Celebrating the Vocation to Teaching

May 5th, 2017


Saint John Paul II wrote of an “urgent need in various schools, whether Catholic or not, for teachers and professors among the lay faithful to be true witnesses of the Gospel, through their example of life, their professional competence and uprightness [and] their Christian inspired teaching” (On the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful, 62).

Here in the Archdiocese of Washington, we are blessed with many such teachers whose faith is manifested in the classroom and subject matter that they teach. It is thanks to them that our Catholic schools are able to provide such an academically excellent environment where revealed truth, reason and charity are engaged in an ongoing effort to shed greater light on the human condition and to build up the kingdom of God in our world today.

Through the generosity of the Golden Apple Award Foundation, founded by the Donahue Family, we are also blessed to be able to recognize annually ten outstanding teachers from across the archdiocese.  We honored these educators collectively last evening in a special awards dinner, but all through the month of April school officials visited classrooms, assemblies and school Masses to surprise a teacher who for the students and fellow faculty members alike, manifests the face of Christ the Teacher and the joy of the Catholic faith.  Those celebrated for their achievement were:

  • Graciela Marlene Aguilar-Nahas, Our Lady of Victory School, Washington DC
  • Nicole Hayes, Saint Philip the Apostle Catholic School, Camp Spring, MD
  • Judith S. Horne, Saint Anthony Catholic School, Washington DC
  • Jennifer Massey, Mary of Nazareth School, Darnestown, MD
  • Justin McClain, Bishop McNamara High School, Forestville, MD
  • Michelle Morning, Saint Michael School, Ridge, MD
  • Hannah Ruckstuhl, Saint Mary of the Assumption School, Upper Marlboro, MD
  • Kenneth Scheiber, Saint Mary’s-Ryken High School, Leonardtown, MD
  • Michelle Truss, Saint Mary’s School, Bryantown, MD
  • Elizabeth Scribner, Holy Redeemer School, College Park, MD

Pope Francis has said, “We need to remember that all religious teaching ultimately has to be reflected in the teacher’s way of life, which awakens the assent of the heart by its nearness, love and witness” (Evangelii Gaudium, 45).  In my pastoral letter Being Catholic Today: Catholic Identity in an Age of Challenge, I invited all of us to consider both the power and responsibility our Catholic schools have in forming our young people to transform the temporal order into a kingdom of goodness, love and peace. It does not simply happen because the building is a Catholic school, but because of the Catholic spirit that permeates the people in it.

The mission and message of our Catholic schools exhibit a vision of life that is rooted in Christ, articulated in his Gospel and manifested in his Church.  This vision is manifested not only in classroom instruction and school activities, but in the witness of our teachers.  In this way, our Catholic institutions of learning are distinguishable from secular ones – the lessons learned about faith and love in these schools help graduates build a better world in a way that others do not.  Our Golden Apple teachers help make that happen.

Prayer for the National Day of Prayer

May 4th, 2017


Earlier today in a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House, I was honored to join with religious leaders, President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other dignitaries to observe the National Day of Prayer. Following the custom of the early days of our nation, this day has been set aside annually to encourage people of all faiths to come together and turn to God in prayer and meditation. Please join with me in the following prayer which I offered at this special gathering:

In the Prologue to the Gospel of Saint John, we read, “The light shines in the darkness that did not overcome it.”

Good and gracious God who has revealed your glory – a light – to all nations, grant us to preserve the works of your mercy, conduct ourselves in the ways of salvation, always free to walk in your light, in your truth.

Father of all creation, you made us in your image and set us over the works of your hands. Once you chose a people and gave them a destiny, and when you brought them out of bondage to freedom, they carried with them the promise that all people would be blessed and all would be free.

It happened to our fathers, who came to this land, a place of promise and hope. It happens to us still in our time as you lead all people to the blessed vision of peace, walking in the freedom of your light.

Just as we have been called out of darkness into Christ’s marvelous light, let us turn to him in humble but fervent petition, seeking the grace to root out from our hearts all traces of anything that holds us back from walking in the full freedom of the children of God.

O God who gave one origin to all peoples and willed to gather from them one family for yourself, fill our hearts, we pray, with the fire of your love and kindle in all of us a desire for the just advancement of our neighbor, that through the good things which you richly bestow upon all, each human person may be brought to perfection, every division may be removed, and equality and justice be established in human society.

God our loving Creator from your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you have called us as your people and given us the right and duty to worship you in Spirit and in truth.

We ask you now on this National Day of Prayer to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Make us always mindful of our solidarity with those who suffer persecution for religion’s sake around the world. Keep us joined in solidarity with brothers and sisters of faith in their times of trial and suffering. Give us the strength of mind and heart to always stand for our freedoms whenever they are threatened and give us the courage to make our voices heard on behalf of all people who suffer persecution today and in defense of the freedom of conscience for all people.

We ask you, Father of light, wisdom and justice, to whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgement decreed, assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, that his Administration may be conducted in righteousness and be eminently useful to your people over whom he presides by encouraging due respect for virtue and morality and by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy.

Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry and knowledge; and may perpetuate for us the blessings of equal liberty.

Grant all of this we pray, Heavenly Father, that for sake of our children and our grandchildren and all who come after us, this great land will be always be “One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

This prayer we make in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.


In Remembrance and Thanksgiving: the Blue Mass

May 2nd, 2017


Earlier today, it was my privilege and honor to celebrate the 23rd Blue Mass at Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church.  With all the pageantry of a procession with honor guard, bagpipe and drum corps, officers on horseback and fire ladder trucks outside, this yearly liturgy in the Church of Washington is offered for all those who give of themselves in public safety and law enforcement, including local police, firefighters, first responders, and others whose service helps keep our community and nation safe.  In particular, we gather in prayerful and grateful remembrance of those heroic servants who made the supreme sacrifice in the fulfillment of their duties.

Each time we come together in this way, giving thanks to God for all those who have the care of the community as their responsibility, and asking the Risen Lord’s blessings upon them, we bear witness to the glory of love.  What motivates these valiant men and women day in and day out, ultimately, is love – their love of their families to be sure, and also their love for the community, their selfless love for those they do not even know, for those who may not even like or appreciate them, but for whom they are willing to risk their own lives. This love is reflected in all of the routine day in and day out challenges they face all the time.

This annual Mass, to which all from every religious commitment and faith conviction are invited, is something we do every year lest we ever forget how much we owe all of those who every day put on a uniform at the service of the community – at the service of you and me and our own loved ones.  We do this every year because of our need to say, “thank you.” We need to thank God for those who place themselves between us and harm.  We need to let them and their families know that we know how significant their actions are and that we are truly grateful.

Recognizing that not every law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency responder or medical personnel returns home at the end of their shift, we pray especially for the fallen and their families.  A hallmark of the Blue Mass is the solemn reading of the names of the officers who died in the line of duty accompanied by the sounding of Taps. Reflecting our faith in the Resurrection, our prayers are directed to our loving and ever-merciful God, whom we ask to receive into his kingdom of new and eternal life those who have paid the last full measure so that others might live, prosper and be free.  We also pray that the Lord of all consolation heal the pain of their families, lifting them up from the depths of grief to the peace and light of his presence.

Let us today and everyday give thanks to God for the gift of courage for those who stand up and stand in the way of harm for others. May we always stand together in recognition of their great gift of self which allows us to live in security and freedom as we offer our own personal service in helping to build a truly good and just society.

In Service to the Lord and the Church

April 29th, 2017


Saint Catherine of Siena, whose feast we celebrate today, exemplifies the tremendous gift that so many women have been in the life of the Church. With a burning desire to serve the Lord, her life was one of rich and deep prayer combined with charity in service to others, including nursing those dying from the Black Plague that decimated Europe in the fourteenth century. Catherine also worked for peace between the republics and principalities of Italy and boldly counselled two popes while speaking on behalf of a unified Church in a time of internal discord. It was Catherine who through prayer and dialogue gave voice to the need for the Church to exercise strong leadership and above all seek unity in service to our Lord.

Saint Catherine is only one of so many women who have played indispensable roles throughout the history of salvation both before and after the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the first being of course Mary, Blessed Mother of our Lord and Mother of the Church. The Old Testament tells us about prominent women like Miriam, Esther and Deborah to go with the countless unnamed women who provided the strength of faith to their families and neighbors. The New Testament recounts both nameless women who became Christian through the preaching of Jesus and the Apostles and also names women such as Lydia, Susannah, Phoebe, and Prisca who were stewards within the young Christian communities. We can imagine that they were inspired too by the strength and faith of companions of Jesus like Martha and Mary of Bethany, as well as Joanna, Salome and Mary, the mother of James, each of whom with Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the Apostles, were the first witnesses to the Resurrection.

Not only are these women models of faith, but to their stories we add the succeeding chapters of women today whose faith and service make our parishes and communities places of hope. Next month, we highlight just two examples.

On this coming Wednesday, May 3, many will gather at the annual Hope Blossoms gala to support of the work of St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth and Families, founded by the Daughters of Charity. For more than 150 years, unmarried expectant mothers have found at St. Ann’s the support and preparation they need to care for their children. St. Ann’s has also proven remarkably capable of creatively responding to the needs of mothers and children facing homelessness and women who have been victims of human trafficking.

On May 20, women from across the area will gather at Catholic University for the archdiocese’s fifth annual women’s conference. Capturing the joy of the Easter season, the theme is “Occasions of Grace.” Women will be invited to reflect on how they receive God’s grace in the ordinary moments of life. This conference is both a time to thank the women of this local Church for great service, as well as a time to come together in prayer and fellowship steeped in the life-renewing grace of Easter.

Helping Young People in the Life of Faith

April 26th, 2017


As we move through the Easter Season, our Mass readings tell the wonderful story of the growth of the Church through the preaching of the first Apostles. That Gospel mission continues today and all the baptized, including young people, are called to be missionary disciples. Now Pope Francis has called a Synod of Bishops to meet next year to consider how better the Church “can lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love, and to ask young people to help her in identifying the most effective ways to announce the Good News today” (Preparatory Document Introduction). This includes their vocational discernment as to whether they are called to married or religious life or the priesthood.

In this time leading up to the Synod, Pope Francis has asked that every diocese hold listening sessions with young people, parents and adults who work with them. It is an age-old reality that we older folks do not always speak the language of young people, we do not really fully understand or appreciate their challenges and dreams, and thus it can be difficult to find the right words to speak to them of the important things in life, such as the gift of faith. Therefore, this venture of listening to young people speak about their own faith and experiences will be invaluable as we try to meet the challenge of nurturing them in the faith, keeping them interested and active in the Church, and in living their Catholic faith out in the secular world.

Here in the Archdiocese of Washington, we are responding to the Holy Father’s request through an initiative called “Share With Francis,” which both equips parishes and schools with materials to host a listening session, and includes an online survey for those not able to participate in a listening session. Parents, pastors, catechists and others will have the chance here to share their own insights in living and working with young people. However, we especially want to hear from young people. Please help these efforts by sharing this information with any young person you know who can help us better hear and nurture them and also by using #SharewithFrancis in social media.

Regarding this process, Pope Francis has written a letter in which he says to young people: The Church “wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls.” Joining with our Holy Father, it our hope is that by listening to young people and hearing their aspirations, “the Church can glimpse the world which lies ahead and the paths the Church is called to follow” (Preparatory Document Introduction).

The Divine Mercy of the Lord

April 23rd, 2017
Divine Mercy

Chapel of the Miraculous Image of the Merciful Jesus and the Tomb of St. Faustina (Kraków, Poland)

The mercy of the Lord “lasts forever. From generation to generation, it embraces all those who trust in him and it changes them, by bestowing a share in his very life,” affirms Pope Francis (Misericordia et Misera, 2). This divine mercy expresses itself in the life of the Church in a variety of ways – in the sacraments, in our Christian witness, in our works of charity, and in our prayer.

In a particular way, the compassionate love of God is praised and kept in our hearts in the various forms of spiritual devotion to divine mercy. These include Divine Mercy Sunday, which we celebrate today on the Octave of Easter, the Chaplet and Novena to Divine Mercy, special prayers at three in the afternoon, which is the Hour of Great Mercy when Jesus died on the Cross in love for us, and the Image of Divine Mercy.

Jesus, with his arms outstretched on the Cross, is the incarnation of mercy. Saint John tells us in his Gospel that after the Lord breathed his last and handed over his Spirit, to make sure he was dead, one of the Roman soldiers “thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out” (John 19:33).

The blood and water pouring forth from the depths of the sacred heart and pierced side of Christ can be understood as being a fountain of mercy and it is captured in a special way in the Image of Divine Mercy, according to a vision of Saint Faustina Kowalska. This famous image depicts two rays of light in red and white, representing blood and water, streaming from the heart of the Lord, together with the words “Jesus, I trust in You,” and it was explained by Saint Pope John Paul II this way, citing the diary of Saint Faustina: “The blood recalls the sacrifice of Golgotha and the mystery of the Eucharist; the water, according to the rich symbolism of the Evangelist John, makes us think of Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 3:5; 4:14). Through the mystery of this wounded heart, the restorative tide of God’s merciful love continues to spread over the men and women of our time” (Homily of April 22, 2001).

Every time we look upon the Image of Divine Mercy or a crucifix, every time we pray for souls saying the words of the Chaplet, “For the sake of his sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world,” we are reminded that we can trust in the Lord’s love and grace at work in our lives. We can trust in Jesus in our daily lives and we should do so in prayerful vigil particularly at the end of life.

By these devotions of Divine Mercy, we are drawn deeper into the experience of God’s rich and enduring compassion. He has sent us his only begotten Son from whose side pours forth a fountain of loving mercy, a “wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace,” that redeems and renews (Misericordiae Vultus, 2). How blessed we are to be so loved by the Lord.

A 90th Birthday Gift to Pope Benedict XVI

April 19th, 2017
(CNS photo/Stefano Spaziani, pool)

(CNS photo/Stefano Spaziani, pool)

Fittingly, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI celebrated his 90th birthday on Easter Sunday. This milestone offers a chance for us to reflect on the gift that his life has been to the Church and world and to offer gifts of our own.

What has marked the life, ministry and pontificate of this pastor who was born Joseph Alois Ratzinger on Holy Saturday, April 16, 1927, in addition to his intellectual brilliance, is his great humility and love of the Church. This was apparent from the start of his papacy when, in his first address to the world after being elected, he referred to himself as “a simple and humble laborer in the vineyard of the Lord” and then said, “The fact that the Lord knows how to work and to act even with inadequate instruments comforts me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers.” This same self-effacing modesty characterized his entire pontificate and was on display at the end when he said, “I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth,” following that historic announcement in 2013 that he would step aside as Chief Shepherd and retire to a life of prayer.

That pilgrimage has entailed a remarkable, grace-filled journey from his birth in a faith-filled family, to his 1951 ordination to the priesthood, to his work as a university professor, to becoming archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977, to his Petrine ministry. Before Joseph Ratzinger became pope in 2005, he was respected as one of the great theological minds of the Church, serving as an advisor to the Second Vatican Council and for years working at the side of Saint Pope John Paul II as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. His legacy throughout has been his engagement of faith with the modern world. Notably, he announced a Year of Faith and summoned us to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, and to re-propose his Gospel in the New Evangelization.

The Holy Father revealed his foremost message at his inaugural Mass: “Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is.” In his homilies, addresses and writings, including his encyclicals Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), Spe Salvi (On Christian Hope) and Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), he taught with a pastoral heart. Central to it all was the recognition that, “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, [Jesus Christ], which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (Deus Caritas Est, 2).

The arc of Pope Benedict’s pilgrimage of faith has been a journey to “Christ our Hope,” the theme of his April 2008 visit to the United States. The climax of his visit here to the Church of Washington was the Mass at Nationals Park, where he said, “Those who have hope must live different lives! By your prayers, by the witness of your faith, by the fruitfulness of your charity, may you point the way towards that vast horizon of hope which God is even now opening up to his Church, and indeed to all humanity: the vision of a world reconciled and renewed in Christ Jesus, our Savior.”

Another highlight of this visit was celebrating Pope Benedict’s 81st birthday, with children from the nearby Annunciation School singing to him. For his 90th birthday, as we pray that God continue to bless him and his successor Pope Francis, the greatest gift we could offer Pope Emeritus Benedict would be to join him on the pilgrimage to Jesus that has been the goal of his life.

Jesus Christ is Risen Today, Alleluia!

April 16th, 2017


With joy and exaltation today, the Church proclaims once again, as we have done for two millennia, “Christ is Risen!

The Gospel tells us of the empty tomb, of the first witnesses, and history bears witness to the progress of Christ’s living Church through 20 centuries and all of the works of love and charity lived out by that Church over 2,000 years. We are part of a faith family, a living tradition, a connectedness from Mary Magdalene, Peter, John, the other apostles and disciples who saw Jesus alive, as well as the testimony of the martyrs and saints – all of those witnesses year after year after year.

We must share this Good News of the Resurrection. We are meant to be signs and instruments of salvation in the work of Christ, the light of the world and salt of the earth for the redemption of all. This is the mission given to us by our Savior Jesus, who also prayed before he was given up to death that his believers “may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one” (John 17:21-23).

This year our Easter joy is made more complete by the fact that the entire Church throughout the world – one, holy, catholic and apostolic – is singing, “Alleluia,” all on the same day. In the course of human history, contrary to Christ’s expressed will, parts of the one Christian family tragically moved apart from each other, most notably the separation between the Orthodox East and the Latin West. While each always continued to proclaim, “Christ is Risen,” at Easter, because of subsequently following different calendars and ways of calculating the day of Easter, many years they often celebrated this holiest of solemnities (and other feasts) on different days.

Easter marks humanity’s reconciliation with God through Christ Crucified and Risen so that you and I and may be one in the Lord. So it is a blessing that this year Easter falls on the same day on both calendars so that the one Church rejoices today as one. In our society today which sees so much division and polarization, we can in this small way help show the way toward unity of all peoples.

Jesus said, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). What the Risen Lord offers is a life richer than any we could ever otherwise have, a life so radically new that we must be born again to receive it, a life that participates in Christ’s own Resurrection and in a glorified and eternal body. This is the Good News which has the power to make what is good in human life far better and richer. It takes our broken lives and renews us and the whole world. This is our faith. This is our great hope. Alleluia, Alleluia. Amen.

Reflections on the Cross on Good Friday

April 14th, 2017


Today, we – the Church Universal and the whole of humanity – come to the crossroads of history. We come to the Cross on which our Savior gave up his life as a ransom for ours so that we might have life eternal. On Good Friday, the Cross stands at the center of our thoughts and our liturgy as the living symbol of God’s all-embracing love of us, of Jesus’ extension of that love as he stretched his arms, a love voiced in his plea, “I thirst” – the Lord thirsts for our love – as his love is made visible in his pain, suffering and death he endured for our sake.

As we shout, “Crucify him,” during this liturgy and see ourselves as the soldiers pounding the nails in Jesus’ hands and feet by our sins, and as we also stand at the foot of the Cross at the side of Mary as the beloved disciple, and as his witnesses in today’s world, with the eyes of faith we see in the Cross more than just failure, despair and death. As believers now, like the centurion and the Apostles we acclaim, “Truly, this is the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).

What makes it possible for us to see beyond the ruined body of Jesus of Nazareth nailed to the Cross is our Spirit-filled faith that helps us see the reality of our redemption and salvation. What brings us to the foot of the Cross today, and leads us to venerate the Cross at the Good Friday liturgy, is our understanding of who Jesus is and what he accomplished for you and me.

We are here – and cannot be elsewhere – because in the Cross we recognize the sign of God’s love for us and the new life, the fresh start that it signifies for each of us. Through his divine love, the fullness of love in the Trinity, we can attain God’s forgiveness when Jesus embraces us as he once embraced the Cross, by which he redeems the world and each of us, showing us that we too can conquer sin and death.

We also recognize here in the figure that graces our crucifixes in our churches and homes, and is made truly present again on the altar, that no matter how bruised or battered we might be because of our own sinfulness or due to challenges we are facing, the Lord’s love and mercy are always there for us. If we turn to him even in our last breath and contritely ask him to remember us, Jesus will say to us, “Amen, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). The Cross reminds us we are never alone and never without hope.

Knowing Jesus’ Passion ultimately culminated in his Resurrection, and knowing that the transformative power of his love redeems us to new life and can help us endure our own crosses in redemptive suffering, there is no other place for us to be. “We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.” This prayer of Saint Alphonsus Liguori for the Way of the Cross offers words we can take to heart on this Good Friday and every day.

Good Friday Blog 2

The Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper

April 13th, 2017


When God saved his people from death by the blood of the Passover lamb and delivered them out of bondage and oppression in ancient Egypt, he told them to eat unleavened bread and each year thereafter to observe this day as a memorial of the Passover of the Lord. The meal taken in community, which generation after generation then celebrated, was thus integrally connected with the circumstances of the liberation and captured in ritual what God was about to effect in history.

In the fullness of time centuries later, John the Baptist would acclaim Jesus as the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29) and the Lord would proclaim that he is himself the bread of life, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6:51). The Apostles, however, did not yet understand what Jesus was saying and when they went to celebrate the Passover for what would turn out to be the last time, they no doubt expected it to follow the usual ritual. Instead, it was the establishment of the new, definitive and everlasting covenant.

At this meal called the Last Supper, Jesus instituted a new memorial sacrifice – the Eucharist. The true Lamb of God was about to be slain and all was to be new. But first Christ would suffer and die on the Cross, the sacrificial offering that frees us from the bondage of sin and death, before rising, which is our pledge of new life.

In the context of the Passover meal, Jesus said a blessing as he took the unleavened bread and the cup of wine. “This is my body that is for you,” he said. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” Bidding his Apostles and through them us to eat and drink, he said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Unlike the Passover, however, in the Eucharist the events of redemption and salvation are made a present reality in our lives in a way that enables us to participate and share in them.

Every time we do this at Mass, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the words of consecration, Jesus becomes truly present – Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity – in sacramental form under the outward appearance of bread and wine. As the unbloody re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice, the Eucharist is the central mystery of faith, “a mystery which renews history and the whole cosmos.” Pope Benedict XVI explained it this way: “The substantial conversion of bread and wine into [Christ’s] Body and Blood introduces within creation the principle of a radical change, [which] penetrates to the heart of all being, a change meant to set off a process which transforms reality, a process leading ultimately to the transfiguration of the entire world, to the point where God will be all in all” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 10, 11).

In the Eucharist, our Lord gives us himself so that we might be transformed and for the renewal of the world. What a wondrous and wonderful blessing and grace this is.