30 November 2010

NOAA’s Prediction for Active Hurricane Season Realized

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, which ends today, was one of the busiest on record.

In the Atlantic Basin a total of 19 named storms formed – tied with 1887 and 1995 for third highest on record. Of those, 12 became hurricanes – tied with 1969 for second highest on record. Five of those reached major hurricane status of Category 3 or higher.

These totals are within the ranges predicted in NOAA’s seasonal outlooks issued on 27 May (14-23 named storms; 8-14 hurricanes; 3-7 major hurricanes) and August 5 (14-20 named storms; 8-12 hurricanes; 4-6 major hurricanes). An average Atlantic season produces 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

Large-scale climate features strongly influenced this year’s hurricane activity, as they often do. This year, record warm Atlantic waters, combined with the favorable winds coming off Africa and weak wind shear aided by La Niña energized developing storms. The 2010 season continues the string of active hurricane seasons that began in 1995.

But short-term weather patterns dictate where storms actually travel and in many cases this season, that was away from the United States. The jet stream’s position contributed to warm and dry conditions in the eastern U.S. and acted as a barrier that kept many storms over open water. Also, because many storms formed in the extreme eastern Atlantic, they re-curved back out to sea without threatening land.

Other parts of the Atlantic basin weren’t as fortunate. Hurricane Tomas brought heavy rain to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, and several storms, including Alex, battered eastern Mexico and Central America with heavy rain, mudslides and deadly flooding.

To access a map of this year's storm tracks, please visit:

NOAA: 2010 Atlantic Storm Tracks

29 November 2010

Springfield, MA, Police Use Technology To Assist with Gunshot Investigations

In the little more than two years that the Springfield, MA, Police Department has employed ShotSpotter acoustic technology to detect gunfire, the system has alerted police to more than 4,100 instances where a weapon has been fired. The system covers three of the city's 32 square miles and is designed to locate the scene of gunfire through a process called "acoustic triangulation."
Other sounds (including fireworks, loud motorcycles, tractor trailers, and backfiring automobiles) also trigger the system, which has dramatically decreased the response time of police responding to gunfire incidents.

To access a Springfield Republican article about this system and its operation, please visit:
Springfield Republican: Technology aids gunshot probes (15 NOV 10)

Background Information:

Springfield Police Department


Wikipedia: Springfield, Massachusetts

28 November 2010

Victor Davis Hanson on the Morality of Illegal Immigration

Columnist (and American military historian and farmer) Victor Davis Hanson recently offered a thoughtful consideration of some of the moral questions related to illegal immigration:

Victor Davis Hanson: Is Illegal Immigration Moral? (25 NOV 10)

A Brooklyn Parish and Its Evangelization Outreach

A member of the Catherine of Siena Institute has shared an interesting, even exciting, story about the evangelization efforts of Most Precious Blood Parish in Brooklyn, NY.

The parish is in what was formerly a heavily Italian neighborhood. However, the Italians who lived here have been moving out of the neighborhood and are being replaced by non-Catholic, even non-Christian, Chinese, Russian, and other immigrants. The new pastor, Father Maduri, sized up the situation: either the human community had to be rebuilt or the parish would close.

To read what happened next, please visit:

Catherine of Siena Institute: An Extraordinary Parish Grows in Brooklyn (24 NOV 10)

For more information about the Catherine of Siena Institute, please visit:

Catherine of Siena Institute

For more information about Dirty Vagabond Ministries, please visit:

Dirty Vagabond Ministries

Comforting the Sorrowful

A recent column by Boston Herald columnist Joe Fitzgerald reflects on the challenge facing parish priests as they strive to comfort people after a tragedy:

Boston Herald: Answering the call to comfort (27 NOV 10)

Thank you, Lord, for our priests and deacons. Thank you for the many ways You comfort and encourage and otherwise minister to Your people through them.

The Power of Gratitude

"Life's not about waiting for the storms to pass . . .
It's about learning to dance in the rain." - Vivian Greene (author, artist, speaker)

A short reflective video on the power of gratitude:

     Simple Truths: Learning to Dance in the Rain

Comments on President Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Although it is a few days after Thanksgiving, these Danielle Bean comments on Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation are still pertinent:

Danielle Bean: Gratitude, Lincoln Style (24 NOV 10)

Archbishop Di Noia on Why Catholics Go to Mass

Earlier this fall, Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P., Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, gave the John Carroll Lecture at Saint Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, D.C. His talk addressed why Catholics go to Mass.

Among the reasons he listed, Archbishop Di Noia stated Catholics go to Mass to be in communion with the Blessed Trinity, to participate in the unending divine life which Jesus shares with us in the Eucharist, and to become the Body of Christ (because the eucharistic Body of Christ is source of the mystical Body of Christ).

To read Archbishop Di Noia’s complete talk, please visit:

Friar Blog: "Why do Catholics go to Mass?"

27 November 2010

Welcoming the Season of Advent with "On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry"

As we begin the holy season of Advent, I offer this rendition of "On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s Cry," sung by Brother Alphonsus Mary:

The lyrics of this hymn are as follows:

On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
Announces that the Lord is nigh;
Come, then, and hearken, for he brings
Glad tidings from the King of kings!

Then cleansed be every breast from sin;
Make straight the way for God within;
Prepare we in our hearts a home,
Where such a mighty Guest may come.

For Thou art our Salvation, Lord,
Our Refuge, and our great Reward.
Without Thy grace our souls must fade
And wither like a flower decayed.

Stretch forth Thine hand, to heal our sore,
And make us rise and fall no more;
Once more upon Thy people shine,
And fill the world with love divine.

To Him Who left the throne of Heaven
To save mankind, all praise be given;
Like praise be to the Father done,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One.

Reflection on One's Disposition for Profitably Receiving the Sacraments

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

"Prayer is the means by which we ascend to God; the sacraments are the channels by which God descends to us. But what dispositions are required to receive them with profit? The first is purity of intention, which is absolutely necessary not only to receive the sacraments but in all that we do. A pure intention is union with God without any mixture of self-interest. . .The second disposition is attention to the grandeur of the act we are about to undertake. . .The third is humility, an indispensable virtue if we are to receive with abundance the graces that flow from the channel of the sacraments." (from Spiritual Treatises XVIII; O. VI, pp. 337-339)

For more information about the "Daily with De Sales" series of reflections, please visit:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Daily with De Sales

Rehoboth (MA) Firefighter Dies While Responding to Alarm

A 33-year old volunteer firefighter in Rehoboth, MA, died while driving Engine 2 on the way to a fire alarm on Thanksgiving.

Other crew members were able to stop the truck and perform CPR on Firefighter Ken Marshall, Jr., while awaiting the arrival of EMS.

The alarm, at a residence on Oak Street, was triggered by food burning on a stove, and there was no extension.

Firefighter Marshall, a 15-year veteran on the Rehoboth Fire Department, is survived by his wife and two children, ages 3 and 6.

Media Reports:

WPRI-TV: Firefighter dies in the line of duty (26 NOV 10)

WJAR-TV: Firefighter, 33, dies in the line of duty (26 NOV 10)

Sun Chronicle: Rehoboth mourns firefighter (27 NOV 10)

Herald News: Rehoboth firefighter dies on duty on Thanksgiving (27 NOV 10)

WPRI-TV: Funeral service for Ken Marshall Jr. (27 NOV 10)

Background Information:

Town of Rehoboth

Wikipedia: Rehoboth, Massachusetts

Michael W. Smith and "Our God Is an Awesome God"

Michael W. Smith and "Our God Is an Awesome God" at an unidentified event:

Research and the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit

A recent Nashua Telegraph article carried a short profile of Milli Knudsen, a retired Londonderry (NH) elementary school teacher who became a volunteer researcher for the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit.

To access the article, please visit:

Nashua Telegraph: Milford woman puts the heat on cold cases (21 NOV 10)

Background Information:

New Hampshire Cold Case Unit

Benny Goodman Orchestra Performs "Sing Sing Sing"

Also in the PBS presentation (mentioned in the previous post) was a presentation of "Sing Sing Sing" by the Benny Goodman Orchestra (the drummer is Gene Krupa). Here is another presentation of the same tune:

YouTube: Benny Goodman Orchestra Sing Sing Sing from Hollywood Hotel

Glenn Miller and "In the Mood"

Myrna and I were watching a good RI PBS presentation on big band music last night (one of the special presentations in which they were asking for pledges).

The show had a good presentation of the Glenn Miller hit, "In the Mood." Here is another presentation of the same tune:

YouTube: Glenn Miller - In The Mood

Resource Guide for Protecting Drinking Water Sources

Due to serious concerns about the protection of water resources in this region, the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission has developed an informative source water protection resource for New England’s municipal officials and community volunteers. This source water protection resource, Water Today...Water Tomorrow?: Protecting Drinking Water Sources in Your Community: Tools for Municipal Officials, consists of a 52-page manual filled with action tips (with case examples). In addition, the manual is accompanied by a series of five fact sheets.

This guide focuses on five key areas of vulnerability identified in New England state Source Water Assessments: inadequate local regulations and ordinances, underground storage tanks, onsite sewage disposal systems, hazardous materials storage, and stormwater runoff. The document is designed to provide municipal officials with tools they can use to take action to protect drinking water sources in their communities.

To access this guide, please visit:

NEIWPCC: Water Today...Water Tomorrow?: Protecting Drinking Water Sources in Your Community: Tools for Municipal Officials

For other resources related to water resource protection, please visit:

NEC&T: Environment Services Issues: Water Resource Protection

Providence (RI) and Portland (ME) included in Coolest Small Cities List

Two New England cities – Portland, ME, and Providence, RI – were included in CQ’s latest list of  “The Coolest Small Cities in America.”

To access this list, please visit:

GQ: The Coolest Small Cities in America (November 2010)

An ArtInRuins Look at Historic Rhode Island Area Structures

I was doing some online research this morning to see if there was anything new regarding the proposed Providence Fire Museum. This was originally to be located in former carriage house, the last remaining building of the former Gorham Manufacturing Company complex, located at the end of Adelaide Avenue, off Reservoir Avenue in Providence (RI). Unfortunately, this building was destroyed in a fire in April 2009. (The current address of the fire museum is listed as 234 Washington Street, which is the address of the Verizon building, near Greene Street.)

In my research I came across an interesting site, ArtInRuins, which (among other things) looks at the state of many of the historical structures in and near Rhode Island. ArtInRuins contains several sections, each focusing on a specific group, including (new) construction, historic (long gone) structures, redeveloped structures, older structures still in use (although not necessarily the same use as originally planned), and structures still standing, but in a state of decay.

This site is worth checking out, and it may be accessed at:


26 November 2010

Attleboro, MA, Senior Tax Program Benefits Seniors and the City

Around New England, there are a number of communities offering senior citizens an opportunity to work off a portion of their property tax bills by performing services for the local government. These efforts have had various degrees of success, due to a number of different factors. One of the community programs deemed among the more successful is the one in Attleboro, MA.

The Sun-Chronicle recently ran an article about Attleboro’s program and the success that it has had. To access this article, please visit:

Sun Chronicle: Senior tax program a success (23 NOV 10)

Background Information:

Attleboro, Massachusetts (the city's website)

God of Our Fathers, Part II

Here is another presentation of "God of Our Fathers":

Tough Mudder

Recently some of the Domus staff (see previous post) participated in a Tough Mudder event.

Up until now, I had never heard of this event, which is designed to test toughness, fitness, strength, stamina, and mental grit all in one place and all in one day. Each event consists of between a 7-12 mile mud/trail run over uneven, hilly, and wet ground followed by around seventeen sets of military-style obstacles. Each event is slightly different and incorporates varying features depending on the local terrain.

For more information, please visit:

     Tough Mudder

Stamford, CT, Program Assists Disadvantaged Teens and Young Adults Prepare for Job Market

Recently, Domus (a non-profit organization in Stamford, CT) initiated its Work & Learn program, which is designed to help disadvantaged 14- to 25-year-olds successfully make the transition from high school to skilled jobs, college, or vocational studies. This program, the Trafigura Work & Learn Business Center, is a joint venture in conjunction with Trafigura Foundation and The WorkPlace, Inc.

Domus helps over 800 children and their families experience academic and life success through a variety of educational, residential, and community programs. Its vision is that “No child shall be denied hope, love, or a fair chance in life.”

To view a Stamford Advocate article on the Work & Learn program, please visit:

Stamford Advocate: New program gives at-risk youths job skills (25 NOV 10)

Background information:

Domus website

Domus on Facebook

Trafigura Foundation

The WorkPlace, Inc.

25 November 2010

God of Our Fathers, Our National Hymn

The hymn, "God of Our Fathers," has been called our national hymn. it has also been called the Navy Hymn and the Army Hymn.

The lyrics, which fit many of the themes of this Thanksgiving Day as well as concerns being faced throughout the nation, are as follows:

God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies
Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.

Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast,
Be Thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide and Stay,
Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.

From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our ever sure defense;
Thy true religion in our hearts increase,
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.

Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to never ending day;
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine.

For an historical note and to listen to the melody, please visit:

CyberHymnal: God of Our Fathers

Here is a presentation of the hymn by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for all your many blessings and graces.
Thank you for being You.
Thank you for creating this universe and for all that makes it what it is, for the way everything fits together so well.
Thank you for creating life in all its wonderful forms.
Thank you for creating us humans.
Thank you for not abandoning us when we fell away from You by sin.
Thank you for Your promise of a Redeemer.
Thank you for the wonderful way You fulfilled this promise - through Jesus.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming into this world in such a marvelous way.
Thank you for becoming one of us.
Thank you for Your teaching and Your example during Your public life.
Thank you for instituting the sacraments.
Thank you for establishing Your Church.
Thank you for so many wonderful popes, bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated men and women religious, and dedicated lay people.
Thank you for the way You guided the Scriptures to be developed.
Thank you for Your mercy, Your love, Your patience, Your kindness, Your justice.
Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit with His gifts and inspirations.
Thank you for being an active participant in my life and in the lives of each of Your people.
Thank you for Your angels and for all You do through them.
Thank you for Your gift of guardian angels.
Thank you for the the many people You have placed in my life - family members, friends, co-workers, and so many people in such a variety of ways, whether momentarily or for an extended period of time.
Thank you for music, for good literature, for good food, and for the beauty of Your world.
Thank you for the gift of creativity You have given Your people and the many ways You guide us and encourage us to continue Your work of creation.
Thank you for opportunities You have placed before me, whether I was aware of them of not.
Thank you for the many ways You have sent Your guidance - via Scripture, meditation, homilies, spiritual reading, written or spoken words from others - and so many other ways - whether I was aware of it or not, whether I paid attention or not.
Thank you for the milieu in which You have placed me.
Thank you for Your kind and loving Providence.
Thank you for all Your many blessings and graces - whether I am aware of them or not, whether any of Your people are aware of them or not.

Three Industrial Pretreatment Programs Recognized for Excellence

The towns of Mansfield (MA), Merrimack (NH), and West Warwick (RI) were recently selected by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a 2010 Regional Industrial Pretreatment Program Excellence Award.

The pretreatment program staffs of these three towns were recognized by EPA's New England Office for exceptional work in inspecting, permitting, and sampling of their industrial users.

“The professionals operating these wastewater treatment plants, as well as the municipalities and the state environmental agencies that support them, are key to keeping our environment healthy. I am proud to give them the credit they deserve,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office, in a prepared statement.

The EPA New England Industrial Pretreatment Program Excellence Award was established to recognize and honor the employees of publicly owned wastewater treatment plants for their commitment to improving water quality with outstanding oversight of its industrial users discharging to the municipal sewer system. According to EPA, more often than not and particularly with the smaller facilities, hard-working pretreatment coordinators and staff continue to perform exceptionally with limited resources.

The towns were presented the award at the 12th Annual EPA New England Industrial Pretreatment Program Conference on 13 October, and they will also be acknowledged on 26 January 2011, at the annual New England Water Environment Association Conference in Boston.

A Thanksgiving Day Reading

Today's first reading (for the Mass on Thanksgiving Day) is from Sirach (50:22-24):

And now, bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb, and fashions them according to his will!
May he grant you joy of heart and may peace abide among you;
May his goodness toward us endure in Israel to deliver us in our days.

Flash Mob Concert: Hallelujah Chorus in the Food Court

Welcome to another flash mob concert - this one by Chorus Niagara, singing the Hallelujah Chorus at the Food Court, Seaway Mall, North Welland, Ontario, Canada:

Moses as the Patron Saint of Thanksgiving

Earlier today I read an interesting commentary about Moses being the patron saint of Thanksgiving.

The commentary, written by Bruce Feiler, discussed the biblical roots of Thanksgiving, including the inspiration provided to the Pilgrims by Moses and the story of the Exodus.

Mr. Feiler is the author of a number of books, including How the Story of Moses Shaped America. He is also the writer/presenter of the PBS miniseries Walking the Bible).

To read Mr. Feiler's commentary, please visit:

Bruce Feiler: Why Moses Is the Patron Saint of Thanksgiving (24 NOV 10)

Don Moen: "Give Thanks"

As the Thanksgiving celebration continues, Don Moen sings "Give Thanks":

President Obama's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

Presidential Proclamation - Thanksgiving Day

A beloved American tradition, Thanksgiving Day offers us the opportunity to focus our thoughts on the grace that has been extended to our people and our country.  This spirit brought together the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe - who had been living and thriving around Plymouth, Massachusetts for thousands of years - in an autumn harvest feast centuries ago.  This Thanksgiving Day, we reflect on the compassion and contributions of Native Americans, whose skill in agriculture helped the early colonists survive, and whose rich culture continues to add to our Nation's heritage.  We also pause our normal pursuits on this day and join in a spirit of fellowship and gratitude for the year's bounties and blessings.

Thanksgiving Day is a time each year, dating back to our founding, when we lay aside the troubles and disagreements of the day and bow our heads in humble recognition of the providence bestowed upon our Nation.  Amidst the uncertainty of a fledgling experiment in democracy, President George Washington declared the first Thanksgiving in America, recounting the blessings of tranquility, union, and plenty that shined upon our young country.  In the dark days of the Civil War when the fate of our Union was in doubt, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a Thanksgiving Day, calling for "the Almighty hand" to heal and restore our Nation.

In confronting the challenges of our day, we must draw strength from the resolve of previous generations who faced their own struggles and take comfort in knowing a brighter day has always dawned on our great land.  As we stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next, we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for one another, and for our Nation.  This Thanksgiving Day, we remember that the freedoms and security we enjoy as Americans are protected by the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces.  These patriots are willing to lay down their lives in our defense, and they and their families deserve our profound gratitude for their service and sacrifice.

This harvest season, we are also reminded of those experiencing the pangs of hunger or the hardship of economic insecurity.  Let us return the kindness and generosity we have seen throughout the year by helping our fellow citizens weather the storms of our day.

As Americans gather for the time-honored Thanksgiving Day meal, let us rejoice in the abundance that graces our tables, in the simple gifts that mark our days, in the loved ones who enrich our lives, and in the gifts of a gracious God.  Let us recall that our forebears met their challenges with hope and an unfailing spirit, and let us resolve to do the same.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 25, 2010, as a National Day of Thanksgiving.  I encourage all the people of the United States to come together - whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors - to give thanks for all we have received in the past year, to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and to share our bounty with others.

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

             BARACK OBAMA

24 November 2010

A Reflection on Gratitude

A reflection on gratitude from the hymn, "Thanks to God":

Thanksgiving Poem: "Be Thankful"

Thanksgiving Poem: "Be Thankful"

                                            (Author Unknown)

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.

If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something,

for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.

During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,

because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,

because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.

They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary,

because it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.

A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who

are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,

and they can become your blessings.

22 November 2010

Glory to the Lamb

As we continue this week after celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King, I offer the Parkcrest Cambodian Christian Church (Long Beach, CA) Worship Team singing/praying "Glory Glory Glory To The Lamb":

YouTube: Glory Glory Glory To The Lamb

21 November 2010


A song from a "few years ago" - "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah", from Walt Disney's Song of the South:

Antibiotics Aren't Always the Answer

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently posted, on the U.S. Government Facebook site, a link to a website page that explains when antibiotics work and when they do not. To access this webpage, please visit:

CDC: Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work

Salesian Perspective: Kingship of Christ

Here is a reflection from Rev. Michael S. Murray, OSFS, Executive Director of the De Sales Spirituality Center, on today's readings as published in Sundays Salesian by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales (see http://www.oblates.org/spirituality/sundays_salesian/):

"St. Francis de Sales tells us in the Introduction to the Devout Life: 'Consider the eternal love that God has borne you. Before our Lord Jesus Christ as man suffered on the Cross for you, His Divine Majesty by His Sovereign Goodness already foresaw your existence and loved you exceedingly.' (Introduction, Part V, Chapter 14)

"Tempted as he was by the voices around him to use his kingly power for his own relief or benefit, Jesus spent his last moments - his few remaining breaths - for the good of others. It was with love that he promised paradise to the Good Thief who spoke words of humility and contrition.

"On this feast of the Kingship of Christ, the Church presents us with two images: David, the shepherd-warrior, anointed by his people to be their king and Jesus, the only true king, rejected by the people, crucified and ridiculed. In David the kingship of Israel was established so that from it could come the Redeemer of all peoples. But how did Jesus live out his call to be king? According to St. Francis de Sales it was by 'the perfect abandonment into the hands of the heavenly Father and this perfect indifference in whatever is his divine will.' (St. Francis de Sales Sermons for Lent, Good Friday, 1622)

"To Jesus, being king meant being one with his Father. He lived in perfect union with God. As Paul tells us in the letter to the Colossians: 'He is the image of the invisible God.' To Jesus, being king meant giving all for others. He gave his all to each person at every moment. We see this in his words to the repentant criminal on the Cross: Jesus spoke only of mercy and acceptance.

"We are called to do the same. As Christians our first care must be union with our God: 'Lord, it is good for me to be with you, whether you be upon the Cross or in your glory.' (Introduction, Part IV, Chapter XIII) St. Francis de Sales tells us in the Treatise on the Love of God: 'Mount Calvary is the mount of lovers.' (Book XII, Chapter XIII) After the example of our King, we must speak words of mercy and acceptance. Like Jesus, we are not called to condemn or reject but only to love.

"St. Leonie Aviat lived the humble, self-giving life portrayed in today's Scriptures. She recognized and experienced the meaning of authentic royalty, of royal power: spending one's life with God for others. As a young foundress of a religious community, the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales, Mother Aviat pledged to 'forget myself entirely' and to 'work for the happiness of others.' The call to follow Christ resounded in her every word and act, as she worked to give people here on earth a foretaste of the paradise that Christ promises to all those who remember him.

"Perhaps that's the point. What better way to ask God to remember us than by remembering the presence of God in each day, hour and moment? What better way to join Christ in paradise than by remembering to reach out to others here on earth?"

Effective Use of New Media to Evangelize

Matthew Warner is a former electrical engineer who is now focusing on the "New Media," especially as it apples to the Church. He recently wrote a short essay about the Mormons and their use of media to spread their message. While I am not familiar with the particular ad he is referring to, over the years I have seen a number of great family values messages that the Mormons have produced.

To access Matt Warner's column, please visit:

     Matt Warner: Hi, I'm Joy…and I'm a Mormon (19 NOV 10)

In this essay, Mr. Warner refers to Catholics Come Home, an evangelization effort that makes effective use of television and other media. The Diocese of Providence and a number of other dioceses around the nation have used this resource to reach out to fallen away (and other) Catholics, as well as other people interested in learning something about the Catholic faith.

To access the Catholics Come Home website, please visit:

     Catholics Come Home

Mr. Warner also refers to a couple of other initiatives that evangelize through new media:

     One Billion Stories

     Father Robert Barron: Word on Fire

Crown Him with Many Crowns

Another tribute to the King of Kings:

Here is the Cyberhymnal version of this same hymn:

     CyberHymnal: Crown Him with Many Crowns

The Solemnity of Christ the King

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King.

This observance goes back to 1925, when Pope Pius XI initiated it as a feast, originally observed on the last Sunday of October. In 1969, Pope Paul VI elevated the feast to the rank of a solemnity and moved it to the last Sunday of the Church year.

Why establish such a feast? As Pope Pius XI said in his encyclical, Quas Primas, "If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God. If all these truths are presented to the faithful for their consideration, they will prove a powerful incentive to perfection."

To access the encyclical of Pius XI in which he explains the reasons for establishing this feast, please visit:

The assigned readings for the observance of this solemnity during this liturgical year are 2 Samuel 5:1-3, Colossians 1:12-20, and Luke 23:35-43. The assigned responsorial psalm is Psalm 122 (verses 1-5).

The Gospel reading (Luke 23:35-43) is:

The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, "He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God." Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, "If you are King of the Jews, save yourself." Above him there was an inscription that read, "This is the King of the Jews."

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal."

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
For a good reflection on this observance and on this Gospel passage, please visit:

Glory to the Lamb

Glory to the Lamb as we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King:

20 November 2010

New England Artist’s Quilts Attracts National Attention

Quilts designed by Bridgeport, CT, artist Denyse Schmidt have been attracting national, even international attention.

To view the Connecticut Post article on Ms. Schmidt and her quilts, please visit:

Connecticut Post: Bridgeporter Cutting Edge in the Quilt World (18 NOV 10)

To visit Denyse Schmidt’s website:

Denyse Schmidt Quilts

USFA and NFPA Join Forces to “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires”

Citing recent fires in Pennsylvania and Florida which claimed the lives of nine children and one adult and which may have been caused by space heaters, the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have announced a jointly sponsored special initiative, “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires.” USFA and NFPA want to remind everyone that fire safety and prevention are especially important in the coming months.

According to NFPA statistics, space heaters account for about one third of home heating fires, but they are the primary cause for more than 80 percent of home heating fire deaths.

The “Winter Residential Building Fires” report, released by USFA in February, reports an estimated 108,400 winter residential building fires occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries, and $1.7 billion in property loss. Cooking is the leading cause of winter residential building fires at 36 percent followed by heating at 23 percent, and winter residential building fires occur mainly in the early evening hours, peaking from 5 PM to 8 PM.

USFA and NFPA have compiled a great deal of information about the various causes of fire during the winter months, winter storm fire safety, holiday fire safety, and tips that will help reduce or prevent the incidence of fire in the home on their websites. This information can be found at:



Background information:

USFA: Winter Residential Building Fires (February 2010)

19 November 2010

A Reflection Starter from Saint Francis de Sales

Today's "Daily with De Sales" reflection from the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales provides a good reflection starter

"Let us make a firm decision to serve God with all our heart and with all our life, but let us not worry about tomorrow. Let us concentrate on doing good today. When tomorrow comes, it will also be called today, and so we will have to think of it as such. In all this, however, it is necessary to have great confidence and resignation in the Providence of God. We must provide ourselves with manna for today and nothing more. We must have no doubts; God will make it rain tomorrow, the day after tomorrow and so on, for all the days of our life." - Saint Francis de Sales

16 November 2010

Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Management

A recent article in the Economist examines the use of green infrastructure to manage stormwater in Brooklyn. A growing number of people have become interested in developing green infrastructure for its overall effects on a community, including managing stormwater.

To access the Economist article, please visit:

The Economist: Trees grow in Brooklyn: A natural form of relief for overworked city sewers (11 NOV 11)

For additional resources about the use of green infrastructure to manage stormwater, please visit:

NEC&T: Environment Services Issues: Stormwater Management

Noah Webster on Education

"Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country." - Noah Webster, “On the Education of Youth in America,” 1788

For context, please visit:

Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America

For the complete essay, please visit:

Noah Webster: On the Education of Youth in America. (1788)

14 November 2010

A Reminder of Our Interconnectedness

Bishop Paul D. Etienne, bishop of Cheyenne, WY, wrote a reflection yesterday about the interconnectedness of everything that we do.

He reminds me that every word of mine and every action of mine has an effect, however slight, on the world and its people. It is also a reminder that my neglected actions, actions I am supposed to do, also have an effect that touches everyone.

Bishop Etienne's words are a good encouragement to keep on with what I need to do, even if I don't feel like doing it.

To read Bishop Etienne's reflection, please visit:

Bishop Paul D. Etienne: Co-Workers in the Truth

In a way this reflection ties in with a quotation I read earlier today, a quotation by Saint Jane de Chantal  - "We cannot always offer God great things, but at all times we can offer God little things with great love." This in turn reminds me of the “little way” of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, who strove to do little things well, and of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who said “to be faithful in little things is a great thing.”

It also reminds me of words of “encouragement” which a number of people have given over the years when I was faced with illness or a difficult situation - “Offer it up.” These may be words that some of us do not like to hear, but there is truth in them. When these aches, pains, hurts or sufferings of any type, as well as fogginess of mind or any other discomfort are offered to the Lord in union with His suffering and/or for a specific intention, they have value (maybe even great value) – a value which many people are not aware of.

May each of us strive to remember our interconnectedness and strive to do our part of whatever the Lord is asking and encouraging us to do.

10 November 2010

New Haven, CT, Announces Program to Provide College Tuition to City’s Public School Graduates

Yesterday, the city of New Haven, CT, announced it was making good on a pledge to provide college tuition to students who live in the city and graduate from New Haven public schools. This announcement was made at the launch of New Haven Promise, a non-need-based program that, if successful, officials believe will reshape the futures of city students for years to come.

There are two major funding sponsors for the program: Yale University and the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven.

For more information, please visit:

New Haven Register: New Haven keeps 'Promise': Yale, Community Foundation to pay for college for city students (9 NOV 10)

A Hymn of Thanksgiving to Start the Day:

A hymn of gratitude to start this day:

“For the fruit of all creation, thanks be to God.
gifts bestowed on every nation, thanks be to God.”

Oremus Hymnal: For the fruit of all creation

YouTube:  Brother Alphonsus Mary: For The Fruits Of All Creation Thanks Be To God

08 November 2010

Report: Law Enforcement, Public Vigilance Lead to 80 Percent of Foiled Terror Plots

More than 80 percent of foiled terrorist plots between 1999 and 2009 resulted from observations by citizens or law enforcement officials or from law enforcement investigations, according to a report recently published by the Institute for Homeland Security Solutions.

This report resulted from an ongoing study that reviewed open-source information on 86 foiled and successful terrorist plots against U.S. targets from 1999 to 2009.

The aim of the research was to determine and better understand the types of information and activities that foiled (or could have foiled) such attacks.

"Since 2001, the intelligence community has sought better ways to detect and prevent domestic terrorist plots, said Kevin J. Strom, senior research scientist and the report's lead author in a prepared statement. "What this report reveals is the vital role played by citizens as well as state and local U.S. law enforcement agencies in uncovering such planned attacks."

These tips included reports of specific plots as well as reports of suspicious activity, such as pre-operational surveillance, paramilitary training, smuggling activities, and the discovery of suspicious documents.

Among the report's other findings:

  • plots by single actors ("lone wolves") have proven particularly successful, reaching execution nearly twice as often as plots by groups;
  • more than one in five plots were uncovered during investigations into seemingly unrelated crimes such as robberies, arson or parole violations (which ld to the recommendation that training is needed to ensure that ordinary crimes possibly connected to terrorism are recognized and properly investigated);
  • tips from the public or from informants or undercover officers helped law enforcement officials uncover 40 percent of the plots that were thwarted;
  • less than half of all the U.S. terrorism plots examined were motivated by Islamic extremists;
  • tactics such as racial, ethnic, religious, or ideological profiling may harm efforts to establish trust with persons in or near radical movements who could otherwise be helpful to law enforcement officials.

To access the complete report, please visit:

IHSS: Building on Clues: Examining Success and Failures in Detecting U.S.Terrorist Plots, 1999-2009

07 November 2010

"Be Thou My Vision"

An inspiring hymn to begin the week:

NetHymnal: "Be Thou My Vision"

Be Thou My Vision (the website)

YouTube: Be Thou My Vision (a video to the hymn)

Catholic Radio Begins Broadcasting from Boston Area

The Boston area now has its own 24/7 Catholic radio station, WQOM, which began broadcasting on All Saints Day (Monday, 1 November).

The station is on the AM band (1060 AM) and is broadcasting at 50,000 watts, which will enable it to reach listeners in Eastern Massachusetts and nearby states.

To access a Boston Pilot article on this launch, please visit:

Boston Pilot: On the air: 24/7 Catholic radio comes to Boston

The Simpsons and Their Search for God

A recent Catholic News Service article carried by the Boston Pilot, the weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston, looks at the discussion generated by a recent L'Osservatore Romano column entitled "Homer and Bart are Catholic."

This column looked at a scholarly analysis of The Simpsons by Father Francesco Occhetta, S.J., who focused on the Simpsons' search for faith and meaning in their lives.

To access the article in the Boston Pilot, please visit:

Boston Pilot: Catholic or not, Homer Simpson's soul grabs Vatican attention, again

A Look at Why Citizens Cast Their Ballots in the Recent Election

In a recent Providence Journal article, voters being interviewed explained some of the reasons why they were casting their ballots in the recent election.

To access this article, please visit:

Providence Journal: ‘What a democracy is all about’ (3 NOV 10)

World's Tallest Statue of Jesus

Workers in the town of Świebodzin, in western Poland, have erected what is called the world's largest statue of Jesus, 167 feet tall and complete with golden crown (in time for the feast of Christ the King).

For more information, please visit:

NY Daily News: Polish town, Swiebodzin, erects world's largest Jesus Christ statue

(Thanks to Deacon Greg Kandra, Diocese of Brooklyn, for the tip.)

Random Act of Culture: Hallelujah Chorus at Macy's

On Saturday, 30 October , the Opera Company of Philadelphia brought together over 650 choristers from 28 participating organizations to perform one of the Knight Foundation's "Random Acts of Culture" at Macy's in Center City Philadelphia. Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ (called the world's largest pipe organ), the OCP Chorus and throngs of singers from the community infiltrated the store as shoppers, and burst into a pop-up rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah at 12:00 noon, to the delight of surprised shoppers.

This event is one of 1,000 "Random Acts of Culture" to be funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation over the next three years. The initiative is designed to transport the classical arts out of the concert halls and opera houses and into communities to enrich everyday lives.

For more information about the Random Acts of Culture program and to view more events, please visit:

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: Random Acts of Culture

This event, by the way, was planned to coincide with the first day of National Opera Week. For more information about the Opera Company of Philadelphia and participating choirs, please visit:

Opera Company of Philadelphia: Random Act of Culture

(Thanks to Fr. Austin Fleming, Holy Family Parish, Concord, MA, for the tip.)

05 November 2010

Notes on Water Infrastructure Concerns

Over the past few months, many New England residents and visitors have noticed (and possibly been affected by) a number of projects designed to improve water infrastructure. These have included water main lining, valve replacement, and pump house rehabilitation. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority major water pipe break in Weston on 1 May reminded us that not properly caring for our water infrastructure may lead to serious consequences.

Earlier this year, the Urban Land Institute, working with the consulting firm, Ernst & Young, released Infrastructure 2010: Investment Imperative, a report that examines the nation’s water infrastructure investments.

Focusing on aging pipes, population pressures, and management challenges across 14 metropolitan areas (including Boston), Infrastructure 2010 examines the effects of “recession-busted” government budgets and related concerns that are pushing infrastructure down most political priority lists, with many projects being put on hold as burdened taxpayers resist more spending.  However, the needs remain.

Some of the approaches and solutions being recommended in Infrastructure 2010 include:

  • repairing and modernizing outmoded systems, including reducing leaks in water delivery networks and stemming declines in water quality from failing sewage treatment plants;
  • developing collaborative regional strategies to protect supplies across multiple states and varied local jurisdictions;
  • employing proven land use techniques to reduce storm water runoff and capture ground water to replenish depleted aquifers;
  • using innovative recycling technologies in development projects and for retrofitting existing buildings;
  • planting less water-dependent landscaping; and
  • implementing conservation-oriented irrigation systems.

To access additional information related to this report and other water infrastructure concerns, please visit:

New England City & Town: Public Works Issues: Water Infrastructure

04 November 2010

ICLEI USA Releases STAR Community Index Sustainability Goals and Guiding Principles for Communities

ICLEI USA has released the STAR Community Index Sustainability Goals and Guiding Principles. These 81 goals and ten guiding principles are designed to collectively define community-scale sustainability and set a national standard for local governments.

ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability (originally known as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives) is an international association of local governments as well as national and regional local government organizations who have made a commitment to sustainable development.

The STAR Community Index is a national, consensus-based framework for gauging the sustainability and livability of U.S. communities. STAR is scheduled to be launched in 2011 and is currently being developed through a partnership between ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, U.S. Green Building Council, National League of Cities, and the Center for American Progress. Intended to serve as a rating system (not a ranking system), STAR is being designed to change the way local governments and communities approach sustainability goals and how they manage and measure their long-term progress, as well as to provide them with a system to evaluate their own progress and recognize their achievements through a continuous improvement process.

For more information about the STAR Community Index, please visit:

      ICLEI USA: STAR Community Index

The STAR Goals and Guiding Principles are designed to serve as a resource to help local governments:

  • create or revise a sustainability plan,
  • conduct a sustainability assessment,
  • establish local sustainability priorities, and
  • focus ongoing sustainability initiatives.

To access the STAR Goals and Guiding Principles, please visit:

      STAR Community Index: Sustainability Goals and Guiding Principles

03 November 2010

Regional Innovation Clusters

Twenty years ago, Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter introduced the concept of regional clusters - geographic concentrations of interconnected firms and supporting or coordinating organizations. Ten years later, a number of states had adopted the concept. Now, on the federal level, members of the executive branch and Congress are seriously looking at “regional innovation clusters” as a framework for structuring the nation’s economic development activities.

In addition, in the wake of the recent recession, a number of business leaders, mainstream commentators, and policy analysts have been saying the nation needs a different kind of growth model that depends less on bubbles and consumption and more on the production of lasting value in metropolitan economies and the super-productive clusters within them.

Why is the concept of clusters popular again? Perhaps some of the concept’s relevance is due to its non-partisan concern with the mechanics of value creation in local economies (metropolitan or rural, high-tech or manufacturing). Another attraction may be that clusters (whether it be the Vermont cheesemaking cluster or a cluster like the Silicon Valley technology cluster) are all about synergies and efficiencies, and they don’t tend to cost too much. It may be that the most timely attraction is that the new prominence of regional innovation clusters reflects something deeper: a positive interest in locating a more grounded, realistic way to think about the economy and development efforts so as to put both on a more productive footing.

For more information about regional innovation clusters, please visit:

     NEC&T: Economic Development Issues: Regional Innovation Clusters