31 May 2010

NOAA Expects Busy Atlantic Hurricane Season

An “active to extremely active” hurricane season is expected for the Atlantic Basin this year according to the seasonal outlook issued recently by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) Climate Prediction Center – a division of the National Weather Service. As with every hurricane season, this outlook underscores the importance of having a hurricane preparedness plan in place.

Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA is projecting a 70 percent probability of the following ranges:

* 14 to 23 Named Storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
* 8 to 14 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
* 3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)

For more information, visit:

     NOAA: 2010 Hurricane Outlook: Atlantic Basin

Railroad Company to Pay Fines for Fires Along Tracks

The Bangor Daily News is reporting that a Maine Superior Court judge has signed off on a settlement fining Pan Am Railways $12,000 in connection with fires caused by debris along its railroad tracks. Pan Am Railways is a North Billerica, MA, company that operates the Maine Central Railroad Company. The fires involved occurred in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

To access the Daily News article, go to:

Bangor Daily News: Pan Am to pay fines for railroad fires

Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for June

Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for June is: "That every national and trans-national institution may strive to guarantee respect for human life from conception to natural death."

His mission intention is: "That the Churches in Asia, which constitute a 'little flock' among non-Christian populations, may know how to communicate the Gospel and give joyful witness to their adherence to Christ."

Reflection Starter

Today's "Daily Inspiration from the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude":

"One of the great traps in a person’s life is the perception of being a perfect person and being the best, superior to others. Both of these aspects of exaggerated self are deadly and are the type of attitudes Jesus found most difficult to tolerate.

"Most of us have an idea of a perfect person. Some think that 'they are it.' There is no such thing as a perfect man or woman. There are many wonderful people but no one is perfect, nor are you. Accept the candid fact: that you are not the best and you will never achieve perfection. You are part of the world; you do not own it. All of us are together and are struggling to shape our lives. You and I are not the only persons on this planet. 'Judge not and you shall not be judged.' Therefore, each of us must keep an open mind in seeing our relative shortcomings and careful what we say or do toward others. While it is only fair and honest to acknowledge one’s gifts, a balance must be kept. This realization is one that Jesus held highly and a guide to how to live charitably. We are not to judge. In every day life, we need to quit putting people down or calling them derogatory names like gay, weird, stupid."

- Father Robert, O.P.

Quebec wildfires spread smoke across New England

Dozens of wildfires burning in southern part of the province of Quebec have spread smoke across much of northern New England this weekend, and the smoke is now filtering into southern New England.

In some case, as in New London, NH, the town administrator or fire department or other local authorities are advising residents of this and are encouraging them to be prudent in any calls for assistance.

In the meantime, as part of the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact, the Maine Forest Service and the New Hampshire Forest Protection Bureau have each sent a team of firefighters to Quebec to assist with the wildfires.

Media Report:

NECN: Quebec wildfires spread smoke across northern New England

NECN: Unhealthy air advisory issued in Maine

WCSH-TV: Smoke from Quebec wildfires drifts into Maine

CBC News: Quebec fire evacuees out for some time

Boston Globe: Smoke from Canadian fires blankets NY, New England

Boston Herald: Boston getting smoked by Canadian wildfires

Montreal Gazette: Smog, smoke warnings from forest fires

Background Information:

Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact

SOPFEU (Société de protection des forêts contre le feu)

Bomb Squads Sharpen Skills Via Remote Pancake-making Contest

Six bomb squads (from the Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Farmington [NM] Police Departments; New Mexico State Police; the New Jersey State Police; and the Los Alamos National Laboratory) are taking part in a Robot Rodeo, which is being held this week at a remote Los Alamos Lab tech site.

The teams guide their robots through ten different challenges, including an obstacle course, simulated attacks, cooperation exercises and activities designed to test abilities to minutely control the robot, said Chris Ory, a member of the Los Alamos National Laboratory hazardous devices team.

One of the tasks is to make pancakes. Two teams - one from the Santa Fe Police Department and another made up of state police officers - went head-to-head on Wednesday morning.

The teams controlled the robots while watching video monitors in separate vehicles parked outside a small building. Inside the building, two judges sat at a table at the back of the room with syrup and butter at the ready. On either side of the room were tables holding electric griddles, pancake mix in a pitcher and a spatula. Each team had to first mix the batter, then cook four pancakes — two for each judge — and bring the two plates to the judges' table.

For the full article from The Santa Fe New Mexican, visit:

     Santa Fe New Mexican: Robot Rodeo: Bomb squads sharpen skills via remote pancake-making contest

Gulf of Mexico Oil Leak 'Worst US Environment Disaster'

A BBC report is saying that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is the worst environmental disaster the US has faced, according to a senior official.

For the complete report, visit:

     BBC: Gulf of Mexico oil leak 'worst US environment disaster' (30 MAY 10)

In the meantime, a Wall Street Journal report looks at the difficulties the crew faced in mounting a response to the emergency:

     Wall Street Journal: There Was 'Nobody in Charge'

30 May 2010

Large Fire in Walden, VT, Destroys Barn, Kills 160 Cows

On Wednesday morning, 26 May, a fire of undetermined origin destroyed a large barn at the Walden Mountain Alpaca Farm, 264 Coles Pond Road, Walden, VT, and killed 160 cows that were trapped inside. The barn was believed to be the largest structure in Walden.

The initial alarm for the fire in North Walden was transmitted at approximately 0930 hours. The Walden Fire Department was assisted by companies from Berlin, Cabot, Craftsbury, Danville, East Montpelier, Glover, Hardwick, Marshfield, Peacham, Plainfield, Saint Johnsbury, Woodbury, and Wolcott.

Media Reports:

WCAX-TV: Barn fire claims 150 cows in North Walden (26 MAY 10)

WCAX-TV Video: Barn fire claims 150 cows in North Walden (26 MAY 10)

Times Argus (Barre): Massive barn blaze kills 160 cows (27 MAY 10)

St. Johnsbury Fire Department (includes picture from the scene)

Background Information:

VirtualVermont: Walden

Walden Mountain Alpaca Farm

Google Map of 264 Coles Pond Road, Walden, VT

Hymn in Observance of Trinity Sunday

As part of today's observance of Trinity Sunday, I offer this presentation of "Holy, Holy, Holy":

     Sufjan Steven: "Holy Holy Holy"

Additional Memorial Day Reflections

As part of this weekend's observance of Memorial Day, I offer these two reflections by Martha Williamson (speaker, writer, and head writer and executive producer of the television series Touched By An Angel):

Martha Williamson: To Decorate a Soldier's Grave

Martha Williamson: The Soldier at the Window

Brazil's best-selling recording star? A priest

I "happened to" come across this post by Deacon Greg Kandra, a deacon in the Diocese of Brooklyn (NY), who has his own blog (The Deacon's Bench):

"Brazil's best-selling recording star? A priest

"Yep. According to Billboard, priests are boffo in Brazil:

"According to year-end data reported by Brazil's Association of Record Producers, Father Fabio de Melo's 2009 Iluminar was the country's top-selling album of 2009. It was an encore performance; de Melo's debut album, Vida, was the top-selling album of 2008. This time around, the pop-star priest had three albums among the top 10 sellers of 2009."

For the rest of Deacon Greg's post, visit:

Deacon Greg Kandra: Brazil's best-selling recording star? A priest

Saint Athanasius on the Holy Trinity

Today's Office of Readings has a reflection by Saint Athanasius on the Holy Trinity. It is an excerpt from his first letter to Serapion, and it is a good meditation starter on what today's celebration is all about:

Light, radiance and grace are in the Trinity and from the Trinity

It will not be out of place to consider the ancient tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the apostles and guarded by the fathers. For upon this faith the Church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it, he would no longer be a Christian either in fact or in name.

We acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being. It is a wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the holy Trinity is preserved. Accordingly, in the Church, one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things. God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit.

Writing to the Corinthians about spiritual matters, Paul traces all reality back to one God, the Father, saying: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of service but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone.

Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father. Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word. This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace.

This is also Paul’s teaching in his second letter to the Corinthians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit, we possess the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Spirit himself.

29 May 2010

Presidential Proclamation - Memorial Day

Since our Nation's founding, America's sons and daughters have given their lives in service to our country.  From Concord and Gettysburg to Marne and Normandy, from Inchon and Khe Sanh to Baghdad and Kandahar, they departed our world as heroes and gave their lives for a cause greater than themselves.

On Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those who have paid the ultimate price to defend the United States and the principles upon which America was founded.  In honor of our country's fallen, I encourage all Americans to unite at 3:00 p.m. local time to observe a National Moment of Remembrance.

Today, Americans from all backgrounds and corners of our country serve with valor, courage, and distinction in the United States Armed Forces. They stand shoulder to shoulder with the giants of our Nation's history, writing their own chapter in the American story.  Many of today's warriors know what it means to lose a friend too soon, and all our service members and their families understand the true meaning of sacrifice.

This Memorial Day, we express our deepest appreciation to the men and women in uniform who gave their last full measure of devotion so we might live in freedom.  We cherish their memory and pray for the peace for which they laid down their lives.  We mourn with the families and friends of those we have lost, and hope they find comfort in knowing their loved ones died with honor.  We ask for God's grace to protect those fighting in distant lands, and we renew our promise to support our troops, their families, and our veterans.  Their unwavering devotion inspires us all -- they are the best of America.

It is our sacred duty to preserve the legacy of these brave Americans, and it remains our charge to work for peace, freedom, and security.  Let us always strive to uphold the founding principles they died defending; let their legacy continue to inspire our Nation; and let this solemn lesson of service and sacrifice be taught to future generations of Americans.

In honor of their dedication and service to America, the Congress, by a Joint Resolution, approved May 11, 1950, as amended (36 U.S.C. 116), has requested the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer.  The Congress, by Public Law 106-579, has also designated 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as a time for all Americans to observe, in their own way, the National Moment of Remembrance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 31, 2010, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer.  I also ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.

I request the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control.  I also request the people of the United States to display the flag at half staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


Memorial Day Tribute

As we approach Memorial Day, I offer these two tributes that were sent to me this weekend:

     Trace Adkins: Arlington Memorial Day Tribute

     Trace Adkins & West Point Glee Club: "Last Shot's Fired"

Remembering Clement Dupuis (a member of my Boy Scout patrol who later joined the U.S. Marines and died in Vietnam) and all those who died in service to this nation and the principles on which it was founded - may they rest in peace.

     U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Memorial Day

     John McCrae: "In Flanders Fields"

     Rev. Connie Gibbs: "We Must Remember"

     TapsBugler: "Taps"

     Bugle Playing "Taps"

28 May 2010

Pope Benedict XVI on Priests and the Priestly Offices of Christ

As part of the Year for Priests, Pope Benedict XVI, in his general audiences over the past few weeks, has been giving a series of teachings on the three priestly offices of Christ.  His purpose in this series is to look closely at how the Church's pastors share in and exercise these offices, or tasks, in virtue of their reception of Holy Orders. Here are his three teachings:

   Pope Benedict on the Priest as Teacher

   Pope Benedict on the Priest's Mission to Sanctify

   Pope Benedict on the Priest's Mission to Govern

26 May 2010

Johnny Cash and Burl Ives Medley

Burl Ives and Johnny Cash sing a medley on the 22 April 1970 edition of The Johnny Cash Show:

     Johnny Cash and Burl Ives Medley

Saint Philip Neri

Today the Church celebrates the memory of Saint Philip Neri.

Here is a reflection on Saint Philip Neri (1515 - 1595) by Martin Kochanski (founder of Universalis [http://www.universalis.com/]):

"He was born in Florence in 1515. At the age of eighteen he went to Rome, and earned his living as a tutor. He undertook much-needed charitable work among the young men of the city, and started a brotherhood to help the sick poor and pilgrims.

"He was advised that he could do more good as a priest, and was ordained in 1551. He built an oratory over the church of San Girolamo, where he invented services, consisting of spiritual readings and hymns, which were the origin of the oratorio (tradition is a good thing; but innovation also has its place). He continued to serve the young men of Rome, rich and poor alike, with religious discussions and by organising charitable enterprises. He had a particular care for the young students at the English College in Rome, studying for a missionary life and probable martyrdom in England.

"He inspired other clergy to emulate him, and formed them into the Congregation of the Oratory. Oratorian foundations still flourish in many countries today. He died in Rome in 1595.

"St. Philip Neri was an enemy of solemnity and conventionality. When some of his more pompous penitents made their confession to him (he was famous as a confessor) he imposed salutary and deflating penances on them, such as walking through the streets of Rome carrying his cat (he was very fond of cats). When a novice showed signs of excessive seriousness, Philip stood on his head in front of him, to make him laugh. When people looked up to him too much, he did something ridiculous so that they should not respect someone who was no wiser – and no less sinful – than they were. In every case there was an excellent point to his pranks: to combat pride, or melancholy, or hero-worship.

"Laughter is not much heard in churches: perhaps that is to be expected... but outside church, Christians should laugh more than anyone else – laugh from sheer joy, that God bothered to make us, and that he continues to love us despite the idiots we are. Everyone is a sinner, but Christians are sinners redeemed – an undeserved rescue that we make even less deserved by everything we do. It is too serious a matter to be serious about: all we can reasonably do is rejoice.

"Very many of the saints, not just St Philip, have an abiding terror of being looked up to. For they know their imperfections better than anyone else, and being revered by other people is doubly bad. It is bad for the others, who should be revering God instead, and for themselves, because they might be tempted to believe their own image and believe themselves to be worthy.

"We are not saints yet, but we, too, should beware. Uprightness and virtue do have their rewards, in self-respect and in respect from others, and it is easy to find ourselves aiming for the result rather than the cause. Let us aim for joy, rather than respectability. Let us make fools of ourselves from time to time, and thus see ourselves, for a moment, as the all-wise God sees us."

25 May 2010

National Hurricane Preparedness Week

This week, 23-29 May, is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. It is easy to be complacent about hurricanes in this region because they directly affect the region infrequently. However, it is important to be aware of their presence and their potential hazards.

Presidential Proclamation:

     Presidential Proclamation: National Hurricane Preparedness Week


     National Hurricane Center: National Hurricane Preparedness Week

     NOAA/National Weather Service National Hurricane Center

     National Hurricane Center: Hurricane Basics

Additional Background Information:

     Brown University: Geological Sciences: New England Hurricanes

     Wikipedia: List of New England hurricanes

3 Priests and 160 Years of Priestly Service

On Saturday, May 22, the Priory of Saint Thomas Aquinas at Providence College celebrated three anniversaries of long-serving Dominican priests. Father Alan Morris, OP, ordained a priest in 1950, celebrated 60 years as a priest, while Fathers David Folsey, OP, and Damien Myett, OP, ordained together in 1960, both celebrated 50 years of priesthood:

      3 Priests and 160 Years of Priestly Service

23 May 2010

A Reflection on the Pentecost Sequence

A short while ago, I "happened to" remember the Sequence that was recited after the first two readings at today's (Pentecost Sunday's) Mass. The Sequence was a thought-provoking prayer calling upon the Holy Spirit.

In my research to refresh my memory regarding what the specific words were, I came across this homily given on Pentecost Sunday three years ago by Father Michael Ryan, pastor of Saint James Cathedral, Seattle, Washington. The message was appropriate then, and it still applies today:

     Father Michael Ryan: Pentecost Homily, 27 May 2007

Back on My Feet Establishes Boston Chapter

Back on My Feet, a nonprofit organization that works to promote the self-sufficiency of homeless populations by engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength, and self-esteem, has established a chapter in Boston.

For more information about Back on My Feet:

     Back on My Feet

Media reports about the opening of the Boston chapter:

     Boston Globe: Program helps homeless find their footing

     NECN: 'Back on My Feet' chapter opens in Boston

Wikipedia article:

     Wikipedia: Back on My Feet (non-profit organization)

"Come Holy Spirit"

As we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, I offer: "Let the Fire Fall" by Pamela Cindy with the Jesus and Mary Music Ministry Band at Veronica Veil Theater, Union City, NJ:

     Pamela Cindy & JMCRMM Band: Let the Fire Fall

“Each of us hears them speaking in our own tongue about the marvels that God has accomplished.” - a Pentecost Sunday Reflection

Pentecost Sunday (May 23, 2010)

“Each of us hears them speaking in our own tongue about the marvels that God has accomplished.” (Acts 2:11)

In today's "Salesian Perspective" reflection, Father Michael S. Murray, OSFS, offers the following thoughts:

"Despite the fact that they were speaking to many people from many languages, from many places and from many cultures, the apostles were nonetheless understood by all of their listeners as they proclaimed the marvels that God had accomplished.

"How was this possible?

"Enflamed by the power of the Holy Spirit, the apostles were speaking the language of the heart. They were speaking with enthusiasm. They were speaking with gratitude. They were speaking with praise and thanksgiving. They were speaking from their core. They were speaking from their soul. In short, they were speaking the universal language – the language of the heart.

"The language of love

"We are most human - we are most divine - when we speak the language of the heart, when we speak the language of love, when we speak and listen from the soul, when we are grounded in the Word Made Flesh. St. Francis de Sales wrote in his Treatise on the Love of God: 'When wishing to express a perfect love, the Holy Spirit almost always uses words that express union and conjunction. 'And the multitude of believers,' says St. Luke, 'had but one heart and one soul.' Our Savior prayed to his Father for all the faithful to the end that they all 'might be one.' St. Paul warns us to be 'careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.' These unities of heart, soul and spirit signify the perfection of love which joins many souls into one.' (Treatise, Book One, Chapter 9)

"Communicating is often easier said than done. We misunderstand one another. We presume to know what others are thinking or feeling. We use the same words for which we have different meanings. We have different ways of saying the same thing. We hear, but we fail to listen. We so infrequently use the language of the soul.

"St. Francis de Sales tells us that the Holy Spirit comes to inflame the hearts of believers. When we speak and listen from hearts enflamed with joy, truth and gratitude, conflict gives way to understanding, confusion gives way to clarity, estrangement gives way to intimacy, hurt gives way to healing, frustration gives way to forgiveness, violence gives way to peace, sin gives way to salvation.

"Division gives way to unity.

"How might you need to speak – and to hear - the language of love today?"

(Rev. Michael S. Murray, OSFS, is the Executive Director of the De Sales Spirituality Center.)

Note: For additional "Sundays Salesian" reflections (which are designed to offers a Salesian perspective on the Sunday readings), visit:

     Sundays Salesian

O Lord, Send Out Your Spirit, and Renew the Face of the Earth

In the spirit of today's celebration of Pentecost, I offer this song, "O Lord, send out your Spirit" (based on Psalm 104):

     Lord, Send Out Your Spirit

22 May 2010

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

It was a normal day in Sharon Springs, Kansas, when a Union Pacific crew boarded a loaded coal train for the long trek:

     Where there's smoke, there's fire.

(Received from DeerLake Newsletter)

Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter and St. Rita of Cascia

Today the Church celebrates the Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter. It is also an optional memorial of Saint Rita of Cascia.

In today's "Daily Ignatian Reflection," Father James Kubicki, S.J., writes

"Tomorrow we will light the Easter candle one last time. For the rest of the year it will be used only at Baptisms and funerals. The Easter Season ends with Pentecost and today's first reading, with the story of Paul's arrival in Rome, the center of the known world, brings our Easter readings from the Acts of the Apostles to a conclusion (Acts 28:16-20,30-31).

"Today's Gospel is also a conclusion, the end of John's Gospel. After Peter's triple attestation of his love for Jesus and Jesus' prediction of his martyrdom, he asks about John. What will happen to him? Jesus responds: 'What concern is it of yours? You follow me.' (John 21:20-25)

"A common temptation is to wonder how we compare to others and what others think of us. Such comparison and competition is deadly. We either end up judging others harshly in order to build our own ego, or we end up with the short end of the stick, comparing how they look on the outside to how we feel on the inside. Jesus challenges Peter and us not to worry about others but to keep our focus on Him and to follow Him.

"St. Rita must have known this. She is called 'The Saint of the Impossible' because of the impossible odds she faced in life. As a child she wanted to be a nun but her parents opposed her desires and married her off to an abusive and unfaithful man. She prayed hard for his conversion and was rewarded when, after he got into a fight with some other men, he died in her arms begging forgiveness. Her two sons decided to avenge their father's death and she prayed for their conversion. Before they could carry out their plan they took sick, forgave those who killed their father, and died. Now free to follow her dream, Rita applied to the Augustinian order of religious women only to be refused entry because she had been married. After much prayer and several attempts she was finally accepted.

"In the midst of impossible situations and difficulties, Rita kept her eyes fixed on Jesus. May we always do the same."

(Father Kubicki is the National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer.)

For more information about St. Rita:

     Saint Rita of Cascia

Welcome to the Saturday before Pentecost

"O Sing for Joy" by Don Moen (songwriter, music minister, and former president of Integrity Music and executive vice president/creative director for Integrity Media):

     Don Moen: "O Sing for Joy"

21 May 2010

Happy Birthday to the Church!

This weekend we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, the day on which the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and upon all the other disciples in the upper room. This event, recorded in Chapter 2 of the Acts of the Apostles, is considered the birthday of the Church.

Several years ago, Father John Randall was the retreat leader at a weekend retreat for the faculty and staff of St. Patrick School (Providence). One of the things he mentioned (bemoaned might be a better word) was that the Church, as a whole, does not celebrate Pentecost to the extent it should.

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambosio takes up this same theme in a message this week, saying "Happy Birthday to a Billion of us! This Sunday marks the birthday party of the billion people who today make up the Catholic Church. On that first Pentecost, the party was smaller, only 120, but the attendees themselves became the birthday candles when the Spirit crowned each of them with fiery tongues."

Dr. D'Ambosio continues with a message about Pentecost and its meaning for each of us in the Church, which he calls (and explains why) the largest Pentecostal Church in the world:

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: The Feast of Pentecost: The Gifts and Charisms of The Holy Spirit

(Please also check out his link, "Holy Spirit and His Gifts Library.")

I also pass on a special blessing from Father Stan Fortuna:

Father Stan Fortuna: Pentecost 2010 Blessing 

20 May 2010

Four Franciscan friars take on Ireland's toughest city

From the Christian Science Monitor: Four Americans gave up their careers as teacher, soldier, punk-rock-singer, and rapper to become Franciscan friars in the toughest district of Ireland's toughest city. They're now celebrities.

For the complete story, visit:

     CSM: "Four Franciscan friars take on Ireland's toughest city"

Background Information:

     Franciscans of the Renewal

     Goodnews: Franciscan Friars in Limerick (July/August 2008)

Thought Starter

"Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so inaction saps the vigor of the mind." - Leonardo da Vinci

19 May 2010

Harvard Forest Report: New England Woods Are Declining

Forests are declining in all six New England states for the first time in 150 years, threatened by urban sprawl in the south and by recreational development and forest ownership fragmentation in the north, according to a new report released by researchers at the Harvard Forest (Harvard University).

The report, Wildlands & Woodlands: A Vision for the New England Landscape, was authored by twenty researchers at a dozen institutions. Released this week, the report calls for renewed conservation efforts with the goal of protecting 70 percent of the region’s forests from development over the next 50 years, mainly through voluntary conservation easements given by private landowners.

For more information, go to this Harvard Gazette article and to the full report:

     Harvard Gazette: Rolling back the forest canopy

     Wildlands and Woodlands: A Vision for the New England Landscape

For more information about Harvard Forest, visit:

     Harvard Forest

Boston Herald's Joe Fitzgerald: Priests cursed with same lot as Muslims

In today's Boston Herald, columnist Joe Fitzgerald reflected on the similarities between Muslims and priests in being wrongly profiled because of the misdeeds (as terrible as they may be) of a few:

     Joe Fitzgerald: Priests cursed with same lot as Muslims

Saint Dunstan and the Arts

One saint that the Church remembers today is Saint Dunstan (who lived in the 900’s). Born a member of a noble family in what is now England, he was brought up at court and studied secular arts and literature before becoming a monk of Glastonbury, where he later became abbot. As abbot, he contributed greatly to the restoration of English monasticism after the devastation of the Viking invasions. He was made bishop of Worcester, then bishop of London, and finally archbishop of Canterbury, all in a relatively short period of time. He was renowned as a painter, musician, and worker in metals, as well as being a counselor of kings and a zealous reforming bishop.

Thinking of its interest in the arts, I am reminded of many times I have enjoyed various artistic creations by a variety of people, and I thank the Lord for the many ways He continues His work of creation through His people. There are so many wonderful works of art here in our own area and throughout the world. Thank you, Lord, and may we join with these works in singing Your praises.

18 May 2010

Mount St. Helens: 30th Anniversary of Eruption

Thirty years ago today Mount St. Helens, a volcano in the state of Washington, erupted. Today's Boston Globe has a photo essay of that event:

     Boston Globe: Mount St. Helens, 30 years ago

World Communications Day 2010

On Sunday the Church observed World Communications Day, a day dedicated to social communications (the observance of which originated with the Second Vatican Council). This year's theme, "The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word," was designed to coincide with the Church’s celebration of the Year for Priests.

Pope Benedict XVI released his message for this, the 44th World Communications Day, on 24 January, the Feast of Saint Francis de Sales (patron saint of writers and of journalists. The message may be accessed by visiting:

Message of Pope Benedict XVI for the 44th World Communications Day

Thoughts on Opinion

Paul and Sue Liles are a retired (from the aviation industry) couple who have their own website. Their site is an eclectic mix of things that interest them, including pages related to family, God, the U.S.A., and various other "goodies."

One group of pages is entitled "Thoughts And Ponderisms," and this group's first page has several quotes related to opinions:

"People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes.” - Voltaire

“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.” - Plato

“Too often we . . . enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” - John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Paul can be very opinionated, and, in a number of areas, our opinions differ. However, their site is a good one, with a lot of work put into it. Paul & Sue's website can be reached by visiting:

     Lilesnet (Paul & Sue Liles' Website)

12 May 2010

Reflection on Attitudes

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, gift, or skill. It will make or break a company. . . a church. . . a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. . .we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you. . . we are in charge of our attitudes." - Charles Swindoll (evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, and radio preacher)

Sudbury (MA) 5-Alarm Fire Damages Greenhouses

A five-alarm fire damaged 22 greenhouses at Cavicchio Greenhouses, 110 Codjer Lane, Sudbury, MA, early Tuesday morning.

Media Reports:

   MetroWest Daily News: Tractor caused $4.5M Sudbury greenhouse fire (11 MAY 10)

   NECN: Fire erupts at greenhouse in Sudbury, Massachusetts (11 MAY 10)

   WCVB-TV: Tractor Behind Blaze At 100-Year-Old Greenhouse (11 MAY 10)

   WCVB-TV Uncut: Aerials Of Fire Damage (11 MAY 10)

   WCVB-TV Images: Greenhouse Co. Fire Damages (11 MAY 10)

   WHDH-TV: Fire burns through Sudbury greenhouse company (11 MAY 10)

Background Information:

   Sudbury Fire Department

   Cavicchio Greenhouses, Inc., Sudbury, MA

   Wikipedia: Sudbury, Massachusetts

   Google Map of 110 Codjer Lane, Sudbury, MA

A Few Memorable Words

A Few Memorable Words

by Stephanie Raha, Editor-in-Chief of The Christophers
May 3, 2010

(This essay is last week's "Light One Candle" column, written by Stephanie Raha, Editor-in-Chief of The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.)

Do you remember what the commencement speaker said at your graduation? Or, more recently perhaps, at the graduation of your son or daughter – or even grandkids? Few of us do. Sometimes, it’s even hard to remember who the speakers were.

Still, May is the traditional month for college commencements and thousands upon thousands of young people and their families will hear famous, successful people offering graduates all sorts of advice for their careers and for life in general. These suggestions are sincere and well-meant and may even be uplifting and useful, but that doesn’t make them memorable.

But there are always wonderful exceptions: meaningful words delivered by the right person at the right time. I’d like to share two of them with you.

The first was offered by Dr. Seuss himself, Theodore Geisel, the popular children’s writer. When he was offered an honorary degree from Lake Forest College in Illinois, in 1977, he made it clear that he was deeply honored to accept, but that he would not speak. The college president and others pressed him, by he continued to refuse. When commencement day came and the honorary degree had been conferred, Geisel reached into his academic gown and pulled out this poem which he read to his enthusiastic audience:

“My uncle ordered popovers / from the restaurant’s bill of fare. / And, when they were served, / he regarded them / with a penetrating stare. / Then he spoke great Words of Wisdom / as he sat there on that chair: / “To eat these things,” / said my uncle, / “you must exercise great care. / You may swallow down what’s solid / BUT / you must spit out the air!”

“And / as you partake of the world’s bill of fare, / that’s darned good advice to follow. / Do a lot of spitting out the hot air. / And be careful what you swallow.”

A second memorable address came from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and world renowned peace and human rights activist, who gave a commencement talk at Brandeis University in Massachusetts in 2000. He reminded the graduates that the people who earn our greatest admiration are not those who are merely wealthy or powerful; they are those who give the best of themselves for others. Archbishop Tutu mentioned such heroes as Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Dalai Lama, and Nelson Mandela.

He concluded with this tale: “You know the story of the farmer who in his back yard had chickens, including one that was a little odd looking, but it behaved like a chicken, it pecked like the other chickens. Then someone who was knowledgeable came along and said to the farmer, ‘Hey, that’s no chicken. Give it to me, please.’

“And this man took this strange looking chicken and climbed the mountain and waited until sunrise. And then he turned this strange looking chicken towards the sun and said, ‘Eagle, fly, eagle.’  And it shook itself, spread out its pinions, and lifted off and soared and soared and flew away into the distance.

“And God says to all of us, ‘You are no chicken; you are an eagle. Fly, eagle, fly.’ And God wants us to shake ourselves, spread our pinions, and then lift off and soar and rise toward the confident and the good and the beautiful. Rise towards the compassionate and the gentle and the caring. Rise to become what God intends us to be – eagles, not chickens.”

So there you have it, two memorable pieces of advice: Don’t swallow everything you’re told. And don’t be chicken – just stretch your wings and soar. 

TJL Note: I do remember the speaker at my Providence College commencement - Art Buchwald, a humorist and syndicated columnist (whose column focused on political satire and commentary). Most of his talk resembled one of his columns, and he had us in stitches with his commentary. I still remember his closing comment - "You [probably won't remember most of what I talked about], but you will remember you laughed." And he was right - I don't remember his specifics, but we did laugh (and laugh and laugh). May he rest in peace.

11 May 2010

"I like the way he did it better than the way you don't."

Yesterday the Church celebrated the memory of Saint Damien of Molokai. Simcha Fisher, a blogger for InsideCatholic, reflects on Pope John Paul II's canonizing so many modern men and women, which gives us a chance to see what real holiness looks like, "without the prettifying myths that can obscure ancient saints."

To read her essay, visit:

    Simcha Fisher: I like the way he did it better than the way you don't.

Simcha Fisher holds a B.A. in Literature from Thomas More College in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Besides blogging for InsideCatholic, she occasionally freelances for Faith and Family magazine and online journals.

Background Information:

    EWTN: Saint Damien of Molokai

Experiencing the Lord’s Gift of Peace

Monsignor Charles Pope, pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish in the Archdiocese of Washington (DC), has written a commentary on a promise of peace the Lord made, as recorded in last Sunday's Gospel reading: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid" (John 14:27).

Msgr. Pope notes how hard it is to avail oneself of this promise, and he advises that the experience of true inner peace usually grows gently in a person who is serious about prayer, reception of the Sacraments, and growth in the faith by studying and and reflecting on Scripture and the teachings of the Church. He also describes some of the fruits that begin to come forth in the person who is experiencing God’s gift of inner peace.

To read Msgr. Pope's full explanation, visit:
     Msgr. Charles Pope: The Second Hardest Promise: Experiencing the Lord’s Gift of Peace

Saint Francis de Sales on Duties

"In our duties we must work calmly and with composure, performing them as promptly as possible and as well as we can." - Saint Francis de Sales

Peter, Paul, and Mary: "Day is Done"

For some reason, after my usual "Good Morning, Lord" prayer that I offer when I first get up, the lyrics of the Peter, Paul, and Mary song, "Day is Done," began swirling around my head and stayed there for a good part of the early morning. It was mostly the chorus, but other lyrics were there as well.

I soon refreshed my memory on the complete set of lyrics:
   Peter Paul & Mary: "Day Is Done" Lyrics

After refreshing my memory regarding the lyrics, I "happened to" come across this presentation on YouTube: Peter, Paul, and Mary (with the Smothers Brothers, Donovan, and Jennifer Warnes) singing "Day is Done" (This is from the Smothers Brothers show, which ran on CBS for a while "a number of" years ago.):

   Peter Paul & Mary (& Friends): Day Is Done

As a follow-up, when I was immersed in today's Office of Readings, the intial Psalm reading was from Psalm 37: "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act." (Psalm 37:5). I saw an instant connection between the verse and the song, a connection that was a strong reminder and an encouraging word for me.

I thank the Lord for this and for His many ways of encouraging me and each of His people, and I offer this for encouragement.

10 May 2010

National Police Week 2010

This week, 9-15 May, is National Police Week, a  time designated to recognize the service and sacrifice of U.S. law enforcement personnel.

Established in 1962 by a joint resolution of Congress which was signed by President John F. Kennedy, National Police Week pays special tribute to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others. Ceremonies are held in Washington, DC, and in communities across the country.

One of many persons in and out of law enforcement who have been commenting on this week and the law enforcement personnel it supports, Ann M. Harkins, National Crime Prevention Council President, said in a prepared statement, “National Police Week is a time when we honor the memory of American law enforcement officers who gave their lives in service to the public. Few things are more important to our communities and to our quality of life than a sense of safety and security, and it’s our law enforcement officers who make safer communities possible through partnerships and effective crime prevention programs.”

Presidential Proclamation:

     Presidential Proclamation: Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week

1962 Congressional Resolution Establishing National Police Week:

     Joint Resolution of Congress, 1 October 1962

The names of 324 U.S. law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty will be formally dedicated on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, during the 22nd Annual Candlelight Vigil on the evening of 13 May. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will deliver the keynote address and lead the lighting of candles and reading of the names of the fallen officers. The 324 officers include 116 who died in the line of duty during 2009 (the lowest annual total in five decades) plus another 208 officers who died earlier in history but whose sacrifice had not been previously documented.

Pope: Support Priests, Especially in Moments of Difficulty

In last Wednesday's general audience, which was celebrated in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI focused his remarks on the priest's mission to sanctify humankind.

"Sanctifying a person means putting that person in contact with God", said the Pope, noting how "an essential part of a priest's grace is his gift, his task to establish such contact. This comes about through the announcement of the Word of God, . . . and particularly intensely in the Sacraments."

"Over recent decades", he went on, "various schools of thought have tried to make the aspect of announcement prevail in the priest's mission and identity, separating it from sanctification. It has often been affirmed that there is a need to go beyond merely sacramental pastoral care."

"Ordained ministers", the Pope explained, "represent Christ, God's envoy, they . . . continue His mission through the 'Word' and the 'Sacrament', which are the two main pillars of priestly service." In this context he identified the need "to reflect whether, in certain cases, having undervalued the faithful exercise of 'munus sanctificandi' has not perhaps led to a weakening of faith in the salvific effectiveness of the Sacraments and, in the final analysis, in the real action of Christ and His Spirit, through the Church, in the world."

"It is, therefore, important to promote appropriate catechesis in order to help the faithful understand the value of the Sacraments. But it is equally necessary, following the example of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', to be willing, generous and attentive in giving the faithful the treasures of grace that God has placed in our hands, treasures of which we are not masters but custodians and administrators. Especially in our own time - in which on the one hand, the faith seems to be weakening and, on the other, there is a profound need and widespread search for spirituality - it is necessary for each priest to remember that . . . missionary announcement and worship are never separate, and that he must promote a healthy sacramental pastoral care in order to form the People of God and help them to fully experience the liturgy . . . and the Sacraments as gratuitous gifts of God, free and effective aspects of His action of salvation."

The Pope went on to highlight how "each priest knows he is a tool necessary for God's salvific action, but nonetheless just a tool. This awareness must make him humble and generous in administering the Sacraments, respecting the canonical norms but also profoundly convinced that his mission is to ensure that mankind, united to Christ, can offer itself to God as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to Him."

Then, addressing himself directly to priests, the Holy Father encouraged them "to practice liturgy and worship with joy and love." He also renewed his call "to return to the confessional, as a place in which to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but also as a place in which 'to dwell' more frequently, that the faithful may find mercy, counsel and comfort, feel themselves to be loved and understood by God, and experience the presence of Divine Mercy alongside the real presence in the Eucharist."

"I would also like to invite each priest to celebrate and to live the Eucharist intensely," said Benedict XVI. Priests "are called to be ministers of this great Mystery, in the Sacrament and in life."

Likewise, "it is indispensable to strive after the moral perfection which must dwell in each authentically priestly heart", because "there is an example of faith and a witness of sanctity that the People of God expect from their pastors."

Pope Benedict concluded by calling on the faithful "to be aware of the great gift that priests represent for the Church and the world. Through their ministry the Lord continues to save mankind, to make Himself present, to sanctify. Give thanks to God and above all remain close to your priests with prayer and support, especially in moments of difficulty, that they may increasingly become pastors in keeping with God's heart."

(Quotes are from the Vatican Information Service.)

Fire crews rescue swimmers, firefighters from Hopkinton State Park pond (Ashland, MA)

A number of swimmers participating in the New England Season Opener triathlon, as well as two Ashland (MA) firefighters, were pulled from the swimming pond in Hopkinton State Park on Sunday morning after a fire rescue boat sank while trying to rescue swimmers from the cold waters.

Media Report:

   Milford Daily News: Fire crews rescue swimmers, firefighters from Hopkinton State Park pond

Background information:

   Ashland Fire Department

   Hopkinton Fire Department

   Hopkinton State Park, Hopkinton & Ashland, Massachusetts

   Google Map of Hopkinton State Park, Hopkinton/Ashland, MA

Elton John: Abide With Me

For prayerful reflection for this Monday, the start of a new work week:

Elton John sings "Abide with Me":

     Elton John: Abide With Me

For lyrics, melody, and background of "Abide with Me", visit:

     CyberHymnal: Abide with Me

09 May 2010

Principal’s Program Increases Reading Skills in Cromwell (CT) Students

Yesterday's Middletown (CT) Press had an article about the efforts of Woodside Intermediate School (Cromwell, CT) principal, Bo Ryan, to increase the reading skills of the students in the school. These efforts have also led to an increased love of reading in the students.

The article may be accessed by visiting:

     Middletown Press: Principal’s program increases reading skills in Cromwell

A Papal Audience (with Pope Piu XII) in Autumn 1941

I "happened to" come across this commentary about a papal audience in the fall of 1941. In this audience, Pope Pius XII assisted a Jewish refugee from Germany who was coming to the him for help. With all the hubbub that has arisen about what Pius XII did or did not do while the Jewish people were being persecuted during this time, it is worth reading:

     The American Catholic: A Papal Audience in Autumn 1941

Happy Mother's Day, Mother Mary

To honor our Blessed Mother on this Mother's Day:

This is a RedemptoristTV production of "Hail Mary; Gentle Woman," featuring soprano Stephanie Crandford with Robin Williams on the piano, Saint Teresa's Parish, St. John's, Newfoundland:

     RedemptoristTV: "Hail Mary; Gentle Woman"

Note : RedemptoristTV is the Internet TV channel of the Redemptorists of the Edmonton-Toronto Province.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: A Holy Father

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online and an associate editor at National Review, has written a reflection (for the Knights of Columbus Headline Bistro service) on the ongoing renewal in the Church, especially in reference to the sexual abuse crisis:

"A Holy Father"
by Kathryn Jean Lopez

"It was Holy Week. It was Holy Week and everywhere I turned - or so it seemed to this news junkie - I heard calls for the pope’s resignation. He would step down, pundits on MSNBC could have had you believing, as if it were a foregone conclusion and absolutely necessity. The veritable end of the Catholic Church - or at least the Vatican - if you were to believe some writing for the New York Times, was both imminent and welcome.

"Of course, at the same time you had churches in the sophisticated metropolises of New York and Washington, D.C., between which I divide my time, overflowing. As clear as the palpability of the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist is for me - a gift I wish for everyone - was the reality of what was going on. This is no end but a beginning. The story of redemption, yet again. The Cross conquers the sin and evil that we are known to succumb to.

To continue reading this commentary, visit:

   Kathryn Jean Lopez: A Holy Father

For a brief background on Kathryn Jean Lopez, visit:

   Kathryn Jean Lopez bio

In addition, CatholicCulture.org reports on a recent CBS News/New York Times poll, which found that 77% of Catholics who attend Mass weekly say that “the Vatican’s handling of recent child sex abuse reports” has had no effect on how they “feel about the Catholic Church.” An additional 12% of practicing Catholics say that they have a more positive feeling about the Church as a result of the Vatican’s handling of the scandals.

To read this report, which also has a link to the New York Times article, visit:

     CatholicCculture.org: Practicing Catholics unfazed by abuse scandals; Pope’s popularity increasing

The Holy Spirit and the Catholic Church

Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter, and the assigned readings (for cycle C, the current year in the three-year cycle of Sunday readings) are Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23; and John 14:23-29. They may be accessed by visiting:

     Readings for Sixth Sunday of Easter (9 May 10)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio has prepared a reflection on these readings, and this reflection can be accessed by visiting:

     Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: The Holy Spirit and the Catholic Church

In today's "Daily Ignatian Reflection" offered by the Magis Institute, Father Robert Kroll, S.J., also adds a reflection on this subject:

      Fr. Robert Kroll, S.J.: Sixth Sunday of Easter

Monsignor Charles Pope, of the Archdiocese of Washington, offers his commentary on the Church's first council (as written about in today's first reading). Msgr. Pope places this council in perspective, showing how the outreach to the Gentiles was in process (he does chides the early Church for taking so long to reach out to the Gentiles) and how the decision-making process during this event would set a precedent for the future:

     Msgr. Charles Pope: It is the Decision of the Holy Spirit and Us….On the Council of Jerusalem and the Catholicity of the Early Church

In this weekend's edition of Word to Life (Dominican Preaching on Sirius XM Radio), Father Kevin Gabriel Gillen, O.P., discusses the readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter with Father John Farren, O.P., and Fox News contributor, Father Jonathan Morris. To access this audio reflection, visit:

     "Word to Life" - May 7, 2010

08 May 2010

US firefighters work to better image of Iraqi counterparts, educate children

A correspondent passed on an interesting article from the website, Operation Iraqi Freedom. There is a team of fire service advisers from the Army's 414th Civil Affairs Battalion, Provincial Reconstruction Team - Baghdad, who have been working to improve the capabilities and public image of Iraqi firefighters.

The article explains the what these advisers are trying to accomplish and includes some specific examples:

   US firefighters work to better image of Iraqi counterparts, educate children

Father Najim on One's Purpose in Life

Father Michael Najim, the Vocation Director for the Diocese of Providence, has a blog entitled Live Holiness. Through this blog, he tries to encourage and inspire readers to live their ultimate calling: holiness.

He had two recent posts that focus on helping a person know his/her purpose in life and live it. I strongly recommend reading these and reflecting on the thoughts they present:

   Fr. Najim: How to Know Your Purpose

   Fr. Najim: How to Live Your Purpose

While you are at it, I recommend checking out the blog itself - it has a lot of good material for prayerful consideration:

   Fr. Michael Najim: Live Holiness

Video of The Black Watch Marching into a Town

While researching something else, I came across this video of the Black Watch marching into a town (circa 2003).  I have seen them before and have been impressed by their precision (plus I love listening to bagpipes).

When I saw them (around 1997 or 1998), the Black Watch was a Scottish infantry regiment in the British Army (this dates back to 1881, and they were known as the Royal Highland Regiment [The Black Watch]). In 2006, the regiment was restructured to be a battalion: 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (still called The Black Watch).

     Black Watch marching in to town

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.: Confessions of a Theist

Columnist and author Harry R. Jackson, Jr., is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland. He recently wrote on this week's National Day of Prayer, His thoughtful essay is worth reflecting on:

   Harry R. Jackson, Jr.: Confessions of a Theist

3-Alarm Fire Ravages Portland, ME, Vacant Meat Packing Plant

A three-alarm fire on Thursday afternoon (6 May) destroyed the former Jordan's Meats packing plant, a two-story brick building, in Portland, Maine. The fire location is bounded by Franklin Arterial, Middle Street, India Street, and Fore Street.

The 1,000-feet long and 300-feet wide structure was in the process of being demolished when the fire started. A gusty wind was a factor in spreading the fire.

The Portland Fire Department was assisted at the scene by companies from South Portland.

Media Reports:

   WMTW-TV: Fire Consumes Old Jordan's Meats Building (6 MAY 10)

   NECN: Fire guts former Jordan Meats plant in Portland, Maine (6 MAY 10)

   WCSH-TV: Jordan's Meats fire (6 MAY 10)

   WMTW-TV: Fire Burning At Jordan Meats Building (from ABC News Photographer) (6 MAY 10)

   WCSH-TV Video: Former Jordan's Meats plant burns (6 MAY 10)

   WMTW-TV: Latest Video Of Jordan's Meats Fire (6 MAY 10)

   WMTW-TV: News 8's Steve Minich Reports From Scene Of Fire (6 MAY 10)

   WCSH-TV: Jordan's Meats fire: The crowds (6 MAY 10)

   WCSH-TV: Jordan's Meats fire: Neighborhood cut off (6 MAY 10)

   WMTW-TV: Fire Chief Discusses Jordan's Meats Fire (6 MAY 10)

   WMTW-TV: Portland Fire Chief Address Cause Of Jordan's Meats Fire (6 MAY 10)

   WMTW-TV: Developer Discusses Portland Fire (6 MAY 10)

   WMTW-TV: Investigators Looking Into What Caused Massive Fire at Jordan's Meats Factory (6 MAY 10)

   Portland Press Herald: Fire tears through Jordan's Meats site (7 MAY 10)

   WMTW-TV: Crews Clear Scene Of Portland Fire (7 MAY 10)

   WMTW-TV Slideshow: Jordan's Meats Fire

   WMTW-TV Slideshow: Fire Rips Through Portland Landmark

   WCSH-TV Photo Gallery: Jordan's Meats Building Fire

   WCSH-TV: Cause of Jordan's Meats fire will never be known (7 MAY 10)

   WMTW-TV: Jordan's Meats Fire Likely Accidental (8 MAY 10)

Background Information:

   Portland Fire Department

   Portland Professional Firefighters - Local 740

   Wikipedia: Portland, Maine

   Google Map of Fore Street at former Jordan's Meat plant, Portland, ME

"Ambulance Horse" in Service in Staffordshire, England

The West Midlands Ambulance Service in Staffordshire, England, has placed an Irish sports horse in service to access areas an ambulance can’t reach. Chase (the horse) has been equipped with a first responder kit and defibrillator and responds with his owner (a member of the West Midlands Fire Service) to emergencies in Cannock Chase Country Park (one of the largest parks in the country).

Media Reports:

   The Daily Mail: Horse rides to the rescue of injured walkers as Britain's first animal ambulance

   The Telegraph: Horse is Britain's first 'animal ambulance'

   StaffsLive: West Midlands Ambulance Service recruits horse for Cannock

Background Information:

   West Midlands Ambulance Service

Celtic Woman: Amazing Grace

From today's Office of Readings: "O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!" - Psalm 105:1-3

In the spirit of this stanza, here is "Amazing Grace," by Celtic Woman:

     Celtic Woman: Amazing Grace

07 May 2010

A "Relaxing Moments" Reflection: "Right Now"

When I was recently at the web site of Monastery of the Visitation in Saint Louis (Visitation Sisters), I "happened to" come across this site, which the sisters called a "Relaxing Moments Link," one that contains "messages about God's love for you":

    "Right Now - Learn to live joyously in the present moment of life"

"Our good is found in the present moment which is today. Our life is the today in which we are living; we cannot promise ourselves a tomorrow." - Saint Francis de Sales

A Thought Starter from John Mason

"You were born an original. Don't die a copy." - John Mason

John Mason is a minister and inspirational speaker, and he often uses this quote as a starting point for one of his talks.  When doing so, he explains how walking in one's uniqueness takes him/her to places he/she couldn't otherwise go, opens doors that never would have opened, and brings one to the highest levels of satisfaction and success. "If you're not you," Rev. Mason asks, "then who are you going to be?"

In a way, this reminds me of a Saint Francis de Sales quote: "Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly."

Friday Thought Starter

"Be patient, not only as regards severe afflictions that come your way, but also regarding accidental circumstances that cause annoyance. For example, we must be patient in sickness, but we must also accept its attending circumstances of place and time and its accompanying difficulties. The same must be said about other tribulations." - Saint Francis de Sales

'Tis a good thought starter for a Friday, a day when we in the Church traditionally reflect on the Passion of our Lord, Jesus. It's a day when we are called to sacrifice in some way and to unite these little offerings with the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us. The spiritual work of mercy of bearing wrongs patiently also ties in with this attitude.

06 May 2010

Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for May

The Holy Father's prayer intentions for May (through the Apostleship of Prayer) are:

(Human Trafficking)
General: That the shameful and monstrous commerce in human beings, which sadly involves millions of women and children, may be ended.

(Priests, Religious, and Committed Lay People)
Missionary: That ordained ministers, religious women and men, and lay people involved in apostolic work may understand how to infuse missionary enthusiasm into the communities entrusted to their care.

05 May 2010

Public Service Recognition Week

This week, the first full week in May, is observed as Public Service Recognition Week. Celebrated since 1985, this week is a nationwide observance honoring the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county, and local government employees (who together number almost twenty million). The 2010 theme is “Government Innovation and Opportunity.”

Americans are served every single day by public servants at the federal, state, county, and city levels.  These men and women are often unsung as they do the work that keeps our nation working. Public employees take not only jobs, but oaths, and it has been my experience that most of them try to live up to these oaths.

Many public servants, including military personnel, police officers, firefighters, border patrol officers, embassy employees, health care professionals, and others, risk their lives each day in service to the people of the United States and around the world. Public servants also include teachers, doctors, nurses, safety inspectors, scientists, train conductors, astronauts, laborers, computer technicians, social workers, secretaries, and a myriad of other occupations.

These public servants provide a tremendous variety of services - services the American people demand of their government at one level or another, and, despite jokes and other stories to the contrary, most of them do their work well, or at least try to. In these difficult times, our public servants are often overwhelmed by the amount of service required of them and by the funding available (or, should I say, lack thereof) to match these needs.

Currently the public sector workforce is at a crossroads. Government at all levels is about to lose many of its most experienced and expert workers due to retirement (not even counting the effects of any budget cutting). There are serious questions about whether or not public agencies will be able to bring in the right people with the right skills to fill the looming talent gaps in the public sector. Negative perceptions of government make it difficult to bring on the right people to meet the talent needs of government on any level.

Is our government perfect? No, and I do believe we should expect more from it. We could also use more constructive participants or constructive criticism to help make our government better - far too often we just get criticism. We should speak out when government gets it wrong, but we also need to recognize what is right in government.

For a start, I suggest sending a message to public servants you know - a note of thanks or other words of encouragement. Let them know you appreciate the service they provide and the effort they put into it.

It's also important to keep them in your prayers. It is very good that this observance and the National Day of Prayer are in the same week. If there is one thing our public servants need at this time, it is prayer. ("I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior." - 1 Timothy 2:1-3).

May the Lord bless, guide, help, and be with each of our public servants, and give them the wisdom, understanding, patience, enthusiasm, and endurance they need to serve well the people entrusted to them.

National Day of Prayer

Tomorrow, Thursday, 6 May, is this year's National Day of Prayer, the 59th annual observance of this event. This year's theme is “Prayer, For Such a Time as This” and is based on Nahum 1:7: “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.”

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, and it is a day in which people of all faiths are invited to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress (Joint Resolution 382 on 17 April 1952), and signed into law by President Harry S Truman (Public Law 82-324; 66 Stat. 64 - 17 April 1952).

The National Day of Prayer is part of the nation's heritage. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through the country's history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1863. There have been 135 national calls to prayer, humiliation, fasting, and thanksgiving by the President of the United States from 1789 to 2009).

In 1988, the law was amended by Congress and signed by President Reagan to permanently set the day as the first Thursday of every May (Public Law 100-307). Each year since 1952, the President has signed a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. Last year, all 50 state governors plus the governors of several U.S. territories signed similar proclamations.

In previous years, millions of people have united in prayer at thousands of events from coast to coast, and it looks like this will be true this year as well. Events are scheduled in each state (including at least 25 in Rhode Island).

For President Obama's National Day of Prayer Proclamation, visit:
     President Obama: National Day of Prayer Proclamation

Another Resource: Pray Rhode Island Ministry:
     Pray Rhode Island Ministry

4-Alarm Fire at Peterborough, NH, Theater

Several fire departments battled a four-alarm fire in the Peterborough Community Theatre Building, 6 School Street, Peterborough, NH, on Friday night, 30 April. The building houses the theater and a restaurant.

Although there was heavy fire in the structure, it was contained within the building itself.

Media Reports:

    WMUR-TV: 4-Alarm Fire Breaks Out At Peterborough Theater (30 APR 10)

    WMUR-TV Slideshow: Peterborough Community Theatre Fire

    New Hampshire Union Leader: Fire strikes historic Peterborough theater (1 MAY 10)

Background Information:

   Peterborough Fire & Rescue

   Southwestern New Hampshire District Fire Mutual Aid

   Wikipedia: Peterborough, NH

   Peterborough Community Theater

   Google Map of 6 School Street, Peterborough, NH

Reflection Starter

Today's quote from Saint Francis de Sales (see links) goes as follows: "There is no better way of growing toward perfection in the spiritual life than to be always starting over again and never thinking that we have done enough."

Obviously there is more to growing in perfection in the spiritual life than this, but, if there is one thing I can do, it is realizing I am messing up and then starting over. Sometimes it takes a little while to penetrate this thick head, but when it does I do begin again (at whatever it is that needs to be dealt with).

As a side note, that is one of the reasons I love Mondays - it is a brand new week, with a brand new slate.

Related to this - as a morning person, I love the beginning of a brand new day.

Even though I am a morning person, it took me a long time to appreciate the song, "Morning Has Broken," which fits right in with this theme.

From today's Office of Readings (Psalm 18:2-3), comes a strong supporting reason why I love new beginnings:

   "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer,
      my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield,
      and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

   "I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
      and I am saved from my enemies."

P.S.  To view Cat Stevens singing "Morning Has Broken" from a 1966 concert, visit;

     Cat Stevens: "Morning Has Broken" (1976)

04 May 2010

3-Alarm Fire in Boston Subway Tunnel

USA Today: Safety checks didn't follow special hazmat permits

USA Today is reporting today that the U.S. Transportation Department never conducted required safety checks on 20,000 to 30,000 companies that got special permits to move risky shipments of hazardous materials by road, rail, water, and air.

For the full article, visit:

USA Today: Safety checks didn't follow hazmat permits

Saint Florian

Saint Florian, whose feast day is today (4 May), is the patron saint of firefighters.

Not a lot is known about St. Florian. He was a high-ranking officer in the Roman army and was stationed in Noricum (now part of Austria) when he was martyred for the faith. Among his other duties, he was in charge of one of the Roman army's firefighting units.

For more information:

   Catholic Online: St. Florian

   San Diego Paramedics: The Patron Saint of the Fire Service - St. Florian

   Thompson Productions: The Saint Florian Legend - or Fire Fighting Roman Style

   Richard Cardinal Cushing: St. Florian's Prayer for Firefighters

The Catholic Vision of Frank Capra

I "happened to" run across an essay, "The Catholic Vision of Frank Capra," by Maria De Las Carreras Kuntz (who is a Fulbright scholar from Argentina, has a Ph.D. in film studies from UCLA, and teaches film in Los Angeles).

Although I like watching movies, I usually pay attention to specific films and don't think too deeply about the backgrounds and points of view of those involved with these dramatic works. This essay, though, was worth reading, and I share it:

Maria Elena De Las Carreras Kuntz: The Catholic Vision of Frank Capra

03 May 2010

A Third Grade Song

Received from Dennis Vecchiarino:

This was sent with an intro: "getting a head start on Memorial Day":

This is from the third graders of Tussing Elementary School, Colonial Heights, Virginia. The music teacher wrote the song and had all the third graders sing.

     Thank You, Soldiers!

Pope Offers Words of Encouragement

Pope Benedict XVI yesterday made a pastoral visit to the Italian city of Turin, for the exposition of the Holy Shroud. In his homily at Mass in the city's Piazza San Carlo, the Pope referred to the difficulties of living a Christian life, in which context he recalled "people who live their lives in truly precarious conditions, because of lack of work, uncertainty about the future, physical and moral suffering. I am thinking of families, of young people, of the elderly who often suffer solitude, of the marginalised, of immigrants", he said.

The Pope went on, despite these many problems "it is precisely the certainty we receive from faith, the certainty that we are not alone, that God loves each of us without distinction and is close to each with His love, that makes it possible to face, to live and to overcome the burden of daily problems".

The Holy Father particularly encouraged young people "never to lose hope, the hope that comes from the risen Christ, from God's victory over sin, hatred and death".

Turning his attention then to the Shroud of Turin, the Pope highlighted how "in it we see, as if reflected, our own sufferings in the suffering in Christ. . . . For this reason the Shroud is a sign of hope. Christ faced the cross in order to place a limit to evil, in order to make us see, in His Easter, the anticipation of the moment in which, for us too, every tear will be wiped away and there will no longer be death, mourning, lamentation or fatigue".

Good words of encouragement during these challenging times.

(The quoted excerpts are from the Vatican News Service.)

For more information about the Holy Shroud of Turin, visit:

     The Shroud of Turin Website

02 May 2010

Maine's Infrared Eye in the Sky

Maine's law enforcement agencies have a new tool in the box the next time they are asked to find a missing person - a aerial thermal imaging camera that will allow searchers to see in the dark, in the fog, and even through a forest.

For the full story, visit:

    Kennebec Journal: State's infrared eye in the sky

Thought Starters

Received from John Shay, Sr. (a.k.a. STROADE):

Think About It

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." -T.S. Eliot
"To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing." - Elbert Hubbard
"You can't always control the wind, but you can control your sails." - Anthony Robbins
"To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to." - Kahlil Gibran
"I have found that being honest is the best technique I can use. Right up front, tell people what you're trying to accomplish and what you're willing to sacrifice to accomplish it." - Lee Iacocca
"A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age." - Robert Frost
"Next time you're feeling sorry for yourself, consider that your garbage disposal eats better than 30% of the world's population."
I told my doctor I can't exercise, because when I do I start to sweat and burn off fat, it smells like bacon and makes me hungry.
An undertaker always puts a customer in his place.