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Kay Winchester

Kay Winchester

Kay Winchester lives and works in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York. Website URL:

St. Augustine of Canterbury

Although the Christian faith had been introduced in the British Isles prior to his arrival in 596, it is St. Augustine of Canterbury who is known as the “Apostle of England.” This extraordinarily human saint, whose missionary activity turned out to be surprisingly modern, established, in a mere eight years, a Christian presence in that island nation that persists to the present day.
This does not mean, however, that Augustine met with no difficulties.  A monk and abbot of St. Andrew’s Abbey in Rome, he likely thought – as did many of his contemporaries – that he would live out his days quietly in that position.  However, Pope St. Gregory I, who had founded the abbey, had different ideas; he called upon Augustine and 40 of his monks to leave Italy in order to evangelize the Christians of “Angle-land” and to convert the pagans they encountered there.
The group had gotten as far as Gaul (present-day France) when tales of the savagery of the Anglo-Saxons and the dangers of crossing the English Channel frightened them enough to cause them to return to Rome.  There, Gregory assured Augustine that he and his monks would not meet with the dire consequences they had heard about, and so they were sent off on their journey once more.
This time, they arrived in England and landed at Kent, which was then under the rule of King Ethelbert.  Although the king was a pagan, his wife, Bertha, was a Christian, and so the missionaries were greeted with kindness rather than cruelty; the king allowed them to settle in and preach the faith from Canterbury.  Within the year, Ethelbert had converted but, unlike many other kings of his time, did not require his subjects to do so unless they wished to.
Following the advice of Pope Gregory, Augustine’s method of conversion did not set out to destroy pagan culture, but to build on it. Rather than raze the temples dedicated to other gods, for instance, he “converted” them to the worship of Christ.   Pagan festivals were transformed into Christian feasts and, wherever possible, Augustine retained the local traditions of the people.   Apparently these actions, coupled with the example of the king, were enough to convince many Anglo-Saxons that they, too, should be baptized.  As the faith spread, Augustine built a church and a monastery near where the present-day Canterbury cathedral still stands, and soon established sees in London and Rochester.
Although he was somewhat successful with the pagans he encountered, Augustine did not fare as well with evangelizing Briton Christians, who had been driven into western England when the Anglo-Saxons had invaded nearly 150 years earlier.  Separated as they had been from Rome, many of the practices Briton Christians had evolved during that period were now at variance with the wider Church.  This, combined with their lingering bitterness toward the Anglo-Saxons, made it nearly impossible for Augustine to convince them to change.
Augustine died in 605; the patron of England, his feast day is May 27.
Sources for these articles include:
Clifford, Cornelius. "St. Augustine of Canterbury." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907.
“Saint Augustine of Canterbury“. CatholicSaints.Info. 9 October 2016.
Schreck, Alan.  “The Compact History of the Catholic Church.”  Ohio: Servant Books, 1987.

The Letters of Bishop Robert F. Joyce from the Second Vatican Council 1962-1965

“The Letters of Bishop Robert F. Joyce from the Second Vatican Council 1962 – 1965”.  By Father Lance W. Harlow, MA, MDiv.  Barre, VT:  L. Brown and Sons Printing, Inc.  2016.
For readers who are old enough to remember the time of the Second Vatican Council, this book will feel like a combination of both objective history and personal nostalgia; for those who did not live through that period, Father Harlow’s book will be an interesting and even astonishing look at a Church in transition, as they are made privy to discussions and debates concerning practices that 21st-Century Catholics now take for granted.
The vehicle for telling this compelling history is a particularly apt one for people living in the Diocese of Burlington. Bishop Robert F. Joyce – who was born in Proctor in 1896, educated at the University of Vermont, ordained at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Burlington in 1923, served as bishop of Burlington from 1957 until his retirement in 1971, and died peacefully at St. Joseph’s Home in Burlington in 1990 – was both a native son and an enthusiastic supporter of the Second Vatican Council.  For four years Bishop Joyce arranged his schedule so that he could be present at every session of the Council, and he was diligent about reporting back to his people, both in print, in person and on television, exactly what was happening at this historic event. His letters, which Father Harlow has reproduced here, were informative, pastoral and, at times, even humorous.  As primary documents, they give us an invaluable snapshot of this most historic period in Church history.
Father Harlow’s approach in this book demonstrates that his research was exceptionally thorough. In addition to Bishop Joyce’s letters, he also includes extensive information about what was going on in Rome at the time – issues under debate, who was participating, what was being said and how decisions were reached.  He also includes pertinent excerpts from the particular documents being discussed which are, of necessity, brief.  “It is my hope,” he notes in his introductory comments, “that the reader will continue to read the entire decrees and constitutions.”
Although all that transpired in Rome was of interest to Bishop Joyce, there were some issues that appear to have been especially near and dear to his heart, and these he communicated with particular enthusiasm.  The first, which was apparently on the minds of Catholic Vermonters as well, was the change in liturgical language from Latin to the vernacular.  “There was quite a response to my call for suggestions,” he stated at one point, referring to a diocesan consultation conducted prior to the opening of the Council in 1962.  “The greatest number of them…asked for a greater use of the vernacular, especially in the forepart of the Mass… [and] in the administration of the Sacraments.”
Also important to the bishop was the move toward ecumenism.  In an article he wrote for The Vermont Catholic Tribune in November 1963, he noted, “As the Council developed…ecumenism became more and more important as a chief aim, and insistent and universal has been the response to the subject throughout the world.”  He himself had close relationships with many Vermonters who were not of the Catholic faith and, in 1965, he was asked to fill in for an ailing Cardinal Cushing at the Grand Master’s Masonic Convention in Connecticut because “he had been hailed as one of the most imaginative and forward-looking leaders in the ecumenical movement.”
Father Harlow’s book is primarily an historical work and thus will probably be of greatest interest to historians and students of the Second Vatican Council.  However, that should not prevent the average reader from looking back at an event, the ramifications of which will be felt for centuries to come.  As Bishop Joyce himself said in a letter home in 1964, “Not only will the world be different as a result of the Council, but all of us who are part of it will be profoundly affected by it for the rest of our lives.”
The book sells for $20. Order it from Father Harlow at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call the cathedral office at 802-658-4333. 

Author bio

Father Lance W. Harlow is the rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Co-Cathedral Parishes in Burlington. His other books include “True Devotion to Mary by Louis de Montfort” and “Vermont's First Catholic Bishop: The Life of Bishop Louis De Goesbriand, 1816-1899.” He has also written three children’s books: “Holy Goldfish!”, “Sofia's Tea Party” and “Sofia's Ballet Lesson.”
  • Published in Reviews

The color of calm

If you gave, received as a gift, or purchased an adult coloring book for yourself in the last two years, you are not alone.  The current trend (some people call it a “craze”) for coloring books specifically geared toward adults has been growing steadily since they were first introduced commercially in the United States in 2012.  

In 2014, overall sales reached about 1 million copies; by the end of 2015, that number had skyrocketed to more than 12 million, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.  As of the end of October, nine of the top 100 books sold on Amazon were adult coloring books. 
Many people who swear by their coloring books cite their “de-stressing” factor as the reason for their popularity, and there seems to be some objective evidence for that. Although coloring requires focus, it doesn’t necessarily require great artistic skill; the mere process of choosing colors and filling in spaces accounts for its calming effect. 
The subject matter of the books can also be very satisfying, as there seems to be a book to match every interest; they run the gamut from abstract designs to nature themes, from history to classic cars and from animals to Victorian fashions. Happily, there are also many religiously themed coloring books available, with more than a few geared specifically to a Catholic audience.  (To find an extensive list of these books, simply go to Amazon and type “Catholic adult coloring books” into the search line.)
For Sister of Mercy Lorraine Ambrosini who takes an art class at Mount St. Mary Convent in Burlington, art has always been an avenue to peace and relaxation. “Art is a tool to create something new. And God is the Master of Creation,” she said. “So, yes, art can be a religious experience.”
She said that people in her class appreciate “God’s creation in nature” as they paint scenes that depict the natural beauty that surrounds them. “For me, while painting a landscape, it’s easy to be in awe of the beauty in nature as created by God.”
While coloring can be a great way to nurture appreciation for God’s creation or relax at the end of a busy day, there are other positive effects. People with dementia or other cognitive impairment seem to garner its benefits.
“Actually, it was the participants in our program who taught us about the value of coloring books,” said Diane Olechna, manager of adult day programs with the Visiting Nurses Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle counties. She and Kellie Parks, communications manager of the VNA, recently spoke to Vermont Catholic about why this particular activity is part of their program. 
About a year ago, some of their clients began bringing in their books, and they thought it was a good idea so began using them. There has been a good response to them from all their sites.
Olechna agreed that coloring seems to have a tranquil effect on the participants in their program. “Emotionally, it is a benefit because it is calming,” she said.  “One of our clients, for instance, who sometimes has a hard time settling in, loves to color.”  As it turns out, that activity has been the perfect vehicle to get her into a more relaxed and peaceful frame of mind.
Staff members say coloring gives their clients a sense of meaning and accomplishment in their day. Many times, the feeling of having done something of some consequence is severely diminished in people with cognitive issues, but choosing colors and completing a picture can give clients a great sense of personal satisfaction.
There is also the positive affirmation from others for their work. “Our clients will praise one another’s coloring,” Olechna said. “They will comment that someone has done a nice picture or chosen nice colors.” There is even a wall at the VNA program site on which some 40 pictures are displayed, all colored by participants in the Adult Day Program.
The benefits of coloring were echoed by Pat Sager, who currently serves as the organist and music director at Holy Mother and Child Parish in Lake Luzerne/Corinth, N.Y.  She and her husband, Jim, have been married for 34 years; both were Catholic school teachers in the Diocese of Albany, which is where they met. He has been suffering from frontotemporal dementia, a fairly rare form of the disease, for the past three or four years.
“He was the first one who noticed that something was not right,” Sager recently told Vermont Catholic.  “He said to his brother at one point that there was something wrong with his brain.” Once she “knew where things were going,” Sager began to engage him with puzzles, games and activities that were picture oriented. “He was always artistic,” she said, “so coloring books were a natural choice.” Because he loves nature, his preference has been for pictures that have that kind of theme.
“At first he was able to pick out pictures on his own,” she continued, “and I would often sit and color with him.” At that point, he was also able to look in the back of the book, matching suggested colors to the ones he chose to work with. As the disease progressed, though, he began to need more help, even to get started on a picture, at least at home. “At his day program, where everyone is involved, it’s a different matter,” Sager noted. “There he is more on task.” 
She also sees coloring as a way for cognitively challenged people to continue to be involved with life and with others; lately, she has been searching for Christmas- themed books for him to work with. “I feel that he did so well with his pictures that I wanted to take a Christmas one and turn it into a card,” she said. “Even if a person’s brain isn’t working in every area, there is still a way for them to communicate. And if I label the picture as ‘Artwork done by Jim,’ then he still has input into the season, and it gives him something meaningful to do.”
Olechna and Parks also note that coloring facilitates communication across cultural lines as well. They have a non-English speaking client from Nepal. He loves to color, and he completes some of the most beautiful work. His art transcends language, they agreed.
  • Published in Diocesan

“Little Sins Mean a Lot: Kicking Our Bad Habits Before They Kick Us"

Little Sins Mean a Lot: Kicking Our Bad Habits Before They Kick Us.”  By Elizabeth Scalia. Huntington, Ind.: Our Sunday Visitor, 2016. 160 pages. Paperback: $14.95.  Kindle: $8.65. Nook:  $10.49
Elizabeth Scalia’s new book, “Little Sins Mean a Lot: Kicking Our Bad Habits Before They Kick Us,” continues a theme she began in her previous work, “Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life.” As she did there, Scalia demonstrates a wonderful knack of helping us look at the everydayness of our lives in order to see, perhaps for the first time, what is really there.
One of the things that makes her voice so authentic in all her books -- and this one is certainly no exception -- is that her approach is intensely personal. She never preaches to her readers; rather she confesses to them, admitting her own shortcomings and then using these as lessons that we can all learn from. Most of us, for instance, can examine our consciences in light of the Ten Commandments and come out relatively unscathed. But gossip? Procrastination? Griping? Now, perhaps, we are on shakier ground, but it is precisely this sort of shake-up that can wake us out of our torpor, resulting in real change and, not coincidentally, more happiness in our lives.
So, what are these little sins?  Scalia outlines 13 of them – “twelve would have been more biblical,” she quips, “but I couldn’t stop myself” – that we recognize right off the bat: procrastination, excessive self-interest, self-neglect, indulging ourselves too much, gossip, judgment and suspicion, gloominess and griping, spite or passive aggression, out-grown attachments, laziness, cheating, sins of omission and excessive self-blame. Not surprisingly, all of these boil down to essentially one word – self – which is often the biggest obstacle between us and a truly whole and holy relationship with God.  (I am reminded of the prayer for good humor from the English martyr, St. Thomas More: “Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumblings, sighs and laments, nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called ‘I.’” Pope Francis reportedly prays this every day.)
In addition to her own thoughts, experiences and observations, Scalia includes at the end of each chapter a section of short excerpts entitled “What does Catholicism say…?” in which she draws from the Catechism, Scripture and the writings of the saints and other holy people, nuggets of wisdom which summarize and further illustrate her point.  This is followed by suggestions on how to break away from the “little sin” and concludes with a prayer and an invitation to speak to God in our own words about what we have just read and reflected on.
Throughout the book, Scalia is urging us to move beyond being merely “a good person” because “if we are going to try to become truly good persons,” she says, “we need to identify and then detach from the faults and sins that we so readily give in to…” in order to become holy people. This demands of us a rigorous honesty that is not for the faint of heart. But no matter how painful it may seem at the outset –- Scalia herself admits to procrastinating on this book because she knew it would reveal her own bad habits and sins –- it is in the end, the only thing worth doing.  “God never sells us short,” she concludes. “He never takes the cheap and easy route, either, because cheap and easy usually means a crummy gift, and we are promised an extravagance of riches, if only we are faithful and paying attention.”
Author bio
A Benedictine Oblate, Elizabeth Scalia (no relation, by the way, to the late Supreme Court justice) was formerly the managing editor of the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com, where she blogs under the title “the Anchoress.” A regular columnist at First Things and a featured columnist at The Catholic Answer magazine, she was also a featured speaker in Rome in 2011, when the Vatican hosted a meeting with some 150 Catholic bloggers from around the world.
In 2015, she was named editor-in-chief of the US/English publication of Aleteia, an international online publication dedicated to the New Evangelization.
She has also been a contributor to The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian (UK), National Review Online, Notre Dame’s Church Life: A Journal for the New Evangelization and Cultures and Faith, the Journal of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
In addition to “Little Sins Mean a Lot,” Scalia is the award-winning author of “Strange Gods” and “Caring for the Dying with the Help of your Catholic Faith.”
She and her husband live in Montauk, N.Y., and have three children.
  • Published in Reviews
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