30 June 2010

Terrafugia flying car gets FAA clearance

From The Christian Science Monitor's "TechNewsDaily":

"The Terrafugia, a small airplane that can drive on roads and has been billed as the first "flying car," is now one step closer to becoming street- and sky-legal.

"The vehicle has cleared a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulatory hurdle for craft classification by weight. A full-fledged production prototype might be just around the corner, according to multiple reports."

For the complete article (including a video), visit:

Christian Science Monitor: Terrafugia flying car gets FAA clearance (29 JUN 10)

For more information about the company:


A related story:

Christian Science Monitor: Flying car? Dept of Defense OKs new Jetsons-like vehicle (22 APR 10)

Lowell, MA, Dispatcher Fired Over Fatal 911 Call

On Easter Sunday, a Lowell, MA, 911 dispatcher received a report that an elderly resident had activated a medical alert device and that officials at the alarm company were unable to contact her.

The events that followed over the next 66 minutes culminated in  the 79-year-old woman dying (with two EMTs standing just outside her locked front door) and that dispatcher being fired.

For the full story, as reported in the Lowell Sun, visit:

     Lowell Sun: Lowell dispatcher fired over fatal 911 call (30 JUN 10)

29 June 2010

Today’s Priests – An Unending Mission

Today’s Priests – An Unending Mission

by Gerald M. Costello, The Christophers

June 28, 2010

One moment made all the difference in the life of Maryknoll Father James Keller, founder of The Christophers, and as this remarkable Year of the Priest draws to a close it’s worth keeping in mind.  I’m not thinking of 1945 and the start of the organization itself, as significant an event as that was.  It goes back further, to when 17-year-old Jim Keller had temporarily withdrawn from St. Patrick’s Seminary in California, and was working in his family’s store while he thought things out.  As he recalled it in his 1963 autobiography, To Light a Candle, Father Keller said he spoke to a priest who stopped by there one evening, “a Father Ryan”, about his tentative decision not to return, hoping to find a sympathetic listener.

“No,” Father Ryan replied instead, “I’m not going to take it on my conscience to tell you not to go back to the seminary!  After all, in God’s plan there may be thousands of people whose salvation depends on what you may do for them as a priest.”

How prophetic those words were.  Father Keller indeed touched lives, millions of them, with the inspiration he offered people both in person and through the ministry of The Christophers.  Father Keller knew it, too.  As he wrote: “I began to see that failure on my part to be an instrument of the divine plan could, in a minor way at least, deprive others of blessings that rightfully belonged to them and that were to be sent through one person like myself.”

I thought of this moment recently as I paged through another of Father Keller’s many books, this one about the priesthood itself.  In The Priest and a World Vision, the Maryknoll missionary – for so he considered himself right up until his death in 1977 – wrote of the need to understand the priestly role as one of converting the world.  The priest, he wrote, “is to be found ministering to souls in our parishes, teaching in our seminaries, colleges and high schools, and engaged in the official work of our dioceses.  Without ever leaving the particular environment to which he is assigned, he can do much to step up the spread of Christianity over the world.  For the priest is the key. The people must get a world vision from him.”

Whether he realizes it or not, this is a role that every priest can fulfill.  He can do so dramatically, as did the hero-chaplain of Vietnam, Maryknoll Father Vincent Capodanno.  It can be done humbly, in the style of the saintly Capuchin, Father Solanus Casey.  Terence Cardinal Cooke, Archbishop of New York, did so with charismatic and steady leadership.  And in parishes across the country and across the world, countless priests fill their missionary roles by simply inspiring people, day after day, to live better Christian lives.

The Year of the Priest recognizes all this.  It honors a rare commitment, given freely, to devote an entire life to the mission of Jesus Christ.  At the same time, it recognizes a challenge, one never far from sight.  It was the challenge that Father Ryan presented to young Jim Keller, and the same challenge that Father Keller, in turn, presented through The Christophers.  “We live in one world,” he said.  “We have one faith to spread, both around us and in fields afar.”  The key to it all, he concluded, lies in the person of the priest, the true missionary who will lead us on.

(This essay is this week's "Light One Candle" column, written by Gerald M. Costello, of The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.)

       ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Prayer For Priests (attributed to Saint Therese of Lisieux)

O Jesus,
I pray for your faithful and fervent priests;
for your unfaithful and tepid priests;
for your priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields;
for your tempted priests;
for your lonely and desolate priests;
For your young priests;
for your dying priests;
for the souls of your priests in Purgatory.

But above all, I recommend to you the priests dearest to me:
the priest who baptized me;
the priests who absolved me from my sins;
the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Your Body and Blood in Holy Communion;
the priests who taught and instructed me;
all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way.

O Jesus, keep them all close to your heart,
and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity.

28 June 2010

New Zealand Volunteer Firefighter Receives Award for Designing Rescue Tool

Warren Lauder, Senior Station Officer, Otaki, New Zealand, Volunteer Fire Brigade has received a posthumous New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Award for an invention of his, the Karrak 3000, that expedites auto extrications.

Unlike the Jaws of Life and other equipment that tears cars apart, the Karrak 3000 frees trapped occupants by using chains and rams to lock a crushed vehicle into position and then slowly pulling it back to its original shape.

Media Reports (including a video demonstration):

Kapiti Observer: Otaki invention a national winner (17 JUN 10)

MediaWorks TV (NZ): Volunteer firefighter receives posthumous award (22 JUN 10)

27 June 2010

NFPA releases new fireworks video urging public to avoid consumer fireworks

Stressing the message that there is no safe way to use consumer fireworks, the National Fire Protection Association this past week released a new online video in advance of the Fourth of July holiday. “Every year fire departments and emergency rooms must respond to the devastating consequences of consumer fireworks,” said James M. Shannon, president of NFPA, in a prepared statement. “This video is a way to go directly to consumers with an important message to help prevent injuries and fires.”

Shannon said that the NFPA has had a longstanding position against the use of consumer fireworks, and the association urges consumers to attend professional displays of fireworks. NFPA established the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks in 2002 to further that message. This new production is the latest video aimed directly at the public. It depicts headlines of fireworks tragedies from across the country and lists all of the consumer fireworks that cause fires and/or injuries each year.

In the meantime, during the previous week, Rhode Island legalized the sale of non-aerial fireworks (like sparklers and fountain).

The Rhode Island State Fire Marshal's Office advises that the following fireworks are now legal: ground and hand-held sparkling devices (“sparklers”). This includes ground-based or hand-held devices that produce a shower of white, gold, or colored sparks as their primary pyrotechnic effect; additional effects may include a colored flame, an audible crackling effect, an audible whistle effect, and smoke. These devices do not rise into the air, do not fire inserts or projectiles into the air, and do not explode or produce a report (a mild audible crackling-type effect is not considered to be a report.) Ground-based or hand-held devices that produce a cloud of smoke as their sole pyrotechnic effect are also included in this category.

The bill did generate a bit of discussion - lawmakers were reported as saying that selling small fireworks could generate roughly a million dollars each year, but safety officials countered that the potential income was not worth the risk of additional injuries and property damage.

To view the NFPA video, visit:

NFPA: Exploding myths: The dangers of consumer fireworks.

Rhode Island's updated fireworks definitions:

RI State Fire Marshal: Rhode Island Fireworks Definitions (22 June 2010)

Additional information from NFPA on fireworks:

NFPA: Fireworks

Bridgeport, CT, Hit by Tornado

The National Weather Service has determined that an EF1 tornado tore through Bridgeport on Thursday (24 June). The tornado knocked down trees and power lines and heavily damaged several buildings as a powerful line of storms swept across parts of the Northeast. No serious injuries were reported.

Media Reports:

WTNH-TV: Massive clean-up underway after tornado (27 JUN 10)

Connecticut Post: FEMA tours Bridgeport's tornado damage (26 JUN 10)

WABC-TV: Nat'l Weather Service: EF1 tornado hit Bridgeport (26 JUN 10)

Connecticut Post: Tornado confirmed in Bridgeport (25 JUN 10)

New York Times: In Bridgeport, Conn., ‘Deep Sigh of Relief’ After Tornado (25 JUN 10)

New Haven Register: WILD WEATHER: Storm fells trees through Conn., confirmed tornado leaves destruction in Bridgepor (25 JUN 10)

NECN: Confirmed: Tornado touched down in Bridgeport (25 JUN 10)

NECN: 10 minute storm wreaks havoc in Bridgeport (25 JUN 10)

WTNH-TV: NWS confirms tornado hit Bridgeport (25 JUN 10)

CNN: Weather service confirms Connecticut storm was tornado (25 JUN 10)

Fireground Images (Keith Muratori): E. Main St. Tornado Damage (Bridgeport, CT) (24 JUN 10)

Fireground Images (Keith Muratori): BRIDGEPORT, CT - Building collapse at Knowlton and Congress due to possible tornado (24 JUN 10)

WABC-TV Photo Gallery: Strong storms in Conn. and on Long Island

Background Information:

City of Bridgeport Municipal Website

Wikipedia: Bridgeport, Connecticut

National Weather Service: Tornadoes . . . Nature's Most Violent Storms

National Weather Service: Thunderstorm Hazards - Tornadoes

Five Disciplines of Discipleship

A good reflection on today's Gospel reading:

"Five Disciplines of Discipleship, " by Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC):

"The first observation for this Sunday's Gospel is that it provides a kind of remedy for the sappy portraits of Jesus that seem to predominate today. Such portraits present Jesus as the quintessential 'nice guy' whose main task was to affirm people, befriend the poor and generally be 'nice.' It is a true fact that he did affirm, he befriended the poor and did have some nice things to say. But it is also true that Jesus is firm and uncompromising in setting forth conditions for discipleship. In today's Gospel Jesus is clear in his own resolve and demands the same from those will follow him. There are to be no excuses and no postponements. He wants a decision. He is clear as to what that decision must be and he is not willing  to wait for an answer tomorrow. This is no sappy or syrupy Jesus. He is serious and sets forth sober principles that he expects to be followed."

To continue reading Msgr. Pope's reflection, including the "Five Disciplines," visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Five Disciplines of Discipleship

26 June 2010

Saint Josemaria Escriva

Today the Church celebrates the memory of one of my favorite saints - Saint Josemaria Escriva. St. Josemaria is the founder of Opus Dei, a lay movement through which Catholics are encouraged to sanctify themselves through their (secular) work.

As a priest in the late 1920's, Fr. Escriva would talk about a universal call to holiness. While this is one thing the Church has always encouraged, it wasn't always put in those terms. Now one can often hear this term expressed.

I think one of the things that initially drew me to him was his outlook on the spirituality of work. He spoke and wrote about sanctifying work - working with the spirit of Jesus Christ, doing work well and ethically with the aim of loving God and serving others. In doing so, one sanctifies the world from within, making the Gospel present in all activities whether they be outstanding or humble and hidden. In the eyes of God, St. Josemaria would encourage, what matters is the love that is put into work, not its human success.

The spirit of Opus Dei focuses on the themes of Divine filiation (referring to the Christian being a child of God by virtue of baptism), ordinary life (“It is in the midst of the most material things of the earth, said St. Josemaria, "that we must sanctify ourselves, serving God and all mankind.”), sanctifying work, prayer and sacrifice, unity of life (as St. Josemaría explained: Christians should not live “a kind of double life. On the one hand, an interior life, a life of union with God; and on the other, a separate and distinct professional, social and family life. . . . There is just one life, made of flesh and spirit. And it is this life which has to become, in both soul and body, holy and filled with God.”), freedom (acting with freedom and personal responsibility, respecting the freedom and the opinions of others), and charity

Many years ago I used to participate in the monthly Opus Dei prayer meetings at St. Sebastian Church in Providence (there is another term for the gathering, but it escapes me at this time). It was a good time, prayerful and reflective. The men in the group were a great group, who collectively had their priorities straight. Unfortunately, I had to pull back from this because I was somewhat overcommitted, but I do appreciate being part of the group for the period of time I was there.

For move information about St. Josemaria, visit:

     Saint Josemaria Escriva

For move information about Opus Dei, visit:

     Opus Dei

23 June 2010

Earthquakes in New England

As demonstrated by the number of tremor reports from each of the six New England states today, earthquakes do occur in this area. This particular earthquake (magnitude - 5.0), although centered in Canada in the Ontario-Quebec border region, sent shockwaves throughout the region.

Most of the earthquakes that occur in this region are much smaller. Since the beginning of the year there have been eleven earthquakes centered within the region, with the largest of these being a magnitude 2.8 quake, which occurred almost nine miles south of Bangor, Maine, on 30 March. In addition, other earthquakes in Canada and New York have sent tremors into New England.

For more information:

New England Seismic Network

Weston Observatory: Why Does the Earth Quake in New England?

22 June 2010

Reminder: God Is in Control

Message (paraphrased) to me from a lady sitting at a picnic table in Providence's Memorial Park (along the Providence River) as I was walking by (she was reading a Bible, and spoke to me as I passed) : "God is making a path for you (meaning me) and guiding you through it. He is calling you to put your trust in Him."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

An interesting thing about this encounter (which is a strong example of the way the Lord guides the many threads that make up the beautiful tapestry He is working on - a tapestry we only occasionally get tiny glimpses of, but which will be revealed at the end of time): I was "guided" from the path I was walking to go past her.

I had some twenty minutes before my bus to East Providence was due, so I strolled from the Canal Street bus stop along the Providence River toward South Water Street. There is a boat landing at Memorial Park (the park that has the various war memorials), and this landing is set to go up and down as the water level rises and falls. I went down onto the landing to check out the low tide scenery up close.

My plan would have been to continue walking along the lower sidewalk (close to the river) after I left the boat landing. However, a rescue went over the College Street bridge, and the siren stopped shortly afterward. I altered my course and started ambling toward South Main Street. I had only gone a very short distance when I looked at my watch and reevaluated my decison - the time available was not enough to continue in that direction. I altered my course and headed toward South Water Street, this time on the upper sidewalk (near the memorials). This new route "happened to" bring me past the picnic table at which the older woman was sitting, and, for whatever reason, she was inspired to start speaking.

All in all, it was a strong reminder that God is in control of all that is going on in my life and in the lives of those around me.  Thank you, Lord!!!

Saint John Fisher

Today the Church celebrates the memory of Saint John Fisher (1469-1535). Martin Kochanski, founder of Universalis Publishing, has written a brief reflection on St. John:

"[Saint John Fisher] was born in Beverley, in Yorkshire, in 1469. He studied theology at the University of Cambridge, and had a successful career there, finally becoming chancellor of the University and bishop of Rochester: unusually for the time, he paid a great deal of attention to the welfare of his diocese.

"He wrote much against the errors and corruption into which the Church had fallen, and was a friend and supporter of great humanists such as Erasmus of Rotterdam; but he was greatly opposed to Lutheranism, both in its doctrine and in its ideas of reform.

"He supported the validity of King Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and for this he was briefly imprisoned. When the King had divorced Catherine, married Anne Boleyn, and constituted himself the supreme Head of the Church in England, John Fisher refused to assent. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London on a charge of treason, and on 22 June 1535, a month after having been made a Cardinal by the Pope, he was executed. He was so ill and weak that he had to be carried in a chair to the place of execution.

"He was the only bishop to oppose Henry VIII’s actions, on the grounds that they were a repudiation of papal authority, but even so he avoided direct confrontation with the other bishops, not holding himself up as a hero or boasting of his coming martyrdom: 'I condemn no other man’s conscience: their conscience may save them, and mine must save me.' We should remember, in all the controversies in which we engage, to treat our opponents as if they were acting in good faith, even if they seem to us to be acting out of spite or self-interest."

21 June 2010

Lightning Safety Week: 20-26 June

Yesterday, during a fast-moving thunderstorm, a 19-year old man in North Providence, RI, was struck by a lightning bolt. The young man, who was reportedly sitting on the steps of a treehouse when he was struck, was taken to Rhode Island Hospital with burns.

It just so happens that this week (20-26 June) is Lightning Safety Week, with the theme being “ When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!”

Although summer is the peak season for lightning, it does strike year round. Lightning is a serious danger. Throughout the U.S. so far this year, there have been eight people struck and killed by lightning (including one in Bridgeport, CT, who was struck on 8 May while fishing on a jetty).

For more information on lightning safety and on Lightning Safety Week (including a link to a PSA interview with a teenager struck by lightning), visit:

     National Weather Service: Lightning Safety

Texting while driving: Adults are just as bad as teens, study finds

From the Christian Science Monitor: Texting while driving is just as common among adults as it is among teens, a new study has found. What's more, adults are more likely to talk on the phone while driving.

For the full article, visit:

     CSM: Texting while driving: Adults are just as bad as teens, study finds

For the study, visit:

     Pew Research Center: Adults Text While Driving Too!

Light One Candle: Let’s Be Civil

Let’s Be Civil

by Stephanie Raha, Editor-in-Chief of The Christophers

June 21, 2010

Is civility too old-fashioned for the 21st century? Are good manners out of date?

Of course not. Now is exactly when we need to adopt the thoughtful behavior that Mom tried to teach us, even though we pretended not to hear. Today, there are almost seven billion people on this earth of ours; more than 310 million in the United States alone. Living on top of one another the way we do, we need to make all our lives run a little more smoothly together – and not merely focus on ourselves.

“We are more and more concerned with our own pursuit of personal goals,” says Pier Forni, founder of The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins University. “As we engage in a mad rush for the attainment of our personal goals, we don’t seem to have the time or see the point of slowing down for the purpose of being kind to others.”

When you mention manners to most people, they tend to think of everyday forms of etiquette, such as holding a door open for someone or shaking hands with a person to whom you’ve just been introduced. That’s only part of it, but kindness, respect and consideration make up the essence of courtesy. And, generally speaking, the more civil you are to others, the more they will respond in kind. That being said, you can’t count on a courtesy quid pro quo. Still, when you rein in your own temper and other bad behavior, the likelier you are to bring out the best in others – and to feel better about yourself.

That’s what Holly Robinson of Massachusetts discovered. Recently she wrote in Ladies Home Journal about what she called her “politeness project.”  After a particularly aggravating day, when one person after another seemed determined to either ignore her or walk all over her, Robinson said she thought about her grandmother, who insisted that “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” That’s when she decided to spend a full week attempting to “disarm with charm” everyone who forgot their manners around her.     

She started by asking a grumpy clerk at the post office about the photos of a dog taped to the wall next to her. In reply, Robinson learned that the pooch had been rescued from Hurricane Katrina – and got a big smile from the clerk. And so it went through the week. She remained polite to a mechanic when he admitted he hadn’t even started to fix her car after it had been promised to her. She sympathized with a coworker who was upset that nobody had read his report. She thanked a telemarketer who called at dinnertime for raising funds for an important cause. Not only did Robinson surprise other people with her graciousness, but they often imitated her and reciprocated.

In each case, it was clear that Holly Robinson made an effort to see the other folks as unique individuals and to treat them with all the kindness and respect she would have wanted for herself. She probably brightened their day. She certainly improved her own outlook.

The number of people living on God’s Good Earth will only increase, so we might as well get along. Let’s start by realizing that the Golden Rule isn’t out of date after all: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

(This essay is this 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.)

20 June 2010

Salesian Perspective: “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord, My God”

Today's Psalm response is “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord, My God” (from Psalm 63:2).

In today's "Sundays Salesian" perspective, Fr. Michael S. Murray, OSFS (Executive Director of the De Sales Spirituality Center), writes:

"What does it mean to 'thirst for God'?

    * To desire to be close to God.
    * To desire to know God.
    * To desire to walk with God here on earth.
    * To desire to live with God forever in heaven.

"Our desire for union with God must be expressed by our efforts to be in union with each other. It is not enough to be with God. We must also act like God, perhaps best described by the Beatitude: 'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst to see right prevail; they shall be satisfied.'

"William Barclay suggests that this hunger – this thirst - is the hunger of those who are starving, the thirst of one who will die without drink. This raises the question: how deeply do we want/desire righteousness? Of all the things about which/for which we hunger, how close to the top of the list is a desire to see right prevail?

"Those who have this desire may not necessarily see it come to fulfillment on this earth. This is not a perfect world – we are not perfect people – therefore, it should not surprise or shock us that we still have a long way to go in making righteousness a reality in the lives of all people. Still, blessedness comes to those who, in spite of failings and failures, still cling to the hunger and thirst for what is right and just…and struggle to make it real in their own little corners of the world.

"Francis de Sales once wrote: 'I see you have a debt…never withhold from others anything that belongs to them.' (Stopp, Letters, p. 69) To hunger and thirst for God righteousness means that we must be righteous: we strive to fulfill our debts to others. Which, of course, begs the question: For what am I indebted to others? What do I owe other people?

    * Respect.
    * Reverence.
    * Courtesy.
    * Patience.
    * Honesty.
    * Truthfulness.
    * Generosity.

"To hunger for God – to thirst for God – requires (among other things) that we act like God: that we strive to treat others with the same respect, reverence, courtesy, patience, honesty, truthfulness and generosity with which God treats us.

"How hungry – and thirsty – are we?"

19 June 2010

Potential for DeepWater Horizon Spill Oil to Impact New England Coastal Waters

Ever since the DeepWater Horizon blowout, there has been speculation about where the oil would go. Some concerns have been raised about the oil reaching Atlantic coastal areas including New England's coastal waters.

Recently the National Center for Atmospheric Research released simulations of the spill. Dr. Malcolm L. Spaulding, Professor of Ocean Engineering at the University of Rhode Island and President of the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems, prepared a summary of the findings and indicated that chances of oil impacting New England coastal waters appear to be very remote. However, he cautioned that a formal risk assessment would help fully address this concern.

For a fuller look at Dr. Saulding’s assessment, please visit:

NERACOOS: Potential for DeepWater Horizon Spill Oil to Impact New England Coastal Waters

15 June 2010

Santa Serves Homeless Year 'Round

Santa Serves Homeless Year 'Round

by Gerald M. Costello, The Christophers

June 14, 2010

It’s entirely fitting that Edward Stoops looks like Santa Claus, because he happens to be a giver of gifts the year around.  One night a week, for the last 20 years or so, almost as if he had his own never-ending bag of toys, he’s managed to feed 200 of Baltimore’s homeless people.  And he has no intention of stopping now.

“Yo, Santa!” one of his diners called out to him one night not long ago.  “We love you, Santa!  God bless you!”

At 75 years, Deacon Ed Stoops looks the part of Good St. Nick.  Sporting a full white beard and carrying a somewhat rotund physique, all Stoops lacks is the red suit and shiny black boots.  He’s already got the generous heart.

Reporter George Matysek, Jr. told Stoops’ story in a recent issue of The Catholic Review, Baltimore’s archdiocesan newspaper, in which the Santa Claus look-alike and his wife, Francine, unapologetically described their feeding operation as totally uncoordinated.  Volunteers just show up, Francine said, and somehow the work gets done.

And it’s deeply appreciated.  Listen to Jay Speller, a 52-year-old homeless Baltimorean who called the weekly dinner a blessing: “The Lord provides this for us through them.  They really are two of the most beautiful people you’d ever meet.”

Their project started back in the winter of 1991, when their daughter Kate started collecting blankets for the homeless in response to a televised appeal.  Told that the blankets wouldn’t be distributed for another day despite the biting cold, Kate handed them out herself that night, directly to those who needed them.  The homeless not only told her how much they appreciated them, but also wondered if she could find them something to eat.  That’s when parents Ed and Francine rolled up their sleeves and went to work.  They’ve barely looked back since.

At first the volunteers were the Stoops’ neighbors and fellow parishioners.  Now they come from all over – other parishes, schools, what have you – to a hall in downtown Baltimore where the meals are cooked and served.  And as Francine said, the planning can be touch-and-go; some nights there are only 15 workers and on others the number might top 40.  But if the menu on the night that the Review paid its visit is at all typical, the chefs manage to offer quite a variety of food – lasagna, hard-boiled eggs, coleslaw, fruit salad, pulled pork, baked potatoes, collard greens, cakes and pies.  Anyone who wants to take something along can do that, too; there are sandwiches, bananas, granola bars and more.

“When I’m here, it’s the highlight of my week,” Francine said.  “Our life is built around this.  It’s the most wonderful thing to be able to do this.”

The love that goes into the meals, and the way that formerly homeless clients come back to help Ed and Francine help others, inspired reporter Matysek to observe:  “It goes beyond just having a meal.  The Stoopses have sparked hope and, for many, a profound new life.”

Whether the menu is fancy or not, Ed Stoops will continue to play Santa for those he and his wife help out, along with their friends and other volunteers.  “When you’re serving the poor,” he said, “you’re very clearly serving Jesus Christ.  And Jesus loves chili dogs!”

(This essay is this week's "Light One Candle" column, written by Gerald M. Costello, of The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.)

P.S. The Washington Post ran a related article a few years ago:

     Washington Post: Opening Doors, Hearts to the Needy

Carthusian Monks

On Saturday evening, Myrna and I watched "Into Great Silence" on EWTN. This was a three-hour presentation on a Carthusian monastery in France.

"Into Great Silence" is a documentary on the spirituality of Carthusian monks, and it showed various aspects of their day to day life, including their silence and their contemplation. It was filmed (without narration and very little dialogue) at the Monastery of the Grand Chartreuse in France.

It just so happens there is a Carthusian monastery in Arlington, (southern) Vermont: the Charterhouse of the Transfiguration (which is the only Carthusian monastery in North America)

This monastery has a website (which includes a bit about Carthusian spirituality):

     Charterhouse of the Transfiguration

14 June 2010

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

On this date in 1936, G(ilbert) K(eith) Chesterton passed away. G. K. Chesterton was a journalist, scholar, novelist and short story writer (including a series of detective stories featuring the priest-detective, Father Brown), poet, philosopher, and Christian apologetic.

From today's Universalis website:

"On this day in 1936 died G.K. Chesterton, writer and journalist. His writings – stories, essays, poems, books, journalism – are infused with an unequalled joy and love of truth.

"In youth, he went through a crisis of nihilistic pessimism and it was his recovery from this that led him to God and ultimately to conversion. 'The Devil made me a Catholic,' he said – meaning that it was the experience of evil and nothingness that convinced him of the goodness and sanity of the world and his creator. His poem 'The Ballade of a Suicide' celebrates the salvific value of ordinary things; his novel, 'The Man who was Thursday,' narrates the fight for sanity in an insane world and ponders the paradox of God; and 'Orthodoxy,' written long before he became a Catholic, highlights orthodoxy not as a dead and static thing but as the only possible point of equilibrium between crazy heresies any one of which would drive us mad.

"He took part in all the major controversies of his age, and was a lifelong adversary and friend of socialists and atheists such as George Bernard Shaw. These controversies were conducted with passion but with unfailing charity: he never sought to defeat his opponents, only to defeat their ideas. He would never cheat to score a point: and his love for the people he fought against is something that all controversialists should imitate, however hard it may be."

Some quotes from Chesterton:

"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered."

"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it."

"Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision."

"To hurry through one's leisure is the most unbusiness-like of actions."

"Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God."

"America is the only country ever founded on a creed."

"The Declaration of Independence dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God created all men equal; and it is right; for if they were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal. There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man."

"It is hard to make government representative when it is also remote."

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."

"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own."

"All science, even the divine science, is a sublime detective story. Only it is not set to detect why a man is dead; but the darker secret of why he is alive."

For more information:

American Chesterton Society:
     American Chesterton Society
(Note: Dale Ahlquist is president of the American Chesterton Society, and he is the host of "G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense," which can be seen on EWTN)

Martin Ward: G. K. Chesterton (including a brief biography and links to many of his works):
      Martin Ward: G. K. Chesterton

13 June 2010

Andy Warhol, Catholic

As a pop art pioneer, Andy Warhol blazed his way to fame with trademark Brillo soap pad boxes and silk-screens of Campbell's Soup cans.

But a new museum exhibit shows pop art was just a seven-year phase for Warhol in the 1960s, before his 1980s plunge into abstract art and Christian imagery, particularly his versions of "The Last Supper."

Flippant, brazen and flamboyant as an art world personality, Warhol long kept private his devout, lifelong Catholicism.

For the complete article from Reuters, visit:

     Reuters: Show unveils Andy Warhol's Catholic, abstract side

For more information about the exhibit, visit:

     Brooklyn Museum: Exhibitions: Andy Warhol: The Last Decade

Saint Francis De Sales Quote for Reflection

Today's "Daily with De Sales" reflection from the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales:

"Complain as little as possible about the wrongs you suffer; the one who complains usually commits a sin. Self-love feels that injuries are worse than they really are. Above all, do not complain to irascible or fault-finding people. If you feel it necessary to complain to someone, do so to those who are even-tempered and who really love God. Otherwise you will find that those to whom you complain upset you still more, instead of calming you."

How do I measure up to this standard? I usually try not to complain about anything. One thing I have been working on - when an annoyance pops up, I try to just calmly accept it. I see progress, but I have a ways to go. There are some things, involving other people, that I may be in a position to correct. I think I need to be more proactive in this regard.

12 June 2010

Flag Day

Monday will be Flag Day, which marks the anniversary of the adoption by Congress of the Stars and Stripes as emblem of the nation (in 1777).

I offer a few reflections as we approach this year's observance:

"I am the Flag"
by Ruth Apperson Rous

I am the flag of the United States of America.

I was born on June 14, 1777, in Philadelphia.

There the Continental Congress adopted my stars and stripes as the national flag.

My thirteen stripes alternating red and white, with a union of thirteen white stars in a field of blue, represented a new constellation, a new nation dedicated to the personal and religious liberty of mankind.

Today fifty stars signal from my union, one for each of the fifty sovereign states in the greatest constitutional republic the world has ever known.

My colors symbolize the patriotic ideals and spiritual qualities of the citizens of my country.

My red stripes proclaim the fearless courage and integrity of American men and boys and the self-sacrifice and devotion of American mothers and daughters.

My white stripes stand for liberty and equality for all.

My blue is the blue of heaven, loyalty, and faith.

I represent these eternal principles: liberty, justice, and humanity.

I embody American freedom: freedom of speech, religion, assembly, the press, and the sanctity of the home.

I typify that indomitable spirit of determination brought to my land by Christopher Columbus and by all my forefathers - the Pilgrims, Puritans, settlers at James town and Plymouth.

I am as old as my nation.

I am a living symbol of my nation's law: the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.

I voice Abraham Lincoln's philosophy: "A government of the people, by the people,for the people."

I stand guard over my nation's schools, the seedbed of good citizenship and true patriotism.

I am displayed in every schoolroom throughout my nation; every schoolyard has a flag pole for my display.

Daily thousands upon thousands of boys and girls pledge their allegiance to me and my country.

I have my own law - Public Law 829, "The Flag Code" - which definitely states my correct use and display for all occasions and situations.

I have my special day, Flag Day. June 14 is set aside to honor my birth.

Americans, I am the sacred emblem of your country. I symbolize your birthright, your heritage of liberty purchased with blood and sorrow.

I am your title deed of freedom, which is yours to enjoy and hold in trust for posterity.

If you fail to keep this sacred trust inviolate, if I am nullified and destroyed, you and your children will become slaves to dictators and despots.

Eternal vigilance is your price of freedom.

As you see me silhouetted against the peaceful skies of my country, remind yourself that I am the flag of your country, that I stand for what you are - no more, no less.

Guard me well, lest your freedom perish from the earth.

Dedicate your lives to those principles for which I stand: "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

I was created in freedom. I made my first appearance in a battle for human liberty.

God grant that I may spend eternity in my "land of the free and the home of the brave" and that I shall ever be known as "Old Glory," the flag of the United States of America.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Ragged Old Flag," performed by Johnny Cash:

     Johnny Cash: "Ragged Old Flag"

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Red Skelton's commentary on the Pledge of Allegiance:

     Red Skelton's on the Pledge of Allegiance

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As part of this region's observance of Flag Day, a long-running tradition will continue in Quincy, MA. The 59th annual Quincy Flag Day Parade and Celebration, the longest-running Flag Day parade in the nation, will be held this evening. The parade will step-off from Coddington Street at 7:00 PM and make its approximate 1.5 mile march through the city, disbanding at Pageant Field (where it will be followed by a fireworks display at approximately 9:15 PM).The parade roster includes bands and other representations from various civic and other community groups, as well as over 1,500 flag-waving young people representing various youth organizations throughout the city (it's an opportunity for any young child in the city to wave a flag and march in the parade).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Background Information:

     The History Of Flag Day

11 June 2010

The Empire State Building and Other Public Works

Dennis Vecchiarino recently sent me a slide show about the building of the Empire State Building:

Empire State Building 1930

There are a number of public works throughout this area that were constructed in the era of the Works Progress Administration, which employed  millions of people during the Great Depression to carry out a variety of public works projects, including the construction of public buildings, roads, and sidewalks. For example, throughout this area there are a number of sidewalks that were built by WPA during the late 1930's.

For the most part, unless they were affected by construction or other events, these sidewalks are still in good condition - some seventy (plus) years later. The quality of the work seems much higher in work done during that time period than work done during the present - which leads to the question: Why?

There are a number of different possibilities. Economics is, I suspect, a significant factor. Materials that last tend to cost more, and taking time to do things well also adds to the labor cost factor. Many times our governments (local, state, and Federal) are more concerned with the current budget rather than a long range overview.

I've also heard the suggestion that the work is done with planned obsolescence in order to continue to provide employment for construction workers. I don't know that this is true for the construction industry, but it is a concept known in other industries.

Many people are concerned about today's work ethic, and, in many ways it does seem that many of today's workers do not have the same work ethic as before (although many in the construction trade do take pride in their work). Are "restrictive" union rules, although set up with good intent, a factor? Maybe, but, as a whole, the safety rules seem to be good ones.

I don't know what the answer is. The are many different possible factors, and I suspect it the answer is a mixture of these as well of others I have not begun to think of.

I do remember by own experience during a couple of summers while I was a student at Providence College. During these summers I worked as a general laborer for P. J. Delahunty, Inc., a construction firm in Southington, Connecticut. It was a great outfit to work for, a company that did excellent work, quality work, work designed to last. The work was truly done with a "standard of excellence" (to use a term employed by business author Tom Peters).

The boss, Pat Delahunty, was a good man, but exacting in his standards, and he had good, dedicated people working for him. Pat, his son, P.J., and brother, Ed, who ran the company with him, all were encouraging and set a good example themselves. It was not a union shop, but we were treated well. We worked hard, and we had a sense of pride in our work (and had a bit of fun as well). It was a very good experience that I am still grateful for.

Background information:

Empire State Building, New York, NY

Economic History Association: The Works Progress Administration

Wikipedia: Works Progress Administration

Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives: Works Progress Administration Historical Records, Documents Archive

"Abide with Me" on Bagpipes

A meditative piece: Mystic Aire plays "Abide with Me," while ocean pictures are shown with lyrics:

     Mystic Aire: "Abide with Me"

10 June 2010

A generation of poorly prepared students?

In a recent commentary, Earl C. Rickman III (National School Boards Association president and president of Mount Clemens, MI, Community School District Board of Education) reflected on the difficult challenges facing communities/school districts as they craft education budgets. “This year,” he noted, “ any cuts we make will impact classroom instruction and, ultimately, academic achievement.”

Mr. Rickman continued, “Whether we ask our most experienced teachers to retire or let go of some of our young, bright, most enthusiastic teachers, our children will suffer. Their classes will become more crowded, and courses such as advanced placement, art, band, orchestra and vocational training are most likely to be eliminated.

“The teachers who remain will have less time for individualized instruction and their own professional development – both of which are central to closing achievement gaps and preparing our students for college and careers. These severe budget cuts come at a time when our economy is demanding more 21st Century skills and a postsecondary education to achieve and sustain a globally competitive workforce and individuals’ quality of life.”

To read the rest of this commentary, please visit:

     Earl C. Rickman III : A generation of poorly prepared students?

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards: Abide With Me

As a few people know, I love bagpipes. Here are the the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards playing "Abide With Me" (this is from a recent album of theirs, Spirit Of The Glen - Journey):

     The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards: Abide With Me

09 June 2010

Bishops Discuss Role of Catholic Media with Those Who Practice It

At the recently concluded 2010 Catholic Media Convention, a panel of bishops met with Catholic media professionals to discuss the bishops' expectations of the Catholic media's role in the church and what those media organizations expect of the bishops.

For a Catholic News Service article on this meeting, visit:

Fr. Michael Najim: Peaks and Valleys

In the latest post in his blog, Live Holiness, Father Michael Najim (Diocese of Providence Vocation Director and a formator at the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence) reflects on the rhythm of life:

     Fr. Michael Najim: Peaks and Valleys

08 June 2010

Tornadoes in New England

The recent spate of tornadoes and tornado warnings has helped people in New England focus on this phenomenon of nature. Many people think of tornadoes occurring primarily in the Midwest and in the South. However, New England does have its share.

Tornadoes were recorded in the colonies dating back to the 1600's. In modern times, from 1 January 1950 through 28 February 2010, 493 tornadoes were reported in New England (CT-87, ME-109, MA-155, NH-91, RI-10, VT-41). Of these, the most severe (and the worst tornado to ever hit New England) was the F4 tornado that struck the area of Worcester, MA, on 6 June 1953 - 90 people killed, 1228 others injured, and $250,000,000 in property damage (in 1953 dollars).

Media Reports from this weekend:

     NECN: Weekend weather wrapup: Tornadoes, thunderstorm (7 JUN 10)

     WMUR-TV: Saturday Storm Produced EF1 Tornado (7 JUN 10)

     Sun Journal: Witnesses believe tornado hit Auburn, Minot and Hebron (6 JUN 10)

Tornadoes in the past:

     Tornadoes in New England (Jan 50-Feb10)

     National Weather Service: The Worcester Tornado of 1953

     The Weather Doctor: The Worcester Tornado of 1953

     Wikipedia: Windsor (+), CT, Tornado, 3 OCT 1979

     Weather Channel Blog: Record New England Tornado ( 1 AUG 08)

     Wikipedia: Connecticut Tornadoes

     Wikipedia: Rhode Island Tornadoes

     Wikipedia: Four-State Tornado Swarm (1787)

Background Information:

     National Weather Service: Tornadoes

     National Weather Service: Thunderstorm Hazards - Tornadoes

     National Weather Service: Preparedness Guide for Tornadoes (+)

06 June 2010

Words of Grace and Thanks

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

June 6, 2010

Words of Grace and Thanks

When you were a child did you say grace before eating? Many people still do, although, perhaps because we have fewer family meals together these days, the custom seems to be waning.

Still, whether our words are spontaneous or learned long ago, such as "Bless us, O Lord, and these Your gifts . . ." there’s value in them. It's an opportunity to thank God for His blessings, to recall ourselves to His presence, and to acknowledge our relationship with our brothers and sisters and all creation.

Writer G. K. Chesterton went even further: "You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera . . . and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink."

We might try doing the same, by taking a brief time-out for God before our various daily activities.

"Seven times a day I praise You for Your righteous ordinances." (Psalm 119:164)

Prayer: Remind me to recall myself to Your loving presence frequently throughout the day, Heavenly Father.

For more information:

     The Christophers

     G. K. Chesterton

05 June 2010

Msgr. Charles Pope: "What Do you Expect From Holy Communion?"

"Some people put more faith in Tylenol than they do in Holy Communion. That’s because when they take Tylenol they expect something to happen. But many people don’t really expect anything to happen when they receive Holy Communion."

In a short piece entitled "What Do you Expect From Holy Communion?" (and related to this weekend's celebration of Corpus Christi, The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ), Monsignor Charles Pope, pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish in Washington, DC, comments on the expectations (or lack thereof) of many Catholics as they participate in the Sacraments and in the liturgy:

     Msgr. Charles Pope: What Do you Expect From Holy Communion?

Tornado Confirmed Near Shin Pond, Maine

The National Weather Service office in Caribou Maine has confirmed a tornado near Shin Pond in Mount Chase (Penobscot County), Maine on Wednesday, 2 June.

After viewing the damage, damage orientation, and examining Doppler Radar data during the event, the National Weather Service storm survey team concluded that the damage was caused by an EF0 (zero) tornado. Due to the fact that the majority of damage occurred above the ground surface the survey team also concluded that the tornado circulation likely remained just off the ground and impacted the taller trees found throughout the are.

For more information, visit:

National Weather Service, Caribou (ME): Tornado Confirmed Near Shin Pond

04 June 2010

National Governors Association and State Education Chiefs Launch Common State Academic Standards

Earlier this week, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers released a set of state-led education standards, the Common Core State Standards. The English-language arts and mathematics standards for grades K-12 were developed in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders including content experts, states, teachers, school administrators and parents. The standards establish clear and consistent goals for learning that will prepare America’s children for success in college and work.

The release of the standards marked the conclusion of the development of the Common Core State Standards and signaled the start of the adoption and implementation process by the states. The year-long process was led by governors and chief state school officers in 48 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia. The final standards were informed by nearly 10,000 public comments and by standards in other top performing countries so that all students are prepared to succeed in the global economy.

The standards were designed to define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school fully prepared for college and careers. The standards are designed to:

be aligned with college and work expectations;
be clear, understandable and consistent;
include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
be informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
be evidence- and research-based.

In the coming months, each state will be encouraged to follow its own procedures and processes for adoption of the Common Core State Standards. The NGA Center and the Council of Chief State School Officers recognize that meaningful and effective implementation of the Common Core State Standards is critical to achieving these goals. To that end, the two organizations are planning to continue working closely with a range of partners to best support states and districts as they move from adoption to implementation.

To access the Common Core State Standards, visit:

     Common Core State Standards

The Lord Sees Our Thoughts and the Intentions of Our Hearts

A reflection from today's Office of Readings:

A treatise of Bishop Baldwin of Canterbury (?-1190)

"The Lord knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Without a doubt, every one of them is known to him, while we know only those which he lets us read by the grace of discernment. The spirit of man does not know all that is in man, nor all of the thoughts which he has, willingly or unwillingly. Man does not always perceive his thoughts as they really are. Having clouded vision, he does not discern them clearly with his mind’s eye.

"Often under the guise of devotion a suggestion occurs to our mind - coming from our own thoughts or from another person or from the tempter - and in God’s eyes we do not deserve any reward for our virtue. For there are certain imitations of true virtues as also of vices which play tricks with the heart and bedazzle the mind’s vision. As a result, the appearance of goodness often seems to be in something which is evil, and equally the appearance of evil seems to be in something good. This is part of our wretchedness and ignorance, causing us anguish and anxiety.

"It has been written: There are paths which seem to man to be right, but which in the end lead him to hell. To avoid this peril, Saint John gives us these words of advice: Test the spirits to see if they are from God. Now no one can test the spirits to see if they are from God unless God has given him discernment of spirits to enable him to investigate spiritual thoughts, inclinations and intentions with honest and true judgment. Discernment is the mother of all the virtues; everyone needs it either to guide the lives of others or to direct and reform his own life.

"In the sphere of action, a right thought is one ruled by the will of God, and intentions are holy when directed single-mindedly toward him. In a word, we could see clearly through any action of ours, or into our entire lives, if we had a simple eye. A simple eye is an eye, and it is simple. This means that we see by right thinking what is to be done, and by our good intention we carry it out with simple honesty, because deceitful action is wrong. Right thinking does not permit mistakes; a good intention rules out pretense. This then is true discernment, a combination of right thinking and good intention.

"Therefore, we must do all our actions in the light of discernment as if in God and in his presence."

Reflection Starter: Ephesians 4:29-32

The reading from the Morning Prayer in today's Liturgy of the Hours:

"Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." - Ephesians 4:29-32

Challenging words indeed. How do I live up to them each day?

Facing the Challenges to Faith in Christ Today: The Dominican Way

In a talk delivered Wednesday (2 June) before a audience of nearly 300 in New York, Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, O.P., Secretary of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, went to the heart of key contemporary arguments against the Catholic faith and countered them with the best of Church thinking.

For this blog post by Fr. Dominic Izzo, O.P., including a link to a full transcript of the talk, visit:

Fr. Dominic Izzo, O.P.: Facing the Challenges to Faith in Christ Today: The Dominican Way

Norwich, CT, Native New Coast Guard Commandant

Robert J. Papp, Jr., a native of Norwich, CT, has been appointed Commandant of the United States Coast Guard. His first major challenge - national incident commander for the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

For more information, visit:

     Norwich Bulletin: Norwich native’s 1st task: Guide Coast Guard through catastrophe

     U.S. Coast Guard Deepwater Horizon Response

     United States Coast Guard

Johnny Cash on The Muppets Show : "Ghostriders in the Sky:

A presentation by Johnny Cash and the Muppets of "Ghost Riders in the Sky"

   Johnny Cash & The Muppets Show : "Ghostriders in the Sky"

03 June 2010

The Legacy of Father Hennessey

The Legacy of Father Hennessey

by Gerald M. Costello, The Christophers

May 31, 2010

We've all met people who find it hard to take no for an answer, but few of them are in a league with Father James Hennessy.  About 75 years ago, this young Boston priest had what seemed like a crazy dream at the time, and to make it come true he needed the approval of someone whose word was usually accepted without question.  When Father Hennessy didn't get the answer he was looking for, he went back again and again - until finally, perhaps out of sheer desperation, the legendary William Cardinal O'Connell said yes.  That word would lead to a missionary career for Father Hennessy, and, eventually, his death at the hands of the Japanese in World War II.  But it also gained him a pioneering role in the life of the Church, and made a lasting difference for men and women beyond number.

The little-known and fascinating story of Father Hennessy came to my attention in a report by Jim Lockwood that appeared in The Pilot, Boston’s archdiocesan newspaper.  Father Hennessy, ordained for the archdiocese in 1930, had had a couple of parish assignments when a few years later a radical idea struck him: why not become a missionary?  The role was one unheard of for a diocesan priest at the time, and that was precisely the reaction of Cardinal O’Connell when Father Hennessy's request came across his desk.  Strict and forbidding, the cardinal silently wondered about the priest's sanity and dismissed his petition out of hand.

No problem, Father Hennessy thought; I'll try again - and so he did.  Again the cardinal had a quick answer, and again it was no.  Could Father Hennessy ask the same question a third time?  He sure could, and did.  And this time, at last, Cardinal O'Connell said yes.  The cardinal accompanied his "yes" with a mysterious aside, commenting that the move could be a "blessing."  Whether he meant that the mission work would be a blessing, or that it would be a blessing to get rid of Father Hennessy, no one ever knew.  Nor did Father Hennessy care; he had what he wanted.
he priest in charge of the archdiocesan mission office had told him that he would be posted to whatever land was represented by the first missionary bishop to stop by, and that bishop happened to be from the Solomon Islands.  And that was where, in the late 1930s, Father Hennessy went, throwing himself into the work and endearing himself to the islanders. He even managed to build a seminary, the first of its kind in the Pacific.  Barely into his second five-year term, his work was interrupted when the U.S. and Japan entered World War II and he was taken prisoner - and later killed - by the Japanese.  "He died for the faith," said Msgr. Andrew Connell, former head of Boston's mission office, "because that was the reason he was there, which I think would constitute him as a true martyr of the faith."

Father Hennessy's legacy didn’t stop there.  The priest who led the mission office when Father Hennessy began his work was Father Richard Cushing - later the Cardinal-Archbishop of Boston and the founder of the St. James Society, the organization that sends Boston archdiocesan priests to overseas mission assignments.  Father Hennessy not only pioneered the work; he was the model for all the St. James priests who would follow.  And it all began because he wouldn't take no for an answer.

(This essay is this week's "Light One Candle" column, written by Gerald M. Costello, of The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.)

For more information about The Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle, visit:

     The Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle

02 June 2010

Community College Instructor Guides Students in Examining the Running/Overseeing of Local Police

After hearing some one-sided opinions from his students about recent problems in the Rutland Police Department, Community College of Vermont instructor Guy Paradee (who teaches an American Judicial Process class) challenged his students to walk a mile in the shoes of those responsible for running and overseeing the police, the Rutland, VT, Herald reports.

This challenge was the result of an early semester news story that said state police were investigating a city police sergeant for illegally downloading suspected child pornography - a suspicion that proved unfounded.

All of the students reportedly had negative reactions, but Paradee (a former Rutland detective lieutenant who comes from a family tradition in law enforcement) believed the students' assumptions seemed ill informed. This led to his coming up with an assignment that would guide the course of instruction for the rest of the semester.

For the rest of the story, visit:

     Rutland Herald: Class examines Rutland police

NFPA: Electrical Fires Continue to be a Leading Cause of Home Fires

Electrical fires continue to be a leading cause of home fires, according to a new report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Released during National Electrical Safety Month (May), the report is designed to be a reminder for the public not to forget about electrical safety and to adhere to safety tips to help reduce the risk of home electrical fires.

According to the report, in 2007, electrical failure or malfunction was a factor contributing to ignition in an estimated 51,800 reported home structure fires. Of the 2003-2007 home electrical fires, 46 percent involved some type of electrical distribution or lighting equipment. Other leading types of equipment involved in the ignition of electrical fires were washers and dryers, fans, air conditioning equipment, space heaters, water heaters, and ranges.

NFPA offers the following safety tips on electrical safety:
  • Work on home electrical distribution or lighting equipment should only be conducted by someone qualified as an electrician.
  • When buying, selling, or remodeling a home, have it inspected by a professional electrician.
  • Keep lamps, light fixtures, and light bulbs away from anything that can burn, including lamp shades, furniture, bedding, curtains, clothing, and flammable or combustible gases and liquids.
  • Major appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, etc., should be plugged directly into a wall outlet.  Never use an extension cord.
  • Replace cracked, damaged, and loose electrical cords.
  • Extension cords are for temporary use only.  Have a licensed electrician determine if additional circuits or outlets are needed.
  • Consider having a qualified electrician install arc fault circuit interrupters in your home. This is a type of circuit breaker that shuts off electricity when a dangerous condition occurs.
To learn more about electrical safety, visit:

     NFPA: Electrical Safety Awareness

To access the report, Home Electrical Fires, go to:

     NFPA: Home Electrical Fires

Meditation Starter: A Reflection on Job by Pope Saint Gregory the Great

In today's Office of Readings, there is a reflection on Job by Pope Saint Gregory the Great  (using Job 33:1 as a starting point):

Sound teaching avoids pride

'Now, Job, listen to my words, and attend to all I have to say.' It is characteristic of the way that arrogant people teach, that they do not know how to convey their knowledge humbly and cannot express straightforward truths straightforwardly. When they teach, it is clear from their words that they are placing themselves on a pinnacle and looking down on their pupils somewhere in the depths – pupils unworthy to be informed and scarcely even worth the bother of dominating.

"The Lord rightly admonished such people through the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel, saying 'You have ruled your flock cruelly and with violence.' For they rule with cruelty and violence when they do not try to correct those under them with rational arguments but try to dominate them and crush them.

"On the other hand, sound teaching is eager to avoid this sin of pride manifested in thought: just as eager as it is to attack with words the teacher of pride himself. Sound teaching does not promote him by imitating his arrogance but uses pious words to attack him in its hearers’ hearts. Instead it promotes humility, the mother and teacher of all virtues. It preaches humility in words and manifests humility in its actions. It commends humility to its pupils more by conduct than by speech.

"This is why Paul seems to have forgotten his exalted status as an apostle when writing to the Thessalonians: 'We were babes among you'. So also Peter: 'Always have your answer ready for people who ask the reason for the hope you all have,' adding, to emphasize that the teaching must be presented in the proper way, 'But give it with respect and with a clear conscience.'

"When Paul says to Timothy "Command these things and teach them with all authority,' he is not calling for a domination born of power but an authority that comes from a way of life. 'Teaching with authority' here means living something first before preaching it; for when speech is impeded by conscience, the hearer will find it harder to trust what is being taught. So Paul is not commending the power of proud and exalted words, but the trustworthiness that comes from good behaviour. This, indeed, is why it is said of the Lord, 'Unlike the scribes and pharisees, he taught them with authority.' He alone spoke with unique authority because he had never, through weakness, done evil. What he had from the power of his divinity, he taught to us through the innocence of his humanity."

Major Fire Heavily Damages Vacant Bank Building in Barre City, VT

The Aldrich Block, a three-story brick vacant bank building at the corner of North Main and Elm Streets in downtown Barre City, VT, was heavily damaged in a fire on Memorial Day.

The city department was assisted by companies from Barre Town, Berlin, Brookfield, East Montpelier, East Randolph, Montpelier, Northfield, Plainfield, Washington, Waterbury, Williamstown, and Woodbury.

Media Reports: 

WCAX-TV: Fire in downtown Barre (31 MAY 10)

Background Information:

01 June 2010

STOP Sports Injuries Campaign Strives to Help Prevent Athletic Overuse and Trauma Injuries in Kids

Sports injuries among young athletes are on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high school athletes alone account for an estimated 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations every year. Consequently, the the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and SAFE Kids USA have collaborated to introduce the STOP (Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention) Sports Injuries campaign. The campaign will educate athletes, parents, trainers, coaches, and healthcare providers about the rapid increase in youth sports injuries, the necessary steps to help reverse the trend and the need to keep young athletes healthy.

“The goal of this initiative is to slow, and eventually halt, the rising rate of injuries in young athletes so that these kids can become healthy adults who enjoy exercise, camaraderie, and physical health for life,” said American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons President John J. Callaghan, MD, in a prepared statement. “We support the STOP Sports Injuries campaign because when the parents, trainers, coaches, and healthcare providers have the best information about injury prevention and treatment, they all can work together - and with the athlete—to keep him or her safe.”

For more information, visit:

     STOP Sports Injuries

In a related article, today's Boston Globe reports that surgeons and physical therapists are seeing an epidemic of overuse - fractures, tears, and worn-down joints - in children who are playing sports at higher intensities and at younger ages.

For the complete article, visit:

     Boston Globe: Teens training too hard, too often

A Reflection on Saint Justin, Martyr

A reflection by Martin Kochanski (founder of Universalis) on Saint Justin, Martyr, whose memory we celebrate today:

"He was born at the beginning of the second century in Nablus, in Samaria, of a pagan Greek family. He was an earnest seeker after truth, and studied many systems of philosophy before being led, through Platonism, to Christianity. While remaining a layman, he accepted the duty of making the truth known, and travelled from place to place proclaiming the gospel. In 151 he travelled from Ephesus to Rome, where he opened a school of philosophy and wrote defences and expositions of Christianity, which have survived to this day and are the earliest known writings of their kind. In the persecution of 165, in the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, he was denounced as a Christian, arrested and beheaded. The transcript of his trial by the prefect of Rome, Rusticus, has also survived: it can be found in today’s Office of Readings.

"Justin treats the Greek philosophy that he studied as mostly true, but incomplete. In contrast to the Hebrew tendency to view God as making revelations to them and to no-one else, he follows the parable of the Sower, and sees God as sowing the seed of wisdom throughout the world, to grow wherever the soil would receive it. When we dispute with people who disagree with us, we would do well to assume that they too are seeking wisdom and have found truth of a kind. Since there is only one God and one Truth, it is our task not to contradict or belittle their achievement, but to show them how their strivings and searches are ultimately fulfilled in Christ. This is harder to do – not least, because we have to take the trouble to understand our own faith thoroughly – but it is ultimately more worthwhile."