’t really know the answer myself. When I moved to Maryland, I had no idea who I was. But I will tell you something: Maryland is where I found myself. READ MORE

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Half a century since its original film adaptation, Fiddler on the Roof came to our local stage last week. I was seeing it for the first time but was familiar enough with it to anticipate at least the most celebrated of its catchphrases, “Tradition!”

What I did not anticipate was how the play’s handling of that topic within an early-twentieth-century Ukrainian-Jewish context would cast such a revealing light upon the Christian meaning of the term.

Without tradition, Fiddler’s protagonist Tevye tells us right at the start, the lives of his fellow Ashkenazi Jews would be as precarious as someone playing violin on a housetop. Making ends meet in the humble fictional village of Anatevka, he relates, is not easy, so “how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word!”


Tradition not only dictates how he and his neighbors eat, sleep, work, and wear clothes, as Tevye elaborates, it also teaches them how to relate to each other as husbands, wives, sons, and daughters. It establishes the outward patterns of their daily lives, and even more importantly, reminds them daily of the hope that animates human life at its core.



Parish: 'the thought' is a publication of St. Ignatius Catholic Community—Baltimore. Each edition contains articles and news feeds that are included for awareness of current topics in our world today. The positions expressed by outside authors and news feeds are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of St. Ignatius Catholic Community or its staff.

 - This e-zine was designed and compiled by John C. Odean
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