Friday, September 30, 2011

Jesuits' 400 years in Canada

Register Marks Jesuits' 400 Years in Canada
TORONTO, SEPT. 27, 2011 (

The national Catholic newspaper of Canada has published a 36-page homage to the Jesuits as they mark 400 years in Canada.

 According to Jim O'Leary, the editor, "More so than any other religious order, the Jesuits not only witnessed the birth of Canada, they shaped significant parts of its history."

The Jesuits arrived in Canada in 1611, at Port Royal in Acadia on the shores of the Bay of Fundy. "Over the decades that followed, the Jesuits moved steadily inland and, while fulfilling their mission as evangelists, they also became explorers, cartographers, educators, chroniclers and pastors,"

O'Leary noted. The Register paid for an additional 14,000 copies of the tribute to be delivered to elementary schools, as O'Leary explained that "the story of the Jesuit martyrs is an important part of the Canadian education curriculum."

 --- --- --- On the Net: To view the supplement online, go to:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Photo: Minuteman National Park

To see photos of the birthplace of the American Revolution, please click on the link below:

Pics of Concord and Lexington

Minuteman National Park

The Minuteman National Park in Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts is a favorite historical site for me. I fondly cherish the memories of a trip to this park as one of my most meaningful elementary school class trips. As I visited again, I could relive the inspiration of my youth to be the best patriot possible. I am moved to re-read “April Morning” by Howard Fast and “Johnny Tremain”. I feel once again the stirrings to be filled with noble virtue as the men and women who fought for and formed our country. I still wonder in admiration of those rustic times that formed the beginning of our country.
I first visited the Old North Bridge in Concord where the “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired. It is a small wooden bridge over the Concord River where the British first encountered the rag-tap colonial militia. The minutemen were a rather-well trained group of men who tended their farms and were ready at a moment’s notice to come to the aid of their countrymen. No one knows which side fired the first shot, but it set the forces of aggression upon one another irrevocably. More colonists died than the British. It seems clear that the British were not intent upon entering into conflict, but as event escalated it became inevitable. A gravesite of British soldiers is located next to the Minuteman Monument (erected by Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial) at the Bridge.
The Buttrick House and the remains of Barrett’s Farm are nearby the battleground. The Buttrick site is turned into a gift shop and visitor’s center.
The Old Manse sits nearby the North Bridge. This is famous for the birth of the Transcendental movement in the States. Thoreau, Hawthorne, and the Alcotts established a literary presence in the area; a new school of thought arose from the spiritual writings of the poets and authors who gathered there. Walden Pond is only a few miles away.
The Battle Road stretches for three miles from the Wayside to Fiske Hill. The British retreated to Boston under pursuit from the American colonial militias that assembled from nearby towns. The colonists engaged in guerilla warfare against a well-tuned traditionalist Royal British army that was used to fighting in European theatres. The British suffered severe losses en route to Boston where the HMS Somerset provided artillery protection against the militia expeditions.
Dawes, Revere, and Prescott left Boston by horseback to inform the neighboring towns of the British advance. At 1:30 a.m. on April 19, 1775, the British patrol stops the three. Revere is captured, but Dawes flees back to Lexington while Prescott escapes to continue to Concord and beyond. The spot of Revere’s capture is prominent. The expedition arrived at 7 a.m. on April 19th.
A dozen preserved houses line the Battle Road, such as Jacob Whittmore and Captain William Smith’s houses. The Hartwell Tavern is well-preserved. Samuel Hartwell was a fairly well-off colonist who had a tavern in his house and was a well-know stop along the way. Information about the British plans was disseminated from his tavern. Today, the house has re-enactments of skirmishes and men and women in colonial attire will provide visitors with knowledge of the events of 1775.
The Orchard House and The Wayside gained fame in the 1800’s through Louisa May Alcott (Little Women), Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Sidney (Five Little Peppers.) The Wayside was an important sanctuary for former slaves as they travelled north through the underground railroad.
The park today preserves many of these sites along a pedestrian and bike trail. The paths are well groomed and feel spacious. New England style stone walls line the pathways that showcase fields that have been in continuous use since the 1600’s.
I feel refreshed. I like getting in touch with this part of our history. I’m sure I have a romanticized notion of it, but that is O.K. It is what I need right now. I will certainly return here in a few weeks when the autumn colors are their most vibrant. I’m sure it will be spectacular. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wake Up

A great start

God nudged me this morning. "Get up. Get up," said God, "Go to your window and see this morning's sunrise. It is just for you."

Behold. It was awesome. I was like one of those apparitions of Mary as she radiates from the sun or it could have been the angel Gabriel as he appeared to Mary in the Annunciation painting that hangs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Just incredible.

My photos don't do the image justice at all. I wish I ran downstairs and went outside to take the photos. Then the window glass would not have obscured the fine details.

It got better. When I went to make my decaffeinated coffee to stimulate me, the chef asked if I would like him to make eggs with ham for me. I said yes. He was so happy. I was pleased. He also made some black olive bread that was very fragrant in the wee hours of the morning. And I ate slowly just so I could savor, not only the delicate tastes of breakfast, but the goodness God was showing me this morning. God is being generous to me. God is answering my requests from last night and my morning prayer.

And it is not even 8 a.m.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Photo: A good morning's work

Click to Enlarge

Photo: My new terrace garden

Click to Enlarge


Those who study arachnids say that a spider is always within six feet of a person. There are that many of them. Yesterday morning as I walked through the retreat house property after a day of rain, spider webs were clearly visible on the trees. It actually looked like a poorly decorated Halloween display - one of those tacky houses that overdo their decorations. Well, the trees here were just covered with hundreds of webs. The grasses, flowers, and bushes had a silk covering to them. It makes me wonder how many thousands of spiders crawled on me as I cut down old trees and shrubs on the estate. Anyways, while I would prefer not to have a spider on me, they don't freak me out. Even the ones in Australia didn't seem to worry me - and every one of those have toxic stings.

The amazing webs spun by spiders are incredible. These webs go up overnight and are so fragile and yet so many insects get caught in their delicate spindles.

 I worked on the new garden terrace this morning. I planted perennials and covered them with mulch to protect them during our long winters. I'm already excited about spring's arrival. The bottom three levels of the terrace will be perennials while I'll plant vegetables and herbs next spring. I think it is a good start. When I think back on what the area looked like six months ago, it is an incredible transformation. A school desk chair was tilted near the kitchen window. Large unattractive bushes overran the top level and some old equipment was left to decay. And now, we have a floral terrace that out to light up next year. I can't wait.

I owe thanks to Kane's Flower World in Danvers for their generous benefaction. Without it, we would not have a terrace garden yet.

 This morning porpoises were seen swimming in Brace cove. I'll have to look around for them and see if I can shoot them with my camera. Life is abundant at this retreat house.

Photo: Spiderwebs and Fog

To see photos of spiderwebs in the fog, please click on the link below:

Pics of Spiderwebs

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Diocesan Diaconate Ordination

This morning thirteen men were ordained as deacons in the Catholic church in Boston's Holy Cross Cathedral. His Eminence, Sean Patrick Cardinal O'Malley, OFM Capuchin was the principal celebrant. Over a dozen already-ordained permanent deacons and over eighty priests witnessed the ordination of these thirteen deacon candidates. A friend of mine, Tim O'Donnell, was one of the newly ordained.

It is an extraordinary vocation that requires extensive formation for both the man and his wife. The order of deacon was resurrected with Vatican II and currently over 200 deacons serve the archdiocese of Boston. One striking feature of the vocation is that the man pledges obedience to his Ordinary Bishop and his successors, which means the bishop is his boss, not the pastor (priest) to whom he is assigned.

In the liturgical ceremony, the candidate is elected by the bishop to which the assembly gives their consent. The candidates are examined as a group by the bishop. In preparation for the ordination, the candidates lie prostrate on the floor before the altar as the congregation prays for them by invoking the Litany of the Saints. The bishop imposes hands upon the candidates and proclaims a solemn prayer of consecration. The newly ordained are then vested with the diaconal stole (a liturgical sash) and dalmatic (a rounded chasuble) and are presented with the Book of the Gospels.

The rite concludes with a Kiss of Peace from the bishop followed by a welcome by their brother deacons. The liturgy then continues with the Preparation of the Altar and the Gifts. The newly ordained participate fully, according to their new order among other ordained ministers.

Photo: Glastonbury Abbey's Sunflowers

To see photos of the Benedictine Monastery in Hingham, Massachusetts (Glastonbury Abbey), please click on the link below:

Pics of sunflowers at Glastonbury Abbey

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Photo: Swans

To see photos of the swans and their cygnets in Niles Pond, please click on the link below:

Pics of feeding swans

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Photo: Front door of the retreat house

Another photo of the front of the house.

Photos: No Yews

Look closely and you will no longer see the massive Yews that lined the front of the retreat center. I suspect they were planted there in 1921, but they had not been trimmed in years, which allowed them to grow disproportionately to the house. We removed them today. It looks cleaner and neater and it feels as if the property can breathe once again. It will be nice to see the property when the sun returns.

NPR Article: Baghdad College

September 7, 2011

To see her NPR's story on Baghdad College, please click on the link below:

audio by NPR.

A school founded by Americans in Iraq before the Saddam Hussein era is an emblem of a time when the United States was known in the Middle East not for military action, but for culture and education. That's the view of Puliter Prize-winning New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid, who recently wrote an essay about the school, titled "The American Age, Iraq."

First opened in the 1930s by New England Jesuits, Baghdad College became the Iraqi capital's premier high school. Classes were conducted in English — and the defining feature of the school was not proselytizing, but a rigorous education, Shadid says.

As Shadid tells Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep, the school was a symbol of Iraq's identity — which he says was more secular and universal in the middle of the 20th century than it is today.
The school "also represented something for both the United States and for Iraq, and the way that they saw each other," Shadid says, "that they could allow themselves an almost idealistic version of each other. I think that's impossible today, and I say that with a certain sense of sadness."

One reason for that change came in the late 1960s, Shadid says, when Saddam's Baath Party assumed power — and also placed all of Iraq's schools under state control. But international views of America have also changed since those days, he says, noting that the Jesuits ran their school in an era when many people held "a much gentler notion" of Americans' role in the world.

In conducting research for the article, Shadid says, he asked people "where they would mark the end of that kind of era, when that sense of American benevolence gave way to what a lot of people would see as American imperialism."

"Some people put it at the founding of Israel in 1948; some people put it in the Egyptian revolution in 1952," he says. "My own sense in reporting this story was that it was maybe even a little later, with Vietnam, with the change in government in Iraq. But it is clear that that image changed — and I think it changed unalterably, in some ways."

Shadid's essay "The American Age, Iraq" is in the latest issue of Granta, in which the British journal collects stories related to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Perseverance or Stubborness?

Just when is one criticized for being stubborn or praised for persevering? Today, I decided to take out my old lawnmower that had a wheel fall off of it last week. I figured that the motor still worked fine and I might have some tension as I dragged it along instead of rolling it more gently, so I set out to mow this high rugged brush in the back of the property. I must have looked quite curious as it was easier to pull the broken lawnmower than to push it. It did the job I wanted though, but in the end it was a little too dangerous and I gave it up. Am I willful or persevering?

I decided to watch the schooner races in the Atlantic Ocean instead. The ships with those masts were spectacular as they raced against the blue sky background. Labor Day is always a day of sailing festivities in Gloucester. The people here love the ocean and live by it. Good Harbor Beach was chock full of swimmers and sun worshipers.

The climate is changing. The air is cooling down. The nights are almost chilly and leaves are falling from the trees. Hurricane Irene blew salt air into the trees and she hastened the changing of the leaves. It looks like it is mid-October.

I bought some solar lights for the courtyard and flower gardens. One of the glowing lights is an crackled orb that radiates a soft purple light. Another one changes color four times. Retreatants are enjoying the new addition to the grounds.

Tomorrow is Labor Day - a day of rest. It is the last full day of an 8-day retreat. I would imagine that God is really pleased with these men and women who eagerly seek God. I'm pleased with them.