31 March 2011

Literature from New Hampshire: Harriett E. Wilson

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of literature - including writers from this region and literary works set in this region.

One such writer is Harriett E. Wilson (ca. 1828-ca. 1870), traditionally considered to be the first female African-American novelist. She is also considered to be the first African-American of any gender to publish a novel on the North American continent.

For more information about Harriett E. Wilson, please visit:

Wikipedia: Harriet E. Wilson

The Harriet Wilson Project

Project Gutenberg: Works by Harriett E. Wilson

Reflection Starter from Saint Joseph of Leonissa

"Every Christian must be a living book wherein one can read the teaching of the gospel." - Saint Joseph of Leonissa

Mark Shea on Sacred Tradition

In answer to a reader’s question, writer Mark Shea recently offered a thoughtful reflection on Sacred Tradition - the common life, worship and teaching of the Catholic faith.

To access Mr. Shea’s explanation of what Sacred Tradition is, please visit:

NCR: Mark Shea: What Is Sacred Tradition? (30 MAR 11)

Cheshire County, NH, Budget Cuts May Affect Regional Mutual Aid Dispatch Operations

Southwestern New Hampshire District Fire Mutual Aid is a regional emergency dispatch organization, located in Keene, NH, that provides fire and emergency dispatch services for 78 communities in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont.

The Cheshire County, NH, Delegation (its legislative branch) recently approved budget cuts that included level-funding the county’s contribution to Mutual Aid. This, in turn, is giving Mutual Aid a significant challenge regarding the next steps to take.

For a Keene Sentinel news report on this issue and some of the concerns involved, please visit:

Keene Sentinel: Cash-Strapped (28 MAR 11)

Background information:

Southwestern New Hampshire District Fire Mutual Aid

30 March 2011

The Oak Ridge Boys: "God Will Take Care Of You"

Many people are facing some serious challenges during these times, and I offer this reminder: the Oak Ridge Boys singing "God Will Take Care Of You":

Commentary on Raising the Status of Teachers Triggers Debate

"Raising the status of teachers in America requires not only improvements on the teacher supply side, but also recognition of the parents' preferences on the demand side."

Thus began a recent commentary in the New York Times by Lance T. Izumi, senior director of education studies at the Pacific Research Institute. This reflection triggered a bit of a discussion, which included a number of thoughtful comments on different sides of the issue.

To access Mr. Izumi’s essay and the related comments, please visit:

New York Times: Room for Debate: How to Raise the Status of Teachers (27 MAR 11)

Community Service in Massachusetts: Friends of Boston's Homeless

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of community service organizations that are working to address a particular concern or group of concerns.

One such organization is the Friends of Boston's Homeless, a Massachusetts nonprofit organization that works to develop and fund innovative, solution-oriented programs to help the homeless move beyond shelter and back into the community as independent citizens.

For more information about the Friends of Boston's Homeless, please visit:

Friends of Boston's Homeless

Reflection Starter from Toyohiko Kagawa

"I read in a book
That a man called
Went about doing good.
It is very disconcerting to me
That I am so easily satisfied
With just
Going about."
- Toyohiko Kagawa

Toyohiko Kagawa (1888-1960) was a Japanese Christian whose writings and other efforts served people in a number of fields.

Additional information:

Biographical sketches of memorable Christians of the past: Toyohiko Kagawa, Renewer of Society

Wikipedia: Kagawa Toyohiko

Msgr. Pope on Using the Our Father to Organize Prayer Time

Monsignor Charles Pope, pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish in Washington, DC, recently wrote a thoughtful reflection on using the Our Father as a guide for organizing one's prayer time.

To access this post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: How To Organize Your Prayer Time According to Jesus (28 MAR 11)

World War II Article from Catholic Digest

“Somewhere in Europe, in the last years of the Second World War, a young Canadian soldier hiding in the undergrowth watches helplessly as a British patrol walks into a German trap. He could have warned them, but not without jeopardizing his own mission. All he can do is watch as the Germans gun them down. Then he heads off to carry out his orders, fully aware that the odds are 100 to 1 against him.”

The soldier’s orders, his mission, is the main focus of a war story published by Catholic Digest in March 1945 (it was originally published in Mother of Perpetual Help). As Dan Connors, Catholic Digest editor-in-chief, wrote in his introduction to this classic article, “It seems a strange story for a magazine called Mother of Perpetual Help, or Catholic Digest for that matter. But it was a different time and a different conflict. And for us today it’s not just a gripping story, but a tale of the surprising and, for some readers, disturbing ways faith and death come together in war.”

To access this article, please visit:

Catholic Digest: Shot at Dawn (March 1945)

29 March 2011

This Week’s New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch

To access this week’s issue of New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch, please visit:

New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch - 29 March 2011

Recreation Opportunity from Maine: Sled Dog Racing

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of athletic and other recreation opportunities.

One winter time activity in Maine is sled dog racing, of which the most widely known opportunity is arguably the Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races, which originate and terminate in Fort Kent. There are currently three races in this group: 250 miles, sixty miles, and thirty miles.

For more information about the Can-Am Crown races, please visit:

Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races

Boston Globe: In Maine dog-sled race, a quiet and frosty finish (2 MAR 09)

YouTube: Can Am International Sled Dog Race in Fort Kent, Maine

Bangor Daily News: Last nine miles the toughest for top Can Am finishers (9 MAR 11)

For more information about sled dog racing, please visit:

Wikipedia: Sled dog racing

Jackman Sled Dog Races

International Sled Dog Racing Association

Christopher Howse on Actively Listening to Homilies

In a recent Catholic Herald commentary, Daily Telegraph assistant editor Christopher Howse offers some practical advice for listening to homilies:

Christopher Howse: How to enjoy sermons (25 MAR 11)

Reflection Starter from Ashleigh Brilliant

"Good ideas are common - what's uncommon are people who'll work hard enough to bring them about." - Ashleigh Brilliant (author and syndicated cartoonist)

28 March 2011

NPR: Salesians Assist Struggling Family

Recently NPR ran an interesting story about a struggling family in Guayaquil, Ecuador, that received a helping hand from the Salesians.

To access this story, please visit:

NPR: Ecuadoran Family Finds Refuge With Salesians (22 MAR 11)

Background information:

Salesian Missions

Collaborative Effort Results in New Boat for Holyoke, MA, Fire Dept.

The Holyoke, MA, Fire Department recently placed a new rescue boat into service. The 21-foot, steel hull boat was donated by the U.S. Coast Guard last year, and it was repaired and painted by Dean Technical High School students.

To access two articles about this initiative, please visit:

Springfield Republican: Effort restores boat for service (15 MAR 11)

Holyoke Firefighters Association Local 1693: New boat for Holyoke Fire Department (10 MAR 11)

Background information:

Holyoke Firefighters Association Local 1693

City of Holyoke

William J. Dean Technical High School

Wikipedia: Holyoke, Massachusetts

Historical Site in Connecticut: Connecticut's Old State House

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of places steeped in history - the history of this region, the history of the nation.

One such place is Connecticut's Old State House, which is located at 800 Main Street in Hartford. This structure was built to replace the original State House, which was built in 1720 and burned in 1783. Construction of a structure to replace the original one was begun in 1793 and completed in 1796. The site contains the restored, original Senate chamber and a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington.

For more information about Connecticut's Old State House, please visit:

Connecticut’s Old State House

History of the Old State House

Wikipedia: Old State House (Connecticut)

"Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee" - A Reflection on a Hymn

"Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

"Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.

"Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee."

This is a prayer I've often seen in prayer books and on prayer cards. I just recently found out that it is actually a hymn dating back to 1874.

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope reflected on the meaning of the words in this hymn. I offer this reflection here:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Finding Wisdom in an Old Hymn (25 MAR 11)

Background information:

CyberHymnal: Take My Life and Let It Be

Reflection Starter from Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

"The first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills it; and thirdly, to do it because it is his will." - Mother Seton (Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton) to her sisters

Parks and the Revitalization of Distressed Neighborhoods

Kaid Benfield, of the Natural Resources Defense Council, recently offered some thoughts about how the development of parks can help revitalize distressed neighborhoods.

To access Mr. Benfield’s post, please visit:

Switchboard: How parks can help revitalize distressed neighborhoods (16 MAR 11)

27 March 2011

Matthew Archbold: Letter to an Early Doomed Christian

Circa 66 AD

"Dear Christian Recruit,

"Thank you so much for your interest in joining the Church. Your letter was forwarded to me by the former head of the evangelization and recruiting department. Unfortunately, he met a similarly grisly fate as his predecessor. They were both beheaded and stoned (though not in that order ;)

"You asked about the benefits of being a Christian; well things have been a bit dodgy for this young Church. I’m sure that in the future things will get a lot better for Christians throughout the world but for now…"

Thus, from a first-person perspective, begins a reflective essay by Matthew Archbold on what it may have been like for some of the early Christians.

To read the complete post, please visit:

Matthew Archbold: Dear Doomed Christian, (25 MAR 11)

Scott Hahn Playing with Matt Maher at Steubenville

It turns out that Dr. Scott Hahn plays the guitar. In this video he is playing a piece with contemporary Christian music artist Matt Maher at Franciscan University of Steubenville:

Background information:

Dr. Scott Hahn

Franciscan University of Steubenville

Matt Maher

New England’s Fire Service Heritage: Fire Alarm Telegraph Systems

The first fire alarm telegraph system was installed in Boston, MA, in 1852. The first alarm recorded in that system was on 26 April 26 of the same year.

For more information about fire alarm telegraph systems, please visit:

Peter Laws: Fire Alarm Telegraph Systems

Wikipedia: Fire alarm box

Boston Globe: No cause for alarm (27 JAN 08)

Gamewell-FCI History

Twin Cities Firefighters Hall & Museum: The Fire Alarm Telegraph

Third Sunday of Lent

Today the Church celebrates the Third Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings are Exodus 17:3-7; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; and John 4:5-42. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 95 (Psalm 95: 1-2, 6-9).

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.

The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” - For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans. - Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?”

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him,“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.”

The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.”

Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”

Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”

The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.”

Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one speaking with you.”

At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?” They went out of the town and came to him.

Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”

So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. The reaper is already receiving payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I have done.”
When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days.

Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

Reflections on these readings:

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for March 27, 2011: 3rd Sunday of Lent (26 MAR 11)

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: The Original Meaning of Lent

Msgr. Charles Pope: Just a Little Talk With Jesus Makes it Right - A Meditation on the Gospel of The Third Week of Lent (26 MAR 11)

Dr. Scott Hahn: March 27th, 2011 - 3rd Sunday of Lent (Striking the Rock)

The Word Embodied: Water and Bread

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary: Augustine

YouTube: Jesus meets woman at a well

Music in New England: Shape Note Singing

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of music of many different genres, including (but not limited to) religious, classical, folk, Celtic, sea shanties, rock, country and western, bluegrass, and the list goes on and on.

One such genre is shape note singing, also known as Sacred Harp singing. This style of community singing originated in New England and has spread to other parts of the U.S. It was on a decline for a while, but it appears to be making a comeback.

For more information about shape note singing, please visit:

Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association: Sacred Harp and Shape Note Singing

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Ishmael on Shape Notes

Bidwell House Museum (Monterey, MA): Shape Notes Story

Lisa Grayson: Sacred Harp singing: Beginner guide

Wikipedia: Shape note

Smithsonian in Your Classroom: A Shape-Note Singing Lesson (Grades 3-8) (October 2000)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 'Shape-note' singing is making a comeback (27 MAR 11)

Cathedral of Saint Patrick, Norwich, CT

New England is the home of a number of beautiful cathedrals, the cathedrae of the various Roman Catholic dioceses located in this region.

One of these cathedrals is the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Norwich, Connecticut. The parish was founded in 1878. The church structure's cornerstone was actually laid in 1873, and the building was completed in 1879. It became the diocesan cathedral when the diocese was established in 1953.

For more information about the Cathedral of Saint Patrick, please visit:

Cathedral of St. Patrick

History of the Cathedral of Saint Patrick

St. Patrick Cathedral Organ (including recorded music)

Background information:

Diocese of Norwich

A Look at North Attleborough, MA, Police Chief Michael Gould's Career

North Attleborough, MA, Police Chief Michael Gould, Sr., will be retiring next month, and, in anticipation of this event, the Sun Chronicle has published a profile of Chief Gould. This article also included a look at some of the changes that have occurred in the North Attleborough Police Department since he first joined the department in 1967.

To access this article, please visit:

Sun Chronicle: Hail to the chief (27 MAR 11)

(For a few years after graduating from Providence College, I lived in North Attleborough [1970-1975].)

Reflection Starter from the DeerLake Weekly Letter

From the DeerLake Weekly Letter for March 25th:

Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished:
                          If you're alive, it isn't.

DeerLake Designs: Boogie Through Life

26 March 2011

Old Friends Quartet: "Thanks To Calvary"

In his homily during today's daily Mass on Catholic TV, Father Robert Reed reminded us how the Lenten journey points toward the cross. With this in mind, I offer:

100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Yesterday (25 March) was the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City. This fire, located in what was the Asch Building (now known as the Brown Building) at 29 Washington Place, resulted in the deaths of 146 workers.

For information about the fire and some of its consequences, please visit:

Cornell University: ILR School Kheel Center: The Triangle Factory Fire

Wikipedia: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire

NPR: A Somber Centennial For The Triangle Factory Fire (24 MAR 11)

California State University Northridge: Leap for Life, Leap of Death

Google Books: 1911 McClure Magazine article on Fire (pp.455–483)

YouTube: Triangle Shirtwaist Fire (documentary)

YouTube: The Cloth Inferno - The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Father Longenecker on Beautiful Churches and Vocations

Father Dwight Longenecker, pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Greenville, SC, recently wrote a thoughtful reflection on the relationship of beautiful churches and vocations.

To access Father Longenecker's commentary, please visit:

Standing on My Head: Do Beautiful Churches Produce Vocations? (24 MAR 11)

Background information:

Dwight Longenecker - Catholic priest and author

Historical Persons from Rhode Island: Esek Hopkins

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is the people of this region, many of whom have achieved renown in one field or another (or sometimes in a number of fields).

One such person, from Rhode Island, is Esek Hopkins (1718-1802), a Scituate native who became the first Commander in Chief of the Continental Navy during the American Revolution.

For more information about Esek Hopkins, please visit:

Wikipedia: Esek Hopkins

U.S. Dept. of the Navy Naval Historical Center: Commodore Esek Hopkins, Continental Navy, (1718-1802) -- Statues, Actions & Artifacts

Reflection Starter from Rev. Billy Graham

"Courage is contagious. When a brave man or woman takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened." - Billy Graham

25 March 2011

Senior Prom

The Norton, MA, High School National Honor Society recently hosted a "Senior Prom," in which the town's senior citizens were treated to an afternoon of food, dancing. and conversation.

To access a Sun Chronicle article about this event, please visit:

Sun Chronicle: Norton High School Honor Society students organize dance for town's senior citizens (24 MAR 11)

The Annunciation of the Lord

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. The assigned readings are Isaiah 7:10-14, 8:10; Hebrews 10:4-10; and Luke 1:26-38. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 40 (Psalm 40:7-11).

The Gospel reading is as follows:

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end."

But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?"

And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God."

Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

Dr. Edward Sri, provost and professor of theology and Scripture at the Augustine Institute Master’s program in Denver, CO, recently wrote an interesting reflection on the life of Mary before the Annunciation. To access this reflection, please visit:

Dr. Edward Sri: Our Lady’s Life Before the Annunciation (24 MAR 11)

Fine Arts in Vermont: Visions of Vermont Fine Art Gallery

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of fine arts presentations, opportunities, and other assets.

One such resource is the Visions of Vermont Fine Art Gallery in Jeffersonville..

For more information about the Visions of Vermont, please visit:

Visions of Vermont Fine Art Gallery

Reflection Starter from Father Robert, O.P.

Jesus said, "I am telling you the truth: whoever obeys my teaching will never die." (John 8:51)

"The words of the Lord are eternal. They contain the promise that whoever obeys His teaching would never die but have everlasting life. [One} pastor years ago had such a strong faith in Jesus’ word that he never removed the names of his deceased parishioner from the parish registry. He simply listed them as having 'changed residence.' How does my ordinary way of relating to other people and conducting my day to day life reflect my belief in eternal life? Does it make any difference?" - Father Robert, O.P. (from a recent Daily Inspiration from the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus, Chicago, IL)

For more information about the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus, please visit:

Shrine of Saint Jude

Background information:

Dominican Friars of the Province of Saint Albert the Great

24 March 2011

Msgr. Pope on Remembering the Poor

"Though we are in tough economic times we Americans live very well. Even the poorest among us live like royalty compared to the poor in many other parts of the world. And we do well, especially in Lent, to recall that our standard of living is partially possible because others work for pennies to produce our many consumer products."

So writes Monsignor Charles Pope in a recent commentary in which he reflected on the need to remember the poor. To access Msgr. Pope's complete reflection, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Remembering the Hidden Costs of Our Affluence (23 MAR 11)

Historical Persons from New Hampshire: Franklin Pierce

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is the people of this region, many of whom have achieved renown in one field or another (or sometimes in a number of fields).

One such person, from New Hampshire, is Franklin Pierce (1804-1869), the 14th President of the United States (who was in office from 1853 until 1857).

For more information about Franklin Pierce, please visit:

White House Presidential Biographies: Franklin Pierce

Wikipedia: Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce Bicentennial

Reflection Starter from Saint Turibius

"Time is not our own, and we must give a strict account of it." - attributed to Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo

23 March 2011

Vartan Gregorian on the Value of Libraries

It a recent talk at Brown University, its former president, Vartan Gregorian, spoke about the value of libraries and about the difference between information and knowledge.

To access a Providence Journal article about this presentation, please visit:

Providence Journal: At Brown, Gregorian lauds libraries (20 MAR 11)

Natural Features in New Hampshire: Mount Monadnock

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich variety of natural features.

One such natural feature is Mount Monadnock in Cheshire County, New Hampshire (within the towns of Jaffrey and Dublin). It is often spoken of as the most climbed mountain in North America.

For more information about Mount Monadnock, please visit:

Mount Monadnock

Wikipedia: Mount Monadnock

Reflection Starter from Henry Ford

"You can do anything if you have enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes rise to the stars. With it, there is accomplishment. Without it there are only alibis." - Henry Ford

Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo

Today the Church remembers Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo (ca. 1538-1606). A native of Spain who studied law at the university of Salamanca, he was appointed bishop of Lima in 1580.

This diocese was much bigger at that time than it is now, yet Turibius traveled through it three times, usually on foot. As he did so, he baptized, taught and confirmed the natives. He assembled a number of synods and councils guide the Church; and he strongly defended the rights of the natives, who, although legally Spanish citizens, were often oppressed by the Spanish colonists and provincial governors.

I have much respect for bishops and the office they hold. After all, they are successors of the apostles. The Church has had many holy bishops, many fine diocesan shepherds. Naturally, being men, they do make errors, most of which we don't hear about. We also don't hear about the many good things that they do.

In thinking about Saint Turibius, though, I wonder how many bishops (who have held their office for any length of time) have visited each parish and other Catholic institution in their diocese - not just coming in for one Mass, but really spending a little time there. In one sense there are major differences between the late 1500's and the the 2000's, but the office of bishop still has the same basic responsibilities. Hmm, I wonder. . . .

For more information about Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo, please visit:

Catholic Exchange: St. Turibius of Mongrovejo

EWTN: St Alphonsus Turibius, Confessor, Archbishop of Lima - 1538-1606

22 March 2011

This Week’s New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch

To access this week’s issue of New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch, please visit:

New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch - 22 March 2011

Fr. Barron on Quoting Non-saintly Persons

Father Robert Barron, founder of WordOnFire.org and the Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at Mundelein Seminary, recently wrote a commentary about using the words of others - people who may not be shining examples of a saintly character - to teach or encourage us in some aspect of our walk with the Lord.

To access Father Barron's complete reflection, please visit:

The Integrated Catholic Life: A Strategy for the New Evangelization (19 MAR 11)

New England Antiquities Research Association

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. These treasures include a number of stone structures (which may also be called "lithic" structures). Some of these are stone walls and foundations from colonial time. Others are part of a Native American tradition. This part of New England's heritage is often ignored, and the origin of many of these stone structures is not known.

The New England Antiquities Research Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to a better understanding of our historic and prehistoric past through the study and preservation of New England's stone sites in their cultural context.

For more information about the New England Antiquities Research Association, please visit:

New England Antiquities Research Association

Reflection Starter from Saint Ambrose

"There is no time of life past learning something." - Saint Ambrose

21 March 2011

Bridgeport, CT, Fire Heavily Damages Five Businesses

On Saturday, 19 March, a fire in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, CT, heavily damaged five businesses and displaced several tenants. The fire, at 2916 Fairfield Avenue, was reported at 11:16 AM

Media reports:

Bridgeport Post: Fire damages Black Rock businesses, apartments (19 MAR 11)

WTNH-TV: Fire damages Bpt. businesses and homes (19 MAR 11)

WTNH-TV: Bridgeport businesses begin cleanup after fire (20 MAR 11)

FirefighterNation: Bridgeport (CT) Fire Department battles two major fires in one day (21 MAR 11)

EMTBravo.net: Bridgeport – Working Fire 03-19-11 (19 MAR 11)

Background information:

Bridgeport Fire Department

Bridgeport Fire Department on Facebook

City of Bridgeport

Wikipedia: Bridgeport, Connecticut

Google Map: 2916 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut

Upcoming Events Related to Municipal Government Operations

For a look at a number of upcoming regional, national, and international conferences and other events related to issues affecting municipal government operations, please visit:

New England City & Town: Upcoming Events

Reflection Starter from Helen Hayes

"My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She
said that achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and
worked hard and done the best that is within you. Success is being
praised by others. That is nice but not as important or satisfying.
Always aim for achievement and forget about success." - Helen Hayes

A Look at the Decline in Catholic Weddings in RI

A recent Providence Journal article examines a deep decline in Catholic marriages in recent years in Rhode Island:

Providence Journal: Catholic weddings drop 71 percent in R.I. (20 MAR 11)

Background Information:

Diocese of Providence: Marriage Preparation & Enrichment

U.S. Catholic Bishops Pastoral Letter: Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan (November 2009)

Christian Music Artist from Massachusetts: Susan Bailey

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of Catholic and other Christian music ministers - individuals and groups - who serve in churches, Christian coffee houses, and a variety of other venues.

One such artist is Susan Bailey, a Christian singer, songwriter, recording artist, and speaker from Grafton, Massachusetts.

For more information about Susan Bailey, please visit:

Susan Bailey

YouTube: Susan Bailey: Come Holy Spirit

YouTube: Susan Bailey interviewed on CatholicTV

20 March 2011

Church Sign

Recently I was passing by the First Baptist Church in America in Providence and read the following message which was posted on the sign board on the church's front lawn: "Agnostics can't take yes for an answer".

New England’s Fire Service Heritage: Maxim Motor Company

For many decades a trusted name in fire apparatus was Maxim. The Maxim Motor Company in Middleborough, MA, was founded after a Middleborough firefighter (Carlton Maxim) built a second piece of of apparatus for the town’s fire department in 1914 (apparently he was not satisfied with the Knox the department had purchased two years earlier). The quality of the truck was quite good, and Maxim’s reputation began to spread.

Unfortunately, in 1989, Maxim ceased operations due to a number of economic factors. In 2009, Greenwood Emergency Vehicles, of North Attleborough, MA, announced that they were re-launching the Maxim brand name.

For more information about the Maxim Motor Company and Maxim fire apparatus, please visit:

"Unofficial" Maxim Motor Company

CapeCodFD: Maxim Motors Fire Apparatus

CapeCodFD: Early Maxim Apparatus

Webshots: Firefighting / Maxim Fire Apparatus

Youngstownfire.com: Forum: Maxim Fire Apparatus

Maxim Fire Trucks

Second Sunday of Lent

Today the Church celebrates the Second Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings are Genesis 12:1-4, 2 Timothy 1:8-10, and Matthew 17:1-9. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 33 (Psalm 33:4-5, 18-20, 22).

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

For reflection related to these readings, I offer:

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: Hope in Hardship

The Quiet Corner: Becoming another Christ is the heart of the Christian faith (17 MAR 11)

Msgr. Charles Pope: And Every Round Goes Higher, Higher! – A Meditation on the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent (19 MAR 11)

The Word Embodied: The Long Haul

Saint Leo the Great, Pope: The Transfiguration: Law Through Moses, Grace & Truth Through Jesus Christ

Reflection Starter from Aristotle

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

Exploring the Heritage of New England: Maine's Acadian Culture

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove are the various cultures that have come together to make up the fabric of life in this region. One such culture is Acadian culture in Maine.

For more information about the Maine Acadian culture, please visit:

National Park Service: Maine Acadian Culture

National Park Service: Acadian Culture in Maine

University of Maine at Fort Kent: Acadian Archives

Wikipedia: Acadians

Cathedral of Saint Joseph, Hartford, CT

New England is the home of a number of beautiful cathedrals, the cathedrae of the various Roman Catholic dioceses located in this region.

One of these cathedrals is the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Hartford, Connecticut. The parish was founded in 1872. The current structure was completed in 1962; it replaced the previous cathedral, which was destroyed by fire on 31 December 1956.

For more information about the Cathedral of Saint Augustine, please visit:

Cathedral of Saint Joseph, Hartford, Connecticut

Archdiocese of Hartford: History of the Cathedral of St. Joseph

The Catholic Photographer - Bob Mullen: Cathedral of St Joseph, Hartford, CT

Background Information:

Archdiocese of Hartford

Keely Society: The Burning of St. Joseph's Cathedral

British Pathe: Cathedral Blaze (aka St. Joseph Cathedral Fire - Hartford) video newsreel film

19 March 2011

Not Making a Difference?

As the movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, comes to a close and Harry is thinking about some of his eforts in previous portions of the movie, Harry tells Professor Lupin that "none of it made any difference." Professor Lupin then explains to Harry that his efforts did indeed make a difference.

Often in our lives we expend effort to assist someone or to accomplish a good goal, and these efforts, from our perspective, indeed look like they are not making a difference. But the truth is, and will eventually come to light, we are indeed making a difference. Someday the good Lord will reveal the beautiful tapestry He is working on. a tapestry that includes all the little threads our efforts - big, small, or in between - are part of.

Archbishop Dolan and an Airport Encounter

Archbishop Timothy Dolan (Archbishop of New York) recently wrote some observations and reflections about an encounter he had in Denver. The gentleman with whom he spoke had certain perceptions of priests because of the sexual abuse scandal in the Church.

To access Archbishop Dolan's commentary, please visit:

The Gospel in the Digital Age: An Airport Encounter (18 MAR 11)

Saint Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The assigned readings are 2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16; Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22; and Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 89 (Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29).

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

“Saint Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care. May he always guard, protect and enlighten families.” - Pope John Paul II

“St. Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life.” - Saint Josemaria Escriva

Background information:

Catholic Education Resource Center: St. Joseph

Vatican Documents: St Bernardine of Siena: Sermon 2, On St Joseph

Yankee Ingenuity in Connecticut: Matt and Ben Freund

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich variety of creative people. There is a phrase, "Yankee ingenuity," that has a lot of truth in it. People of New England have been noted for coming up with solutions to challenges/problems of all types.

As Suzi Forbes Chase wrote in New England (New York: Prentice Hall, 1994): "Principles come first. Hard work second.Give a New Englander a problem and he'll study it every which way until he comes up with a solution.

"That's the essence of 'Yankee ingenuity' - that peculiar knack for making the best of any situation - of turning a negative into a positive."

There is a good example of such ingenuity in Connecticut:  Matt and Ben Freund, of East Canaan (a village in the town of North Canaan). The Freund brothers have developed Cowpots, manure-fiber based seed starter pots which are designed to allow for unrestricted root growth which leads to stronger, healthier plants.

For more information about Matt and Ben Freund and their invention, please visit:


New York Times: From Tons of Manure, a Growth Industry (26 FEB 09)

Greenhouse Product News: A Natural Alternative (August 2008)

Big Blend Magazine: CowPots

YouTube: Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe--POO POT MAKER

Freunds Farm Market

Reflection Starter from Saint Augustine

"Believe that others are better than you in the depths of their soul, although outwardly you may appear better than they." - Saint Augustine of Hippo

"Life Is Like A Cup of Coffee"

While researching something else, I "happened to" come across this inspirational video today:

18 March 2011

Peter Kreeft on Praying

In a recent reflection, Peter Kreeft, Ph.D. (professor of philosophy at Boston College, author, and speaker), offers some thoughts on praying:

Dr. Peter Kreeft: Lesson One in Prayer (16 MAR 11)

State Trees of New England

Like each of the states throughout the United States, the New England states each have a number of state symbols. These state symbols include a state tree.

The state tree of Connecticut is the white oak (Quercus alba). For more information, please visit:

State of Connecticut: The State Tree

e-ReferenceDesk: Connecticut State Tree

USDA Forest Service: White Oak

The state tree of Maine is the Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus). For more information, please visit:

e-ReferenceDesk: Maine State Tree

USDA Forest Service: Eastern White Pine

The state tree of Massachusetts is the American elm (Ulmus americana). For more information, please visit:

e-ReferenceDesk: Massachusetts State Tree

USDA Forest Service: American Elm

The state tree of New Hampshire is the white birch (Betula papyrifera). For more information, please visit:

New Hampshire Almanac: State Tree

e-ReferenceDesk: New Hampshire State Tree

USDA Forest Service: Paper Birch

The state tree of Rhode Island is the red maple (Acer rubrum). For more information, please visit:

e-ReferenceDesk: Rhode Island State Tree

USDA Forest Service: Red Maple

The state tree of Vermont is the sugar maple (Acer saccharum). For more information, please visit:

e-ReferenceDesk: Vermont State Tree

USDA Forest Service: Sugar Maple

Reflection Starter from Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

"The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden for God is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as the Spirit approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen and to console. The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives him, and then, through him, the minds of others as well." - Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (whose feast day is today)

For more information about Saint Cyril, please visit:

Doctors of the Catholic Church: Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

New Advent: St. Cyril of Jerusalem

17 March 2011

Saint Patrick Lorica Song

As the observance of Saint Patrick's Day continues, I offer Lindsay Posko singing Rob Resetar's "St. Patrick Lorica Song":

Today’s Responsorial Psalm

Today’s assigned Responsorial Psalm (for the Thursday of the First Week in Lent) is another way to continue a prayer of thanksgiving. It is taken from Psalm 138 (Psalm 138: 1-3, 7-8):

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple and give thanks to your name.

R. Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.

Because of your kindness and your truth;
for you have made great above all things your name and your promise.
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.

R. Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.

Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands.

R. Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.

Saint Patrick

Today the Church remembers Saint Patrick, bishop.

Until my children started attending Saint Patrick School in Providence (RI), I did not pay much attention to him. Then I was introduced to his story, and it is a remarkable one. Being captured, serving as a slave, escaping, and returning as a missionary to the place in which he served as a slave is not an ordinary series of accomplishments.

For more information about Saint Patrick, please visit:

New Advent: Saint Patrick

Communities in Vermont: Weathersfield

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of communities of various sizes - including cities, towns, boroughs, villages, and plantations.

One such community is Weathersfield, a town in Vermont. With a population of 2,825 (2010), the town occupies 43.8 square miles of land in Windsor County. The town is named after Wethersfield, CT, from which many of its early residents came.

For more information about Exeter, please visit:

Town of Weathersfield

Wikipedia: Weathersfield, Vermont

Weathersfield History

Today's Reflection Starter: Saint Patrick's Breastplate

The prayer entitled Saint Pat­rick’s Lor­i­ca (or Saint Pat­rick’s Breast­plate) is traditionally attributed to Saint Patrick. There have been a number of translations of this prayer. This translation may be one of the more familiar ones:

"I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

"I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

"I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

"I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

"I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

"I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

"Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

"Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the stern,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

"I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe."

Don Moen: "Thank You Lord"

As a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for many blessings He has recently sent to loved ones, I offer:

16 March 2011

Triple Fatality in Maine Mobile Home Fire

Three persons recently died in a mobile home fire on Reynolds Road in Unity Township, Maine. The fire was reported at approximately 10:00 AM on Sunday, 13 March.

Investigators were trying to determine when the fire started in the mobile home, which was completely destroyed in the fire.

Media Reports:

Morning Sentinel: Three found dead in Unity Township (13 MAR 11)

Village Soup: Three bodies found in smoldering rubble in Unity Township (14 MAR 11)

WABI-TV: Fatal Fire Still Under Investigation (14 MAR 11)

Background Information:

Wikipedia: Unity, Kennebec County, Maine

Google Map: Reynolds, Unity, Maine

Fix a Leak Week

This week, the week of 14-20 March, is the annual Fix a Leak Week sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense® program, an initiative designed to encourage Americans to use water efficiently. A number of organizations in this region (e.g., the Lake Champlain Committee in Vermont) are participating in Fix a Leak Week activities to encourage residents to save water and, in so doing, save money, save energy, and helps reduce nutrient and other types of pollution.

Fix A Leak Week Logo

According to EPA, leaks account for approximately one trillion gallons of water wasted in the United States each year. The average home can waste 11,000 gallons of water per year - more than enough to fill a backyard swimming pool. By finding and fixing running toilets, leaky faucets, and dripping showerheads, a family can save as much as 10 percent on its utility bills and save water for future generations.

WaterSense is a partnership program sponsored by EPA that works to make it easy for consumers to identify water efficient products and learn water-saving behaviors. The WaterSense website has information on water-efficient products, facts, and figures about water use in the United States, as well as simple steps consumers can take to save water.

For more information, please visit:

      EPA: Fix a Leak Week

      EPA: WaterSense

      WaterSense on Facebook

2011 Great American Cleanup

Because so many state and local budgets are stretched to their limits, the national nonprofit organization, Keep America Beautiful (KAB), is encouraging people of all ages to rekindle their pride in their communities by volunteering for KAB’s 2011 Great American Cleanup.

Throughout the months of March, April, and May, an anticipated 3.5 million volunteers organized by 1,200 KAB affiliates and participating organizations nationwide will work to beautify and green their neighborhoods by planting trees, flowers, and community gardens; removing graffiti; reclaiming community amenities like parks and playgrounds; cleaning up litter and debris from public lands; and hosting recycling drives. The Great American Cleanup is designed as an opportunity for local organizations to coordinate community-building educational and awareness programs that engage people in activities that can improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods and communities.

The Great American Cleanup’s 2011 theme, “Green Starts Here,” is designed as a rallying call to encourage civic leaders and volunteer groups to begin creating more sustainable communities through their efforts as volunteers and through their daily choices and actions. It is also designed to reflect Keep America Beautiful’s legacy of waste reduction, recycling, beautification, and community greening activities.

For more information about the 2011 Great American Cleanup, please visit:

Keep America Beautiful: Great American Cleanup

Keep America Beautiful: 20 Tips for Maintaining Safe, Clean, Healthy Communities

Rhode Island Culture: The Arcade

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of legends, places, foods, and other features that are directly related to what many people think of as the New England culture.

The Arcade, what was the oldest indoor shopping mall in the U.S., is located in Providence, RI. Designed to look like a Greek temple, the granite structure was built in 1828. In 2008, the Arcade was closed in anticipation of a major renovation.

For more information about the Arcade, please visit:

Quahog.org: The Arcade

The City Rocks!: The Arcade's Pillars: A Lost Sierra

Brightridge: The Arcade

Providence Journal: The Arcade closes, its future uncertain (2 DEC 08)

AIR (Art in Ruins) Decay: The Arcade

Providence Preservation Society's Ten Most Endangered Properties Wiki:

Providence Journal: Editorial: Save the Arcade (12 DEC 08)

Reflection Starter from Saint Thomas Aquinas

“It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.'” – attributed to Saint Thomas Aquinas

Msgr. Pope on God Guiding Us Through His Law

“There is a danger when we speak of God’s Law, to consider it as we might any secular law. For example, we may well consider secular merely to be some sort of impersonal code written by some nameless legislators or bureaucrats. We have not met them, we do not know them, or necessarily love or trust them.”

Thus starts a reflection by Monsignor Charles Pope on God’s Law and about how it is personal – coming from God Himself to us individually and collectively, a ”personal exhortation, instruction and command given by someone we know and who knows and loves us.”

To read Msgr. Pope’s complete commentary, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: The Law of God is Personal (14 MAR 11)

A Dramatic Side of Supreme Court Justices

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an interesting article about the dramatic adventures of U.S. Supreme Court justices who periodically play the role of judges in faux trials involving fictional or historical persons. These presentations often are used to raise funds for causes, and the justices who participate appreciate the opportunity for reading other material besides the legal briefs before them during the work day.

To access this WSJ article, please visit:

Wall Street Journal: Supreme Night Court: Judges Relax By Trying the Fictitious and the Dead  (14 MAR 11)

15 March 2011

The Our Father and “Thy Kingdom Come”

The assigned Gospel reading for today (the Tuesday of the First Week of Lent) is Matthew 6:7-15:

Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

“If you forgive men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

In today’s Daily Ignatian Reflection from the Magis Institute,  Dr. Sam Conedera, S.J. writes:

“I remember being surprised when I read that there are seven petitions in the Lord's Prayer.  I counted them just to make sure.  The first petition, which follows the acknowledgment of God's holiness, is ‘Thy Kingdom come.’  When Jesus teaches us to pray, he tells us to pray first for the coming of the Kingdom.

“I have prayed the Lord's Prayer countless times, yet not often is the coming of the Kingdom my first priority.  Other, more particular petitions are often at the forefront: the health of loved ones, the consolation of the sorrowing, the success of some good endeavor, the grace to get through the day.  It is quite easy to miss the forest for the trees.

“To pray for the Kingdom is, nevertheless, a great blessing.  Some of our particular intentions will be granted, while others will not be.  The latter fact can be a source of sadness or resentment.  Yet insofar as we pray for the coming of the Kingdom, we come to know, accept and celebrate the wisdom of God's plan, whether his answer to our particular prayers is ‘yes’ or ‘no.’  More importantly, we set our hearts upon the peace, joy and fulfillment that is totally beyond our imagination.”

I am grateful for this reflection and the truth it contains.

Background information:

Magis Center of Reason and Faith

Sunshine Week

This is Sunshine Week. Sunshine Week is a national initiative designed to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofit organizations, schools, and others interested in the public's right to know.

As part of their observance of Sunshine Week, representatives from a number of news media outlets are visiting government offices in many parts of the region to see how accessible public documents are. Documents requested are of the type that should be readily accessible (although they may not often be requested during other times of the year).

For more information about Sunshine Week, please visit:

Sunshine Week

For a Sentinel & Enterprise (Fitchburg, MA) report on its initial 2011 Sunshine Week initiative, please visit:

Sentinel & Enterprise: City, town officials fulfill request for public document (13 MAR 11)

For more information related to access to public records by residents and other interested parties, please visit:

New England City & Town: Access to Public Records

Catholic Media Promotion Day

Today is Catholic Media Promotion Day. The idea for this day apparently started with Greg and Jennifer Willits, the hosts of "The Catholics Next Door" on The Catholic Channel (Sirius 159/XM 117). (They also publish a blog by the same name.) They idea for Catholic Media Promotion Day was for participants with a blog, podcast, or Facebook page to list their favorite 3 blogs, 3 podcasts, 3 other media, 3 random Catholic things online, and their own projects.

I think the idea is a good one, although I don't have ones that I would call favorites. There are a lot of good blogs out there, and I've quoted from a number of them from time to time. Other Catholic media include Catholic TV and EWTN, as well as Catholic radio stations/networks and a variety of print media (diocesan and national Catholic newspapers, magazines, and newsletters). There are many good sources of Catholic information. May the Lord bless each of their efforts, and may the seeds they are planting and nurturing bear much fruit.

For a commentary by Matthew Warner about Catholic Media Promotion Day, please visit:

Matthew Warner: Do You LIKE Catholic Media Promotion Day (March 15)? (13 MAR 11)

Background information:

The Catholics Next Door (blog)

The Catholic Channel

Music in New Hampshire: Spirit Fiddle

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of music of many different genres, including (but not limited to) religious, classical, folk, Celtic, sea shanties, rock, country and western, bluegrass, and the list goes on and on. New England is home to a number of composers, artists, and venues.

One such artist from New Hampshire is Spirit Fiddle, a duo who perform a wide variety of music, including Southern and Texas swing tunes, waltzes, old popular songs, bluegrass, French Canadian and Celtic jigs and reels, and Parisian musette.

For more information about Spirit Fiddle, please visit:

Spirit Fiddle

For samples of Spirit Fiddle's music, please visit:

YouTube: Spirit Fiddle Amazing Grace

YouTube: Spirit Fiddle at the Cook Shack I

YouTube: Spirit Fiddle at the Cook Shack II

YouTube: Spirit Fiddle at Graves Mountain

Happy Birthday, Maine

On this date in 1820, Maine was admitted as the 23rd state of the United States of America.

Twila Parish: "God Is in Control"

To follow up on the previous post, I offer Twila Parish singing "God Is in Control":

Reflection Starter from Father Robert, O.P.

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable, inscrutable, unsearchable are His judgments! And how mysterious are His ways!" (Romans 11:33)

"God is most difficult to know. While there is an intimate and enduring quality to His relationship with us, He is also unfathomable and mysterious. The Jewish scriptures often describe Him as infinitely great and glorious, almighty, holy and all knowing. Our love for Him is a blend of love, awe and respect. He is intimate and still distant. 'No one has ever seen God, but we will see Him face to face.' As we pray with a sense of His closeness to us, yet we must keep in mind the depth of His wisdom and knowledge. Consequently in our relationship with God, we must never be presumptuous or manipulative, especially in our petitions and prayers. It is clear: God is in control." - Father Robert, O.P. (from a recent Daily Inspiration from the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus, Chicago, IL)

Background information:

Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus

14 March 2011

This Week’s New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch

To access this week’s issue of New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch, please visit:

New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch - 14 March 2011

Monsignor Charles Pope on Serenity

"In Lent, a gift to seek is greater serenity. The word comes from the Latin serenus, meaning clear or unclouded (skies). By extension it thus means calm, without storm. Serenity has become more used in modern times with the advent of many 12-Step programs which use the serenity prayer as an important help to their work. Perhaps the closest Greek word to serenity is γαλήνη (galene) and it is used most specifically when Jesus stood in the boat, rebuked the storm and there was a great calm, a serenity (cf Matt 8:26). In this sense we can see how true serenity must come as a gift from God. For the storms of life can overwhelm and overpower us. So we need to seek serenity from God and receive it from him."

In a recent reflection, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC), writes about serenity and how we can have more of it in our lives.

To access Msgr. Pope's complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: On Seeking Greater Serenity

Literature from Massachusetts: John Greenleaf Whittier

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of literature - including writers from this region and literary works set in this region.

One such writer is John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), who was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Although he had little formal education, he became a well-known poet as well as a writer of hymns and an editor. Mr. Whittier was also very active in the anti-slavery movement up until the Civil War.

For more information about John Greenleaf Whittier, please visit:

Haverhill Public Library: John Greenleaf Whittier

Celebrate Boston: John Greenleaf Whittier

Academy of American Poets: John Greenleaf Whittier

HymnTime: John Greenleaf Whittier

Wikipedia: John Greenleaf Whittier

Whittier Birthplace

John Greenleaf Whittier's poems include:

John Greenleaf Whittier: St. Gregory's Guest

John Greenleaf Whittier: A Song Of Harvest

John Greenleaf Whittier: Snow-Bound

John Greenleaf Whittier: The Tent on the Beach

Reflection Starter from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier." -
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

13 March 2011

Words of Encouragement

Some words of encouragement came to me this afternoon as I prayed the Liturgy of the Hours daytime prayer. The midday reading was from the book of Isaiah: Thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies. Yet the Lord is waiting to show you favor, and he rises to pity you; For the Lord is a God of justice: blessed are all who wait for him! - Isaiah 30: 15, 18

Tsunamis and the East Coast

Is there a potential for tsunamis on the East Coast? Yes, there is not only a potential, but they have occurred (although not to the degree seen in the Pacific region). Still, as the following reports point out, the possibility is still here:

National Weather Service Forecast Office: Philadelphia/Mount Holly: Tsunami

Maine Geological Survey: Tsunamis in the Atlantic Ocean

Newsmedianews: ...Living on borrowed time? (2 MAY 08)

Consumer Affairs: Researchers Study East Coast Tsunami Danger (29 NOV 05)

Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

The vivid pictures of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan have touched the hearts of many with a mixture of compassion, awe, and a number of other emotions. It is a good reminder of the power of the forces that God put together as he fashioned what we often term Mother Nature.

Here are a few of the many media reports:

BBC: Japan earthquake: How the Japan tsunami unfolded (11 MAR 11)

CNN: Tsunami waves strike Japan (11 MAR 11)

YouTube: Fairfax County Urban Search & Rescue Team Mobilizes to Japan (11 MAR 11)

CNN: Quake moved Japan coast 8 feet, shifted Earth's axis (12 MAR 11)

CNN: Concern about food, fuel in wake of Japan disasters (12 MAR 11)

New York Times: Japanese Scramble to Avert Meltdowns as Nuclear Crisis Deepens After Quake (12 MAR 11_

BBC: Japan earthquake: Aerial footage of devastation (12 MAR 11)

BBC: Tsunami sweeps through Kesennuma City in Japan (12 MAR 11)

BBC: Japan: A fragile country at the mercy of nature  (12 MAR 11)

Washington Post: Japan begins grim relief mission with towns flooded, thousands reported missing (13 MAR 11)

BBC: Japan crisis 'worst since WW2' (13 MAR 11)

CNN: Tsunami-hit Sendai faces uncertain future (13 MAR 11)

BBC: Japan earthquake: Minamisanriku port swept away (13 MAR 11)

CNN: Photos: Earthquake rocks Japan

Background information:

CNN: Quakes not increasing, but human risk is (12 MAR 11)

CNN: What is a tsunami? (12 MAR 11)

BBC: Japan earthquake: Can you tsunami-proof a country? (11 MAR 11)

Smithsonian: Future Shocks (March 2005)

National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program

NOAA Center for Tsunami Research: Tsunami Event - March 11, 2011 Honshu

Response to the need:

A Concord Pastor Comments: For the people of Japan (12 MAR 11)

The Deacon's Bench: Pray. Hope. Give. (12 MAR 11)

CNA/EWTN: Japanese Church mobilizing tsunami response, Pope 'deeply saddened' by disaster (12 MAR 11)

Twila Paris: "Lamb of God"

As part of the Lenten observance, I offer Twila Paris singing "Lamb of God":

Cathedral of Saint Augustine, Bridgeport, CT

New England is the home of a number of beautiful cathedrals, the cathedrae of the various Roman Catholic dioceses located in this region.

One of these cathedrals is the Cathedral of Saint Augustine in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The parish was founded in 1842; the cornerstone for the current structure was laid in 1866, and the church was dedicated in 1868.

When the diocese was split off from the Archdiocese of Hartford in 1953, St. Augustine was chosen as the location for the bishop’s cathedra.

For more information about the Cathedral of Saint Augustine, please visit:

Cathedral of St Augustine

Wikipedia: St. Augustine Cathedral (Bridgeport, Connecticut)

Background Information:

Diocese of Bridgeport

Henry H. Menzies: Architect's Comments on the Renovation of the Cathedral of St. Augustine (30 DEC 03)

Henry Hardinge Menzies: Featured Work (including Cathedral of St. Augustine)

Community Service in Maine: Midcoast Green Collaborative

New England is a treasure house filled with many different types of spiritual, cultural, historical, and other resources. Included in this treasure trove is a rich mixture of community service organizations that are working to address a particular concern or group of concerns.

One such organization is the Midcoast Green Collaborative, a Maine nonprofit organization dedicated to community building. The collaborative includes business persons, public officials, and other citizens from the Damariscotta area who are working together to promote a viable "green" program of socially responsible economic growth in Midcoast Maine (growth that will lead to a revitalized, balanced economy built on the production of goods, rather than just services, retail sales, and tourism).

For more information about the Midcoast Green Collaborative, please visit:

Midcoast Green Collaborative

First Sunday of Lent

Today the Church celebrates the First Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings are Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; and Matthew 4:1-11. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 51 (Psalm 51: 3-6, 12-13, 17).

The Gospel reading is as follows:

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: ‘One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, "’You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’”

Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, "All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.

Reflections on these readings:

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for March 13, 2011: 1st Sunday of Lent (12 MAR 11)

The Word Embodied: Unmasking the Great Deception

Msgr. Charles Pope: Tackle Temptation or Risk Ruination – A Reflection on the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent

The Quiet Corner: Jesus is mankind’s enduring example of perfect ‘sonship’ (10 MAR 11)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary: Gregory Nazianzen

YouTube: Living Lent: The First Sunday - Cardinal Rigali

Reflection Starter from Saint John Chrysostom

“Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works.
If you see a poor man, take pity on him.
If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him.

“Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all the members of our bodies.

“Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.
Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.

“Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip.
Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.

“For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers?

“May He who came to the world to save sinners, strengthen us to complete the fast with humility! Have mercy on us and save us.” – attributed to Saint John Chrysostom

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Background Information:

New Advent: St. John Chrysostom

Pope Benedict XVI: St. John Chrysostom

The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints: The Life of Our Father Among the Saints, John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople

12 March 2011

Three Recent Multiple Fatal Fires in New England

During the past several days, there have been three fires with multiple fatalities in New England:


Two girls died in a fire at 34 Summer Street, a single family two-story wood residential building in the Lisbon Falls section of Lisbon last Friday (4 March).

Media reports:

Sun Journal: Intense fire foiled efforts to save sisters (4 MAR 11)

Times Record: Lisbon fire victims identified (4 MAR 11)

WGME-TV: Fire that killed two girls in Lisbon Falls ruled accidental (4 MAR 11)

WCSH-TV: Lisbon Falls fire kills two young girls (5 MAR 11)

WMTW-TV: Mother Of Girls Killed In Lisbon Falls Fire Released From Hospital (7 MAR 11)

Background information:

Lisbon Fire Department

Town of Lisbon

Wikipedia: Lisbon Falls, Maine

Google Map: 34 Summer Street, Lisbon Falls, ME

Rhode Island:

Two women died in a two-alarm fire at 25 Camden Avenue, a three-story wood residential building in Providence, on Monday (7 March).

Media reports:

Providence Journal: Two woman perish in Providence fire (8 MAR 11)

WPRI-TV: Deadly Providence fire ruled accidental (9 MAR 11)

WPRI-TV: DOH: Woman's death related to apt. fire (8 MAR 11)

NECN: Suspicious fire leaves two dead in Providence (7 MAR 11)

WPRI-TV: Prov fire kills 2, deemed suspicious (7 MAR 11)

WJAR-TV: Two women die in early-morning fire (7 MAR 11)

Big Dog Fireground Photography: 2nd alarm Providence RI Camden ave Fatalities on floor 3

Wellinvolved.net: Double Fatal Overnight Fire On Smith Hill (7 MAR 11)

Background information:

Providence Firefighters Local 799

City of Providence

Wikipedia: Providence, Rhode Island

Google Map: 25 Camden Avenue, Providence, RI


Three people died in a two alarm fire at 48-50 Wolcott Street, a two story wood multi-family residential building in New Haven early Wednesday morning (9 March).

Media Reports:

New Haven Register: 'SHE DIED A HERO': Survivors of deadly New Haven fire try to cope with tragedy (11 MAR 11)

NBC Connecticut: Fire Victims Identified (10 MAR 11)

New Haven Register: FATAL FIRE WAS SET: Mother, son, niece died on 3rd floor; several more hurt in New Haven blaze (9 MAR 11)

New Haven Independent: Fire Termed A Triple Homicide (9 MAR 11)

New Haven Register: FATAL NEW HAVEN BLAZE: Building passed inspections; Wolcott St. property owner lives in N.Y.; owes back taxes (9 MAR 11)

WTNH-TV: Fire being treated as triple homicide (9 MAR 11)

WFSB-TV: Fatal New Haven Fire Ruled Arson (9 MAR 11)

CTnow Video: New Haven Fatal Fire Latest | 3/9 (9 MAR 11)

1st Responder Broadcast Network: Fatal Second Alarm House Fire in New Haven (9 MAR 11)

WTNH-TV: Accelerant found at fatal New Haven fire (10 MAR 11)

WTNH-TV: Fatal fire prompts safety plan review (9 MAR 11)

allhandsworking.com: New Haven Fatal 2nd Alarm 48-50 Wolcott St.

CTnow Photo Gallery: New Haven Fire Kills Three

Background information:

New Haven Fire Department

City of New Haven

Wikipedia: New Haven, Connecticut

Google Map: 48-50 Wolcott Street, New Haven,  CT