Analog Faith

Posted on February 17, 2017 by - The Main Thing

A post by Chuck Frost

Record AlbumsI remember going to the record store almost every Tuesday when I was young to sort through the new releases.  I recall one particular album that I knew was forthcoming, so I trekked weekly into the shop to ask the clerk: “Is it in yet?”  When it finally arrived, I called my friends over and we ‘dropped the needle’ and listened together. 

Those days are pretty much gone.  If you have a Smartphone, you have all your music in your pocket.  People walking down the street, earbuds on, is a common sight.  Outside of concert attendance, music listening has become more private.

Modern music formats are also heavily compressed.  The music piped through your phone and earbuds has a different sound than it does on a vinyl record.  One artist, reflecting on his new album, said this:

“When it comes right down to it, I feel like the earbud generation is missing out a bit…. It’s a little bit soul-crushing to imagine, with the amount of work that went into the frequency spectrum of this record, that it would all be squished into tiny little laptop speakers or earbuds.”

Another difference between analog (vinyl/tape) and digital formats (CD/mp3) are the imperfections in the sound waves.  Audiophiles will tell you that it’s those imperfections in the analog recording that help make it sound more real, more alive. I think this in part explains the recent resurgence of vinyl records.  People are looking for authenticity.

I believe there’s an insight here relevant to the Christian life.  It is tempting to compress our faith to the point that it becomes a mere private practice or personal matter – just ‘me and Jesus’.  We might go to Mass but leave it there.

Faith, however, is communal, full-bodied, and meant to be shared.  We gather not for our own private Mass experience, but to worship the Lord together and share in the joy of being brothers and sisters, with all our imperfections.   And from there, we are called to go forth and emit the full spectrum of faith to a listening world.

Chuck Frost is Pastoral Associate at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Roanoke, Virginia. Chuck was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 2000 after spending 10 years as a United Methodist Pastor in Mississippi and Alaska.

Leaving This World a Little Better

Posted on February 17, 2017 by - The Main Thing

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2017

Anne Frank QuoteMy pastor likes to say that his parents would always remind him to “leave a place you visited a little better than the way you found it.” I have always tried to live by those words as well. The important word here is “tried” as I am sure that I have not always been successful.

The desire to always go a step further, to give even more than is required, is truly honorable. Jesus speaks to his disciples about this when he urges them to give more than what is asked and to travel two miles in service when all that was required of them is one.

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to live the same way. It is fundamental to understanding a stewardship way of life. True generosity has no limits.

When we say that mature disciples are to answer the call of Jesus Christ regardless of the cost, we are inviting good stewards to embody this type of generosity. We can be the person who does not respond to the call, be the person who responds and gives what is required, or finally, be the person who seeks to give above and beyond what is required.

God doesn’t just give us what we need, but He gives us more than we need. Made in His image, we are called to do the same. If we try to live in this manner everyday, then we might just succeed on leaving this world a little better than the way we found it.

“Cross” Eyed

Posted on February 16, 2017 by - The Main Thing

Post by Steve Bostford

Jesus Heals the Blind ManWhen Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethsaida, people brought to him a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on the man and asked, “Do you see anything?”

Looking up the man replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.” Then he laid hands on the man’s eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly. Then he sent him home and said, “Do not even go into the village,” (Mark 8:22-26).

After my confirmation class my co-teacher confided in me that she was suffering because of her job and personal circumstances and compounding responsibilities. She wondered if God was listening as he prayed as her situation had  progressively gotten worse over time. I certainly wondered how to respond to such a dire situation and desperate plea for help.

In today’s Gospel reading Mark tells us three important things about healing: 1) the faith of the community is important, 2) reconciliation to the people of the community is important, and 3) the gift of faith is important. Jesus’ healing love enables us to see the world anew with the eyes of faith.

What should our response be to people in need of healing? As part of the community of faith we are called to have faith and lead others to Jesus and the Church, his and our community. We are to embrace those in need with compassion and offer tenderness and support. And together, we are to gaze upon the cross of the one who has gone before us in great suffering. By keeping our eyes on the cross of Jesus we are able to humbly approach the one who understands, loves, and reconciles.

Steve Botsford is the Director of Religious Education at St. Ann Catholic Church in Marietta, GA. He holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a Master of Religious Education from Loyola University, New Orleans. Steve is married with three children and is the creator of FeastDay, the Liturgical Year Board Game.

Press Release: LPi acquires ParishPay

Posted on February 16, 2017 by - Uncategorized


NEW BERLIN, WI – Liturgical Publications and YapStone today announced a definitive agreement to divest YapStone’s ParishPay™ merchant portfolio to Liturgical Publications (“LPi”), a Catholic stewardship and communications company. The sale is consistent with YapStone’s focus on providing end-to-end payment solutions to global marketplaces and large vertical markets. LPi’s acquisition of ParishPay’s merchant portfolio continues their expansion as a single source provider of digital, print and service solutions helping parishes create more vibrant and fiscally secure faith communities.

ParishPay customers will be transitioning to LPi’s WeShare service, the largest electronic-giving provider serving the Catholic Church both in the US and abroad. WeShare’s easy to use interface is compatible with all mobile devices and tablets, integrates with most church management systems, and provides the ability to set up parish events and formational offerings taking payments and registrations online. WeShare maintains a PCI Level 1 certification, the highest in the industry, and also conducts an annual SSAE-16 audit of its controls. WeShare customers are assigned a dedicated, full-time Engagement Manager to help them generate extra financial resources to engage more parishioners in the work of the church.

“Unlike transitioning to a new provider, we’re confident this will be a seamless transition process for customers,” said Joe Luedtke, LPi President. “There will be no disruption of deposits or loss of donors. The upgrade to WeShare will be fully automated and require no action by either the parish admin or donor.”

“The agreement to divest ParishPay to LPi is mutually beneficial for all involved,” said David Weiss, YapStone President. “Our ParishPay customers have relied on our services to maintain their online giving programs, and our team is committed to partnering with LPi to support each parish through this important transition.” Effective as of today all customers have a dedicated LPi Engagement Manager that will support them and their parish donors. When upgraded to WeShare, parishes will benefit from added features and functionality.

The upgrade to LPi’s online giving program includes:

  • Event Management System with event registration and payment features
  • Mobile platform for easy donor access and management
  • Professional promotional materials
  • Fully managed email and direct mail campaigns


About LPi – Liturgical Publications is a stewardship and communications company providing a single source of digital, print and service solutions for the Catholic Church. As a trusted partner to over 6000 parishes, LPi is committed to helping customers engage more parishioners and evangelize a new generation of disciples. LPi offers parishes digital solutions for increased engagement including online giving, websites, mobile phone applications and digital art and content. LPi’s new custom service division provides parishes sustainable offertory programs, stewardship workshops and catechesis, and complete parish branding packages. LPi’s print solutions include newsletters, ad-supported church bulletins, directories, welcome packets, and calendars. Headquartered in New Berlin, WI, LPi has additional offices in Cleveland, Ohio, Hartford, Connecticut, Las Vegas, Nevada, Denver, Colorado, Winter Haven, Florida and Dublin, Ireland.

About YapStone – YapStone is a global provider of online and mobile payment solutions for global marketplaces and large vertical markets. YapStone powers electronic payments for sharing economy marketplaces, such as HomeAway® and VRBO®, and thousands of apartment and vacation rental companies, homeowners’ associations, self-storage companies, and hospitality establishments. YapStone processes over $17B in payment volume annually and has been recognized on the Inc. 5000 list of Fastest-Growing Private Companies for nine consecutive years, named to the Forbes’ List of Next Billion Dollar Startups in 2016 as well as Forbes’ list of America’s Most Promising Companies in 2015. YapStone has raised over $110 million from investors including Accel Partners, Meritech Capital and Bregal Sagemount. Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area, YapStone has additional offices in Santa Monica, California, Austin, Texas, and Drogheda, Ireland. For more information, visit yapstone.com

Hope in the Midst of Division

Posted on February 14, 2017 by - Uncategorized

A post from Teresa Keogh

Crochet 2Where can I be hope in a divided place?

Work took me to Cyprus this weekend and I decided to Visit Buyuk Han, an old camel trading post in the city of Nicosia – but on the Turkish side. The Han is now a craft market and restaurant.

I crossed the checkpoint, showing my passport on first the Greek and then the Turkish side. Inside I found this crochet. Here I found hope in the midst of distrust.

Crocheting squares and joining them together is joining these two communities that have been divided for so many years.

CrochetA simple act of crochet has done what politics has failed to do. It is breaking down barriers and then building anew in a spirit of trust.

Where is God inviting me to spread peace when there is fear? I ask for the courage to work for unity whether in my home, the workplace or the world.

Teresa Keogh is Advisor for Stewardship for the Archdiocese of Southwark in London, England and previously served as Advisor for Stewardship and Collaborative Ministry for Portsmouth Diocese. 

A Challenge for Us All

Posted on February 14, 2017 by - Midweek Reflection

For Sunday, February 19, 2017, 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time

There has been a surge of attention given to the WWII vets who are fast dying off. The remnant who are healthy enough are being taken in Honor Flights to the Washington DC WWII National War Memorial where their buses deposit their frail bodies. These gentlemen and women either walk or are wheeled to the negative pool where they can remember their contribution to America’s freedom. The large pavilion pillars marking the battle sites where many watched their buddies die, rise high into an open sky. It is all so surreal. Usually a state senator meets the vets to offer the gratitude of the country. After a lunch down in the district, they are flown back to their home state with awakened memories of harder days when the skies were blackened by grenades and gunfire. (more…)

God’s Rules or God Rules?

Posted on February 9, 2017 by - The Main Thing

No RulesI saw a slogan once for an Internet start-up: “There is one rule; there are no rules.” In fact, when I searched for this slogan again online, I was surprised at all of the variations on the “no rules” sentiment.

Apparently, even Justin Bieber has a documented quote: “I want my world to be fun. No parents, no rules, no nothing. Like, no one can stop me. No one can stop me.” Wow. My own kids seldom read my reflections. If they are reading this one, DON’T GET ANY IDEAS!

Of course, a society without laws or rules will not exist for very long. The laws of a society are there to protect us from perhaps our greatest enemy: ourselves. We can’t just do whatever we feel like. We will eventually hurt others or ourselves.

The laws of God and His Church have the same effect. Sinful and imperfect people need parameters. Christians who choose sin or their own will over God’s commandments not only break the relationship they have with their God, but they hurt others and diminish the Body of Christ.

A stewardship way of life asks of us to live in a certain manner. We sometimes think that our cultivation of gifts and giving them back with increase to God is for God’s sake. God’s commands do not benefit God, for God is complete and perfect without need for increase. But this way of life is for the benefit of His creation.

There is no power struggle here between a God of rules and his children. The cross bears witness to that. Instead, God’s “rules’ prevent us from destroying ourselves and give us a path so we may flourish. Whether you are an ordinary Joe or an ordinary Bieber, following God’s commands will lead to the real satisfaction in this gift of life.

How to Speed Up Your Website

Posted on February 7, 2017 by - Vibrant Catholic News

How Can I Speed Up My Website?Nearly half of people who use the Internet expect a website to load in less than two seconds. Within four seconds, 25% of your website viewers will leave if it doesn’t.

This means, if your website take four or more seconds to load, and there are one hundred people visiting your website, you will lose twenty-five of them. That doesn’t seem like a huge number, but the ones willing to wait the extra time are most likely your existing parishioners, so you just missed out on twenty-five new parishioners.

Here are two things you can do to decrease the amount of time it takes for your website to load, images and all. Best part is, you don’t have to be tech savvy to make these changes.

Optimize your images for Web use

How to Optimize Your ImagesOptimize? That’s a big word. Let’s simplify it. Every file you place on your website is made of megabytes. The Internet reads information in megabytes per second. The goal is to make your image so small that it only uses a tiny fraction of the megabytes that will load in 1-2 seconds.

To do that, save your images in the exact dimensions you will need it to be at a resolution of 72 pixels, or dots, per inch (ppi or dpi).

Each program, app, and software has a different way of doing exactly that. Here are some articles to help you in the program you use:

If you don’t see your program listed here, type “Save for web in [the name of your program]” in the search box on the Internet.

Website CleanupClean up your home page

Just like the images, each bit of information is made up of megabytes. Plus, if you throw too much information at a new visitor on your website, you are going to overload them and scare them away.

In short, remove unnecessary information and shorten long sections to small excerpts.

The Path of Our Choices

Posted on February 7, 2017 by - Midweek Reflection

For Sunday, February 12, 2017, 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time

We have all had the experience of telling what we thought was a harmless white lie. It may have been to spare another person’s feelings or simply to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. Later on, however, it turned out that we had to tell other lies to cover our tracks or that others discovered the truth on their own. As a result, feelings were hurt or a friendship was damaged. What we thought was a harmless lie ended up causing us needless anguish.

On the other hand, we have also had the experience of doing a good deed. We may have given someone a hand with a project or listened to a friend’s problems. At the time, it seemed like a small gesture. Then, months and sometimes years later, that person reminded us of our good deed and told us how much it meant. What we thought was a trivial act of kindness turned out to touch someone profoundly. (more…)

Angels Among Us

Posted on February 3, 2017 by - The Main Thing

Today’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews instructs us to “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.”

Recently I read a news story about the actor Matthew McConaughey whose car broke down in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I took interest since I was raised in that wonderful state.

Ward's Restaurant - Hattiesburg, MSWhile he was stranded on the road, a man whose brother owned a tow truck stopped to help out. The truck soon arrived and took the car to a shop to have it fixed. While waiting, the man took McConaughey for a burger at Ward’s Restaurant.

McConaughey couldn’t believe the hospitality – the people of Hattiesburg were kind and the burger was great. He exclaimed in the story that he might retire in Hattiesburg because nothing like this would happen in Los Angeles! And, surprisingly, no one who met him that day knew who he was.

Matthew McConaughy AngelI retweeted the story proud of my home state and was reminded of today’s passage from Hebrews. McConaughey may not be an angel (though my wife surely thinks he is), but it was a great story of hospitality from The Hospitality State.

I was disappointed to find out later that I had been hoodwinked by a fake news site. Since I know many people like that from Mississippi, it was easy to believe. And Ward’s is a real place.

Nonetheless, we are called as Christians to be just like the imagined Good Samaritans from Hattiesburg. Those travelers on the road to Emmaus brought a stranger into their home, one who seemed to be wholly unaware of what had been going on in Jerusalem, and He turned out to be the Lord Himself.

Hospitality is a central theme of our Christian faith and we are reminded that we never know who we might be entertaining. This is particularly relevant today when the issue of immigration and refugees divides the country and even Christians. On the one hand we fear the stranger who might harm us, and yet we are compelled by Christ’s command to welcome those who seek safety and peace.