Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’


Image by Oleg Ilyushin from Pixabay

Every now and then, I get into a religious chat.

And, every now and then, the person I’m talking to will pause in the middle of the conversation, lean forward, and politely ask me, “You really don’t believe the Catholic Church is the One, True Faith, do you?”

The first time that it happened I was caught off guard.

I found it odd that the person thought that under a shroud of secrecy I would come clean and denounce the faith I dutifully promote publicly.

Today, I’m better prepared for the question then I was that day.  However, my response remains the same:

Don’t you believe the church you attend is the One, True Faith? … If not, then why do you belong to it?”

Disagreements, like this, among Christians are not new.

In his Commentary on Galatians, the prolific St. Jerome wrote about a minor squabble between some early Christians in Ephesus and St. John the Apostle.

The blessed John the Evangelist lived in Ephesus until extreme old age. His disciples could barely carry him to church and he could not muster the voice to speak many words. During individual gatherings he usually said nothing but, “Little children, love one another.” The disciples and brothers in attendance, annoyed because they always heard the same words, finally said, “Teacher, why do you always say this?” He replied with a line worthy of John: “Because it is the Lord’s commandment and if it alone is kept, it is sufficient.”

This example of St. John should remind us that we must let our conversations always be full of grace.   As apocryphal as it may be, this lesson taught by St. John is applicable even today.

Simply put, it doesn’t matter what you believe — be it Faith Alone, Grace Alone, Scripture Alone or any other dogma de Fide.   You are only truly of the One, True Faith when your daily practice starts and ends with the simple commandment to Love Alone!

Sola Caritas!  Blessed Pascha!


James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.



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Recently, I started following an admitted atheist on Twitter after s/he challenged me because I put a #Faith in one of my tweets. @[anonymous] Atheist showed an almost Christian brand of kindness when I revealed my #Faith became unshakeable after I felt the physical presence of God lift a major burden off of me.

Nota bene: I respectfully changed the person’s Twitter handle @[anonymous] Atheist.

Things were amicable and soon, we started following each other.  From time-to-time, I would respond to a tweet that I disagreed with. And s/he would respond in kind.

It all appeared cordial.

For the proof of God, I introduced [anonymous] Atheist to Fr. Robert Spitzer S.J. PhD, President of Gonzaga University from 1998 to 2009.  Fr. Spitzer had a series on EWTN titled ‘Finding God Through Faith and Reason’.  Today, he is the President of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith and President of the Spitzer Center.

He’s pretty deep and science-based, which speaks to my science background.  For the repliability of the Gospels, I posted this lecture by Dr. Brant Pitre.

I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Pitre and often refer to him as the “new Scott Hahn.”  (If you’re into Catholic Christian apologetics, you know what I mean.)

However, after I responded to these two response tweets — where [anonymous] Atheist asked someone in the twittersphere to present proof that God existed — s/he blocked me.

I didn’t realize it at first. I’m not very twitter-savvy.  I only discovered that I was blocked after I searched for the [anonymous] Atheist.

[anonymous] Atheist posted often and when I didn’t see any recent tweets, I grew concerned.  When I discovered that I was blocked for seeing his/her tweets, I tweeted:

Blocked? Really? I really enjoyed your tweets.

Soon after that, I couldn’t even find the [anonymous] Atheist on Twitter, altogether.  So, I thought, either there’s a nuclear blocking option or s/he has left the twitter world completely.

So, I used another Twitter account — and that’s when I discovered I was nuked!

Again, I’m not Twitter-savvy, so forgive me if these are not the proper Twitter-terms.

For a moment, I was sad. Did I say something offensive? I don’t believe I did.

Finally, I had to chuckle.

Wouldn’t that be ironic, I thought, offending someone who makes it a daily ritual trying to offend people — particularly people of #Faith?

Then it hit me: Isn’t that what is happening across this nation?

Social media has given everyone a soapbox to stand on.  [anonymous] Atheist is probably still out there, and still challenging people of #Faith.

Today, we are all truly globally connecting, yet sadly no one is really communicating.

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.


Suggested Reading:

Atheism Is Inconsistent with the Scientific Method, Prizewinning Physicist Says. Lee Billings.  Scientific America.  2019.

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Wednesday night, my wife and I had a very rare opportunity.

We were finally able to get out of the house, without our boys, for a date night.  We spent our evening together, with friends, at a preview of the faith-based film Unplanned.

The film is based on the true-life story of Abby Johnson, who went from Planned Parenthood clinic director to Pro-life advocate.  

Kleenex were handed out before the movie for what was expected to be a tear-jerker.  

Shortly after, a local pastor had us all, a private audience, bow our heads to pray for the end of abortion in the United States.

Though personally Pro-Life, I attended the film to support my wife, who was gifted tickets through our Parish’s RCIA program.  

To be honest, I would’ve enjoyed seeing A Star is Born with my wife rather than Unplanned.  My wife, however, is not a chick-flick kind of gal.  Since she cried when watching the trailer, I wanted to be there for her just in case she needed a shoulder to cry on.

You see, we lost our middle child, Jimmy, who was stillborn at 19-weeks.   

It’s difficult to lose a child at any age.  However, it’s even more difficult to openly express grief for a child most people don’t accept as a child — especially people who believe that life begins with “viability” outside the womb or don’t believe life begins at conception, as we do.

The loss affected my wife, more than me. 

She had a greater connection to our boy simply by the nature of carrying and nurturing  him for almost five months.  She also had to go through the pains of childbirth only to say “hello” and “goodbye” in the same breath. 

Don’t get me wrong; I mourn Jimmy, but for a completely different reason. 

Sadly, I never saw him alive.  

I was “too busy” with work.  The first time I accompanied my wife to the doctor’s during the pregnancy was the first time I saw the image of our baby on the sonogram.  He was oddly still.  His heartbeat was silent.

This unplanned loss, oddly enough, would soon become my greatest moment of Faith.

On the evening of the scheduled delivery, I not only felt the heavy cross of sorrow spiritually lifted off my shoulder as my wife and I prayed together before we entered the hospital;  I also felt the physical presence of the Almighty at our side.

In that time of pain and anguish, God lent me His strength to be the husband I was called to be at a time I needed to be a strong husband!

It’s amazing how such a sad and tragic event in my life is also my most evidential God-moment.  The still birth of our son, at 19-weeks, also gave me a greater awareness of the development of the fetus in a woman’s womb.

You can say this was a turning-point in my life, on many levels. 

Likewise, the movie Unplanned began almost immediately with the turning point in Abby Johnson’s life: Her witnessing a 13-week baby, on a sonogram, fighting off the attack of a surgical vacuum and eventually losing its life at the hands of an abortionist, who she was assisting.

The film quickly jump-cut, from that dramatic moment, back to Abby Johnson’s college years and her initial introduction to Planned Parenthood on her university’s campus.

From there, Unplanned chronicled the events in Abby Johnson’s life from naive Planned Parenthood volunteer to dedicated Abortion Clinic director.  Unplanned continues forward, showcasing her rising in the ranks, until the film returns to the first turning- point of the story, when she watched the sonogram of that 13-week baby whose struggle and death changed Abby into the defender of Life she is this day!

Though there was no cursing or nudity, the film received an R-rated.  Oddly, I think the controversy behind the film’s MPAA rating gave Unplanned a publicity boost, awaking a sleeping giant, an audience of Pro-Lifers across America.

A letter from Abby Johnson was read before the film began, pointing out the two scenes reportedly responsible for the film’s R-rated: a CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) sonogram re-creation of the initial abortion and the re-creation of an awful experience Abby had after using the abortion pill. 

Even though Unplanned had an obvious Pro-Life message, I had a problem with some of the film’s possible mixed messages. 

Christian and the Pro-Life most likely would not agree with Abby Johnson’s early life choices, however, others may see the life of Abby Johnson improving after being freed from the having a child — not once, but twice — with her loser boyfriend who later became her unfaithful first husband! 

Film is powerful.  These scenes, I feel, as they are portrayed, sadly play right into the hand of the pro-choice movement.

I thought it strange, as well, how observing the dissected body parts of an aborted fetus in a petri-dish had no impact on the film’s protagonist.  In fact, it appeared to only made her a stronger Pro-Choice advocate. 

Yet, after witnessing a two-dimensional sonogram of an abortion, the film’s protagonist became Pro-Life?

I couldn’t help but thinking that the short film Silent Scream, which has been out since 1984, could have been found online at that time.  Wasn’t she, or anyone she knew, aware of it? Or even curious?

I’m not questioning Abby Johnson’s character.  I’m just questioning the motion picture’s story-line and imagery.

There was one scene, for me, that favorably stood out.   It was a brief, yet it portrayed the true power and patience of our Heavenly Father

Pregnant with their first child, Abby was offered a promotion at Planned Parenthood.  If promoted, she would become one of the youngest clinic directors in the non-profit organization’s history.   So, she prayed and placed the promotion in God’s hands.

Her husband, in the film, as well as many around me in the theater, chuckled at the perceived irony of a Pro-Choice advocate believing that a promotion, from abortion clinic health counselor to abortion over-seer would involve God’s Will?

It may not be a part of God’s Will, but her promotion was certainly part of God’s Plan!

Think about it: If Abby never received her promotion, she may have never witnessed the sonogram of the abortion — and today, we’re discussing a movie about the conversion of Abby Johnson because of tha ultra-sound.

God, in His infinite wisdom, knew how and when Abby would see it — and He knew what would happen to Abby’s heart once she did!

As a film, Unplanned was good.  It just wasn’t great.  The highlight of the film was the performance of Ashley Bratcher, the actress who played Abby Johnson.

I prayed for Ashley, after the film, because knowing Hollywood as I do, I fear that her career may be negatively impacted by the success of Unplanned just as Jim Cavievel’s career suffered after playing Jesus in The Passion of The Christ.

The actress who stars in Unplanned, appears to be less fearful and believes the film is going to change history.  Not to be a negative Nellie, but I sadly don’t agree with her.

Do I think Unplanned will have an impact on our culture?  Yes, it will … with some folks! 

However, as I told my wife on the ride home, “Schindler’s List was so much more of a movie — and sadly anti-Semitism is at an all-time high today.” 

Likewise, the 1980’s short film Silent Scream can now be found on YouTube for all to see.

Yet, of 198 world nations, the United States is one of only seven countries that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks. Canada, China, the Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam are the other.  The Netherlands and Singapore allow abortions after 20 weeks, but ban it after 24 weeks.  (Astounding, isn’t it?  Almost unbelievable.  You can fact check it all here.)

So, I have my doubts that a computer-generated ultra-sound assisted abortion with have a stronger impact.

I am, however, praying for the hope that I’m wrong.  

I’m also praying that the faithful show up in droves and support Unplanned. 

Support, however, also needs to shared with the upcoming anti-abortion film Roe v. Wade when it is released.  And while we wait for its opening day, we need to go back  out, purchase the 2011 Christian-themed film October Baby, and show it to friends, as well.

Overwhelming support for Unplanned, and films like it, would simultaneously send a message to Hollywood and to our State and Federally elected officials that we have the heart to save lives, but the ways and means to change the hearts and minds of Americans.

 But Unplanned can only be a start!  






James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!    As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.  He also co-wrote and directed the play Faith Ties: A Christmas Drama.  His screenplay, based on the play, has garnered much attention.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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St, Patrick

Image by Geraldine Dukes from Pixabay

The Feast of Saint Patrick, or simply, St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday held on March 17th, the traditional day of Saint Patrick’s death.  

Since the 9th century, Irish Catholics have historically gathered two days past the ides of March to venerate the priestly spirit of this saintly man named Patrick, who challenged a pagan people to embrace the one true God — and won!

To my surprise, I discovered that Saint Patrick’s Day is not only an official feast day in the Catholic Church, but also in the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church.

Surprising since St. Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day by the Church in the 17th century, almost a century after the Protestant divide and almost 700 years after the Great Schism, showing the impact Patrick had on the entire Christian community.

I understand the significance of this day for the Irish diaspora.  However, as grand St. Patrick’s accomplishments might have been, the day we celebrate his legacy has become an amateur drinking festival, hijacked by politicians and corporate sponsors.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with eating too much Corned Beef and knocking back a few pints to celebrate your Irish heritage.  I do!

I somewhat agree with John Waters that “Drinking in Ireland is not simply a convivial pastime, it is a ritualistic alternative to real life, a spiritual placebo, a fumble for eternity, a longing for heaven, a thirst for return to the embrace of the Almighty.”

Even Saint John Paul the Great thought it necessary for Catholics to have an intimate connection between faith and culture (Walsh, pg 15).

In the past, however, the majority of us who have had a wee’bit too much of the Shamrock never lost the thirst of the Almighty.

More and more, Irish Americans self-identify with beer drinking and bar-hopping than then we do with the Faith handed to us by St. Patrick.

The Celtic spirit burns in all of us – and sometimes, its a’bit hard to control.  (Trust me, I know).

So, on St. Patrick’s Day let your Celtic light shine!    But let’s  not forget why it shines!   It shines because our Patron Saint gave us the gift of the True Light!

As always, the Irish say it best.

Saint Patrick was a gentleman,
Who through strategy and stealth,
Drove all the snakes from Ireland,
Here’s a toasting to his health.
But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself and then
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see all those snakes again.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com. 

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Icon of Peter and Andrew

Icon of Sts. Peter and Andrew that Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras gave to Pope Paul

Most American Christians believe that all Christians celebrate Easter on the same day. In fact, 2016, one of the U.S. presidential candidates, wrote this:

This weekend, Christians of every denomination remember the most transformative event in history – Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection – the ultimate sacrifice that redeemed the whole world.

The fact is not every Christian denomination remembers Christ’s resurrection on the same Sunday.  In fact, this year, for the majority of Americans, we will celebrate Easter on April 21.  However, this year, our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters, will celebrate the resurrection a week later on April 28.

So, why are there two Easters?

Historically, the early Church did not have a set date for Easter.  In fact, not every Christian remembered Christ’s resurrection on Sunday.

The Catholic Encyclopedia informs us, that according to Irenaeus, “St. Polycarp, who like the other Asiatics, kept Easter on the fourteenth day of the moon, whatever day of the week that might be, following therein the tradition which he claimed to have derived from St. John the Apostle, came to Rome c. 150 about this very question, but could not be persuaded by Pope Anicetus to relinquish his Quartodeciman observance.”[1]


After that controversy ended, the Catholic Encyclopedia states that:

“…the second stage in the Easter controversy centers round the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325). Granted that the great Easter festival was always to be held on a Sunday, and was not to coincide with a particular phase of the moon, which might occur on any day of the week, a new dispute arose as to the determination of the Sunday itself. The text of the decree of the Council of Nicaea which settled, or at least indicated a final settlement of, the difficulty has not been preserved to us, but we have an important document inserted in Eusebius’s “Life of Constantine” (III, xviii sq.). The emperor himself, writing to the Churches after the Council of Nicaea, exhorts them to adopt its conclusions and says among other things: “At this meeting the question concerning the most holy day of Easter was discussed, and it was resolved by the united judgment of all present that this feast ought to be kept by all and in every place on one and the same day. . . in the city of Rome and in Africa, throughout Italy and in Egypt. . . with entire unity of judgment.” [2]

As already stated, we don’t have the exact words of the great council, but we may safely infer from scattered notes that the council ruled:

  • that Easter must be celebrated by all throughout the world on the same Sunday;
  • that this Sunday must follow the fourteenth day of the paschal moon;
  • that that moon was to be accounted the paschal moon whose fourteenth day followed the spring equinox;
  • that some provision should be made, probably by the Church of Alexandria as best skilled in astronomical calculations, for determining the proper date of Easter and communicating it to the rest of the world.

This was not a perfect solution. But it appears, by 525 AD all the Christian communities of the world were celebrating the Resurrection of Our Lord on the same Sunday.

So, what happened?

Why do Russian and Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter or Pascha, on one Sunday and everybody else celebrates the Resurrection of Our Lord on another Sunday?

Well, the Gregorian calendar happened — kinda.

According to Wiki: The Gregorian calendar, also called the Western calendar and the Christian calendar, is internationally the most widely used civil calendar. It is named for Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582.

Wiki states: The calendar was a refinement to the Julian calendar amounting to a 0.002% correction in the length of the year. The motivation for the reform was to bring the date for the celebration of Easter to the time of the year in which it was celebrated when it was introduced by the early Church. Because the celebration of Easter was tied to the spring equinox, the Roman Catholic Church considered the steady drift in the date of Easter caused by the year being slightly too long to be undesirable. The reform was adopted initially by the Catholic countries of Europe. Protestants and Eastern Orthodox countries continued to use the traditional Julian calendar and adopted the Gregorian reform after a time, for the sake of convenience in international trade. The last European country to adopt the reform was Greece, in 1923.

Blah, blah, blah-blah, blaaaah!

However, the Orthodox Church vigorously opposes the use of the Gregorian calendar, writes Fr. Jon Magoulias, a Greek-Orthodox priest at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Modesto, California.

This, he informs us, resulted in the West and East celebrating all Church feast days on different dates, the Orthodox celebrations always falling thirteen days behind the Western. [3]

In 1923, Fr. Jon Magoulias continued, an inter-Orthodox congress was held in Constantinople attended by representatives of some, but not all, Orthodox churches. This congress made the very controversial decision to follow a revised calendar that was essentially the same as the Gregorian calendar, for all things except the celebration of Pascha, which continued to be calculated according to the original Julian calendar.

The result being that today the Orthodox celebrate most feast days, like Christmas, Epiphany and the rest, at the same time as Western Christians and only Pascha and the feast days that are connected with it like Pentecost and the Ascension, are dated according to the Julian calendar and celebrated on different dates. [4]

Fr. Magoulias stated that for Orthodox, it is important to maintain the teachings and traditions of the Church intact and pure [5] — and I would argue, for Catholics, this applies as well.

But remember, I said the problem was that “the Gregorian calendar happened — kinda.” Well, the kinda is kinda important.

Catholics under the See of Peter believe Easter Sunday formula handed down by the First Ecumenical Council, held in Nicea in 325 AD is:

The first Sunday which occurs after the first full moon (or more accurately after the first fourteenth day of the moon) following the vernal equinox.

For Orthodox Christians, who no longer recognized the Pontiff as first among equals, the formula is this:

Pascha is to be celebrated on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, following the first day of Spring (March 21 on the Julian calendar), but always after Jewish Passover.  (This year, Passover or Pesach begins at sundown on April 19th (Nisan 14)  and will continue for 7 days until Friday, the 26th of April.)

And, that’s the kinda that makes all the difference!

Because of this difference, Christians celebrate the most Holiest of our Holy days on different days. By doing this, it appears to me, that we are acting more like they who divided His garments by casting lots than those followers who near the cross of Jesus stood.

Personally, I think holding on to the tradition of the Julian calendar is a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face. We know it was an inaccurate measuring tool. It’s definitely not Divine. So, why continue to use it?

I understand that Orthodoxy can also point to Canon VII of the Holy Apostles to counter any argument against the Julian calendar.

For those unfamiliar, Canon VII states:

If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon celebrate the holy day of Easter before the vernal equinox with the Jews, let him be deposed. However, in the same breath, Canons XLV and LVX of the Holy Apostles respectively state: “Let any Bishop, or Presbyter, or deacon that merely joins in prayer with heretics be suspended, but if he had permitted them” and “If any clergymen, or laymen, enter a synagogue of Jews, or of heretics, to pray, let him be both deposed and excommunicated.

To that I ask: “How close are these Canons adhered to today by Orthodox clergymen or laymen alike today?” (For the record: My Lutheran wife and I often hold hands in prayer and my kid’s dojo is held in the hall of a synagogue. Just saying.)

Now, I would never ask anyone to compromise their beliefs, but there has to be some wiggle room here. It’s also not my intent is to pick only on our Orthodox brothers and sisters.

To Catholics, I ask you to answer this: Is there 100% certainty that you got the Easter formula correct?

It appears that the formula was never written down. Heck, even the Colonel’s fried chicken recipe and the secret recipe for Coca Cola are written down somewhere.

And since even the followers of the Apostle John got the formula wrong and later adjusted their practice, maybe we can conclude our date formula for Easter does not meet the standard of “an infallible Church teaching”?


Since sharing the same Pascha in 2017, Christians will not celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ on the same day and at the same time throughout the world until 2034.

We need this to change — and there’s only two people who can truly make this happen: Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartolomaios.


Catholic News Service photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters

Here’s several ways you can address a letter to Pope Francis.

  • His Holiness, Pope Francis PP. / 00120 Via del Pellegrino / Citta del Vaticano
  • His Holiness Pope Francis / Apostolic Palace / Vatican City
  • His Holiness Pope Francis / Vatican City State, 00120

Do not write “Italy” or “Rome” on the envelop as the country. The Vatican is considered its own independent nation.

Since, unlike previous popes, Pope Francis is living in Casa Santa Martha instead of the papal apartment, another address you can try is this:

His Holiness, Pope Francis
Saint Martha House
00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City

Contact information for Patriarch Bartholomew His All-Holiness Bartholomew
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch:

Mailing Address of the Ecumenical Patriarchate:
Rum Patrikliği, Dr. Sadık Ahmet Cad. No. 19, 34083 Fatih-İstanbul, TURKEY
Tel:  +90 (212) 531.9670 – 6
Fax: +90 (212) 531.6533
E-mail: patriarchate@ec-patr.org




It’s time to call on the successors of Peter and Andrew to start acting more like brethren, and not children  (Cor 14:20).


Kalo Pascha! Festa Paschalia!



James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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Today is Ash Wednesday.

For six years, I lived and worked in Southern California, within the bounds of the largest Catholic archdiocese in United States where I attended Mass and services at the parish of St. Finbar in Burbank.

Almost 5 million Catholics work, live, and worship in the Los Angeles community of 11 million people which prides itself on its embrace of multiculturalism.

Oddly enough, when I lived in So Cal, not one Ash Wednesday passed without someone pointing out that I had “something” on my forehead.

The first time it occurred, I was in a Target. The person was kind and concerned as she approached and expressed her concern.

“Excuse me, sir,” she said. “You have something on your forehead.”
“It’s Ashes,” I replied, believing she would then know what I was talking about. She didn’t. “It’s Ash Wednesday,” I continued. Still nothing. “I’m Catholic,” I added. “We put Ashes on our forehead to mark the beginning of the season called Lent.”
“Wow, that’s cool,” she smiled, then walked off.

I have to admit; though I chuckled, I was equally amazed that she didn’t know. The following year, it occurred again.

My wife and I went to have sushi after receiving ashes to meet our holy obligation of eating fish. (And yes, I’m aware that sushi is not the true intended act of penance imposed by the Church to commemorate the day.)

As we we’re leaving the restaurant, the Japanese-accented Sushi Chef called out to us.

“Thank you for coming,” he said. “Have good day.”
“You too!” my wife and I added in unison.
“Excuse me, you have something on you –,” he added, pointing to his forehead.
“Yes, thank you,” I replied. “It’s ashes. It’s Ash Wednesday.”
“Oh my goodness,” he humbly replied seemingly losing his accent. “I’m a lapsed Catholic.”

We chuckled. First at the loss of the shame-filled Sushi’s Chef’s Japanese accent; but also at the fact that it happened again!

I was equally amazed that he didn’t know.

IMG_1351The most noted case of mistaken ashes came when British Sky News reporters, on Ash Wednesday, thought the dirty mark above the brow of then Vice-President Joe Biden was also just something on his forehead.

It’s quite humorous. The reporter, another self-proclaimed lapsed Catholic, finally realizes three minutes and 10 seconds into the broadcast that Joe Biden’s something is, in fact, ashes, and humbly apologizes.

Take a look at it HERE.

In her defense, and the defense of the others, our ashes often lose their intended shape, that of a cross — especially by the end of the day.  (See below)

Though I no longer live in Los Angeles, I, oddly enough, miss those awkward Ash Wednesday incidents.

I don’t miss them because they made me laugh — even though they did.  I miss them because they revealed, to me, the true nature of the season of Lent that lives in the heart of those of goodwill.

Lent is a season of Penance, yes; but it’s also a season of Reflection.

But what exactly should we reflect on?

Well, how about we reflect on being more Holy, more Christ-like; we can do this by reflecting His loving character more.

In fact, I’d argue that the motivation behind these well-intended interactions were, for the most part, just as Christian as the act of receiving and wearing ashes.

How so?

Then let me start with this question: If Jesus was walking down the street and he saw a smudge on someone’s forehead, what would He do? What would He say?

I think that Jesus would stop, point, and say, “Excuse me, sir. You have something on your forehead.”

So, if today, if you are stopped by a well-intended non-believer or non Church-goer, simply smile and say, “No, that’s not dirt on my forehead. It’s Ashes … but thank you!”

Maybe, you could even take this opportunity to start a conversation — and possibly take the first step in introducing someone else to the Love of Christ.

IMG_1353James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.


Lent Fun Fact:
The Catholic practice of abstaining from meat on Friday was the reason for the creation of McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish sandwich.

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Every year, I begin the genetics unit in my AP Biology class by humbling saying, “You’re going to learn more about genetics in this class than what was taught 30 or 40 years ago in the world’s top colleges.”

These days, in high school science, students move far beyond Mendel’s peas and the genetics of Watson & Crick.  Today, we discuss CRISPR and epigenetics;  things our most creative sci-fi writers would’ve thought were unbelievable — even in fiction.

Even with the current pace of today’s technological advances, there is one breakthrough that I share with my students that many still find impossible to believe.

That is the discovery of the world’s most amazing number.

There’s many amazing numbers out there. For starters, there’s 3.14 or pi.

7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion): The number of atoms that makes up an adult human.

2.5 million: The number of years the photons of light journeyed from the Andromeda galaxy before they hit your eye.

Absolute Zero or – 273.15 degrees Celsius: The temperature in which everything in the universe remains motionless.

Two.  The length of your DNA in meters, of one cell, if you stretched it out all the way and in diameters of the Solar System if all the DNA in all your cells were lined up end-to-end.

These are just a few.  We also have lists of amazing numbers.

There are amazing numbers in Biology; numbers cooler than Pi;  numbers in the Bible,  but none of these numbers compare to the world’s most amazing number.

You also may have heard that humans share 97% of our DNA with Chimpanzees.  Even more astonishing, we share 50% of our DNA with a banana.

Some scientists questions these amazing numbers.   However, there’s one number, in the world of genetics, that is truly amazing: Every human on the planet shares 99.5% of their DNA.

This means the difference between you and your most distant human relative on the planet Earth is most likely no more than  0.5%.    This also means…

All the division in the world…  

Every argument.  Every clique.  Every fight.  Every war. 

All the hate.  All the bullying.  All the name-calling and finger-pointing.

All our contempt, rancor, fear-mongering and loathing.

Our political and social divides.

Our racial and ethnic biases. 

Every march.  Every debate.  Every protest.

Every wall that divides us  … amounts to nothing more than 0.5%.

Amazing, isn’t it?  That’s why 0.5 is the world’s most amazing number.

Think about the attention this number commands.  The power that it holds!  The energy it absorbs!  The resources it consumes! The suffering it causes.

The tears it has shed.  The lives it has altered.  It’s destructive force!

Now, just think about all the joy, peace, love and harmony we can experience in this world if we stopped focusing of the 0.5% that separates us all, and instead, focused on the 99.5% that we all have in common.

Now wouldn’t that be truly AMAZING?

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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