Posts by Fr Joseph M Esper

God’s Time

A young nurse named Leslie once witnessed something that, according to her, defied medical science. A patient was told by a hospital surgeon that his badly infected leg needed to be amputated—but a few hours later, the doctor discovered that somehow, even though this normally never happened, circulation had returned to the man’s leg, and he was going to be okay. As the mystified doctor later stated to Leslie, “When I walked into the waiting room to talk to the patient’s family,…

Resisting Evil

Some years ago, there was a woman in Mexico who supposedly possessed great spiritual powers, including the gift of healing; people from throughout the country were going to her for help, and afterwards singing her praises. This was brought to the attention of the local archbishop, a very holy man. Something didn’t quite feel right about the situation, so he sent a priest to investigate. This priest, after spending time with the woman and observing her so-called healings, reported back to the archbishop,…

Answering Our Higher Calling

One summer the New Yorker magazine used for its front cover a painting of a scene from the beach. There were five people in the painting: four adults and a little girl. Three of the adults were pacing back and forth with anxious expressions while talking on their cell phones, and the other adult was seated on a beach chair, staring intently at his laptop computer. In the meantime, the girl was holding a seashell up to her ear, listening to the sound of the sea…

A Family Garden

The sheriff’s department in a large city once distributed a list of rules titled “How to Raise a Juvenile Delinquent in Your Own Family.” The rules were: (1) Begin at infancy to give the child everything he wants; this will teach him that the world owes him a living; (2) Pick up everything he leaves lying around; this will teach him that he can always shift responsibility to others; (3) Always take his side against neighbors, teachers, and police officers. These people…

A Spirit of Urgency

Just over two months ago, on October 7, the nation of Israel was surprised by a number of deadly, vicious, and unjustified terror attacks launched from the Palestinian city of Gaza; many Israeli civilians—innocent men, women, and children—were brutally tortured, murdered, or captured and taken away as hostages. An Israeli named Amir, his wife Miri, and their two little girls, ages three and one, lived in Israel near Gaza in a small kibbutz—a Jewish community or village in which all the…

Come Share Your Master’s Joy

About 120 years ago, a woman entered a New York City department store during a heavy storm, wet and disheveled from the weather. Because business was slow that day, the sales clerks had gathered together and were talking baseball, even though there was other work they could have been doing. It was a lazy afternoon, and they were more interested in their discussion, so they ignored the customer—except for one young man we’ll call Henry Lattimore—who went over to the woman, spoke…

A Different Way—to Live

Once upon a time there were three friends—Ralph, Reuben, and Roger—down on their luck and searching for work, but without success. Then they finally got very lucky: a wealthy landowner hired them to live on and take care of his large apple orchard. They were quite grateful and determined to do a good job. The men soon decided each of them should be in charge of one-third of the orchard, so they divided it into three sections by means of a small fence,…

The Watchman

College students are back in the classroom now that a new academic term has begun—but this year some of them will be tempted to take advantage of a new form of cheating previously unavailable: using A.I., or artificial intelligence. Programs such as Chat GPT are now capable of writing term or research papers on virtually any subject imaginable, using correct grammar and including a bibliography and reference notes (though there’s evidence that sometimes Chat GPT will itself cheat by completely fabricating…

Remaining Faithful

About seventy years ago there was a boy named Eugene Orowitz—a skinny, unimposing 100 pound high school student who seemingly had nothing going for him. One day in gym class the track instructor taught the boys how to throw a javelin, which is a sort of spear. All the other students tried hurling it; the longest throw was 30 yards. Then it was Eugene’s turn. Some of the kids taunted him:  “Hey, stupid, can you lift it? Careful, don’t stab yourself”—but they were…

It is Not Hard to Find the Truth

One day a man stopped by an apartment building to visit a long-time friend of his, an older woman named Mabel who was a music teacher. He greeted her by saying, “Hey, Mabel, what’s the good news today?” Mabel stood up, silently walked across the room, picked up a small hammer, and struck a tuning fork, causing a note to ring out through the apartment. Then she said, “That note is an A. It is an A today, it was an A five thousand…

The Eucharist is Not Symbolic

A wise, elderly priest once celebrated an early morning Mass. Later that day someone asked him, “How many attended Mass this morning?,” and he answered, “There were thousands there—but I only saw three of them.” In other words, in addition to the three early-birds in attendance, the priest was including the thousands of souls from purgatory allowed by God to be present at this Mass, along with a multitude of invisible but very real angels and saints, especially Our Lady,…

God Has Already Claimed Us

There was once a missionary priest who had served for a number of years in Africa, and when he returned home to the United States he shared this description of an important lesson he had learned: “I had studied long and hard to learn the language of the native people. It took me more than three years to become comfortable in normal, everyday conversation. One day after preaching at Mass on Sunday, one of the men came up to me and said, ‘Father,…
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