31 March 2010

Jesus and Simon of Cyrene

"They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross." - Mark 15:21

Today's Daily Update reflection from Disciples Now:

"You may not have to pick up a cross today to help Jesus but you surely can help another by easing their burden. - Jesus, the Son of God, needed and accepted assistance. Simon wandered in from Cyrene just in time to help lift the cross. That says a lot about who needs help and who can give it - everyone! . . . If you respond, you can be like Simon helping Jesus with the Cross."

May my heart be open to those You place in my life for me to help, and may I help each one in the same way Simon helped You, Lord. May I see You and serve You in each person with whom I come in contact this day and each day. May I also accept help when I need it in the same spirit with which You accepted help from Simon.

30 March 2010

A Reflection on Talents

Yesterday's "Minute Meditation" reflection from St. Anthony Messenger Press:

"Wonderful Creator, you have gifted me with many talents. So often I see those talents as 'mine' and use them for my own purposes. Help me recognize that you have given me these gifts for a deeper purpose." (from the book, What Jesus Said and Why It Matters Now, by Timothy D. Fallon)

The Lord has graced me with a variety of different talents. I am aware of a number of these talents, and there are others I am not really aware of (although other people may be). Sometimes I forget or don't think to use these talents as I should. With the Lord's grace, may I use them in the way He wants me to and for whom/what He wants me to.

For more information about the book's author:
      Timothy D. Fallon

29 March 2010

Here We Go Again

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for northern parts of Connecticut, most of Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire, and all of Rhode Island from noon today through Tuesday afternoon. The warning reads in part:



A flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts.

May the Lord be with each of the people being affected by the flooding that has been happening and who are being affected by the latest storm coming into the region. May He protect them and give them the graces they need during this time. Saint Florian, patron saint against floods, pray for them. Thank you.

28 March 2010

Reflection on Oxley Drug

When I recently went to the nearby Rite-Aid, I was waited on by a clerk of high-school age. This clerk had also waited on me on some of my previous trips to the store, and, for some reason, it reminded my of my service as a clerk (+) at Oxley Drug in Southington, Connecticut, during my junior and senior years of high school.

Actually I start right after my birthday, so I worked three summers plus the two intervening school years. I don’t remember my summertime hours, but it was close to a 40-hour week. During the school year, I worked evenings after school, Monday-Friday, with Thursday as my day off. I also opened up on Saturday (and stayed all day) and Sunday (until the early afternoon).

I don’t know what my job title was (if any), but I waited on customers, stocked the shelves, checked in incoming merchandise, put the Sundays newspapers together (Southington is at a crossroads between metro areas, so we got the Hartford Courant, New Haven Register, and Waterbury American, as well as the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and New York Times; it usually took over an hour to put the newspapers together and then put aside the ones that needed to be saved for regular customers.), wrapped gift items, took inventory, dusted the shelves, swept and washed the floors, cleaned the restroom, and occasionally ran errands (there may have been other duties I don’t remember).

My first day of work was the last day the store operated its own lunch counter, so I was also trained as a soda jerk. However, I only did this service for one day and, after that, the lunch counter was run by the former Sealtest Dairy.

The pharmacy was in downtown Southington, at the corner of Center and Main Streets, right next to the Town Green, and the lunch counter was a gathering place for many of the local politicians, business owners, and a variety of other people from different walks of life. Consequently I got to know many of these people, and, each, in his own way, contributed to my education about life in the world.

While many of the memories are a bit on the hazy side, I do remember having an audience on some summer nights as I was washing the floor prior to the 10 PM closing. Several of the guys who would hang around the green would be watching me through the front plate windows. I seem to remember one of the customers commenting about my being the local entertainment.

I was also working when the big Northeast Blackout of 1965 hit. Even though we did not have electricity, we stayed open. The front cash register did not use electricity – we would just calculate the price and ring it up.

(For more information about the blackout, here is Wikipedia’s article on this event:  Wikipedia: Northeast Blackout of 1965)

It was while working at Oxley’s that I first got into photography. With my new earnings, I bought a Kodak Instamatic camera. Initially I took shots of the store and some of the regulars. Then I started taking other pictures at home and elsewhere.

I also got my first opportunity to do some fire photography:  One Thursday (my day off), I “happened to” drop by the store. There was some trash that needed to be taken out, so I did it. When I reached the rear of the building, there was an outside fire by the trash containers (which also were next to a big unit used for air conditioning). I ran inside to alert Ray (Derynioski), the on-duty pharmacist who was in charge of the store at the time, and we both rushed back to check it out. I then ran to the street corner at the front of the store to pull the fire alarm box, and Ray went in to telephone Mr. (Bill) Zilly, the store owner.

The downtown foot patrolman saw me pulling the box, and came over to see what was up. As I was explaining, there was a small explosion at the back of the building – it was the air conditioning unit, and the fire now spread up the side of the building. At the patrolman’s direction, I went back inside the building to evacuate the people, which Ray and I did.

The fire was contained relatively quickly; however, there was water coming through the ceiling due to hose that had been laid to the second floor (which contained offices) to fight that side of the fire. The firefighters put salvage covers to protect the merchandise where the water was coming down, and I ended up working – assisting with the water cleanup – until well into the evening.

In the meantime, I “happened to” have my Instamatic with me, and I ended up taking a few rolls of film during the firefighting operations. I even popped inside the store during the fire to pick up a few extra rolls (I should say cartridges) of film. (I had no idea at the time that I would be doing serious fire photography in my future life.)

I really enjoyed working at Oxley Drug, and I worked with and met a number of good people. I am very grateful to the Lord for providing this experience. I’m also appreciative that Mr. Zilly allowed me time in the middle of my Sunday morning shift to go to Mass. My breakfast on Sunday mornings, by the way, was usually Boston cream pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

A few of my siblings followed me in working at Oxley’s, but I understand that none of them or the other high school kids who followed worked the same amount of hours I did. (It seems to me we used to joke about how it took two or three others to fill my shoes.)

Oxley’s, which had been open for decades, closed in 1993, and the original building was torn in 2001. A new building was built, and the store location is now occupied by a branch of the Farmington Savings Bank as well as other offices. I haven’t seen it, but I understand there is a mural on the side of The Pepper Pot (a breakfast and lunch restaurant on Center Street) that depicts scenes from Center Street, including Oxley Drug, over the decades.

A Poem for Palm Sunday

Today's Ignation Reflection, by Fr. James Kubicki, S.J., also refers to the Gospel account of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  In this reading, some of the Pharisees told Jesus to tell the crowd to stop acclaiming him as king.  Jesus responded: "I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!"

Father Kubicki's reflection refers to a poem by Richard Wilbur entitled "Christmas Hymn" (which was later set to music). In a few verses, this poem summarizes the Palm Sunday story.

For the verses of this poem, follow this link:

Palm Sunday Reflection

Today is Palm Sunday, and in today's Office of Readings, there is an excerpt from a sermon by Saint Andrew of Crete (who was bishop of Gortyna, in Crete) related to the joyful greeting Jesus received as He, riding a donkey, entered Jerusalem (as we hear in the Gospel reading proclaimed at the procession with palms at the beginning of today's Mass).  Part of this excerpt reads as follows:

"Let us go together to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives. Today he returns from Bethany and proceeds of his own free will toward his holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation. He who came down from heaven to raise us from the depths of sin, to raise us with himself, we are told in Scripture, 'above every sovereignty, authority and power, and every other name that can be named,' now comes of his own free will to make his journey to Jerusalem. He comes without pomp or ostentation. As the psalmist says: 'He will not dispute or raise his voice to make it heard in the streets.' He will be meek and humble, and he will make his entry in simplicity.

"Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at his coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us."

 May every word of mine, every thought of mine, every action on mine, every breath of mine, every heartbeat of mine, every iota of my being, every effect that ripples forth from my being sing His praises and give Him honor and glory - this day and each day.

(In addition to being bishop of Gortyna, St. Andrew was considered one of the foremost preachers of his time and was a prolific hymn writer.)

27 March 2010

Saint Thomas Aquinas on the Cross Exemplifying Every Virtue

As we move into Holy Week, a good meditation on the cross is one by Saint Thomas Aquinas that the church uses in the Office of Readings on his feast day (28 January). In this reflection, St. Thomas writes about why Jesus, the Son of God, had to suffer for us, and St. Thomas says it was for two reasons - as a remedy for sin and as an example of how to act.

The portion of the reflection on patient endurance reminds me of a reflection on the First Station of the Stations of the Cross I had prayed for years. It focused on the patience of Jesus during his condemnation proceedings, and it is a virtue I have tried to emulate (not always successfully) over the years when I have been undergoing anything from little aggravations to serious situations. With the Lord's grace, may I follow this example ever more closely.

This link leads to one presentation of this reading:
      Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Cross Exemplifies Every Virtue

Thought Starter

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." - Carl Bard  (This was received in the signature block of a recent email at work.)

26 March 2010

A Lenten Friday Reflection from St. Francis de Sales

"Oh, contemplate how Jesus Christ our Savior, at the moment of His Incarnation, took us all without exception on His shoulders, because from that moment He accepted the task of redeeming us by His death on the cross! The Redeemer's soul knew all of us by name, above all on the day of His passion, when He offered His tears, His prayers, His blood and His life for all, and addressed His Eternal Father on our behalf with this loving aspiration: 'Father, I take upon myself all the sins of poor Theotimus. I am ready to undergo torment and death so that he may be freed.' O supreme love of the heart of Jesus! What heart can ever bless You as devoutly as it ought?"

25 March 2010

What if She Had Said No?

Today Catholics celebrate the Annunciation of the Lord, which commemorates the scriptural event when God sent the archangel Gabriel to ask Mary to be the mother of His Son. This is a reflection by Martin Kochanski on this great event:

What if she had said No?

The question may strike you as irreverent. How dare I suggest that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, Co-Redemptrix of mankind, could have left us in the lurch like that?

But what if she had?

Could she have said No? You might say that of course she couldn’t, she was far too holy — but you would be guilty of demeaning and dangerous sentimentality. It is demeaning because it turns Our Lady from a free human being into a sanctified automaton. The whole glory of the Annunciation is that Mary, the second Eve, could have said No to God but she said Yes instead. That is what we celebrate, that is what we praise her for; and rightly so.

This sentimental view is dangerous too. If we believe that the most important decision in the history of the world was in fact inevitable, that it couldn’t have been otherwise, then that means it was effortless. Now we have a marvellous excuse for laziness. Next time we’re faced with a tough moral decision, we needn’t worry about doing what is right. Just drift, and God will make sure that whatever choice we make is the right one. If God really wants us to do something he’ll sweep us off his feet the way he did Mary, and if he chooses not to, it’s hardly our fault, is it?

So Mary could have said No to Gabriel. What if she had? He couldn’t just go and ask someone else, like some sort of charity collector. With all the genealogies and prophecies in the Bible, there was only one candidate. It’s an alarming thought. Ultimately, of course, God would have done something: the history of salvation is the history of him never abandoning his people however pig-headed they were. But God has chosen to work through human history. If the first attempt at redemption took four thousand years to prepare, from the Fall to the Annunciation, how many tens of thousands of years would the next attempt have taken?

Even if the world sometimes makes us feel like cogs in a machine, each of us is unique and each of us is here for a purpose: just because it isn’t as spectacular a purpose as Mary’s, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. When we fail to seek our vocation, or put off fulfilling some part of it, we try to justify ourselves by saying that someone else will do it better, that God will provide, that it doesn’t really matter. But we are lying. However small a part I have to play, the story of the Annunciation tells me it is my part and no-one else can do it.

Faced with the enormity of her choice, how was Mary able to decide? If she said No, unredeemed generations would toil on under the burden of sin. If she said Yes, she herself would suffer, and so would her Son; but both would be glorified. Millions of people not yet born would have Heaven open to them; but millions of others would suffer oppression and death in her son’s name. The stakes were almost infinite.

You might say that Mary didn’t worry about all this, just obeyed God; but I don’t believe it. What God wanted was not Mary’s unthinking obedience but her full and informed consent as the representative of the entire human race. The two greatest miracles of the Annunciation are these: that God gave Mary the wisdom to know the consequences of her decision, and that he gave her the grace not to be overwhelmed by that knowledge.

When we come to an important decision in our lives, we can easily find our minds clouded by the possible consequences, or, even more, by partial knowledge of them. How can we ever move, when there is so much good and evil whichever way we go? The Annunciation gives us the answer. God’s grace will give us the strength to move, even if the fate of the whole world is hanging in the balance. After all, God does not demand that our decisions should be the correct ones (assuming that there even is such a thing), only that they should be rightly made.

There is one more truth that the Annunciation teaches us, and it is so appalling that I can think of nothing uplifting to say about it that will take the sting away: perhaps it is best forgotten, because it tells us more about God than we are able to understand. The Almighty Father creates heaven and earth, the sun and all the stars; but when he really wants something done, he comes, the Omnipotent and Omniscient, to one of his poor, weak creatures — and he asks.

And, day by day, he keeps on asking us.

~ ~ ~

This reflection was written by Martin Kochanski, the founder of Universalis, and it is taken from today's home page at his Universalis web site. Educated by the Benedictines of Downside Abbey, England, he is a computer software publisher and a writer.

Universalis Publishing was founded with the aim of harnessing computer technology to help in enriching the spiritual life of Christians, specifically by making the liturgical and devotional resources of the Catholic Church available on the new electronic media. Projects include making Liturgy of the Hours available for use on personal computers.

Although I use a breviary I inherited from my father, I often use this web site when the book is not immediately available and for the Office of Readings (because the site has a more complete set than my volume).


24 March 2010

Reflections on Living Lent

"Disciples Now," a web site oriented toward Catholic teens, has a good section called "Living Lent," which has a number of reflections focusing on different aspect of the Lenten season:

     Lent 2010: Days of Discipline (from Disciples Now)

23 March 2010

St. Rose of Lima Note

My aunt Betty (also my godmother), who was an R.N., received a calling to join the Hawthorn Dominicans, which is a nursing order dedicated to caring for terminally ill cancer patients. (Becoming Sister Mary Teresita, O.P., she passed away a few years ago on St. Dominic's feast day, a few weeks short of her 50th jubilee.) The order was founded by Rose Hawthorne Lathrop (Mother Mary Alphonsa), the daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne and a convert to Catholicism. The order has a devotion to St. Rose of Lima, and the chapel at the motherhouse on Rosary Hill in Hawthorne, NY, is named after her.

For more information about the order:
      Hawthorne Dominicans

"Blueprint for Change: Funding Catholic Schools"

I received the following from friend and former teaching colleague (at St. Patrick School in Providence), Tom Burke (Tom is still teaching, at Saint Rose of Lima School in Warwick). It is a thought-provoking Catholic Exchange commentary on funding for Catholic schools:

 "Blueprint for Change: Funding Catholic Schools"

Bonus web site:
Saint Rose of Lima School, Warwick, RI

Hold Open the Doors of the Church

Occasionally I send the current "Light One Candle" column to people on my email list. "Light One Candle" is the title of a  series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events. Here is this week's column, written by Gerald M. Costello, of The Christophers:

Hold Open the Doors of the Church

by Gerald M. Costello, The Christophers
March 22, 2010

Every time I come across a column written by Father Peter Daly I know I’m going to find something worthwhile. Father Daly is an old acquaintance of mine, a priest of the Washington (D.C.) Archdiocese who’s a full-time (and then some) pastor in Prince Frederick, Md., and who moonlights as a columnist for Catholic News Service.  He also spent a few years as a lawyer before entering the seminary, and his legal background has come in handy more than once in his active parish – and in his reflections as well.

Not long ago I saw one of his columns with this eye-catching headline: “What have I learned in 24 years of priesthood?”  Here was one column, I thought, that might require a little extra attention.  And so it did.

When he was newly-ordained, Father Daly wrote, he was much more “severe.”  When people came to him for the sacraments, he wanted to be sure they were church members in very good standing.  Examples:

“If they wanted their baby baptized, I wanted to see them married.  If they wanted to get married, I wanted to see them not living together.  If they wanted confirmation or reception into the church, I wanted to see some knowledge of the faith and some evidence of practice.”

That was then – and now is now, when, as Father Daly writes, he’s become more accepting and more compassionate.  “I take them as God sends them,” he says.  “We are all works in progress.”  Again, a fuller explanation:

“I realize that the sacraments are not trophies conferred on those already victorious over sin, but rather they are food for the hungry and strength for the weak.  People seek the sacraments because they want help on the path to perfection, not because they are already perfect.  I take them as they come.”

This was the same lesson reflected in a homily by Pope Benedict XVI, Father Daly says, a sermon delivered in 2008 to diocesan priests in Italy (and reprinted in the August 2009 issue of 30DAYS, an international Catholic magazine based in Italy).  In that homily, the pope, too, described himself as having been “rather severe” in his attitudes as a younger priest, but said he changed as more and more he followed the example set down by Jesus.

“He was a Lord of mercy,” Pope Benedict said, “too open – according to many official authorities – with sinners, welcoming them or letting them invite him to their dinner, drawing him to them in his communion.”

And, no surprise, there’s a lesson here for all of us, a Christopher lesson.  We have to learn to get along with other people as they are, not as we’d like them to be – or, in fact, as we often demand them to be.  That doesn’t mean we’re bound to accept everything about everyone else.  We can even encourage them with “sacraments” of our own – a kind word, perhaps, or the example we set.  Living a good life can lead others to do the same.  A closing thought from Father Daly:

“People often come to me in some type of crisis: they have committed a sin or are in pain.  Frequently they have been away from the church for a long time.  My job is to hold the church door open for them, not put barriers in their way.”

Nicely put, I think.  And words to live by.

22 March 2010

Two Quotes Related to Perfection

"Perfection does not consist in being perfect or acting perfectly. It is the striving for perfection that is important." - Saint Francis de Sales

"If you put off everything till you're sure of it, you'll never get anything done." – Rev. Norman Vincent Peale

21 March 2010

Memory - Family Retreats at La Salette

At this morning's 10:00 Mass at St. Maria Goretti, Father Lynch called the children present to come around the altar during the Canon of the Mass. For some reason, this brought a memory to mind.

A number of years ago (before I was first married), I helped out at a number of family retreats at the La Salette Retreat Center in Attleboro (MA). I was a youth counselor at these retreats, and our main ministry was to help care for children during the times when their parents were participating in adults-only sessions.  Sometimes this involved conducting youth sessions, and other times it involved assisting with recreation activities.

Most of the memories of these retreats are very hazy, but I do remember all of us counselors gathering together around an altar for Mass late in the evenings after the children were with their parents for the night.

These family retreats, I thought, were a great idea, and they seemed to have a positive effect on the families that participated. I don't know if any retreat houses still conduct this type of retreat (I suspect they could be a bit expensive), but I still think it could be a valuable experience.

On a personal note, it was at one of these retreats that I received stitches for the first time in my life (I was in my young to mid-twenties at the time.). I don't remember exactly what happened, but I was playing touch football with some of the older kids during a recreation period, and I got some type of laceration on my hand or arm.

20 March 2010

From Today's Office of Readings: A Reflection on the Purification of Human Activity in the Paschal Mystery

Today's Office of Readings contains an excerpt from Chapter 3 of the Vatican II document, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes:

Sacred Scripture teaches the human family what the experience of the ages confirms: that while human progress is a great advantage to man, it brings with it a strong temptation. For when the order of values is jumbled and bad is mixed with the good, individuals and groups pay heed solely to their own interests, and not to those of others. Thus it happens that the world ceases to be a place of true brotherhood. In our own day, the magnified power of humanity threatens to destroy the race itself.

For a monumental struggle against the powers of darkness pervades the whole history of man. The battle was joined from the very origins of the world and will continue until the last day, as the Lord has attested. Caught in this conflict, man is obliged to wrestle constantly if he is to cling to what is good, nor can he achieve his own integrity without great efforts and the help of God's grace.

That is why Christ's Church, trusting in the design of the Creator, acknowledges that human progress can serve man's true happiness, yet she cannot help echoing the Apostle's warning: "Be not conformed to this world" (Rom. 12:2). Here by the world is meant that spirit of vanity and malice which transforms into an instrument of sin those human energies intended for the service of God and man.

Hence if anyone wants to know how this unhappy situation can be overcome, Christians will tell him that all human activity, constantly imperiled by man's pride and deranged self-love, must be purified and perfected by the power of Christ's cross and resurrection. For redeemed by Christ and made a new creature in the Holy Spirit, man is able to love the things themselves created by God, and ought to do so. He can receive them from God and respect and reverence them as flowing constantly from the hand of God. Grateful to his Benefactor for these creatures, using and enjoying them in detachment and liberty of spirit, man is led forward into a true possession of them, as having nothing, yet possessing all things. "All are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's" (1 Cor. 3:22-23).

For God's Word, through Whom all things were made, was Himself made flesh and dwelt on the earth of men. Thus He entered the world's history as a perfect man, taking that history up into Himself and summarizing it. He Himself revealed to us that "God is love" (1 John 4:8) and at the same time taught us that the new command of love was the basic law of human perfection and hence of the worlds transformation.

To those, therefore, who believe in divine love, He gives assurance that the way of love lies open to men and that the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one. He cautions them at the same time that this charity is not something to be reserved for important matters, but must be pursued chiefly in the ordinary circumstances of life. Undergoing death itself for all of us sinners, He taught us by example that we too must shoulder that cross which the world and the flesh inflict upon those who search after peace and justice. Appointed Lord by His resurrection and given plenary power in heaven and on earth, Christ is now at work in the hearts of men through the energy of His Holy Spirit, arousing not only a desire for the age to come, but by that very fact animating, purifying and strengthening those noble longings too by which the human family makes its life more human and strives to render the whole earth submissive to this goal.

Now, the gifts of the Spirit are diverse: while He calls some to give clear witness to the desire for a heavenly home and to keep that desire green among the human family, He summons others to dedicate themselves to the earthly service of men and to make ready the material of the celestial realm by this ministry of theirs. Yet He frees all of them so that by putting aside love of self and bringing all earthly resources into the service of human life they can devote themselves to that future when humanity itself will become an offering accepted by God.

For the full text of this Vatican II document:
Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes

19 March 2010

Another Reflection on Saint Joseph

Fr. James Kubicki, S.J., National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer, offers a reflection on Saint Joseph (from the Magis Institute's "Daily Ignatian Reflection"):

We take a break today from the somber purple of Lent and put on white.  It is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the husband the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster-father of Jesus.  He speaks to us eloquently and yet the Gospels record no spoken word of his.  His actions speak louder than any words and they reveal a very deep faith.  Just imagine what Joseph went through when Mary told him that she was pregnant and he knew the baby was not his.  Or how he trusted God even when he could not provide a worthy shelter for his wife who was about to give birth in a stable or cave near Bethlehem.  Or his dismay when it was revealed to him in a dream that King Herod wanted to kill Jesus.  Joseph is surely an example to us of how faith keeps us steady in the midst of trials.

The following two quotes are from two of Pope Benedict's homilies given last year during his visit to Africa:

"Dear brothers and sisters, our meditation on the human and spiritual journey of Saint Joseph invites us to ponder his vocation in all its richness, and to see him as a constant model for all those who have devoted their lives to .... Joseph was caught up at every moment by the mystery of the Incarnation. Not only physically, but in his heart as well, Joseph reveals to us the secret of a humanity which dwells in the presence of mystery and is open to that mystery at every moment of everyday life. In Joseph, faith is not separated from action. His faith had a decisive effect on his actions. Paradoxically, it was by acting, by carrying out his responsibilities, that he stepped aside and left God free to act, placing no obstacles in his way. Joseph is a "just man" (Mt 1:19) because his existence is "ad-justed" to the word of God."

"Each and every one of us was thought, willed and loved by God. Each and every one of us has a role to play in the plan of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If discouragement overwhelms you, think of the faith of Joseph; if anxiety has its grip on you, think of the hope of Joseph, that descendant of Abraham who hoped against hope; if exasperation or hatred seizes you, think of the love of Joseph, who was the first man to set eyes on the human face of God in the person of the Infant conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Let us praise and thank Christ for having drawn so close to us, and for giving us Joseph as an example and model of love for him."

The Daily Ignatian Reflections are an outreach by the MAGIS Center for Catholic Spirituality (MCCS), which focuses on converting ideas about transforming and healing the culture into action, either as a part of the MCCS or as independent organizations:
The Magis Institute

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers takes over Fox Point Hurricane Barrier in Providence

Last month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (New England District) took over the operations and maintenance of the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier in Providence (RI). Day-to-day management of the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier now falls under the Corps of Engineers’ Cape Cod Canal Field Office. The City of Providence still has responsibility  for the operation and maintenance of the earth fill dikes that flank each side of the barrier and for the five vehicular street gates and the five sewer gates that comprise the rest of the project.

There is a lot of repair and other maintenance work that needs to be addressed. These needs include the replacement of the electro-mechanical control system, rehabilitation of one flood control pump, repair of a second floor control pump, rehabilitation of one canal cooling water gate, replacement of power and control wiring for the three river gates, pump station roof repair, and the development of a maintenance management system.

Background information on the hurricane barrier and the Corps' New England District:

City of Providence web page on the hurricane barrier:
Fox Point Hurricane Barrier in Providence

U.S.Army Corp of Engineers New England District

Thought Starters as We Celebrate Saint Joseph

"Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ." - Colossians 3:23-24 (Liturgy of the Hours reading for the eve of the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

I was meditating on this reading last night as I was heading home . . . thinking about how it applies to work (whether self-employed or for others), housework, ministry of any kind. Although I don't always remember this particular passage itself, I do strive to follow its guidance.  Too often, though, I do fall short, sometimes woefully short. But, with the Lord's grace, I usually pick myself up and continue my (focused) efforts.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio has a couple of reflections as we celebrate St. Joseph today.

The first is from the Office of Readings for today. It is an excerpt from a homily by Saint Bernardino of Siena:
Saint Bernardino of Siena: "St. Joseph: Foster Father of Jesus"

The second is Dr. D'Ambrosio's reflection on the faith of St. Joseph:
Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: St. Joseph's Claim to Fame""

18 March 2010

A Look at Faith in Action in Connecticut

A Catholic Digest article with an interesting look at the efforts of parishioners Saint Bridget Parish, Manchester, Connecticut, to fight poverty:

Catholic Digest: "Meet Charlie Chatterton and the Brake the Cycle Gang"

17 March 2010

Reflection on Humility

"Humility is an elusive virtue. The more we pursue it - and the more we seem to acquire it - the more we take pride in our accomplishment, and we find ourselves back at square one." - from Love in the Little Things: Tales of Family Life, by Mike Aquilina

Views of This Week's Flooding in New England

Yesterday's entry hinted at flooding in the New England area this week (during this year's Flood Safety Awareness Week). In Rhode Island, the Pawtuxet River was at a record level. In addition, there was flooding involving the Farmington River in Connecticut; the Charles, Concord, Neponset, and Sudbury Rivers in Massachusetts; and the Exeter River in New Hampshire (to name just a few).

Here are some area television news clips covering this flooding:

WPRI-TV: "Pawtuxet River causes historic flooding" (RI)

WPRI-TV Slideshow: Rhode Island Flooding

WJAR-TV: "State slowly dries out from wind-whipped storm" (RI)

NECN: "Mass. residents wait for flood waters to recede"

NECN: "Flooding in Central Mass."

WHDH-TV: "Bay State left reeling in storm's aftermath"

WHDH-TV: "Caught on Camera: Wild weather" (MA)

WCVB-TV: "Best Viewer Flooding Photos" (MA)

WBZ-TV: "Flooding Rain Hits New England" (slide show)

WMUR-TV: "Residents In Many Areas Fight Floods" (NH)

WMUR-TV: 2010 New England Flooding In Photos

A Reminder from Saint Francis de Sales

"There is nothing small in the service of God. Be faithful in small things and God will see that you will succeed in those of greater importance." - Saint Francis de Sales

16 March 2010

This Is Flood Safety Awareness Week

Federal Emergency Management Agency’s FloodSmart Campaign and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service have announced that they are again working together during Flood Safety Awareness Week (15-19 March) to raise awareness of the dangers associated with flooding and steps to protect against damage. (Some may think Mother Nature is cooperating with this effort in New England and other parts of the U.S.)

As part of their campaign and to help individuals better understand flood risks nationwide and steps that can be taken to protect lives and property, FEMA and NOAA have created an interactive “flood impact map” that features localized, searchable data about the scope and severity of flood events in recent years. The map's web page also contains tips on what to do before, during and after a flood, and encourages flood insurance protection among other measures.

For more information:
Flooding – History and Causes Factsheet
Flooding – What to Know Factsheet
FEMA/NOAA Interactive Map & Other Flood Safety Information

15 March 2010

Intentions and Their Follow-Up

"A kind intention or thoughtful consideration is often gratifying. On the other hand, procrastination or deferring can be exasperating and irksome. Often people put things off interestingly enough because they feel that what they are expected to do must be perfect. Rev. Robert H. Schuller, the notable pastor from California's Crystal Cathedral in wisely observed: 'Better to something imperfectly than to nothing flawlessly.' Recall the maxim: 'Actions speak louder than words!'" – Fr. Robert O.P. (from a recent Daily Inspiration from the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude, Chicago, IL)

This is something I often have to be aware of. What immediately come to mind is my editing/writing - for example when I am preparing something for publication. I strive for perfection, and sometimes I am so focused on making the newsletter or other written piece just right that I miss a deadline. This is, indeed, something I need to work on.

14 March 2010

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–1894), was a poet, physician, professor (at Dartmouth Medical School and at Harvard College), and essayist.

One poem he is noted for was "Old Ironsides," written as a tribute to the U.S.S. Constitution, famed warship from the War of 1812. Thanks in part to the poem, the frigate was saved from being decommissioned and is now the oldest commissioned ship in the United States Navy, and (apparently) in the world, still afloat. It is stationed in Boston (Charlestown).

As a physician, besides teaching medicine, Holmes worked to bring needed reforms to the field of medicine in the 1800's (although he met much opposition at the time).

He thought highly of Boston and its culture, and many of his writings reflected this (he came up with the term, Boston Brahmin, which he used to refer to the oldest families in the area in the sense of the persons being from good families and also intellectual). He was one of the co-founders of the magazine, The At­lan­tic Month­ly.

Holmes is the father of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., a noted justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

He also wrote at least nine hymns, including, "Lord of all being throned afar."

Related links:

Biographical Sketches:
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., from NNDB
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., from Wikipedia (including footnotes)

"Lord of all being throned afar"
"O Lord of Hosts, Al­mighty King"
"O Love Divine, That Stooped to Share"
"Thou Gracious Power"

Old Ironsides::
Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Old Ironsides"
USS Constitution Museum, Boston, MA

Quotes attributed to Mr. Holmes:

"It is the province of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen."

"I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving."

"Man is born a predestined idealist, for he is born to act. To act is to affirm the worth of an end, and to persist in affirming the worth of an end is to make an ideal."

"Knowledge and timber shouldn't be much used till they are seasoned."

Padre Pio on Inner Peace

A recent post focused on a quote from Saint Francis de Sales about the importance of not losing one's inner peace. Padre Pio (a.k.a. Saint Pio of Pietrelcina) offers a similar reflection: "How important it is to avoid being upset by the trials and troubles of this life, for these things always tend to contract the heart rather than opening it up to trust God."

A related reflection, again by St. Francis de Sales, adds,"Worry prevents us from doing well the very things about which we are worried." And words of reinforcement come from Isaiah 41:10 - "Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed; I am your God. I will strengthen you, and help you, and uphold you with my right hand of justice."

There are times when, as I faced with a challenging situation, I really need to take a few moments, place myself in The Lord's presence, empty my complete self (with all my cares and concerns and all the threads of what is swiling around me) into His loving hands. I ask Him to take take this package and place it into His Sacred Heart and cover it with His Precious Blood, and, telling Him I trust Him, I let go of the situation(s). I usually try to include a bit of quiet time (to the extent possible).

This is easier now than it used to be (from practice, I suspect).  Are the concerns still there? Of course, but now I'm coming at them from a refocused direction, and I have regained my inner peace (or at least to a large degree - I'm still a work in progress).

13 March 2010

The Lodger

Like most people who use the Internet, I suspect, I have several bookmarks (a.k.a., favorites) on the browser I use for Internet connections when using the computer on my desk. There are enough bookmarks that I have divided most of them into folders and even sub-folders. One of these folders, labeled "Inspiration," contains a number of web sites with reflections and other inspiring thoughts or links to such sites.

The following essay comes from one of these inspirational sites.  There is no author given, and I have no way of determining the truth of the essay. I did try to research it on the Internet, but, even using a few webcrawlers, I found no other reference to the subject.

I pass it on, with a spirit of gratefulness. There is no way I can repay any of the prayers or encouraging words or other acts of kindness, usually unlooked for, shown to me at any time over the years, by anyone I have known for however long or brief a period of time.  May the Lord, Himself, richly bless each of these people; may each one feel His presence in a way that uplifts and encourages, and may He draw each ever closer to Him.

                ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Lodger

We lived across the street from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to out-patients at the clinic. One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man.

"Why, he's hardly  taller than my eight-year-old," I thought as I stared at the stooped, shriveled body. But the appalling thing was his face, lopsided from swelling, red and raw. Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, "Good evening. I've come to see if you've a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the eastern shore, and there's no bus 'til morning."

He told me he'd been hunting for a room since noon but with no success, no one seemed to have a room. "I guess it's my face...I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments.."  For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: "I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning."

I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch. I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us. "No thank you. I have plenty." And he held up a brown paper bag. When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes. It didn't take long time to see that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body.

He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five children, and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury. He didn't tell it by way of complaint; in fact, every other sentence was prefaced with a thanks to God for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going.

At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children's room for him. When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and the little  man was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favor, he said,

"Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won't put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair." He paused a moment and then added, "Your children made me feel at home. Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don't seem to mind." I told him he was welcome to come again.

And on his next trip he arrived a little after seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen. He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they'd be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4:00 AM, and I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.

In the years he came to stay overnight with us there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden. Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious.

When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbor made after he left that first morning.  "Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!"

Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But oh! If only they could have known him, perhaps their illness' would have been easier to bear. I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God.

Recently I was visiting a friend who has a greenhouse. As she showed me her flowers, we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, "If this were my plant, I'd put it in the loveliest container I had!"

My friend changed my mind. "I ran short of pots," she explained, "and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn't mind starting out in this old pail. It's just for a little while, till I can put it out in the garden."

She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was imagining just such a scene in heaven. "Here's an especially beautiful one," God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman. "He won't mind starting in this small body."

All this happened long ago, and now, in God's garden, how tall this lovely soul must stand. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

12 March 2010

Salesians Rebuild Haitian Ministries after Earthquake

In a recent post related to giving, I mentioned the Salesian Missions. Catholic News Service recently carried an article about the effect of the recent earthquake in Haiti on this order, which staffs various parishes, schools, and vocational training programs in that nation:

Salesians rebuild Haitian ministries for the 21st century

11 March 2010

St. Francis de Sales: "Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever"

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” - Saint Francis de Sales

10 March 2010

National School Breakfast Week

This week is observed as National School Breakfast Week. Many schools throughout the country participate in the national School Breakfast Program, which was established in 1966. Since 1989, National School Breakfast Week has been observed to raise awareness of the program and the links between eating a good breakfast, academic achievement, and healthy lifestyles.

When I taught at St. Pat's, I saw first hand the effects when students came to school without eating breakfast. In some cases, the students just got up too late to eat, but for a number of them the issue was poverty and not enough food in the house. Eventually St. Patrick School joined the breakfast program, and it made a great difference for my students and for students throughout the school.

The School Breakfast Program provides cash assistance to States to operate nonprofit breakfast programs in schools and residential childcare institutions. The program is administered at the Federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. State education agencies administer the School Breakfast Program at the state level, and local school food authorities operate it in schools.

Click on the following link for a U.S. Department of Agriculture fact sheet on the School Breakfast Program:
School Breakfast Program Fact Sheet

A Quote from the "Little Flower"

"You know that our Lord does not look at the greatness or difficulty of our action, but at the love with which you do it. What, then, have you to fear?" - Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

(Many people call St. Therese the "little flower" because she loved flowers and considered herself as the "little flower of Jesus" - a little flower who gives glory to God by just being "her beautiful little self among all the other flowers in God's garden.")

09 March 2010

Courage and Imperfections

Today's quote from Saint Francis de Sales: "Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections."

Taking a close look at my imperfections can sometimes be overwhelming - whether it be times I let someone down, things I've not done well, my slow growth in virtues I am trying to acquire, distraction at prayer, or whatever the imperfection may be. St. Francis reminds me to "keep on keeping on" with the Lord's guidance and grace.

08 March 2010

The Challenge of Immigration Reform

Yesterday Myrna and I had a discussion that included, among other things, the challenges presented by undocumented immigrants in the United States - the challenges being faced by these immigrants and the challenges being faced by citizens and documented immigrants. In the discussion I mentioned that, while the U.S. bishops said a nation does have the right to control its borders, people who do cross the border without going through proper procedures should not be treated like dirt. This type of stand may be making the Church unpopular among some people, but the Church is called to proclaim and live the Gospel message, whether that message meets the approval of others or not.

It "just so happens" that the current issue of the quarterly Glenmary magazine, Glenmary Challenge, addresses this issue:
Glenmary Challenge: "Immigration Reform"

The United States and Mexican bishops addressed this issue  in a 2003 joint pastoral letter, "Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope":
Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States 

This pastoral letter focuses on five principles from the tradition of church teachings with regard to migration issues:
   1. Persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland.
   2. Persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families.
   3. Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders.
   4. Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection.
   5. The human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected.

Pope John Paul II, in his 1995 World Migration Day message, stated that "In the Church no one is a stranger, and the Church is not foreign to anyone, anywhere. As a sacrament of unity and thus a sign and a binding force for the whole human race, the Church is the place where illegal immigrants are also recognized and accepted as brothers and sisters. It is the task of the various Dioceses actively to ensure that these people, who are obliged to live outside the safety net of civil society, may find a sense of brotherhood in the Christian community. Solidarity means taking responsibility for those in trouble."

Is there a need for immigration reform? Yes, most definitely. However, irregardless of how this reform proceeds, it would behoove us to remember, as the bishops stated in their pastoral letter, "[t]he Church must, therefore, welcome all persons regardless of race, culture, language, and nation with joy, charity, and hope. It must do so with special care for those who find themselves – regardless of motive – in situations of poverty, marginalization, and exclusion."

07 March 2010

A Reflection on Sharing

During Lent we are encouraged in a special way to pray, fast, and give alms. Giving to those in need, while it has a special emphasis during Lent, is important throughout the year. Yesterday Myrna and I were talking about this, and we both agree that there are a great number of worthwhile causes. We both agree it is important to share the blessings we have with those in need, and we pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance in this regard.

Over the years I've acquired some favorite causes. Heading the list is my own parish, whether it be Sacred Heart (in North Attleborough), St. Teresa (Providence), St. Adalbert (Providence), St. Patrick (Providence), or, now, St. Maria Goretti (Pawtucket). Then comes the local conference of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society (or its equivalent), which works in the parish area (and beyond) to offer service to people need.

Also high on the list is the Diocesan Catholic Charity Fund (or its equivalent), which supports ministries and services throughout the diocese. Over the years I've seen Catholic Charity funding put to good use at the St. Martin de Porres Center (one of the first non-parish/college ministries I participated in when I first came to Rhode Island as a Providence College student), in various youth ministry activities, and in a variety of other ministries.

After that, there are causes that are important to me, especially (in no particular order):

The Christophers (http://www.christophers.org/),
Catholic Relief Services (http://crs.org/),
The Salesians of Don Bosco (http://www.salesianmissions.org/),
Glenmary Home Missioners (http://www.glenmary.org/),
The Catholic Church Extension Society (http://www.catholicextension.org/),
The Society for the Propagation of the Faith (http://www.onefamilyinmission.org/),
EWTN (http://www.ewtn.org/), and (recently)
Catholic TV (http://www.catholictv.com/).

Obviously, I/we can't always give to each, so choices have to be made. I do believe it is important, though, for one to make a choice to support one or more causes (beginning with one's own church community, and then in the community/world at large). The needs are great - they seem to be even greater during the current economic conditions. It is important that we help to the extent we can.

Note: I am happy to recommend any of these causes to anyone who is trying to discern how to put funds to good use in assisting others.

06 March 2010

A Firm Foundation of Knowledge

“A firm foundation of knowledge is a constant source of strength.”
(from the March page in the Motivations – 2010 Inspired Visions Calendar)

05 March 2010

National Consumer Protection Week

The week of 7-13 March is National Consumer Protection Week, which is designated to highlight consumer protection and education efforts across the country. This year’s theme, "Dollars & Sense: Rated 'A' for All Ages," is designed to highlight the importance of using good consumer sense at every stage of life – from grade school to retirement.

For background information and tips, check out the National Consumer Protection Week web site:
National Consumer Protection Week 2010

A Really Patient Man

“A really patient man neither complains nor seeks to be pitied; he will speak simply and truly of his trouble, without exaggerating its weight or bemoaning himself.” - St. Francis de Sales

This was yesterday's quote from the web page "Daily Quote from St. Francis de Sales." Although I have never thought of myself as a really patient man (In my younger years, I had quite a temper, and it took a long time, with the good Lord's help, to keep my temper under control.), I do try not to complain and prefer not to be pitied.

Speaking simply about my trouble? Hmm - more often than not I don't speak of it at all, which I've been advised (by many people over the years) is not always a good thing.

I do try to offer these troubles up though. A part of my daily prayer goes something like "Dear Lord, I offer You any sufferings, aches and pains, discomforts, botherings, frustrations, discombobulations facing me this day and all my attempts to do any duties - whether they be family, work, parish, citizen, or other, as well as any other related activities.  May they be some measure of comfort to You in Your passion, even if it's just easing the slightest iota of Your suffering." (The words may vary, but the basic intention is there.)

04 March 2010

Better to Light One Candle

Many people have heard me talk about or write my comments about or from the Christophers. I was first introduced to the Christophers in my youth - I remember watching their television programs, and I especially remember being introduced to their motto, "It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." For decades now their mission has been to encourage people of all ages and from all walks of life to use their God-given talents to make a positive difference in the world.

One means used by the Christophers to encourage others to become Christ-bearers, “Christophers” in the most fundamental sense of the word, is through daily prayerful reflections entitled "Three Minutes a Day." These reflections, published in book format and on The Christophers' web site, daily encourage readers to look at one way in which they can bring positive and constructive values into the mainstream of life.

Today's "Three Minutes a Day" reflection from The Christophers:

Better to Light One Candle

The Christopher motto that “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness” means many things to many people. To business owners and managers it can be a reminder that they and their corporations can make a positive difference. Here are some ideas from the Woodstock Theological Center (TJL note: The Woodstock Theological Center is an independent research institute located at Georgetown University; their web site is http://woodstock.georgetown.edu/):

* Have a purpose and goals that serve the larger community.

* Be concerned about the impact of actions.

* Avoid deception and careless misrepresentation of facts.

* Keep commitments with competence and quality.

* Distribute burdens and benefits equally.

* Avoid improper influences or conflicts of interest and

        be loyal in executing managerial duties.

* Be fair, honest and reliable with individuals.

       Respect individual autonomy and privacy.

* Exercise care with tangible property, patents,

       confidential information and real estate.

Ethical corporations are a necessary pillar of an ethical society.

"Set an example." (Judith 8:24)

Prayer: Encourage owners, managers and employees of corporations to set an example of principled behavior, Wisdom. Thank you.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord

Today's first reading (Thursday of the Second Week of Lent):

"Thus says the Lord: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, But stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit. More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, To reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds."  Jeremiah 17:5-10

A reflection by Saint Hilary of Poitiers on Fear of the Lord

In a commentary on the psalms, Saint Hilary of Poitiers wrote about Fear of the Lord. St. Hilary was a 4th century bishop of Poitiers, France, and a respected theologian of his age. He was was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX.

Click on this link to read his reflection:

St. Hilary of Poitiers: The Fear of the Lord

03 March 2010

Lenten Reflections from Congregations of Providence

The Women of Providence in Collaboration (WPC), an association including the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and other North American congregations of Catholic women religious who bear the name and charism of Providence, has prepared a series of fifteen Lenten reflections based on quotes about Providence spirituality. This link leads to their Lenten reflection web page:

Women of Providence 2010 Lenten Reflections

02 March 2010

Reflection Starter

One of the antiphons from today's Office of Readings: "Entrust your journey to the Lord, and he will act." (which is from Psalm 37)

From the psalm itself:
"Put your trust in the Lord and do good,
     and your land and habitation will be secure.
Take your delight in the Lord,
     and he will give you what your heart desires.
Entrust your journey to the Lord,
     and hope in him: and he will act." (Psalm 37:3-5)

Christian Music Note

I recently found out that one of the persons I work with, Mike Catanzaro, is part of the team that runs The Upper Room, a Christian coffeehouse in West Warwick (RI).

Years ago, when Myrna and I were first going out, I periodically would take her to one of the area Christian coffee houses (if I remember correctly, we went to ones in Attleboro, Providence, and Warwick). I remember confiding with her about a dream I had for a monthly newsletter covering Christian music events (coffeehouses, concerts, etc.) throughout New England, with one list covering the artists and where they were appearing and another list covering venues and the Christian music events happening there.

This dream did become a reality, and, for many years, I published the monthly newsletter, New England Christian Music. Unfortunately, it eventually became too much for me to continue doing it the way I was (the time for the research, editing, etc.), and I had to discontinue it. I still occasionally think wistfully of this venture and wonder if there is a way I could do it online or in some other way. Oh, well. . . .

I am very grateful the support I received from the various artists and from the people running the venues, and I do ask the Lord's continued blessing on each of them and thier ministry.

01 March 2010

Patience with Self

Today's quote from St. Francis De Sales (see links) advises me to "Be patient with everyone, but above all with yourself." Patience with self - I'm much better now than I used to be, but it's still a work in progress.

Editorial errors that I make, especially when I am in a hurry and don't proofread as well as I should, are a cause for concern. I try to be highly accurate with any written item - both with the facts involved and their interpretation as well as their presentation (mechanics, grammar, communication that does not lead to misinterpretation, etc.). I've become very good at kicking myself when I mess up in these areas, although I've become better at accepting these errors as learning opportunities and/or reinforcements and at offering them up as acts of penance.

Sometimes when I am in a hurry and do little stupid things (like spilling sugar on the counter), things that technically go against the laws of physics, I get a little upset. However, if three such little things happen in a row, I tend to laugh and smile at God. Many years ago while I was teaching at St. Patrick School, I was inspired to offer up some little acts as a prayer for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on an upcoming faculty retreat. Shortly after I made that offering, I did one little stupid thing (the passing of years has clouded what the specifics were), and I scowled. Another little aggravating thing happened, and I scowled some more (I was doing something in the kitchen, and, the way I remember it, I was a little pressed for time.). Then a third little thing happened - and I stopped, remembered my little offering just serveral minutes earlier, burst out laughing, and shook my forefinger at God in a joking way (for He had taken me up on my offer, and I didn't initially catch on).

So, patience with myself is a work in progress, and the good Lord continues to give or allow many opportunities to practice this attribute.