Sorrow and Joy


By Charlie Johnston

I visited and grieved with George Cronin on Sunday. I am not ready to write about it yet. It was brutally hard having waited so long, then the day before we were to finally joyfully meet, lose Joey to a catastrophic human error. Susan had gone out for a while. She was so devastated at the unexpected denouement she could not bear to see anyone new. George was afraid I would be offended, but I understood exactly. That is how I deal with extreme grief, illness or stress…I withdraw for a time from everyone. George is devastated, but determined to behave in a way that will make Joey proud – just as he has been throughout. George likes to call himself a simple mechanic, but he is one of the finest, strongest, most honorable men I have ever known. Pray for that dear family in this agonizing trial. Young Joey was a sign of hope to many and I am confident intercedes on behalf of this family here at this site now.

Karen Dembia, who coordinated my New Jersey visit, sent a bunch of roses along with me from the Carmelites and is having a Mass said on a Sunday for the Cronins. But she was so graceful she sent it on behalf of all the Next Right Step community and listed that as who requested the Mass. You were represented. The funeral for Joey was on Tuesday. As I said, I am shaken enough by this tragic turn of events that I cannot write about it just yet at any length. I will when I can.


While I was in New Jersey, the priest who has kept the archives on me for near 20 years, Fr. Mark, called me to let me know that it looked like he was in Philly while I was in Jersey, but then would be in Jersey while I was in Philly – and we had to figure out a way to get together, for though we talk just about every week, we had not seen each other physically in nearly three and a half years. We were able to get together in Princeton, New Jersey (right near Einstein’s old house, I might add) and swap coffee and stories together for a couple of hours. He is being transferred to California, so I might be able to get to visit him again next month. We certainly won’t let three and a half years go by again. (I laughed and told him if that happened, it would already be nearly a year after the Storm had mercifully ended).


I don’t have all the details yet, but we have a big event in Covington, Louisiana coming up this fall. On September 28 both Mark Mallett and I will join Kitty Cleveland to do an event together. If I could only sing, it would be absolutely perfect…but it will be pretty perfect to have two such great Christian musicians together – and Mark will, of course, give a presentation as well as singing. We are all excited about it. Mark and I communicate regularly, but this will be the first time we actually meet. We probably will sing the Song of Triumph together at one point…but I will be the weak leg on that three-legged stool. I will get you more information as we get all the details ironed out.


A few links to tide you over until I am settled down and able to do a meaty post…

First, a short secular piece on the savage butchery of Planned Parenthood. Kevin Williamson is on of my favorite modern columnists, always deep and insightful.

Then a piece by Carl Olson over at Catholic World Report on Pope Francis that is, pleasingly, non-ideological, but offers some thoughts worthy of contemplation.

Finally, Mark Mallett has absolutely been on fire for about a month – and though I link to him permanently and quote him regularly, I thought this piece on the Glance of God deserves a little extra attention.

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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35 Responses to Sorrow and Joy

  1. Siobhán MC says:

    How I would love to be in Louisiana on September 28th, I follow Mark Mallet, I follow you Charlie, I love the Song of Triumph and sing it as I do my work around the house. I live in Ireland so sadly I can’t get to any of your events, but I watched the video from Birmingham. Thanks for that, God bless you and keep you safe on your travels.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Kris says:

    Dear Charlie, my family and I listened to most of the video from Birmingham visit last night. My 18 year old was most impressed. Thanks. It gives us all hope to remain at peace, for we know that God has a plan and we must just be as little children and he will lead. Also, want to know how to contact the person coordinating the trip to LA for the joint presentations with Mark Mallett. I think I am going to try to get there somehow and will need to work on plans ahead of time as my trip will be from far, far away! Thank everyone for adding us to the prayer intentions for Joey and the Cronin Family. This type of heartbreak can not find words that would express it. So only in prayers for solidarity can we offer them consolation. Thanks you for that. Blessings

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      As things get settled, all the contact info goes up in the “Upcoming Events” link in the black bar near the top of the page. Check that from time to time, as it will be up there as we get closer and firm everything up.


  3. Phillip Frank says:

    : “The Successor of Peter, yesterday, today and tomorrow, is always called to strengthen his brothers and sisters in the priceless treasure of that faith which God has given as a light for humanity’s path.” Yes, that pope was Francis, in Lumen fidei, his encyclical on faith.
    Our Pope is like wormwood, a bitter tonic used as a clarifier. He is opening us up into the deepest recesses of our being making us uncomfortable or contemplative of who we are and what we think.
    He is a precursor to the warning Mark Mallott has been writing about, a baby step into our consciences. A preview of our face-to-face with the Triune God.
    Be prepared if you failed this firts step….


    • jaykay says:

      I agree, Phillip. After all, Our Lord said that He came not to bring peace but a sword. I think Pope Francis certainly does that! I love the man, b.t.w. 👍 Not only has he caught wrongfooted certain types of “traditionalist” (and I lean in that direction myself) but also the children of this world who thought, in their foolishness, that they had a useful idiot – or perhaps a “holy fool” – they could use for their own agenda. Hah! More fools they. I think they’re slowly learning, though. The kickback from those last will be nasty. They have all the Kingdoms of the World, and the glory of them, at their disposal. For now. Hah again. J.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Mick says:

      Wormwood is also used for purging internal parasites. Hmm….


  4. donna says:

    how wonderful of Karen Dembia~ thank you for representing our TNRS community with respect to the Cronin’s….such a tragedy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • SteveBC says:

      Yes, thank you, Karen, for including all of us in your gift of roses and in the request for a Mass for Joseph and his family. That was very thoughtful of you.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Karen says:

        You are welcome SteveBC, but I can’t really take any credit for it. I didn’t even think overly much about it. It just seemed the right thing to do. I knew how much Joseph’s life had touched us all. It rallied us as a community into action: not just prayer, but phone calls, emails, etc. I knew we would all shared in the same shock and grief at his unexpected death, and would want to express that to his family. I am glad I was here to do it.

        Liked by 5 people

    • Karen says:

      It was great to meet you in person Donna! I hope we will see each other again soon.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mick says:

      Yes! Thank you, Karen Dembia, for including all of us here on the flowers and on the Mass card. That was very thoughtful of you. God bless you, and God bless all of the Cronins.


  5. cathyg2015 says:

    Oh, Charlie. I can only imagine your despair at Joey’s passing. He truly was a sign of hope and, I believe, a force that drew our NRS community closer. I’ve been pondering it all week and — in addition to thinking this is another sign that dark clouds are gathering more forcefully — I wonder if this is God’s way of preventing Joey from having to suffer through the Storm when resources will be scarce.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks Charlie , all your help has really been appreciated . Father David from Ascension parish in New Milford was great on Tuesday and Wednesday with the funeral Mass and services . We all know Joe was in God’s arms the minute he passed away , that is our greatest consolation ; if he had a couple of miracles under his belt he’d be a saint for sure . Although he may have one . Grandpa has always had a cantankerous nature , cursing like the proverbial sailor . He is determined to amend his ways and adopt Joe’s method of just being friendly , bite your tongue .

    Liked by 6 people

    • charliej373 says:

      Hi Joseph, sorry I didn’t get to meet you Sunday. I cannot begin to tell you how much I admire your son, George. I have worked with high-ranking officials in brutal pressure situations – and no one has ever handled themselves with as much grace, charity, and steadiness as George did. I would crawl in a foxhole with him any time. You should be very proud. I know Joseph has been a profound sign of hope for thousands throughout the world. His life had real meaning – and may he be a spark to a renewed commitment to a culture of life. God bless you and all and keep you through this. I am so grateful I got to know you all.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Mick says:

      Joseph, so sorry for your loss. Your family is in my prayers.


  7. sara says:

    thank you karen. and. charlie


  8. mmbev says:

    I, too, am so very grateful for the actions of Karen Dembia, on behalf of all of us here. And so very grateful to you Charlie, because you took our sorrow and condolences with you when you saw Joseph’s father.

    My two comments were “lost” and not put on the last blog. In a way, that was fortunate. I had said that like St. Therese, his name was written in the stars.

    That is true, and it is so for his parents, the poor nurse, his extended family and all who worked so hard to help him, to see. But his name is written in the stars not only for them, but for us as we live through these next days and months.

    Recognizing that we, too, however little our personal efforts, helped contribute to his parents knowing that he was not killed by the state, even though he died, is a true and huge blessing. How great that knowledge should loom for you Charlie, because without your diligent, strenuous, determine, and unrelenting efforts, that is what his parents and family would be facing now. (In this for sure, you can face the scrutiny of God and say that all He asked of you was fulfilled.)

    That being true, Joseph’s name is written in the stars for all of us. Each, as we go through the remainder and the worst of the Storm can look up, see those stars, and know that we are not forsake. No matter what is happening, Joseph’s stars will say not just his name, not just represent his prayers, but will remind us to ENDURE, to accept what is happening with fortitude, tenaciousness, and, yes, endurance to the end.

    When we feel we are faltering, we must look to the sky. Clouds or no clouds, there will be Joseph’s name, reminding us to believe, trust, to act as his brothers and sisters in Christ, knowing that not only he, but a whole multitude are holding us. His stars tell us we are not alone.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mick says:

      My eyes are full of tears as I contemplate what you said about Joseph Cronin. What beauty, wonder, and truth are contained in your words!

      Joey Cronin, please pray for all of us in Charlie’s “family”; and please help us all to endure to the end.


      • Irish7 says:

        Amen Bev and Mick. I am so sorry for the Cronins loss, and Charlie’s and all of ours really. The news shook me too. I do think he is interceding for this community. I am praying for the Cronins and most especially Mrs. Cronin. Thank you for your thoughtfulness Karen.


  9. nicky says:

    Nice to hear Mark and you are getting together for an event. His family are vacationing where I live this summer. We are invited to a BBQ welcoming his family, along with many others from our area. I found his writing called, Mere Men was so connected to your recent interview in Birmingham, regarding the unity of all Christians soon. I wish I lived in the U.S to meet you. Perhaps one day our paths with cross. God bless your efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Petra says:

    So, so sad for the Cronins. They are in my prayers. Losing someone you fought so hard to save is especially devastating.
    And thank you Karen for sending flowers and having a Mass said on our behalf for Joey.
    And thank you Charlie for being our spokesman to attend the grieving family on our behalf.
    I will keep the Cronins and all of you in my daily prayers.


  11. Charlene says:

    Dear Sweet Charlie.

    As nicky said. I am so very excited you and Mark Mallette are going to meet in real time. My other half Steve and I had the great privilage to meet Mark several years ago. In Attleboro Ma. usa at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lasselatte. I can promise you wil not be disappointed. Mark Mallette is a gift from Our Lord. And I am so very greatful he introduced us to you. Looking forward to meeting you in real time in Ma. This coming Sat…..God bless your Friday and see you Sat.. Charlene

    Liked by 1 person

  12. singingjuls says:

    Hi Charlie, I am so sorry for your loss and for Joey’s family. I haven’t been following you for long, and I do have to play catch up, but I am grateful for Wendy recommending your blog. I have been following Mark Mallett, it seems, forever, and I truly trust in his teachings. I still have a lot to learn, but I do trust that the Lord has me right where He wants me at this time. May God continue to bless you.


  13. Catma27 says:

    Thank you Charlie! I really enjoyed the video! I need to watch again! Would all of you please pray for the people injured and killed tonight in Lafayette La at the Grand Theaters! This is a wonderful city near me !! I know you all will pray !!!
    God bless

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Catma27 says:

    I also meant to mention I am praying for Joey’s family!


  15. Chris says:

    Such sadness with Joey’s passing and the loss of lives in the shooting last night in Lafayette, our hearts so heavy with grief for them, for their families, makes it hard to breath. Thank you Karen for your act of kindness with the flowers and the mass for our family here.Having a hard time finding joy lately but knowing that you Charlie will be here soon in Covington, gives me great hope that better times are ahead,that the suffering will be eased for a while. I love your comments mmbev, you are a delight. God Bless this family.


  16. Julia says:

    I unite my condolences with you all for poor little Joeys’ family. Lord have Mercy on Joey.

    Thank you Karen for including us in supporting Joey’s family at this time. It is hard to think about what they must be going through. Blessed Mother please wrap your mantle around Joeys’ family, so they know he is safe in your care until the family are united in Gods’ Heavenly Kingdom one day.

    It is nice to hear Charlie and Mark will meet soon. We can all look forward to watching them on Video, and feel like we are there to share the moment.


  17. Christiaria says:

    Charlie, my sincerest condolences to you and to the whole Cronin family on the tragic death of little Joey. It is so painful, and yet the timing of it seems so incredible–providential even–that you, a hero of sorts to this family, would arrive at such a critical moment.

    My sense is that Joey is both a victim soul and a special intercessor for all of us during these trying times, especially you and the Cronin family, Charlie..

    May the angels console all of you in your grief, and may they lead him into paradise.



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