Musings – Renewing the Culture of Life

The Immaculate Conception

By Charlie Johnston

I have spent much of the day trying to dig out from under the avalanche of emails I dealt with last week. I am glad to report that this afternoon I spoke with Joey’s dad – and he reports that Joey is resting comfortably, sometimes wiggling his toes, and reacting whenever the bed is moved. Things have changed dramatically since last week. George and I both kind of reacted in amazement that we have only known each other less than a week. I told him we spent a month together last week and he joked it has been a whirlwind courtship.

I am gathering a list of groups and people to thank – for this could not have happened without the passionate intervention of a lot of people doing a little – and some groups doing a lot. As I unbury myself, I will get that together and have it up.

Tomorrow begins my annual Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes. I hope you will join me in offering the Novena intentions for the full recovery of Joey Cronin and for a global resurgence of the Culture of Life. Certainly, we have seen evidence that no matter how thick or dense the darkness, it parts before the light of the smallest candle. Let’s keep those candles burning.


It delighted me to see that the two American representatives to this year’s final session of the Synod on the Family will be Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles. They are two of my most admired – and I doubt there are any more charitable and orthodox Bishops in the country.


It kind of stunned me to learn that at least 14 high-ranking staffers from President Obama’s political operation have gone to Israel to try to defeat Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu. And the president had the nerve to say that Congress inviting Netanyahu to speak was an unconscionable interference in Israeli politics? Honestly, I have trouble understanding how the president keeps a straight face when he says things like that – while doing things like this. Israel is encompassed with hostile powers on all sides – including those who used to be its allies.


What an inspiration that San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is leading the charge on behalf of the U.S. Bishops Conference in defending traditional marriage. Talk about working right from the belly of the beast!

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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37 Responses to Musings – Renewing the Culture of Life

  1. vicardwm says:

    I was also overjoyed to see the list of American bishops for the Synod on the Family. Other than possibly Abp. Cupich, it is a great list of bishops.


  2. E. Allison says:

    I have great respect for Archbishop Chaput, and am happy to live in his diocese. We met him when he was Archbishop of Denver in 2010. We attended his evening mass at the cathedral in downtown Denver, which is just gorgeous, and met him afterwards. We asked his blessing on our handicapped daughter, and he was happy to oblige.


  3. anthonymullendivineantidote says:

    Charlie, today is also the Feast of the Flame of Love and our Mother was working in your subconscious. Your sentence on no matter how thick or dense the darkness, it parts before the light of the smallest candle, could have come from the Diary of Elizabeth Kindelmann. I will join in the Lourdes Novena. Fiat!

    Sent from my iPad



    • charliej373 says:

      Thank you so much, Anthony. I feel like an idiot…I had no idea this is the Feast of the Flame of Love. Thnk you for letting me know – and how appropriate that that should be prelude to the Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes!


  4. says:

    Dear Charlie,  I find your musings(if that is the right word) inspirational. I will pray for you so that your level-headed columns continue. We have a newspaper in English for Americans of Lithuanian descent-Draugas News.  Draugas means friend in Lithuanian.  I wrote a piece for the January issue which ties the fall of the Soviet Union and especially the events in Lithuania of January 13th, 1991 to Fatima. The piece that eventually appeared in Draugas News did not  mention  the consecrations done on October 31,1942 and October 13, 2013.  The focus was on the fall of the Soviet Union. I hope you find the article useful.   prayerfully,  Vytas Stanevicius  


  5. Nancy D says:

    Hail Mary . . . spread the effect of the grace of your flame of love over all humanity. . .
    Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. Please intercede for Joey that he will recover completely, be restored to his parents in perfect health, and become a “sign of contradiction” to this present culture of death. Amen.


  6. Mary W. says:

    Today’s (Feb.3) Gospel according to Mark 3:21-43 is so appropriate for the beginning of the Lourdes Novena for the healing of Joseph Cronin. ” Why the commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” ………. The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
    Please read it in its entirety, be full of hope, pray and trust. Thank you Lord!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Barbara Dore says:

    Mayor of Padau in Italy bans new mosques in wake of Paris attack …
    Jan 9, 2015 – 25 posts – ‎16 authors
    New mosque ban in Padua after Paris attacks. The Local | 9 Jan 2015, 15:54. The mayor of Padua has said that no more permits will be …


  8. marie says:

    So glad to hear Joe is on the road to recovery. My son, just turned 13, prayed for him every day during this appeal. He was happy to hear Joe is a Minecraft fan (can’t remember where I read that). Who knows, they might be able to exchange Minecraft walk-throughs some day 😉


  9. ellenchris says:

    Thanks, Charlie, for all the networking and coordinating on behalf of Joe. Please let us know when he actually goes to the other hospital. It was really something to watch all the networks which connected to other networks all of which got activated on behalf of Joe and his family. SO glad to hear about the new responses he is making.

    Yesterday (Feb 2) was/is also the beginning of the period of preparation for Total Consecration aimed at the feast of Annunciation on March 25 according to St. Louis de Montfort. If anyone here has not yet consecrated to our Lord Jesus through Our Lady St. Mary, now is a great time to start preparing. It really does make a huge difference. St. Louis recommends doing the consecration on a great feast day of Our Lady in order to mark the occasion and to remind us to celebrate the anniversary of it by renewing it on that day. Certainly not too late today to start the preparation for March 25. In her “Fiat” salvation in Jesus began! Many blessings.


  10. Mjcjocds says:

    I was in a mine shaft once and they turned off all the lights briefly. I had never experienced such darkness before or since. Then they lit the small flame on the old fashioned miner’s helmet, and, although it was tiny, what a difference it made. I also remember how grateful I was not to be alone in that darkness. Even if I couldn’t see them, I knew I was surrounded by friends. That is how I feel about this praying community as things get darker and the Storm intensifies. Thank you Charlie for your leadership, and to all this group. May Our Lady truly form us into the persons God created us to be for this time. Looking forward to this novena.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Joseph says:

    “San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone defending traditional marriage. Talk about working right from the belly of the beast!”
    God bless you! That statement did my heart sooooooo much good! The thought I had was Daniel in the lion’s den! Praise God there are courageous and orthodox bishops to defend the honor of God, the faithful and the teachings of the Catholic Church!


  12. Murt says:

    Hello Charlie,

    A comment if you will allow on this latest post on Musings and Culture of Life. I read this link to the so called Obama attempt at change of governance in Israel. The change of governance by the US is not really all that surprising as it has been a factor of horror in any given number of countries since FDRs son began a trail of terror for our world in Iran as to Mosadeque (sp) in the 50s. I think if memory serves that would have cost a mere 50,000 at the time, but compared to 50 Million in today’s world of Ukraine, small change I would imagine. The difference today of course of The Shah then with his decades of pogrom, horror, and humanity suffrage. They were brown peoples who are yet under the suffering of dominance for living on white people resources. Now of course in Ukraine it has a slight twist. White on white people suffering in Europe, but still a matter of having the gall to live above natural resources. Joe Biden’s son is one of many interlopers who would come to mind here. I could of course try to go into detail of the lineage of the new leaders of Ukraine, but I am not really all that much into politics at my time of life.

    I would at one time in my life been a sort of a political activist of sorts in this parish. That too as I have said to you before would have been a white on white thing. I may well have looked along sights of a sort. Someone may also have been looking at me in their sights. I was all too aware of this situation, but I was also more aware as I ” learned ” of things. That situation was also a form of control of some outside forces. A simple matter really in hindsight. Something of a terrible beauty being born to quote some old Irish writer. The final Forty decades of a Seven Hundred year conflict which should have never developed beyond a month of it’s first instigation. Politicians though will hold sway of course as there is always an agenda by some hidden hand it would seem. My own thoughts on politicians is quite the simple thing in my old mind. In my parish I have come to believe they are the loudest mouth at the village pump. The bully in the school yard who is to be the new entrepreneur. The local landowner who just happens to own the local town shop or pub. The fore-mentioned young child genius will always, but always use the willing studious dupes of his bullying and coercion to be the great hope of most political elite.

    A small criticism if you will allow here now Charlie. I have been reading you for some time. You have always come across to me as a genuine honest man with a good heart and message for those you write/read to. I would most sincerely hope those messages you get and give are from a good place for humanity. We all need need hope in those times of the malignant one as that creature is not above using all and sundry to his own design. I have been saying to those who will listen for many a long time of hell being empty. I do assure you though of many crossing the street as they see this old fool on their path. I do tend to try to hold my own council now though as people seem to think of that malignant fellow just being a figment of my own imagination. The reason I tend to write this to you though would be of a particular purpose. I notice you use a picture of Our Holy Mother in this latest piece. The reason this gets my attention is because you tend of what God will tell you. To use such symbols in photo and then seem to use such as you seem to go off on a personal political tenet. It sort of makes me think when you seem to think God has some favourites or other in the politics of humankind. This thinker is of the opinion of God created all equal. The most important of the gifts given would be to love and protect. Cause no hurt to His creation. The gift of free will though which would have us learn the love of self. That I suppose is really a great conundrum which would really put Adam and Eve to shame. The Theater of war and suffering we so appear to have come to enjoy.

    I will finish here now Charlie. As I have said of me making no great criticism of you other than when I see an input to politics on the part of what you write. We are all entitled to our heroes in life. One has to remember though of history of the victor writing it. It would really be well to remember of history though as it is most always HIS-story. The feminine seems to have no part in that now it seems. Eve it seems is still well served as we look at our mainly man centered elite. If we really need to know anything of those we seem to be worthy of our allegiance of the leaders of our world. Just look to their lifestyle and how they treat those they are supposed to serve. Thankfully we are now I hope living a new time. A new process of learning where the curtain is falling down on this theater. I am sometimes glad of the fact of I really know nothing. I have not ” found ” God so far as a lot seem to have done on some sites I read. I was wrong to make a comment to you for which I did apologize as my thoughts on that subject would not be of the mainstream. My thoughts on that were worth more than but a by-line but my thoughts were with the will of Our Holy Mother for him.

    Do what you will with this now Charlie as it is not meant with any disrespect. It seemed as if you created a few thoughts from your post. Politics and religion seem to me to have little relationship in today’s world. The unchanging thing I have come to think of is not really politics. Simple really as to Jesus in a small mind. Who did He kick out of The Temple ? Who vilified Him for 2000 years ? Who crucified Him ?

    My Respects, Murt.


    • charliej373 says:

      Thank you, Murt. I have little use for religious sites that politicize everything…yet I get agitated at how many Christians treat politics as a dirtying of their hands – and so do nothing. Politics is simply how we choose, as a society, who we are and what we will be. God does not choose sides in politics….but sides choose whether they will respect God. In America, the Democratic Party has become overtly hostile to God. The Republican Party is not far behind…not quite overtly hostile but largely treating Him as a sometimes soothing, sometimes annoying myth. The culture of death gained such sway, in part, because too many Christians did not want to sully themselves with politics and so let the darkness advance almost unopposed.

      I try not to degenerate into mere politics. Certainly. 50 years ago, good faithful Christians could honorably be part of either American Party – for each had different approaches to governance, but both stood for life, honor, duty, true charity. Politics as currently practiced is, as I have said, a dead man walking. But it would be good to reflect on how we got here as we renew the culture – and absolutely imperative not to allow the advances to continue when everything has been politicized.

      Other than that, an interesting meditation on your part.


      • Murt says:

        Thank you Charlie for not taking to heart my comment. It was not as I say meant to be over critical of what you believe or say on here. I do become nervous though as I read on sites of locutions/knowings on the part of the receivers of such news. Not an easy task to take on board something of a somewhat ether world.. For my part on reading such sites of the present, I really am glad I have to discern but yet not have to listen/know things. I am sometimes glad I don’t seem to have found God or His Divine Son, but my only saving if you will is of having my Faith in Our Beloved Mother who in Her time will give me the need to what it is I should know. ( As a by the way in a former time of some 40 year ago I was introduced to some people by This Mother ) No words were spoken, no doubt for a purpose, but all things in it’s own time perhaps.

        Alas this writer is not of a Party system. Be it America or any other parish. They are all the same regardless of the parish of political thought. The politicians though are in truth not really the problem. They have been given full reign by that malignant one.It seems somewhat quaint perhaps but most of Christian Elite has not been immune to malignancy in our modern times especially. Those are the real prize of he I refuse to give a name to. Times seem to be bad it appears but we must not look to those of this place who say they will save us. I am of the belief of The Christ giving to His Mother the the choice of our new Saviour. A dead man walking indeed as this dead man will have sway , but the storm cares little for the dead man or his branches. Have hope in the heart, assail The Heavens………….Thy will be done hopefully.

        It did seem so much simpler all those years ago I thought recently as a Niece of mine told me of there being no God. I’m a Scientist Murt she told me and have no great belief in all that. i could but not think but to reply. You do that there now me girly. Take the next sample of Dirt you look at…………..Will you refine it for Gold or Silver ? Or is it just a handful of dirt ?


  13. Donette says:

    Charlie, you have at least 5 separate topics which can receive replies to in this last posting of yours. It is topic #5 that I would like you to address for me…the present occupier of the White House.
    I have heard multiple representatives and senators including the Speaker of the House claim on TV that the occupier of the White House has lied, used subterfuge, manipulated the laws of this land and most recently, according to the Speaker of the House, has violated the Constitution.

    After researching the word Impeachment and all that goes with it, tell me, since you have political experience, what does it take to remove such a person as the present occupier of the White House? By any sense of the word Impeachment, under the above accusations he should have been ushered out by armed military police ordered by the Congress of the US. years ago.

    Are we dealing with the problem of collaboration?

    Sorry if this question goes outside your mission, but I thought I would at least ask. If this requires a private email to you then please enlighten me.


    • charliej373 says:

      Andy McCarthy, former U.S. Atty. who prosecuted the blind sheikh in the first World Trade Center bombing, has written extensively on this, including a book entitled “Faithless Execution.” He rightly notes that impeachment is fundamentally a political act that requires a political will.

      My first political job was as an aide to the late Congressman Robert McClory (R-Il) in the midst of Watergate. A member of the Judiciary Committee, he was author of the Third Article of Impeachment against Richard Nixon – the only Republican authored article. I was proud then that the party I had adopted would police its own in the name of honor. I am appalled now that, in comparison to the current president, Nixon was chased from office for the political equivalent of coloring outside the lines. But again, it is a symptom of our times. In the 1970s, we still had a serious sense of honor in the country. It is why politics is now a dead man walking and irrelevant to the challenges we face.


  14. Gabrielle says:

    Thank you for updating us on Joey! My family has been praying for him daily. Quick question from a newbie Catholic; is there a particular reason why you always say a novena to Our Lady of Lourdes? Or is she just a favorite of yours? Thank you.


    • charliej373 says:

      She is a favorite of mine, Gabrielle. I say one every year. It is one of the most important modern Marian apparitions – and is the site of many miraculous healings. Very appropriate to this situation.


      • Monica Joseph of the Blessed Sacrament, OCDS says:

        I made my deMontfort Total Consecration to Mary on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes several years ago, and renew it every year, for the last couple of years using Father Gaitley’s book 33 Days to Morning Glory (an excellent resource!) as a guide. This year has been unusually focused and intense; I think it has been a special grace, as I have found several other resources to supplement my renewal preparation this year.

        I would encourage anyone who has not made the total consecration to our Blessed Mother to consider if he or she is being called to do so. I grow more and more grateful as time goes on that I was privileged to do so, and I have grown more and more in my understanding, so if you are interested, don’t think you have to know everything before you take the step. Again, Fr. MIchael Gaitley’s book is an excellent guide!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Monica Joseph of the Blessed Sacrament, OCDS says:

          Oops! I hadn’t realized there so many new comments above mine before I posted. I see ellenchris already encouraged people to consider making the total consecration to our Blessed Mother. Well, hoping that lapse on my part is a “God-incidence” (as opposed to a “co-incidence.”


          • Gabrielle says:

            Monica Joseph of the Blessed Sacrament,
            I am so happy to tell you that I made my total consecration to Jesus through the heart of Mary on Monday, February 2. I feel so blessed to have been able to do this. I used 33 days to morning glory as my guide. What an amazing resource it is!! I only recently started learning about Lourdes and st Bernadette. The entire story is so beautiful.

            Liked by 1 person

  15. Mick says:

    Charlie, you may have addressed this somewhere else and maybe I missed it, but… Anthony Mullen had suggested a novena for Joey, and I think you said something about a novena to Our Lady of Lourdes, to start either yesterday or today. Are we on? Did I miss the first day? Is there a particular prayer that we’re going to do together, or what?


  16. Crystal says:

    This novena celebrating the Immaculate Conception is also appropriate to pray based on the news that the UK has approved babies creation with the DNA of two women and one man.
    I’ll keep praying for Joe and his family. Today’s gospel of Jesus’ healing of the 12 year old girl gave me lots of hope for a miracle.
    Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Mick says:

    Charlie–OK, I’m an idiot that doesn’t read very carefully. I had skimmed the “Musings” and completely overlooked your mention of the Novena. So please disregard my question about it. Argghh. Oh, and I’m bummed that the Pats won and that Belichek and Brady get to crow for the next year. Grrrr.


  18. belovedrock says:

    Unbelievable, this just shows how dire our situation in the world is. MPs in the UK approve three person DNA babies.
    For anyone unfamiliar, this involves the destruction of an embryo via IVF, using DNA from two women & one man to create (not sure if that’s the correct word here) a baby. How far can we stray from God’s plan of life before He saves us from ourselves??

    God help us, we truly need a renewal of the Culture of Life. Meanwhile, in other news, ISIS burns prisoner alive.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Donette says:

    I can’t bear to watch or listen to the news anymore, Today’s news claims they burned the Jordanian pilot alive. I’ve said the chaplet of Divine Mercy for this young man.

    Thank you Charlie not only your response for the book to read but also for putting the Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes on your post. It makes life easier to go to your blog and find it and simply pray it.


  20. Bob says:

    As for Joey I know the Texas brain death law is flawed but I still wonder why the hospital was so eager to quickly declare him brain dead when more time could have been allowed for him to have time to regain life. I could understand if this was a war zone or we were already in the most severe part of the storm and resources were few and the hospital staff needed to make a triage decision on who they had the best chance to save, but in peace time with ample resources?
    Just wondering?


  21. Francine says:

    I have an extremely naive question…when I hear of the atrocities of ISIS and the destructive path they are blazing through parts of the world, I wonder why we don’t have a Christian Army?? My marine husband assures me that there are plenty of good Christian men that would gladly defend those terrorized by Islamic extremists. If our world is in the midst of a physical assault on the faith why is there no physical army fighting back? I’m sure this is a goofy question, hence my post is to pray the rosary with my own army of little children. But alas, I still wonder if someone can answer this….


  22. Lilia Florentiae says:

    Hi Charlie, I had never heard of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone before.
    I just want to tell you, though perhaps you already know, that “Cordileone” seems to be a contraction of “Cuore di Leone” (Cor is an archaic form for Cuore), which in Italian means “Heart of Lion”. If “nomen est omen”, Archibishop Cordileone is likely to be a very brave and courageous archbishop…
    Thanks for your hard work on this forum.
    Greetings from Italy


    • charliej373 says:

      Thanks, Lilia. I actually did know that – and think he is particularly well-named. Being originally from Chicago, a huge chunk of my friends are Italian…my kids godparents are Italian.


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