31 May 2012

How Long Will This Project Really Take? GAO Issues Draft Schedule Assessment Guide

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has issued a draft manual designed to help federal, state, and local government agencies develop more reliable schedule assessments for government projects of all sizes. The draft, Schedule Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Developing and Managing Capital Program Schedules (GAO-12-120G), is available online, and it applies to civilian and defense projects managed by either government entities or private contractors.

Drawing on scheduling concepts introduced in GAO’s March 2009 Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide (GAO-09-3SP), the draft Schedule Assessment Guide presents ten “best practices” for developing and maintaining a reliable, high-quality schedule. It is designed to assist not only GAO auditors in evaluating the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of government programs but also all government agencies in developing, managing, and evaluating capital programs. The draft will be available for comment for a full year to allow GAO to collect a wide array of feedback before completing the final guide. Comments on the draft may be submitted at https://tell.gao.gov/schedulecommentguide.

Developed with help from industry experts as well as federal officials, the 221-page draft Schedule Assessment Guide lays out a multi-step process for developing high-quality, trustworthy schedules; explains how to manage schedules once they have been developed; and presents nineteen case studies drawn from GAO’s published audits that illustrate typical pitfalls and successes in scheduling and schedule risk analysis. The guide stresses sound scheduling practices, such as setting realistic program baselines and managing risk. GAO plans to use the Schedule Assessment Guide to assess the accuracy and realism of agencies’ schedules in its future audits.

To access a copy of this guide, please visit:

GAO: Schedule Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Developing and Managing Capital Program Schedules (May 2012)

Background information:

U.S. Government Accountability Office

Lumen Gentium: The Mystery of the Church (5)

Chapter I of Lumen Gentium is entitled “The Mystery of the Church.” It continues as follows:

“5. The mystery of the holy Church is manifest in its very foundation. The Lord Jesus set it on its course by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Kingdom of God, which, for centuries, had been promised in the Scriptures: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand"(18). In the word, in the works, and in the presence of Christ, this kingdom was clearly open to the view of men. The Word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field;(19) those who hear the Word with faith and become part of the little flock of Christ,(20) have received the Kingdom itself. Then, by its own power the seed sprouts and grows until harvest time.(21) The Miracles of Jesus also confirm that the Kingdom has already arrived on earth: ‘If I cast out devils by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you’.(22) Before all things, however, the Kingdom is clearly visible in the very Person of Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man, who came ‘to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.’(23)

“When Jesus, who had suffered the death of the cross for mankind, had risen, He appeared as the one constituted as Lord, Christ and eternal Priest,(24) and He poured out on His disciples the Spirit promised by the Father.(25) From this source the Church, equipped with the gifts of its Founder and faithfully guarding His precepts of charity, humility and self-sacrifice, receives the mission to proclaim and to spread among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God and to be, on earth, the initial budding forth of that kingdom. While it slowly grows, the Church strains toward the completed Kingdom and, with all its strength, hopes and desires to be united in glory with its King.”

(18) Mark 1:15; cf. Matthew 4:17.

(19) Mark 4:14.

(20) Luke 12:32.

(21) Cf. Mark 4:26-29.

(22) Luke 11:20; cf. Matthew 12:28.

(23) Mark 10:45.

(24) Cf. Acts 2:36; Hebrews 5:6, 7:17-21.

(25) Cf. Acts 2:33.

 

To access the complete document, please visit:

Dogmatic Constitution on the Church - Lumen Gentium

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for military chaplains and for the blessing they are for persons serving in the armed forces.

National Catholic Register Interview with Archbishop Timothy Broglio

“Religious faith is seen by some people as poisonous to good citizenship. One’s religious beliefs are expected to be kept private if they are not in conformity with the secularist mindset. Matters such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate are seen as demands to which any good citizen would acquiesce.

“Archbishop Timothy Broglio could not disagree more.”

The National Catholic Register recently ran an interview with Archbishop Timothy Broglio, archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. In this interview, Archbishop Broglio discussed a range of issues related to military chaplains.

To access this National Catholic Register interview, please visit:

National Catholic Register: Head of Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Remembers Soldiers’ Sacrifices (28 MAY 2012)

Background information:

Archdiocese for the Military, USA

Reflection Starter from Samuel Johnson

“Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.” – Samuel Johnson

30 May 2012

The Singing Nuns: “The Lorica Of St. Patrick”

“Just because,” I offer this version of “The Lorica Of St. Patrick ” by the Singing Nuns (Sisters of Mary Immaculate Queen, Saint Michael’s Convent, Spokane, WA):

 

Education Department Approves More States for NCLB Waivers

The U.S. Department of Education recently approved Connecticut, Rhode Island, and six additional states for flexibility from key provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act in exchange for state-developed plans to prepare all students for college and career, focus aid on the neediest students, and support effective teaching and leadership. This announcement brings the number of states with waivers to nineteen (including Massachusetts). Eighteen additional applications are still under review.

Background information:

U.S. Dept. of Education: No Child Left Behind: Flexibility and Waivers

U.S. Dept. of Education: The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001)

Lumen Gentium: The Mystery of the Church (4)

Chapter I of Lumen Gentium is entitled “The Mystery of the Church.” It continues as follows:

“4. When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth (9) was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that He might continually sanctify the Church, and thus, all those who believe would have access through Christ in one Spirit to the Father.(10) He is the Spirit of Life, a fountain of water springing up to life eternal.(11) To men, dead in sin, the Father gives life through Him, until, in Christ, He brings to life their mortal bodies.(12) The Spirit dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful, as in a temple.(13) In them He prays on their behalf and bears witness to the fact that they are adopted sons.(14) The Church, which the Spirit guides in way of all truth(15) and which He unified in communion and in works of ministry, He both equips and directs with hierarchical and charismatic gifts and adorns with His fruits.(16) By the power of the Gospel He makes the Church keep the freshness of youth. Uninterruptedly He renews it and leads it to perfect union with its Spouse. (3*) The Spirit and the Bride both say to Jesus, the Lord, ‘Come!’(17) Thus, the Church has been seen as ‘a people made one with the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’(4*)”

(9) Cf. John 17:4.

(10) Cf. Ephesians 1:18.

(11) Cf. John 4:14; 7:38-39.

(12) Cf. Romans 8:10-11.

(13) Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19.

(14) Cf. Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:15-16 and 26.

(15) Cf. John 16:13.

(16) Cf. Ephesians 1:11-12; 1 Corinthians 12:4; Galatians 5:22.

(17) Revelation 22:17

(3*) Cf. S. Irenaeus, adv. Haer, 111 24, 1: PG 7, 966 B; Harvey 2, 13i, ed. Sagnard, Sources Chr., p 398.

(4*) S. Cyprianus, De Orat Dom. 23: PL 4, 5S3, Hartel, III A, p. 28S. S. Augustinus, Serm. 71, 20, 33: PL 38, 463 s. S. Io. Damascenus, Adv. Iconocl. 12: PG 96, 1358 D.

 

To access the complete document, please visit:

Dogmatic Constitution on the Church - Lumen Gentium

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You encourage the ones You are calling to the consecrated life.

The Imagine Sisters Movement

A relatively new web and campus-based initiative, Imagine Sisters, is striving to inspire the imaginations of young women to consider the call to consecrated life as a sister.

For more information, please visit:

Imagine Sisters

Facebook: Imagine Sisters

YouTube: The Imagine Sisters Movement

Reflection Starter from Francois de la Rochefoucauld

“True bravery is shown by performing without witness what one might be capable of doing before all the world.” - Francois de la Rochefoucauld

29 May 2012

Connecticut River Watershed Designated as National Blueway

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently signed a Secretarial Order establishing a National Blueways System and announced that the 410-mile-long Connecticut River and its 7.2 million-acre watershed will be the first National Blueway – covering areas of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

“The Connecticut River Watershed is a model for how communities can integrate their land and water stewardship efforts with an emphasis on ‘source-to-sea’ watershed conservation,” Salazar said in a prepared statement. “I am pleased to recognize the Connecticut River and its watershed with the first National Blueway designation as we seek to fulfill President Obama’s vision for healthy and accessible rivers that are the lifeblood of our communities and power our economies.”

The new National Blueways System is part of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to establish a community-driven conservation and recreation agenda for the 21st century. The Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture both identified the Connecticut River as an important priority under this initiative.

Running from the Canadian border to Long Island Sound, the Connecticut River and its watershed include 2.4 million residents and 396 communities. The estimated 1.4 million people who enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife of the Connecticut River watershed every year contribute at least a billion dollars to local economies, according to the Trust for Public Land.

The National Blueways System is designed to recognize river systems conserved through diverse stakeholder partnerships that use a comprehensive watershed approach to resource stewardship. The program will strive to provide a new national emphasis on the unique value and significance of a “headwaters to mouth” approach to river management.

The Secretarial Order on National Blueways also establishes an intra-agency committee to provide leadership, support, and coordination. For the Connecticut River National Blueway, the collaborating federal agencies include the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The National Blueway designation differs from existing federal designations for rivers (e.g., Wild and Scenic), which generally cover only a segment of a river and a narrow band of the riparian corridor. A National Blueway, by contrast, includes the entire river from “source to sea” as well as the river’s watershed. National Blueways designations are intended to recognize and support existing local and regional conservation, recreation, and restoration efforts, and they do not establish a new protective status or regulations.

Media report:

The Day: Massive Connecticut River watershed is named Blueway (29 MAY 12)

Background information:

U.S. Department of the Interior: Secretarial Order on the National Blueway System

U.S. Department of the Interior: Designation of the Connecticut River National Blueway

Lumen Gentium: The Mystery of the Church (3)

Chapter I of Lumen Gentium is entitled “The Mystery of the Church.” It continues as follows:

“3. The Son, therefore, came, sent by the Father. It was in Him, before the foundation of the world, that the Father chose us and predestined us to become adopted sons, for in Him it pleased the Father to re-establish all things.(4) To carry out the will of the Father, Christ inaugurated the Kingdom of heaven on earth and revealed to us the mystery of that kingdom. By His obedience He brought about redemption. The Church, or, in other words, the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery, grows visibly through the power of God in the world. This inauguration and this growth are both symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of a crucified Jesus,(5) and are foretold in the words of the Lord referring to His death on the Cross: ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself’.(6) As often as the sacrifice of the cross in which Christ our Passover was sacrificed, is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried on, and, in the sacrament of the eucharistic bread, the unity of all believers who form one body in Christ (8) is both expressed and brought about. All men are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, and toward whom our whole life strains.”

(4) Cf. Ephesians 1:4-5 and 10.

(5) Cf. John 19:34.

(6) John 12:32.

(8) Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:17

To access the complete document, please visit:

Dogmatic Constitution on the Church - Lumen Gentium

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You minister to Your people through Your priests and deacons.

Bishop Tobin on the Decreasing Number of Priests

“I was going to entitle this article “The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Priests,” but you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out what’s happening to the number of priests in the Diocese of Providence.

“It’s pretty simple: We have significantly fewer priests to serve the spiritual and pastoral needs of the Diocese than we had just a few years ago.”

In a recent commentary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on the decreasing number of priests available to serve this diocese.

To access Bishop Tobin’s essay, please visit:

Without A Doubt: The Case of the Disappearing Priests (24 MAY 12)

Reflection Starter from Arthur Ashe

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”  - Arthur Ashe

28 May 2012

Lumen Gentium: The Mystery of the Church (2)

Chapter I of Lumen Gentium is entitled “The Mystery of the Church.” It continues as follows:

“2. The eternal Father, by a free and hidden plan of His own wisdom and goodness, created the whole world. His plan was to raise men to a participation of the divine life. Fallen in Adam, God the Father did not leave men to themselves, but ceaselessly offered helps to salvation, in view of Christ, the Redeemer “who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature”.(2) All the elect, before time began, the Father “foreknew and pre- destined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that he should be the firstborn among many brethren”.(3) He planned to assemble in the holy Church all those who would believe in Christ. Already from the beginning of the world the foreshadowing of the Church took place. It was prepared in a remarkable way throughout the history of the people of Israel and by means of the Old Covenant.(1*) In the present era of time the Church was constituted and, by the outpouring of the Spirit, was made manifest. At the end of time it will gloriously achieve completion, when, as is read in the Fathers, all the just, from Adam and “from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect,”(2*) will be gathered together with the Father in the universal Church.

(2) Colossians 1:15.

(3) Romans 8:29.

(1*) Cf. S. Cyprianus, Epist. 64, 4: PL 3, 1017. CSEL (Hartcl), III B p. 720. S. Hilarius Pict., In Mt 23, 6: PL 9, 1047. S. Augustinus, passim. S. Cyrillus Alex., Glaph in Gen. 2, 10: PG 69, 110 A.

(2*) Cf. S. Gregorius M., Hom in Evang. 19, 1: PL 76, 1154 B. S Augustinus, Serm. 341, 9, 11: PL 39, 1499 s. S. Io. Damascenus, Adv. Iconocl. 11: PG 96, 1357.

To access the complete document, please visit:

Dogmatic Constitution on the Church - Lumen Gentium

Memorial Day Salute: Armed Forces Medley

As our Memorial Day observance continues, I offer this presentation of the “Armed Forces Medley” from the 2011 National Memorial Day Concert":

The Power of Forgiveness

Yesterday’s CBS News Sunday Morning program had a good profile of World War II veteran Louis Zamperini that touched on the power of forgiveness.

To access this presentation, please visit:

CBS News: Sunday Morning: A war hero's "Unbroken" bond with his biographer (27 MAY 12)

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, a day designated to commemorate the men and women who died while in the military service.

We lift up to the Lord the souls of each of these men and women. We also thank Him, and them, for their sacrifice.

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
                  – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

YouTube: Taps

YouTube: Memorial Day 2012 - Freedom Isn't Free

Presidential Proclamation: Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2012

DeerLake Weekly Letter: Memorial Day Prices, The Cost of Freedom

Paul Greenberg: Remembering, We Forget (30 MAY 11)

Related posts:

Lop Notes: A Third Grade Song (3 MAY 10)

Lop Notes: Memorial Day Tribute (29 MAY 10)

Lop Notes: Additional Memorial Day Reflections (30 MAY 10)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the sacrifice offered by those men and women who gave their lives in service to our nation. May they rest in peace.

Pope Benedict’s Pentecost Homily

“[Pentecost] constitutes the baptism of the Church, it is an event that gave the Church the initial shape and thrust of its mission, so to speak. This shape and thrust are always valid, always timely, and they are renewed through the actions of the liturgy, especially.

“This morning I want to reflect on an essential aspect of the mystery of Pentecost, which maintains all its importance in our own day as well. Pentecost is the feast of human unity, understanding and sharing.We can all see how in our world, despite us being closer to one another through developments in communications, with geographical distances seeming to disappear – understanding and sharing among people is often superficial and difficult. There are imbalances that frequently lead to conflicts; dialogue between generations is hard and differences sometimes prevail; we witness daily events where people appear to be growing more aggressive and belligerent; understanding one another takes too much effort and people prefer to remain inside their own sphere, cultivating their own interests. In this situation, can we really discover and experience the unity we so need?”

Vatican Radio is offering the text of the Pentecost homily given by Pope Benedict XVI.

To access this text, please visit:

Vatican Radio: Pope: Pentecost is a feast of unity, understanding and sharing (27 MAY 12)

Reflection Starter from Ronald Reagan

“Today, as in the past, there are problems that must be solved and challenges that must be met. We can tackle them with our full strength and creativity only because we are free to work them out in our own way. We owe this freedom of choice and action to those men and women in uniform who have served this nation and its interests in time of need. In particular, we are forever indebted to those who have given their lives that we might be free.” – President Ronald Reagan (Message on the Observance of Memorial Day, 1983)

27 May 2012

Chicago Mass Choir: “Spirit of the Living God”

As our celebration of Pentecost continues, I offer this version of the Chicago Mass Choir singing William R. Hamilton’s “Spirit of the Living God” (the soloist is Tammie Smith):

HHS Mandate Lawsuit

On Monday, 21 May, in federal district courts throughout the U.S., 43 Catholic dioceses, institutions, and laypeople filed twelve lawsuits, challenging the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s “contraception mandate.”

Media reports/commentary:

National Catholic Register: Unprecedented Legal Action Takes HHS Mandate Battle to the Courts (21 MAR 12)

National Catholic Register: Let Freedom Ring! (24 MAY 12)

PBS: Religion & Ethics Newsweekly: Catholic Institutions v Obama Administration (25 MAY 12)

Catholic News Agency: Bishop Blaire rejects claims of division over mandate lawsuits (25 MAY 12)

Washington Times: Times 247: Catholic bishops sound battle cry for religious liberty (24 MAY 12)

egregious twaddle: Consider the Source (24 MAY 12)

Lumen Gentium: The Mystery of the Church (1)

On 21 November 1964, Pope Paul VI solemnly promulgated one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church - Lumen Gentium. Unfortunately, as was the case of other documents from Vatican II, (too) many people did not take the time to read the document all the way through (let alone reflect on it). Over the next few weeks, we will be offering the document, one portion at a time. Time reading and reflecting on these words, the words of the Holy Spirit speaking through the Church, would be well spent indeed.

Chapter I of Lumen Gentium is entitled “The Mystery of the Church.”

“1. Christ is the Light of nations. Because this is so, this Sacred Synod gathered together in the Holy Spirit eagerly desires, by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature,(1) to bring the light of Christ to all men, a light brightly visible on the countenance of the Church. Since the Church is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race, it desires now to unfold more fully to the faithful of the Church and to the whole world its own inner nature and universal mission. This it intends to do following faithfully the teaching of previous councils. The present-day conditions of the world add greater urgency to this work of the Church so that all men, joined more closely today by various social, technical and cultural ties, might also attain fuller unity in Christ.”

(1) Cf. Mark 16:15.

To access the complete document, please visit:

Dogmatic Constitution on the Church - Lumen Gentium

Pentecost Sunday

Today the Church celebrates Pentecost Sunday. The assigned readings are Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; and John 20:19-23. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 104 (Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34).

The Gospel reading is as follows:

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Pentecost (May 27, 2012)

Msgr. Charles Pope: Clubhouse or Lighthouse? – What the Holy Spirit Wants for the Church on the Feast of Pentecost (26 MAY 12)

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

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for May 27, 2012: Pentecost Sunday (25 MAY 12)

The Quiet Corner: The church is God’s primary instrument of salvation (24 MAY 12)

The Lectionary: Pray that the Spirit will renew the face of the earth (Pentecost Sunday A B C) (24 MAY 12)

Dr. Scott Hahn: A New Wind (May 27th 2012 - Pentecost)

The Sacred Page: The Pentecost Readings (26 MAY 12)

Dominican Daily: Sermon of St. Thomas Aquinas for Pentecost (22 MAY 12)

The Word Encountered: Solidarity and Courage (Pentecost Sunday B)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many, many ways in which the Holy Spirit is working in Your Church, in Your people.

Florida Teen Stands Up for Her Faith

“While the nation discusses and debates the attacks on religious freedom, a high school junior in Florida has put her academic reputation on the line to stand up for her faith. Margeaux Graham was selected this year to participate in a prestigious 9-day leadership event in her state’s capital. . . . When she inquired about nearby Catholic churches to plan where she would attend, she was told by the staff that the only opportunity any of the girls would have to participate in a Sunday service is to attend the “non-offensive”, non-denominational service offered for all at the conference. . . .

“So Margeaux took action herself. She wrote to the organizers declining the invitation, with firm resolve, unless she was allowed to attend Mass.”

In two recent commentaries, writer Stacy Trasancos reflected on Margeaux Graham’s stance when denied the opportunity to attend Mass while participating in the Girls State program sponsored by American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) of Florida. (Margeaux is a high school junior.)

To access her posts, please visit:

The American Catholic: Margeaux’s Stand: Catholic Teen Defends Her Right to Attend Mass (23 MAY 12)

The American Catholic: Go Margeaux! Victorious in Defense of the Eucharist (25 MAY 12)

Reflection Starter from Pope John Paul II

“All the great works of God begin with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, both in the life of individuals and in that of the whole Ecclesial Community. Born on the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Church is constantly reborn through the work of that same Spirit in many places throughout the world, in many human hearts, in various cultures and nations.” – Blessed John Paul II (Homily for the Solemnity of Pentecost, 18 May 1997)

26 May 2012

Celtic Woman: “O America”:

As we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day, I offer Celtic Woman singing “O America”:

NOAA Predicts a Near-normal 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Conditions in the atmosphere and the ocean favor a near-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin this season, NOAA recently announced.

For the entire six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there is a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms (with top winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight will strengthen to a hurricane (with top winds of 74 mph or higher) and of those one to three will become major hurricanes (with top winds of 111 mph or higher, ranking Category 3, 4, or 5). Based on the period 1981-2010, an average season produces 12 named storms with six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

Hurricane Irene

Irene in 2011 was a reminder that tropical systems can affect the Northeast and of the threat of inland flooding.

(Credit: NOAA.)

Favoring storm development in 2012: the continuation of the overall conditions associated with the Atlantic high-activity era that began in 1995, in addition to near-average sea surface temperatures across much of the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, known as the Main Development Region. Two factors now in place that can limit storm development, if they persist, are strong wind shear, which is hostile to hurricane formation in the Main Development Region, and cooler sea surface temperatures in the far eastern Atlantic. Another potential climate factor would be El Niño, if it develops by late summer to early fall. In that case, conditions could be less conducive for hurricane formation and intensification during the peak months (August-October) of the season.

The seasonal outlook does not predict how many storms will hit land. Forecasts for individual storms and their impacts are provided by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, which continuously monitors the tropics for storm development and tracking throughout the season using an array of tools including satellites, advance computer modeling, hurricane hunter aircraft, and land- and ocean-based observations sources such as radars and buoys.

Background information:

NOAA: National Hurricane Center

FEMA: Ready.gov: Hurricanes

National Weather Service: Hurricane Preparedness Week

YouTube: U.S. National Weather Service: Hurricane Preparedness PSAs

2012 Click It or Ticket Campaign

State and local police departments throughout this region (and the rest of the U.S.) are participating in the the 2012 Click It or Ticket campaign, an initiative designed to remind motorists about the severe risks of driving unbelted, day or night.

2012 Click It or Ticket

Seat belt use in 2011 was estimated at 84 percent, statistically unchanged from 85 percent in 2010. This result is from the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), which is the only survey that provides nationwide probability based observed data on seat belt use in the United States. The NOPUS is conducted annually by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

This year’s Click It or Ticket campaign (or National Seat Belt Enforcement Mobilization) runs through 3 June. It coincides with new advertisements by NHTSA that highlight unsafe attempts by drivers to fake seat belt use. NHTSA data show nationwide more than three million seat belt citations have been issued during the annual crackdowns over the past five years.

To access one of these ads, please visit:

NHTSA TV Spot: Fake-A-Rooney

For more information about the Click It or Ticket campaign, please visit:

NHTSA: Click It or Ticket

Background information:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Facebook: NHTSA

NHTSA: Traffic Safety Facts Research Note: Seat Belt Use in 2011 - Overall Results

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for those persons who build and maintain our streets and highways and for the many ways in which You work through them.

One Reflection on the Catholic Presence in Our Culture

“When I saw the commercial below, I was somehow struck by a twinge of guilt. And the words of a poem by William Butler Yeats came to mind:

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed,
and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the the role of the Church – and each of us who make up the Church – in having a positive effect on today’s society, today’s culture.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: It happened on our watch – as seen on TV (25 MAY 12)

Reflection Starter from Benjamin Franklin

“Carelessness does more harm than a want of knowledge.” – Benjamin Franklin

25 May 2012

State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report Released

The Trust for America’s Health recently released The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report, a presentation that includes state-by-state injury death rates and rankings and a report card for how well states scored on ten key indicators of steps states can take to prevent injuries. Topics in this report include seat belts, drunk driving, motorcycle helmets, domestic violence, prescription drug abuse, and concussions in youth sports.

The report found that 24 states scored a five or lower on a set of 10 key indicators of steps states can take to prevent injuries. Two states, California and New York, received the highest score of nine out of a possible 10, while two states scored the lowest, Montana and Ohio, with two out of 10.

The Facts Hurt report, released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, concludes that millions of injuries could be prevented each year if more states adopted additional research-based injury prevention policies and if programs were fully implemented and enforced.

The report was developed in partnership with leading injury prevention experts from the Safe States Alliance and the Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research.

Media report:

Public Health Newswire: Gaps in injury prevention becoming escalating public health crisis (22 MAY 12)

To access the full report, please visit:

Trust for America’s Health: The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report (May 2012)

State reports for the New England states:

The Facts Hurt: Connecticut had the Fifth Lowest Rate of Injury Deaths in U.S.

The Facts Hurt: Maine had the 31st Highest Rate of Injury Deaths in U.S.

The Facts Hurt: Massachusetts had the Third Lowest Rate of Injury Deaths in U.S.

The Facts Hurt: New Hampshire had the Eighth Lowest Rate of Injury Deaths in U.S.

The Facts Hurt: Rhode Island had the Ninth Lowest Rate of Injury Deaths in U.S.

The Facts Hurt: Vermont had the 23rd Highest Rate of Injury Deaths in U.S.

Background information:

Trust for America’s Health

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Safe States Alliance

Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research

For Memorial Day, New Englanders Reminded that Skin Cancer is Most Common, and Most Preventable Cancer in U.S.

With the traditional Memorial Day kick off to summertime activities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reminding New England citizens and visitors about simple steps to take to protect their skin from too much sun exposure.

This year EPA has teamed up with the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Park Service to emphasize the dangers of skin cancer.  The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention designated the Friday before Memorial Day “Don’t Fry Day” as a way to highlight sun safety.

“Here in New England, we spend many long months looking forward to summer and the great outdoor activities we can enjoy with good weather.  But we have to remember to take care of ourselves to help prevent skin cancer, by practicing simple sun safety steps for ourselves and our families,”  said Curt Spalding, regional administrator for EPA’s New England office, in a prepared statement. “EPA’s SunWise program and Don't Fry Day help teach children and families simple steps to stay safe in the sun and protect themselves from harmful UV rays.”

Background information:

EPA: SunWise Program

National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of butterflies and for the role of butterflies in the natural world You created.

Decca Records Signs Franciscan Friar

“A Franciscan tenor has become the first ever friar to sign a major recording contract, after music executives heard him sing in his native Italy.”

Franciscan friar Alessandro Brustenghi, O.F.M., has been signed for an album by Universal Music’s Decca Records, and he will donate any proceeds to his order, the Order of Friars Minor.

Media report:

The Telegraph: Franciscan Friar becomes first to sign major record deal (21 MAY 12)

Reflection Starter from Reuven Alcalay

“Experience teaches us that experience does not.” – Reuven Alcalay

24 May 2012

“Come, Holy Ghost (Our Souls Inspire)”

As our Easter celebration continues, and in anticipation of the upcoming solemnity of Pentecost, I offer this presentation of Stuart Townend & Phatfish presenting “Come, Holy Ghost (Our Souls Inspire).” This presentation was recorded at the Sheffield Octagon Centre in May 2002 for a BBC “Songs Of Praise” Pentecost program":

New ALA Report Explores Challenges of Equitable Access to Digital Content

The American Library Association recently released a new report examining critical issues underlying equitable access to digital content through the nation’s libraries. In the report, titled “E-content: The Digital Dialogue,” authors explore a landscape in which several major publishers refuse to sell e-books to libraries, proprietary platforms fragment the cultural record, and reader privacy is endangered.

The report, published as a supplement to American Libraries magazine, explores various licensing models and the state of librarian-publisher relations. In additional, the report provides an update on the ALA-wide effort to promote access to digital content. The effort includes meeting with publishers, distributors, and other important stakeholders; championing public advocacy; and writing position papers that advance practical business models without compromising library values.

To access the complete report, please visit:

Americas Libraries: E-content: The Digital Dialogue

Background information:

American Library Association

New England Library Association

Center for Public Education Releases Report on Online Education

There has been a bit of discussion in this region, and throughout the U.S., about the potential value of online education. A recent Center for Public Education report examined different aspects of this resource.

Some of the findings of this report include:

  • Online courses and schools enroll a small fraction of the 52 million public school students, but they are rapidly gaining ground. In 2009-10, elementary and secondary students took approximately 1.8 million courses online. In addition, about 250,000 students were enrolled full-time in virtual schools in 2010-11, up from 200,000 the year before.
  • The development, management and staffing of online courses and schools is supported by both public and private providers. For-profit companies K-12, Inc., and Connections Academy together enrolled nearly half of all full-time online students in 2010-11.
  • Funding for online learning varies by state, and ranges from 70 to 100 percent of state and local per pupil rates. The impact on district funds also varies by state. In some states, districts are billed for each student enrolled online. In addition, accounting for the actual cost of virtual courses and schools is often lacking.
  • The jury is still out on the effect of online courses on K-12 student achievement. The U.S. Department of Education reviewed existing research and found a modest positive impact of online courses, but cautioned that the findings were based mostly on results for post-secondary students.
  • Emerging reports show a troubling overall picture of poor performance and low graduation rates for full-time online students. Two small-scale studies found positive effects for elementary students, suggesting that parental supervision could be an important factor.
  • There needs to be a clearer accountability path for online learning, especially in regard to monitoring student progress and performance as well as accounting for the cost of virtual schooling.

Report summary:

Center for Public Education: Searching for the reality of virtual schools--at a glance

Media report:

Education Week: Virtual Education Lacks Accountability, NSBA Report Argues (23 MAY 12)

To access the complete report, please visit:

Center for Public Education: Searching for the Reality of Virtual Schools (May 2012)

Background information:

Center for Public Education

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of the outpouring of Your Holy Spirit on Your Church and its people.

Msgr. Pope on the Sin of Human Respect and the Holy Fear of the Lord

“At one level ‘human respect’ seems a good thing. After all we ought to respect, honor and appreciate one another. What then is meant by the ‘sin of human respect?’ At its core, the sin of human respect is that sin wherein we fear man more than God; where we more concerned with what people think of us and what we do, than what God thinks. This is an unholy fear, a sinful fear which is at the root of a lot of sins we commit as well as of many sins of omission.”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the sin of “human respect” – being more concerned with what people think about us than what God thinks.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: A Reflection on the Sin of Human Respect and its Antidote, the Holy Fear of the Lord (21 MAY 12)

Reflection Starter from Lin Yutang

“There is a purifying power in laughter - both for individuals and for nations. If they have a sense of humor, they have the key to good sense, to simple thinking, to peaceable temper, and to a cultural outlook on the world.” – attributed to Lin Yutang

23 May 2012

National Hurricane Preparedness Week

The week of 27 May-2 June has been designated as National Hurricane Preparedness Week, a time for all Americans, those in hurricane prone areas as well as inland areas, to learn more about how to protect themselves against hurricanes and to work together, as a whole community, to respond to and recover from them. The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from 1 June – 30 November.

For more information about National Hurricane Preparedness Week, please visit:

NOAA: National Hurricane Center: National Hurricane Preparedness Week

Gallup: "Pro-Choice" Americans at Record-Low

“Gallup just released a stunning new poll that finds the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as ‘pro-choice’ has reached a record low of 41 percent.  Self-identified pro-lifers, on the other hand, are far ahead at 50 percent.

“The contest between the two identifications has been fairly close since Gallup began monitoring it, back in 1995.  Both sides have enjoyed brief spikes in popularity, which subsequently faded.  Pro-life has generally been on top for the past couple of years, however.”

A recent article in Human Events examines and reports on these poll results.

To access this Human Events article, please visit:

Washington Times: People calling themselves 'pro-choice' at record low (23 MAY 12)

To access the poll results, please visit:

Gallup: "Pro-Choice" Americans at Record-Low 41% (23 MAY 12)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of customer service representatives who provide good customer service.

Pope: Each Human Being Is a Miracle of God

“God is our Father because He is our Creator. Each one of us, each man and each woman, is a miracle of God, desired by Him and known personally by Him. . . . For Him we are not anonymous and impersonal, we have a name. The Holy Spirit, which speaks within us and says ‘Abba! Father!’, leads us to this truth, communicating it to the most intimate depths of our being and filling our prayer with serenity and joy.” These words were pronounced this morning by the Holy Father to more than 20,000 faithful filling St. Peter's Square for his weekly general audience.

The Holy Father focused his catechesis on two passages from the Letters of Saint Paul, wherein the Apostle speaks of the power of the Holy Spirit which enables us to call God “Abba,” our Father. The Pope explained that “that great master of prayer which is the Holy Spirit teaches us to address God with the affectionate terms of children, calling Him ‘Abba, Father."’ This is what Jesus did, even at the most dramatic moment of His earthly life. He never lost faith in the Father and always invoked Him with the intimacy of a beloved Son.”

The Holy Spirit, gift of the risen Christ, “places us in a filial relationship with God, a relationship of profound trust, like that of children; a filial relationship analogous to that of Jesus though different in origin and importance. Jesus is the eternal Son of God Who became flesh, while we become God’s children in time through faith in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.”

The Holy Father went on: “Perhaps mankind today does not perceive the beauty, greatness and profound consultation contained in the word ‘Father’ with which we can address God in prayer, because often the paternal figure is not sufficiently present or positive in daily life.” Yet, the Pope explained, “the love of Jesus, the only-begotten Son Who even gave Himself on the cross, reveals the true nature of the Father: He is Love.”

In his Letter to the Galatians, St. Paul tells us that the the Spirit cries out within us saying ‘Abba! Father!’, while in his Letter to the Romans he writes that we ourselves make this cry in the Spirit. The Apostle, Benedict XVI explained, “wants us to understand that Christian prayer is never unidirectional, from us to God. . . . Rather, it is an expression of a reciprocal relationship in which it is always God Who acts first. It is the Spirit which cries within us, and we too can cry out because the impulse comes from the Holy Spirit. . . . This presence opens our prayers and our lives to the horizons of the Trinity and the Church.”

“When we address the Father in our hearts, in silence and meditation, we are never alone. . . . We are within the great prayer of the Church, we are part of a great symphony which the Christian community in all places and times raises to God. . . . Prayer guided by the Spirit causes us to cry out ‘Abba! Father!’ with Christ and in Christ. It makes us part of the great mosaic of the family of God, in which everyone has an important place and role, profoundly united to all things.”

The Pope concluded his catechesis by exhorting the faithful: “When we pray, let us learn to appreciate the beauty of being friends, or rather children, of God, invoking Him with the confidence and trust of a child addressing his parents who love him. Let us open our prayers to the action of the Holy Spirit, that it may cry out within us: ‘Abba! Father!’”

(from the Vatican Information Service)

Reflection Starter

“God wants full custody, not just weekend visits.” – Source Unknown

22 May 2012

National Small Business Week

This week is being observed as National Small Business Week, an observance designed to remind the nation of the importance of small business to the nation to each of the states, and to each of our communities.

Media report:

NECN: National small business week focusing on challenges (21 MAY 12)

Presidential Proclamation:

Presidential Proclamation - National Small Business Week, 2012

While reflecting on small business and its importance to the local economy, it may be appropriate to revisit a item that we posted a number of months ago:

Lop Notes: The 3/50 Project: Supporting the Local Economy (5 DEC 10)

Boston Pastor’s Facebook Page Hit by Hackers

“An unholy hacker has sabotaged a Somerville pastor’s Facebook page and is sending out spam and porn from the clergywoman’s account — a devilish degradation for the woman of the cloth.”

A recent Boston Herald article reported on the effects of a hacker taking over the Facebook page of Rev. Dr. Karen Coleman, pastor of Saint James Episcopal Church, Teele Square, Somerville.

To access this Boston Herald report, please visit:

Boston Herald: Pastor’s Facebook page swiped by hackers (20 MAY 12)

Background information:

St. James Episcopal Church

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of candies and other sweet treats and for the persons who make them.

Randy Hain on Surrender and Strength

“What is the connection between surrender and strength?  Surrendering to Christ and putting His will before my own for the first time over six years ago was the very moment I felt stronger than any other time in my life.   The strength of the Lord flowed through me, energized me, gave me courage and put me on the path to a life of discipleship filled with meaning.  But, my soul’s conversion would not have been possible without absolute trust in Him and the recognition that I had to give up control and experience the death of my old self.  Even more importantly, I have come to recognize that my surrender and conversion is an ongoing process and not a one time event.”

In a recent commentary, Randy Hain, Senior Editor for The Integrated Catholic Life, reflected on the role of surrendering to Christ in our lives.

To access Mr. Hain’s complete post, please visit:

The Integrated Catholic Life: Surrender and Strength (29 MAR 12)

Reflection Starter from William Arthur Ward

“Before you speak, listen.
Before you write, think.
Before you spend, earn.
Before you invest, investigate.
Before you criticize, wait.
Before you pray, forgive.
Before you quit, try.
Before you retire, save
Before you die, give.” – William Arthur Ward

21 May 2012

National Public Works Week

This week, 20-26 May, is National Public Works Week. This year’s theme is “Public Works: Creating a Lasting Impression.”

The American Public Works Association initiated the observance of National Public Works Week in 1960 as a means to call attention to the importance of public works in community life.

For more information about National Public Works Week, please visit:

APWA: National Public Works Week

YouTube: PBS National Spotlight On Public Works

Background information:

American Public Works Association

New England Chapter, American Public Works Association

Bicycle Friendly Communities

As National Bike to Work Week commenced last week, the League of American Bicyclists announced the most recent communities joining the ranks of Bicycle Friendly Communities. These communities (which included South Windsor, CT, and Arlington, MA) brought the total of Bicycle Friendly Communities to 214, in 47 states.

The  Bicycle Friendly Communities program, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, is designed to encourage communities to invest in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure, and pro-bicycling policies.

In addition to the two communities named above, the following communities are also deemed Bicycle Friendly Communities by the League of American Bicyclists:

  • Simsbury, CT;
  • Brunswick, ME;
  • Boston, Northampton, and Somerville, MA;
  • Concord and Keene, NH; and
  • Burlington, VT.

For more information about this program, please visit:

League of American Bicyclists: Bicycle Friendly Community Program

Background information:

League of American Bicyclists

Facebook: League of American Bicyclists

Hmmm.

from Pastor Tim Davis (which he offered as a thought starter):


Meet Your Neighbors


As the coals from our barbecue burned down, our hosts passed out marshmallows and long roasting forks.

Just then, two fire trucks roared by, sirens blaring, lights flashing. They stopped at a house right down the block.

All twelve of us raced out of the back yard, down the street, where we found the owners of the blazing house standing by helplessly.

They glared at us with looks of disgust.

Suddenly, we realized why. . . . we were all still holding our roasting forks with marshmallows on them.

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the opportunities You place before us to encounter You in a powerful way during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Marlon De La Torre on the Relationship Between Doctrine and Freedom

“Many years ago, I had an encounter with a coworker that would forever ignite a stronger desire to articulate Church doctrine in a clear practical manner. The story goes this way. I had recently finished developing a pilot Adult Education program for the Diocese I worked in at the time. The Bishop of the Diocese charged me with the task to develop an Adult Faith Formation program that would be practical and engaging to bring back fallen away Catholics. During the development of the program, the person I worked with was annoyed at the project. Some of the comments ranged from; ‘You are wasting your time’, to, ‘what a waste of paper.’ This half-hearted barrage continued for several weeks.”

In a recent commentary, Marlon De La Torre (Diocesan Director of Catechist Formation and Children's Catechesis, Diocese of Fort Worth) reflected on the relationship between doctrine, assenting faith, and freedom.

To access Mr. De La Torre’s complete post, please visit:

Catholic Lane: Doctrine: Nourishing Milk for the Soul (14 SEP 11)

Reflection Starter from W. Phillip Keller

“We need pause only a few moments to examine under a microscope the breath-taking beauty of a butterfly’s wing, the fastidious fabric of a feather, the intimate structure of a snowflake, the exquisite symmetry of a seashell, and we sense deep down instinctively, the imprint of One who cares – and cares very deeply.” – W. Phillip Keller

20 May 2012

Kim Hopper: “Love Lifted Me”

As our Easter (and Sunday) celebration continues, I offer this version of Kim Hopper singing “Love Lifted Me”:

Providence College FUSION Helps Spruce Up Providence’s Corliss Park

More than eighty Providence College students, alumni, and staff members recently joined Providence, RI, Parks and Recreation Department staff members and neighbors in refurbishing the playground area of Corliss Park in the city’s Wanskuck section. In all, approximately 110 people participated in the annual spring community service project. Officials estimated that the volunteers saved the city about $100,000.

This effort was part of the college’s FUSION initiative. FUSION – Friars United for Service in Our Neighborhood – was developed by the P.C. President’s Council and was launched in 2007 as part of a ten-year agreement with the city. College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, and Councilman David A. Salvatore all were at Corliss Park to support the volunteers.

During the six-hour Saturday project, the volunteers installed new playground equipment and benches. They also spread 110 cubic yards of mulch in the playground area. In addition, volunteers painted adjacent tables and other structures.

To access photos of this event, please visit:

Flickr: FUSION 4.21.12

For more information about FUSION, please visit:

Providence College: FUSION

Background information:

Providence College

City of Providence

A Look at Cambodia Garment Worker Justice

One of this weekend's stories on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, a weekly PBS television show, is a report on the garment industry in Cambodia, with special attention to the working conditions of the industry’s workers.

To access a video presentation of this segment (with a transcript of the interview), please visit:

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly: Cambodia Garment Worker Justice (18 MAY 12)

Background information:

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

CIA World Factbook: Cambodia

Historical Note – First Speeding Ticket

On this date in 1899, Jacob German, a taxi driver in New York City, became the first known driver to be arrested for speeding. He was going 12 miles per hour on Lexington Avenue. (The police officer that stopped him was on a bicycle.)

Background information:
AutoInformed: Milestones: First Speeding Ticket in U.S. issued in 1899

Examiner: May 20, 1899 New York cabbie first to be arrested for speeding

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Today the Church celebrates the Seventh Sunday of Easter. The assigned readings are Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; 1 John 4:11-16; and John 17:11-19. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 103 (Psalm 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20).

For one version of the Responsorial Psalm set to music, please visit:

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 103 "Permanence of God's Power and Glory"

Today’s Gospel reading is as follows:

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: "Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth."

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Seventh Sunday of Easter (May 20, 2012)

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for May 20, 2012: 7th Sunday of Easter (19 MAY 12)

Dominican Daily: Word to Life: Sirius XM Radio: 7th Sunday of Easter

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for religious education teachers who are well-grounded in their faith lives and in the material they teach.

Peter Williams on Mistakes to Avoid When Defending the Church

In a recent commentary, Catholic apologist Peter D. Williams offered some recommendations on mistakes to avoid when discussing the faith with atheists or others who do not think much of the Church.

To access his reflection, please visit:

Catholic Herald: Five ways to lose the argument with atheists (17 MAY 12)

Reflection Starter from Blessed Pope John Paul II

“It is essential for us to understand that Jesus has a specific task in life for each and every one of us. Each one of us is handpicked, called by name – by Jesus! There is no one among us who does not have a divine vocation.” – Blessed Pope John Paul II

19 May 2012

Armed Forces Medley

As our observance of Armed Forces Day continues, I offer this presentation of the Armed Forces Medley by the Vocal Majority:

Report Examines Effects of Chronic Absenteeism on Students, School Systems

“Attending school on a regular basis matters. It matters the most for our most vulnerable students who live in or near poverty.  Millions of students are currently missing far too much school, with multiple detrimental effects. Chronic absenteeism is a key driver of the nation’s achievement, high school graduation, and college attainment gaps. A major reason this occurs, is because few
schools, districts, or states routinely measure absenteeism. Because chronic absenteeism is not measured, it cannot be monitored or acted upon. The good news is if we do measure and monitor absenteeism there is quite a bit that can be done to improve it with existing resources.”

A report recently released by the Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Center for Social Organization of Schools, the Everyone Graduates Center, and the Get Schooled Foundation examined the effects of chronic absenteeism on students and on graduation rates reported by school systems.

Media reports:

New York Times: ‘Chronically Absent’ Students Skew School Data, Study Finds, Citing Parents’ Role (17 MAY 12)

Huffington Post: Education Report: Chronic Absenteeism Undermines Over 5 Million Students (17 MAY 12)

To access a copy of the complete report, please visit:

 Johns Hopkins University: The Importance of Being in School: A Report on Absenteeism in the Nation’s Public Schools (May 2012)

Background information:

Center for Social Organization of Schools, Johns Hopkins University's School of Education

Get Schooled Foundation

Everyone Graduates Center

Attendance Works

Rhode Island Public Radio on Economic Effects of Dropping Out of College

“As community college students prepare for graduation ceremonies today, we look at the economic challenges for students who didn't make it to graduation day.”

A recent Rhode Island Public Radio report examined the economic effects of dropping out of college (with a focus on the Community College of Rhode Island.

To access this RIPR report, please visit:

RIPR: Economic challenges for college dropouts (18 MAY 12)

Background information:

Community College of Rhode Island

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for opportunities You place before us to see You and serve You in the person of others we encounter each day.

Msgr. Pope on the “Great Reversal” and on Stewardship of Blessings

“One of the strong traditions of Scripture is of the great reversal that will one day come for many. I have often been sobered by it when I consider how blessed I have been in this life. I have also been consoled by it when I struggle to understand why some people in this world seem to suffer so much more that I do, or others do.”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on unfairness in life and on being good stewards of the gifts God has given us.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: Pondering the Great Reversal That Is Coming (17 MAY 12)

Reflection Starter from Albert Einstein

“Only the Church protested against the Hitlerian onslaught on liberty. Up till then I had not been interested in the Church, but today I feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty." – Albert Einstein

18 May 2012

Armed Forces Day

Tomorrow (Saturday, 19 May) is Armed Forces Day, 2012. This year’s theme is “Keeping America Strong and Secure: United in Purpose - Steadfast in Service”.

070320-F-7234P-051

President Harry S Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country.

On 31 August 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under one department – the U.S. Department of Defense.

As we observe this day, we salute the members of our communities who are currently serving and have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Presidential Proclamation - Armed Forces Day, 2012

Fr. Robert Barron on Idolatry

In a recent video, Father Robert Barron offered a reflection of idolatry, particularly in light if the first three of the Ten Commandments:

 

For more information about Father Barron’s Word on Fire ministry, please visit:

Word on Fire

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for people who serve in janitorial ministries and for the many ways in which You work through them.

Simcha Fisher on Motherly Advice

  • You go to Mass to worship God.  If you're there for anything other than that, you're wasting your time.
  • A good idea is worth repeating, and repeating, and repeating.
  • Never lose hope about other people.
  • There are worse things in life than being embarrassed.

In a recent commentary, writer Simcha Fisher reflected on the truth contained in motherly advice.

To access her complete reflection, please visit:

NC Register: Blog: Holy Cow, My Mother Was Right (11 MAY 12)

Reflection Starter from Ann Flanders

“Maturity is the ability to do a job whether or not you are supervised, to carry money without spending it and to bear an injustice without wanting to get even.” – Ann Flanders

17 May 2012

“Crown Him with Many Crowns”

As our celebration of the Ascension continues, I offer this version of “Crown Him with Many Crowns”:

National Safe Boating Week

The week of 19-25 May is being observed as National Safe Boating Week, an initiative designed to educate and inform the boating public about boating safety. Focusing on the safety and comfort of inflatable life jackets, this year’s theme (“Ready, Set, Wear It!”) is designed to encourage boaters to wear life jackets to save lives.

RSWI-1

For additional information about National Safe Boating Week, please visit:

National Weather Service: National Safe Boating Week

National Safe Boating Council: Wear It Campaign

National Safe Boating Council

Facebook: North American Safe Boating Campaign

Youtube: National Safe Boating Council's Campaign PSAs

The Ascension of the Lord

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. The assigned readings are Acts 1:1-11, Ephesians 1:17-23, and Mark 16:15-20. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 47 (Psalm 47:2-3, 6-9).

Today’s Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

Reflections on these readings:

The Deacon's Bench: Homily for May 17, 2012: Ascension Thursday (16 MAY 12)

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary: Leo the Great

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of common sense (whether we exercise it or not).

Fr. Ference on How Our Attire at Sunday Mass Affects Our Fellow Worshipers

“There was a time not so long ago when folks just knew what was appropriate attire for church and what wasn’t. They didn’t need a reminder. For instance, when I look back to pictures of crowds at Cleveland Indians games from the 1950s, the men were wearing the same outfits to the ball game that they would wear to Mass on Sunday mornings—dress pants, a shirt, a tie and a hat. In other words, the culture and the church were on the same page in regard to proper attire. The same, I am told, is true of air travel. There was a time when people actually dressed up in their Sunday best to fly from one city to another, whether they were flying in first class or coach.”

In a recent commentary, Father Damian Ference (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Borromeo Seminary, Wickliffe, OH) reflected on how our attire at Sunday Mass affects our fellow worshipers.

To access Fr. Ference’s complete post, please visit:

The Word on Fire Blog: Spirituality: God Doesn't Care What You Wear to Church...  (16 MAY 12)

Reflection Starter from Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it.
Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light.
Love the animals, love the plants, love everything.
If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things.
Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better everyday.
And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.” - Fyodor Dostoevsky

16 May 2012

Tragic Accident Leads to National Warning on Electric Safety

A 6-year-old Alabama child received severe burns after coming into contact with a transformer in a public sports complex late last month. With the end of the school year rapidly approaching leaving children with more time to play outdoors and summer recreational activities in full swing, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) are collaborating to warn the public about outdoor electrical dangers that can pose as safety threats to children.

This collaborative effort is part of National Electrical Safety Month, an annual public awareness campaign sponsored by ESFI to promote the importance of electrical safety and educate key audiences about the steps that can be taken to prevent electrical fires, injuries, and fatalities at home, in public, and in the workplace.

NFPA and ESFI are offering the following tips for parents to enforce to their children this summer to ensure that they avoid electrical shock or burns while playing outdoors:

  • Electrical equipment enclosures and boxes should not be used as a playground toy or something to sit on or play around. Equipment that has been damaged or not maintained can present a shock hazard.
  • Do not play or fly kites near power lines. If your kite gets caught in a power line, let go of the kite.
  • If you see a power line on the ground, tell an adult right away.
  • If there is lightning, do not stand near trees. Go inside right away.
  • Do not play with indoor toys near water or in a swimming pool.  Ask an adult before bringing toys into the pool. 
  • Parents should notify town or local officials if they observe electrical equipment that is in a state of disrepair so that repairs can be initiated.

For more information related to National Electrical Safety Month, please visit:

ESFI: National Electrical Safety Month 2012

Background information:

National Fire Protection Association

Electrical Safety Foundation International

Orton Family Foundation Report: Stewarding the Future of Our Communities

The Orton Family Foundation recently released a research report that examined how five small cities and towns (including Portsmouth, NH) addressed the challenges of stewarding local community engagement and planning (e.g., building greater sustainability into citizen-driven, values-based community engagement and planning).

The paper highlighted specific stewardship approaches the communities used to carry the success of their efforts far into the future. Specifically, it examined five elements of community stewardship:

  1. Honoring local values,
  2. Sustaining citizen engagement,
  3. Achieving visions and plans,
  4. Holding leaders accountable, and
  5. Responding to a changing world.

To access the complete report, please visit:

Orton Family Foundation: Stewarding the Future of Our Communities (2012)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of joy – joy rooted in You.

Msgr. Pope on Happiness

“It is too often the case today that we strive to root our happiness in external matters such as money, esteem, creature comforts and the like. And yet, it remains true that many who have these things in abundance are still unhappy, and, also, that many who lack these things in abundance are happy.

“There is something deeper about happiness than mere comfort, riches or externalities. . . .”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on happiness, its roots, and how it affects us and others.

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

Msgr. Charles Pope: Happiness is an inside job – As seen in Scripture. (15 MAY 12)

Reflection Starter from 1 Thessalonians

"In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5

15 May 2012

National EMS Week 2012

The week of 20-26 May is being observed as National Emergency Medical Services Week.

National Emergency Medical Services Week is designed as an opportunity to publicize safety and honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine’s “front line.”

2012EMS-Week-Logo

For more information about National EMS Week, please visit:

American College of Emergency Physicians: EMS Week

Facebook: National EMS Week

EMS Week Ideas

Saint Isidore the Farmer

Today the Church celebrates the memory of Saint Isidore the Farmer. In a reflection on this saint published in American Catholic‘s Saint of the Day, “Many implications can be found in a simple laborer achieving sainthood: Physical labor has dignity; sainthood does not stem from status; contemplation does not depend on learning; the simple life is conducive to holiness and happiness. . . . Perhaps the truth which emerges is this: If you have your spiritual self in order, your earthly commitments will fall into order also.”

To access the complete reflection, please visit:

American Catholic: Saint of the Day: St. Isidore the Farmer (May 15, 2012)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of the early morning songs of birds.

Pope Benedict and Joy

“I have not made a careful check, but I am willing to bet that if one were to analyze word frequency in the texts of Benedict XVI, the word used most often would be ‘joy.’”

In an excerpt from her book, Benedetta umiltà. Le virtù semplici di Joseph Ratzinger, Andrea Monda reflects on Pope Benedict’s spirit of joy.

To access the complete excerpt, please visit:

Catholic Exchange: Our Joyful Pope (17 APR 12)