A New Plan for a New Year


In just a few months, this website has grown very large. I did my first test post last January, then waited until March to start posting with any regularity. It wasn’t until July that I started trying to post every day or two. Astonishingly, sometime next week we will get our half-millionth visit. There is an old saying that, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But hey, I’m Catholic – and while we stay away from efforts to “fix” doctrine (unless you’re from Chicago, Seattle and some parts of Germany), we are constantly refining things. So it is I have been thinking of how to refine the website. We have a wide variety of interests here, the occasional squabble, some incredibly knowledgeable readers who make the comment sections as compelling (and often more so) than the columns they are attached to. What unites us here is an overwhelming desire, nay, determination, to see our culture resurrected through a renewed commitment to Christ. There are a host of people and groups out there who are laboring in the vineyards, some very prominent, many nearly unsung. There are issues, some in the news, some historical, some ecumenical, some involving modern oppression and trends. I want to give a look at as many of these things as I can, and dig into some of the issues that sometimes divide us – and can become signs of unity, without skimping on what has already been a sign of hope here. So I plan to put a regular schedule of subjects to cover together. It may, of course, be changed (or refined) over the coming months as I get to know how it all fits together, what works and what doesn’t. But like my home, the Catholic Church, I want to refine things. Here is how we will start:

Saturday – Musings Round-up: This will be just what you have come to expect in Musings columns, an eclectic look at things of interest to the faithful. No innovations here.

Sunday – Pilgrimage Journal: I will use Sundays to add installments to the story of my year-and-a-half pilgrimage walking across the country; the people I met, the things I learned along the way. It is a nice way to relive it for me – and a way to participate in it vicariously for you.

Monday – Et Unum Sint (May All be One): This will be a straight news spot with some interpretive content. It may be historical or theological, or it may involve some serious digging into current events and controversies. This Monday, I will publish a piece on “Mary and the Saints – for Protestants.” I largely agree with G. K. Chesterton that most people who are anti-Catholic are opposed to a Catholicism that does not exist. I know I was, pre-conversion. After reading this piece, some – maybe many – may still be opposed to Catholicism on this matter, but they will be opposed to what Catholicism is rather than what it isn’t. I have tentatively scheduled an investigative report on the controversy surrounding Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn for next Monday. I have been baffled why he was singled out for prosecution, when from everything I have seen, he followed exactly the ideal a Bishop should in rooting out scandalous behavior in his diocese. He was the one who reported the behavior – and was prosecuted for what he uncovered and turned over. It befuddles me – and it seems the Kansas City prosecutors behavior would serve, rather than getting justice, to discourage other Bishops from reporting and rooting out aberrant behavior in their dioceses. I want to know why it happened.

Tuesday – Regular Column

Wednesday – Guest Column: We have so many people who have real expertise and knowledge who visit here regularly or who are involved in some major undertaking that I want to give them a chance to expand on what they know best. I have several guest columns coming up. If you have an idea, or something near and dear to your heart you would like to write about, send me a suggestion at chrljhnstn@gmail.com.

Thursday – Regular Column

Friday – By Their Fruit…: These will be feature articles on people and organizations that are making a difference in peoples lives. The first will be on Fr. Regis Scanlon next Friday. Fr. Regis, a Capucin, is setting up a home for women living on the streets – not a shelter, but a place to rebuild lives entirely. It is dedicated to Julia Greeley, a former slave who, moving to the Denver area a century ago, devoted herself to caring for the poorest of the poor. He made three series for EWTN that still run late in the evenings sometimes. In the mid-90s, he worked directly with Blessed Mother Teresa in Africa, providing Eucharistic Formation for her nuns.

Future articles will provide profiles of various figures, some well-known, some little-known, who have devoted themselves to some aspect of the faith. Sometimes organizations will be featured. I am very taken with the New York-based Sisters of Life, a religious order founded in 1991 for the protection and enhancement of every human life. They are a vibrant, joy-filled order that makes contemplation and pro-life activism a labor of love and an offering.

Most will be Catholic, some will not. Many groups are working to do the Lord’s will. Whatever they call themselves, if they are being a sign of hope, they are welcome here. On occasion, if someone has made themselves a determined enemy of Christians, I may profile them, too. For those who have given themselves over to evil oppression, well, you will know them by their fruits, too. But that will be rare.

I will be delighted to get your recommendations on things and issues that should be covered. I already have a rather long list I have put together.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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44 Responses to A New Plan for a New Year

  1. joanp62 says:

    Why is Bishop Finn being singled out? My guess would be that this is the diocese where the National “Catholic” Reporter hails from and Bishop Finn ordered them to remove the name Catholic from their paper since they are anything but truly Catholic. Of course, they did not comply/obey. He is not the first Bishop in KC to order this from NCR.


  2. Mary-Louise says:

    Charlie, In your report on Bishop Robert Finn, I hope you will look into the comments made by Cardinal Sean O’Malley on “60 Minutes” concerning Finn. They were widely taken as condemning Finn. O’Malley clarified his statement somewhat in a letter in the archdiocesan paper (but held firm in his view that the Vatican visitation of American sisters and nuns was a “disgrace.”) I’d appreciate your take on this whole mess.


    • charliej373 says:

      I intend to, Mary-Louise. I have some very close contacts there, and already have some insight into that angle of the matter. I have a great deal of affection for Cardinal O’Malley, but I think he would have been better advised to stay away from a taped interview with the establishment media. They hate the Church. Even if you express everything with perfect elegance, they will distort it through the editing process to make you look like a drooling half-wit. And for all his many merits, Cdl. O”Mallet did not express things with perfect elegance.


  3. Mary-Louise says:

    Charlie, If you have close contacts in the chancery, you might ask about the influence of Terry Donilon, who is O’Malley’s secretary for communications. His brother is Tom Donilon, who was Obama’s national security adviser before Susan Rice. Many Catholics in Boston are uneasy about the connections between the chancery and the Democratic Party’s left wing.


  4. Barb says:

    I’m looking forward to reading about Fr. Scanlon. We met him about 20 years ago when he presided at the wedding of dear friends of ours who live in Golden. What a wonderful man!


    • charliej373 says:

      He is an amazing – and thoroughly delightful man, Barb. Thunderingly orthodox and hilariously funny. I have been doing some little things to help him get this project going. He tells some hilarious stories about Mother Teresa. They would often meet for working breakfasts. Well, Fr. Regis used to smoke – just as I did. (He quit entirely; I started vaping). A little embarrassed at it in fron of the sisters, when his nicotine low-indicator light would go off, Fr. Regis would tell them he had to go off and “exercise” outside. One morning he was at breakfast with Mother Teresa and things had gone long enough he needed to get out for a moment. So he told her he was going to go “exercise” to clear his head. He said Mother Teresa tilted her head down, gazed directly at him and said, “Regis, we have a lot of work to get done. You can smoke in here.” It must have been bracing to be busted by Blessed Mother Teresa!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Kevin Bowen says:

    Please don’t take on too much. You are a unique, precious resource to those of us who are trying to see our way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      Not to worry…if I do, Kevin, I will re-adjust. I am just putting up more a framework that, I think, can give us a fuller view. It is kind of like when I was walking on pilgrimage: I am not trying to prove anything. If I get tired, I will sit down and rest – and then get up and go again. But thank you for your kind thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. msethy14 says:

    Dear Charlie

    Enjoying your blog and learning lots! Keep up the good work.

    Blessings! (from another Canuck like Mark Mallett)


    “I thank my God each time I think of you, and when I pray for you, I pray with joy.” Philippians 1:3-4


    Liked by 1 person

  7. SteveBC says:

    This is great, Charlie. We’ll see a lot of different perspectives on a lot of different issues. I like the approach quite a bit.

    The only thing I’m left somewhat unsure of is articles that help you defend the faithful. I note that the article on The Great Apostasy has over 250 comments, and as you’ll recall, it plus its comments really opened my eyes on that. I’m not sure where in your arrangement here that such important topics might continue to be discussed.

    I very much support the emphasis on positive themes and explanations, because it’s actually easier for me to end up focusing on the negative rather than the positive. However, I want to make sure that the other side of things is also occasionally dealt with in clear ways. Your Friday articles give some space for that, which is good, but I hope that you will also occasionally publish full articles on difficult issues like The Great Apostasy where we all need help in developing our discernment.



  8. ellenchris says:

    Your plan sounds ambitious and also wonderful. Looking forward to it a lot.

    I would like to get out in front of Monday’s article on Mary and the saints. First, just for the record, most Anglicans do not understand themselves as “protestant” as such. There was great continuity with historical western Christianity in England during and after the Reformation. The Puritans pushed hard for radical Calvinism, and that left its mark on Anglicanism, but the sense of being deeply Catholic was never lost — Catholic *and* reformed. The Anglican Communion (with all its current problems) is the third largest organized Christian community after Roman Catholics and the Orthodox with 80 million members. We are Anglicans, and usually don’t like being thought of as “Protestants” — kind of a third way, if you will.

    Second, Luther wrote in favor of devotion to Our Lady, and so did even Calvin. The latter was pushed to down play this later in his career, but he defended her virginity and her place in the church. The radical Anabaptists — who morphed into the many American Baptist churches and groups — moved the furthest away from Marion theology. The Puritans, who objected to Her more than anyone, became the progenitors of the Unitarians: lose the Mother, and the focus on the Son becomes foggy. Stop referring to her as “Theotokos,” “Mother of God” and Jesus quickly degenerates into just another ordinary human being. Even many serious Protestants understand this.

    So — just saying that there are Protestants and then there are protestants, and there is a great range of differing opinion among them. Anglicans still love Her a lot and include Her. In my diocese at our cathedral the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the Lady Chapel at the altar with a beautiful Madonna and Child. Another great example is the double shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in England which is a great center of Roman and Anglican Catholic unity — incomplete though it may be, it is there and growing.


    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      Thank you for this, Ellen. Amusingly, some time back I wrote in passing that both Luther and Calvin had venerated Mary and a few readers said….”Nooo.” Their skepticism was not near as great as some of my Protestant friends on the matter.

      But Anglicans are a special case. Probably why we Catholics can read through C.S. Lewis without a lick of discomfort. My first spiritual director was a key in putting together the “pastoral provision,” under the direction of, first, Cardinal Bernard Law and, since 1996, of Archbishop John Myers. It allows for Anglican Priests to be received into the Catholic Church and ordained as priests here. One of the priests I am friends with up at Mother Cabrini Shrine, came in in just this way – and is married. If you ever want to meet a married Catholic Priest, come to daily Mass at Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, CO on a Monday morning. Fr. Dennis wife often attends. The pastoral provision also allows for entire parishes to be received. It sounds incredible, but my brother, Steve, attends a parish near San Diego where just that happened a few years ago.

      Here is an article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker from Crisis Magazine a few years ago going into some depth on it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • ellenchris says:

        With all love and honor, Charlie, this is not the panacea it may appear to be. My former bishop “swam the Tiber” about 8 years ago. He managed to cope for about 3 years and then came “Home to Canterbury” quite disgruntled. Reportedly, many of the wives of such priests were pressured to be as invisible as possible, and were excluded from any kind of parish leadership roles even in things like the altar guild or CCD. This may not be true across the board, but some were treated with suspicion at best.

        Last year Anglican Bishop of Argentina, The Rt. Rev’d Gregory Venables, former Archbishop of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone (South America minus Brazil), reported the following: “He called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate [created by the Catholic Church to accommodate alienated Anglicans] was quite unnecessary and that the church needs us *as Anglicans* [my emphasis].
        I consider this to be an inspired appointment not because he is a close and personal friend but because of who he is In Christ. Pray for him.” Bp Venables later confirmed the accuracy of this quote to the BBC (I will try to find the article to post it for verification). He is an honorable man and a faithful Christian in the face of adversity, and I am sure he would not lie about this.

        Pope Francis later confirmed his support for the Ordinariates; he encourages them to grow. However, he also has a healthy respect for the place of the Anglican Way in the larger Christian scene. Ecumenism in the best sense can be really fruitful for the Kingdom of God.

        As you well know, there are plenty of Christians out there who do not believe that Roman Catholics are Christians at all. Some I have known probably are not in any truly identifiable way. I could say the same for some Anglicans and Protestants as well. We have said a lot about “holding our posts” at this blog. Doing my best to keep on doing that.

        Thanks for doing the same, Charlie. with love and prayers. Ellen+ (And BTW — no offense taken at this and no ire)

        Liked by 1 person

        • ellenchris says:

          Sorry — just to clarify: The quote from Bishop Venables was made in reference to something Pope Francis said to him while he was still Cardinal Bergoglio.

          Bishop Venables clarifies and explains his statement to the BBC in this article:



        • charliej373 says:

          No, I’m sure it is the case. One of the things I talked about with my priests a long time ago, Ellen, was that the divisions are of long standing. No one living today bears any personal responsibility – and most are just trying to live their ancestral faith as best they can. It makes sense to me that God would keep good people in such situations that more may be gained for Him – and that the unity may be more easily facilitated. I had no assumption that this was a panacea. I have heard very orthodox people complain of it (which I usually keep my peace on…since an old spiritual director I love and revere was a primary author of it, I know I take criticism of it a little personally. It is kind of like listening to someone criticize your Dad). I am thankful that Fr. Dennis is welcomed – as is his wife, Jill, who participates with him. Around here, most folks are charmed at the oddity of meeting and chatting with a priest’s wife. But I am sure many are shut out and ostracized.

          But you hit the nail on the head at the tail end: w really is a time to hold our posts!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Mack says:

            In Boston an Anglican congregation came into full communion with the Catholic Church, and it is working out quite well. I sometimes go to their special feast day Masses because they have a beautiful liturgy. The priest is wonderful and so is his wife. Bishop Lennon (now in Cleveland) facilitated their entrance. So even if in other cases things didn’t work out, there are many instances where it has.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Mack says:

    Charlie I would be interested in your take on current events in light of your perspective from heaven, without you having to give up any secrets. Once you said something about how you read the news differently. Also I too think that Bishop Finn was singled out because of his orthodoxy.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Annie Shalsey says:

    I am looking forward to all you have planned. I especially am interested in hearing about your pilgrimage, Charlie. Thanks for all you are doing here.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. E. Allison says:

    It does sound ambitious Charlie. I hope it all works out exactly as you planned it. I am especially looking forward to the article on ‘Mary and the Saints’. I have found that one of the largest stumbling blocks for non Catholics. I think that if inroads can be made there, it makes discussion on other topics easier. It is a topic near and dear to my heart. How much it must grieve the King that so many do not accept the Queen, while still laying claim to the kingdom.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Diane says:

    God bless you Charlie for all you sacrifice to keep us informed. We have a married priest at our parish as well- came into the church the same way & he is so thankful to be a part of our Parrish – I was blessed to have him for confession and he was very comforting. Looking forward to the future! Pun intended. Prayers rising up for you and all- I learn so much from the comments as well- thank you all.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Bob says:

    My wife is interested on sharing the faith with protestants so your insight into sharing the actual Catholic faith with them in view of their viewpoints would be of interest.
    And, of course, I assume, as things develop, if in fact storms do come, they will break into your schedule as needed.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. aj says:

    Hi Charles, I’m not sure if you read this article yet but it blew me away! Once again, Papa Francis is making a “mess” and renewing the Church. He confirmed my opinion on our Church and its institutionalised pricing of blessings. This has longed ache me and has become a half sister to the scandal of selling indulgences in darker times

    After I read the sermon on Vatican Insider I went to bed pleased as punch. After saying my prayers and rolling onto the bed (1 am) it just hit me so clear that I almost jumped out of bed to send this message. Those famous words popped into my head…”Francis, rebuild my Church”. I knew it was the voice of GOD (not audible but extremely clear in my mind). It is indeed the work of GOD that He would chose a new Francis to continue the work of the old one. The Church must be rebuilt as the ark for the tumultuous times that lie ahead. And so, Pope Francis follows his Teacher and Lord in rebuking the shepherds, that they may refocus and become sources of Life and Hope to steady the Great Ship…The Church!

    “Francis, go rebuild my Church”…thanks be to GOD

    Here’s the article: http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/santa-marta-37651/

    JESUS I Trust in You, help my lack of Trust!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for that link aj. I have been shocked when people tell me that they have to give parish priests in certain parishes large amounts of money for the priest to marry them. Weddings have become a real money making business. I am so glad Pope Francis has spoken up about this. Priests should do all the sacraments free and if the people feel inspired to give a donation that is up to them.

      Liked by 2 people

      • ellenchris says:

        Welcome Br Gilbert Joseph and: Fiat! I visited your website and see that you are in Australia. Is your community in contact in any way with Mother Gabrielle Marie who is in Italy? Just wondering.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mack says:

        Perhaps it is different in other countries, but in the US the typical wedding costs are for the reception, not for the church, which is like a drop in the bucket by comparison with what people pay for their receptions. If someone really can’t afford to give an offering to the church, then certainly they should be able to receive the sacrament. But really, why would people expect to use the church building, with all the utility expenses that entail, and not pay for those costs? A balance is fine, but someone has to pay the utility bills. And the laborer is worth his wage.

        Liked by 1 person

    • ellenchris says:

      I have a friend who is a missionary in Peru. When he settled in there, he found that the great majority of the poorer couples there are not married and therefore cannot receive the sacraments. Why? Because the set *price* for having a wedding is so high that they are never able to scrape together enough to pay for the sacrament, and so they remain “unmarried.” So they remain throughout their lives unable to receive the grace of the sacraments or to live a genuine Christian life simply because they are poor. I dearly wish that the Pope would make one of his famous phone calls to the Archbishop in Peru to make this stop. What would it take for these little ones to be brought home? Honestly — breaks my heart.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think the just desire of a Sacrament is its best fulfillment. A poor couple should not be charged for getting married in the sacristy. Mary and Joseph offered a modest sacrifice (two doves) when presenting Jesus for His circumcision. That was a token only very poor people would present. Our Lord CHOSE to be poor, that is a mystery worth considering this Advent. He the happy owner of all the gold and silver chose to be born among the poor.
        I can’t quite accept that it takes almost a quarter million dollars to form a priest, that such a cottage industry has grown around certain Catholic necessities. “You received free, give free” is clear enough theology!
        I am currently involved in a project to inject Catholic culture into publishing and other media. Donations have not been exactly raining on me and I have been without steady work for over seven years, but I am “employed” now in making this work. The Lord certainly provides when one is willing to do the right thing. One has to plan things to be self sufficient and not expect the lift to last forever. In the meanwhile DELUMEN.ORG gives free, no registration, no log in required, no “donors only” sections although we accept a donation because servers, computers, electricity, phones, internet connections and such are not free here. Consider Charlie also who is pouring himself daily so we can get the spiritual nourishment and company so sadly missing in so many parishes. Truly “the best things in life are free.”

        Liked by 1 person

    • Mick says:

      AJ, I’m with you. The Holy Father is so right! And how providential is it that he took the name Francis? God bless our captain during the Storm.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. As usual, I am so blessed by the wonderful, educational, edifying and hopeful comments on this site. I really like your new plan, and I’m looking forward to enjoying all aspects of it. I am especially happy about your continuing to share with us your pilgrimage and all you learned from it.
    Charlie, I would very much like to have more information about your prayer group (especially how you keep it simple). I would love to see about starting such a group here in my senior living apartment building. I think the time is right. Please pray that God will guide me in His will in this regard. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. anne says:

    i understand your organization Charlie…….but for me, i would rather “go with the flow” style. The Holy Spirit will be the flow as He is now. Whatever works for you though.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Ignacio says:

    Greetings from Brisbane following our most recent storm 🙂 have to say it came out of nowhere and really gave me a renewed sense of keeping All these things pondering in my heart. Charlie if I may spiritual direction is a great need and it seems ( strikes) me that here in our community a great opportunity for clear teaching exists. Set aside the private revelation without discounting it and I still think of you as a guide given by God in his mercy and love to us his children. Have you considered a regular post on the Ten Commandments and church teaching for the ordinary man who wants to follow the Lord. Complimentary not instead of our individual Bishops. Thank you for your faithful witness.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Praying for yourself, your website , yourself and your family and all who visit here Charlie.

    May God shine the Light of His face upon you. May he lead and guide you in all His Ways.

    A small suggestion. Have a place for prayer requests. At first you might think it is the toe of your site, but I believe you will eventually find it is it’s heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. A piece of scripture occurs to me, ‘If God does not build the house in vain do the builders labour.’

    God has so magnificently blessed this house.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Observer says:

    I think any plan for this new year coming, esp. for 2015 as a stormy event filled year, has to include even more watchfulness and prayer. Definitely not the status quo requirements any longer. We may be “shocked” into different approaches and in the ways we begin to see the continuing interaction between heaven’s prodding’s and human free will/choice of action. I think also that there will be a greater developing desire for groups, Marian groups, to cling to not only for protection but for sharing in graces offered for these times through her great power that will truly be manifesting itself as “The Woman Clothed with the Sun” with an answer for the world coming through her “Flame of Love”.

    Meanwhile, here is another nice article about the insights of our guide for these times, Francis. What a grace to remind us that the Father wants us to take our steps with trust, simplicity, and humility:

    The Once-and-Future “Rank-and-File” Priest Who is Now Pope
    Francis gets candid with Israeli interviewer, revealing hopes and frustrations.


    Francis’ “little” friend, St. Therese, is also a great mentor for not worrying about accomplishing great things but doing little things with great love. With that God works the unexpected with, again referencing Pope Francis, His “surprises”.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Cat says:

    I can’t remember how I came across this blog, but can say I truly enjoy every post! Thank you for sharing your “musings”! Looking forward to what is ahead!
    A blessed Advent to all

    Liked by 1 person

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