With Thanksgiving around the corner, and Christmas not far behind, thoughts of gratitude, and giving, are close at heart. For those of modest means, the holidays are also a time to be mindful of their money, to keep within a budget. But, let’s face it, the pressure to spend is sometimes overwhelming.

The first American citizen to be canonized a saint was an immigrant to our country and her life was dedicated to the care of immigrants. Coming to America, however, wasn’t what Frances Cabrini had in mind when she journeyed from Milan to Rome in AD 1887 to meet with the Successor of Peter. She wanted be a missionary in China. From the time she received the Sacrament of Confirmation at the age of 8 she had dreamed of witnessing to Christ among the Chinese; and that desire had only grown as she discerned her call to Religious Life and took St. Francis Xavier as her patron. But Pope Leo XIII told her, “Go not to the East but to the West — to New York rather than China.” He urged her to follow the large throng of emigrants who were leaving Italy each week for America.

I was still coming down off the high of the papal visit and engrossed in Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s exhortation to men when the news broke of yet another school shooting. This time, it was at a community college in a small town in Oregon where Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, killed nine people and wounded nine others.

On a Christmas morning, long ago, my son gave me a gift I had long desired — an Irish flute. My head was filled with grand designs of mastering the instrument, which resembles my childhood recorder, but it has been more of a challenge than I expected. And you should see the size of the instruction book that came with it.

As I write this, it’s approximately 4 a.m. Why 4 a.m., you may ask? That’s because that’s the time that Katie, my 1-year-old daughter, finally let me put her down. Shortly after she was born, Fr. Karl who was one of my supervisors in my previous job, used to ask me, “Are you getting any sleep?” I’d always respond “No, of course not.” And he’d always snarkily respond with, “Good, that’s why God gives children to young people — they can handle it, unlike people my age.” Although the banter was half-joking, there was some truth to it.

With just days to go until Pope Francis arrives in the U.S., Catholics from around the globe — including two journalist-catechist moms from The Catholic Sun — are preparing to join him at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia where they’ll unite around the theme “Love is our Mission.”

En septiembre de 1772 AD, Fray Junípero Serra volvió a San Diego, agotado en cuerpo y espíritu. Había caminado por tres semanas, viajando desde el norte de California hasta la primera misión que había fundado. A pesar de su habitual disposición optimista, estaba agotado por la escasez de alimentos, agobiado por el dolor agudo desde la incurable herida en su pierna y sobre todo enredado en un conflicto acalorado con Pedro Fages, el virrey de la provincia de Las Californias de Nueva España.

In September of AD 1772, Friar Junípero Serra returned to San Diego, exhausted in body and spirit. He had just walked for three weeks, travelling all the way from northern California to the first mission he had founded. Despite his usual optimistic disposition, he was worn down by the scarcity of food, hampered by the sharp pain shooting from the incurable wound in his leg, and above all ensnarled in a heated dispute with Pedro Fages, the lieutenant governor of the Las Californias province of New Spain.

The freedom to travel different paths to the same destination is the same freedom God gives us to live our lives.

Immigration not only improves this country, it is the substance of this country. Every single period of increased immigration in this country’s history has led to increased prosperity and greatness.


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