31 January 2020

Connecticut Culture: Mark Twain House and Museum

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.

One such resource is the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, CT. Mr. Twain lived in this house from 1874 until 1891, and he wrote a number of his works here (including A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer).

For more information about the Mark Twain House and Museum, please visit:

The Mark Twain House & Museum

Take Your Child to the Library Day

Saturday, 1 February, is being observed as Take Your Child to the Library Day (the ninth annual observance), an international initiative designed to encourage families to take their children to their local library. Related to this, a number of libraries throughout New England and beyond are offering special Take Your Child to the Library Day activities.

Background information:

Facebook: Take Your Child to the Library Day

Connecticut Library Consortium: Take Your Child to the Library Day

Media report:

The News-Times (Danbury, CT): Ways to celebrate Take Your Child to the Library Day

Jean Sibelius:Symphony No. 3 in C major

It's time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op. 52, as played by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, conducted by Jaime Martín:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of those working in various types of youth ministry.

We Carry Kevan

Before Kevan Chandler was even born, his parents knew that he would likely suffer from major health issues. That's because his sister Connie, who is three years older than him,was born with a neuromuscular disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which impeded the growth of her arms and legs and weakened her muscles in general. Doctors told the Chandlers, "If you have more children, it will probably be the same case again." The couple looked at their good-natured, joyful daughter and responded, "If the worst that can happen is that we have another child like Connie, that's okay with us."

Needless to say, Mr. and Mrs. Chandler - an airplane mechanic and the director of a crisis pregnancy center, respectively - soon welcomed Kevan into the world. As doctors predicted, he also had Spinal Muscular Atrophy and eventually wound up in a wheelchair. But his parents focused more on building on his strengths than dwelling on his weaknesses, filling him with a "can do" spirit as he grew into adulthood.

The Chandlers' positive attitude stemmed from their Christian faith. During a Christopher Closeup interview about his memoir We Carry Kevan: Six Friends, Three Countries, No Wheelchair, Kevan explained, "Their pro-life approach to life is certainly derived from their relationship with the Lord - and then my own as I grew to understand Jesus and His love for me, the story of His salvation and how that applies to me. In Romans, it talks about our adoption as sons and daughters of God being the redemption of our bodies. That's how Paul puts it. So no matter what's going on with my body as it continues to decline . . . what really matters is what's going on in my heart and in my mind and my relationship with the Lord. He is where my hope has been found, and He's the one that keeps me going."

As the title of his book suggests, Kevan also has friends that keep him going, friends who serve as the arms and legs of Jesus in his life. The group decided it would be both fun and educational to take a trip through Europe together. Kevan especially had always wanted to visit there because of his interest in music, literature, his family history, and Christian history. Yet the difficulties of finding wheelchair accessibility everywhere had kept him grounded in the U.S. This time, however, Kevan's friends got creative. They designed a special backpack in which they could carry him wherever they went. And it worked beautifully. They visited France, England, and Ireland.

Community was at the heart of the trip these six friends took through Europe, so Kevan is working to expand experiences of community for others with disabilities through a nonprofit he created, also called We Carry Kevan. For instance, Kevan traveled to China, and visited Maria's Big House of Hope, a care center for orphans with special needs. He noted that he and his friends had developed their special backpack just for fun.

"Two years later," he said, "we're sitting in that care center in China watching children with disabilities using the backpack, seeing how the nurses and nannies and caregivers use that as a tool to further what they're already doing, which is saying, 'Hey, we love you, and we care about you.' Seeing the backpack . . . as a tool to further what they're doing and be a part of that process, it was humbling and also encouraging. It's become so much bigger than just us."

This essay is a recent "Light One Candle" column written by Tony Rossi, Director of Communications, The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.

Background information:

The Christophers

We Carry Kevan

Reflection Starter from St. John Bosco

"Be good. This will make your angel happy. When sorrows and misfortunes, physical or spiritual, afflict you, turn to your guardian angel with strong trust and he will help you." - Saint John Bosco, whose memory the Church celebrates today (31 January)

30 January 2020

Tom Roush: "The Old Oaken Bucket"

Music of various types has been interwoven into the history of the United States (going back to the original thirteen colonies). One of these songs is "The Old Oaken Bucket", presented here by Tom Roush:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of those who pray for us - as individuals and/or as part of a group.

Pope: Integral Development of All People Is Moral Responsibility

"Pope Francis told global business and government leaders that everyone has the moral responsibility to seek the integral development of all people, but especially those who are in need, suffering injustice or whose lives are threatened.

"'The moral obligation to care for one another flows from this fact,' which must never be forgotten, that 'we are all members of the one human family,' he said in a message read to those attending the [recent] World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"Likewise, this means putting the human person, 'rather than the mere pursuit of power or profit, at the very center of public policy,' he wrote."

A recent Catholic News Service article reported on this message from Pope Francis.

To access the complete report, please visit:

Catholic News Service: Integral development for all is a moral duty, pope tells leaders at Davos (21 Jan 20)

Related post:

Vatican News: Pope to WEF: human person the centre of integral development (21 JAN 20)

Reflection Starter from St. Teresa of Avila

"Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul." - Saint Teresa of Avila

29 January 2020

National School Choice Week 2020

This week, the week of 26 January-1 February, is being observed as National School Choice Week, a grassroots initiative designed to focus on the need for effective education options for all children, including increased access to great public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, virtual schools, private schools, and homeschooling.

Planned by a diverse and nonpartisan coalition of individuals and over 200 partner organizations, National School Choice Week includes a number of events and activities that highlight support for school choice programs and proposals.

For additional information about National School Choice Week, please visit:

National School Choice Week

Background information:

Facebook: School Choice Week

Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

Music in New England: Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra

One of the treasures of New England is the great variety of music in our region. Some of this music (of whatever genre) is provided musicians from the region; other music is provided by artists visiting the region from other areas.

One such example is the Massachusetts-based Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra.

Background information:

Waltham Symphony Orchestra 

In this video, the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra and singer Julia Carson are presenting a Christmas offering:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of those who defend life.

Br. Bertrand Hebert, O.P., on God's Perspective Vis-à-vis Our Perspective

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways. (Isa 55:8)

"As friars, we have the opportunity to share in the struggles of many people whom we meet. These words above of the prophet Isaiah can be a source of consolation for some of these people, but are they enough? When life is difficult and God's providence seems to have ordered it as such, are we just supposed to say to ourselves, 'Deal with it, because God just doesn't act the way we do'? Is this answer just a cop-out on God's part? While these words of Isaiah are a life-line for some, it seems others wouldn't find them very satisfying."

In a recent commentary, Brother Bertrand Hebert, O.P., reflected on how God's perspective is higher than ours and on how "God is intimately involved in our lives, even from his elevated state" and He "both governs the events that unfold on these winding roads, while also walking with us."

To access Br. Bertrand's complete post, please visit:

Dominicana: Responding to a Divine Cop-Out (23 JAN 20)

Reflection Starter from Daniel Boorstin

"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge." - Daniel J. Boorstin

28 January 2020

U. S. Surgeon General Releases New Report on Smoking Cessation

The U.S. Surgeon General recently released a new report, "Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General." This report is designed to highlight the latest scientific evidence on the health benefits of quitting smoking and to include well proven treatments and strategies to help people successfully quit smoking.

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S. Although the percentage of adults who smoke is at an all-time low in the U.S., 34 million adults still smoke and continue to be at risk of developing smoking-related diseases. This report makes it clear that one of the most important actions people can take to improve their health is to quit smoking.

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

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General (2020)

To access a copy of the report's Executive Summary, please visit:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General: Executive Summary (2020)

Background information:

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Office of Smoking and Health

Sandi Patty and Larnelle Harris: "More Than Wonderful"

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of Sandi Patty and Larnelle Harris presenting "More Than Wonderful":

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of the lessons You give us in each homily we hear.

Bishop Tobin on Not Liking the Way We Look

"It seems that lots of people avoid having their picture taken, in either formal or informal settings. They'll do almost anything to avoid posing, even with family and friends - feign illness, sneak out of the room, or pretend to be busy. And even when forced into a group photo, they'll stand in the back row and slouch.

"This photo-phobia seems to be an especially acute disease among teenagers. You should see the look on their faces and their pained reaction when parents and grandparents force them to get in line for a Confirmation picture with the Bishop. And their siblings.

"In explaining why they hate pictures, people often say something like, 'I don't like the way I look.' . . ." 

In a recent commentary, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence (RI), reflected on the similarities between applying "I don't like the way I look" to our secular, social lives and to our spiritual lives and on how a "spiritual makeover is what our lives of faith are all about." 

To access Bishop Tobin's complete essay, please visit: 

The Imitation of Christ: I Don't Like The Way I Look (23 JAN 20) 

Reflection Starter from St. Thomas Aquinas

"The greatest kindness one can render to any man consists in leading him from error to truth." - Saint Thomas Aquinas, whose memory the Church celebrates today (28 January).

27 January 2020

The Cadets: "Church Bells May Ring"

It's time for some more doo wop. Here is a presentation of  "Church Bells May Ring" by The Cadets:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of Catholic Schools.

Catholic Schools Week

This week, the week of 26 January-1 February, is being observed as Catholic Schools Week. The theme for Catholic Schools Week is "Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed."

This theme is designed to encompass the core products and values that can be found in Catholic schools across the country. In addition to teaching students to become future servant leaders, faith-filled disciples and enriched citizens in our communities, the educators in these schools are growing with them. In Catholic schools, all are learners, servants, and leaders. According to the National Catholic Educational Association, "[t]hese shared qualities are what make Catholic schools work. They are what make Catholic schools succeed."

The official Catholic Schools Week logo is designed to bring the theme to life. The open book made up of multi-colored pages symbolizes how all areas of Catholic schools blend together, with faith - symbolized by the cross - at the forefront. Catholic schools are vibrant, dynamic and excellent.

For more information related to this year’s observance, please visit:

NCEA: National Catholic Schools Week

Reflection Starter from Brenda Ueland

"This is what I learned: that everybody is talented, original and has something important to say." – Brenda Ueland

26 January 2020

"Two Fishermen"

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of Brent Holl presenting "Two Fishermen":

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church  celebrates the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Isaiah 8:23-9:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17; and Matthew 4:12-23. The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 27 (Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14). 

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

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 27) The Lord is my Light and my Salvation - January 26, 2020 

The Gospel reading is as follows: 

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen." From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.

He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

Reflections on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sunday Reflections: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 26, 2020)

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (January 26, 2020)

Community in Mission: Come and Go With Me To My Father's House - A Homily for the Third Sunday of the Year (25 JAN 20)

Crossroads Initiative: Meaning of Church - Are You Called?

The Sacred Page: The First "Biblemas" Ever! Readings for the Feast of the Word of God (24 JAN 20)

The Sacred Page: Jesus' Public Ministry Begins (The Mass Readings Explained) (20 JAN 20)

Rhode Island Catholic: The Quiet Corner: True Christianity is not a matter of geography (23 JAN 20)

Rhode Island Catholic: Sunday Scripture: A great light (23 JAN 20) 

St. Paul Center: History Redeemed: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College: This Sunday, Sinners in the Kingdom of God (23 JAN 20)

Word on Fire: In the Land of Zebulon and Naphtali (Cycle A * Ordinary Time * Week 3)

National Catholic Register: Sunday Readings: Following Jesus Is All or Nothing (26 JAN 20)

National Catholic Register: Pope Francis: Keep a Bible Close to You for Daily Inspiration (26 JAN 19)

Spirituality of the Readings: Let There Be Light (3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A)

In Exile: Struggling With Our Own Inadequacy (3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A)

Glancing Thoughts: The Day of Midian (3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A)

The Perspective of Justice: Light For The World (3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A)

Let the Scriptures Speak: Good Will Fishing (3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A)

The Word Embodied: Divided Hearts, Divided Church (3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A)

Historical Cultural Context: Interrelationships (3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A) 

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary by John Justus Landsberg (3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A)