Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 23, 1976 when Archbishop Henry J. O'Brien passed away.
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One Saturday morning, while I was under direct orders from my commander-in-chief, aka my wife, to clean the clutter off my desk, I came upon my father’s Twenty-Four Hour Book, one of the AA tools he used to stay sober a day at a time for 25 years.


It was a worn and tattered small black book that could fit in your pocket, a book held together by tape and glue after years of use. You see, my father started his day reading it and ended his day reading it.



I opened the collection of meditations and prayers and turned to that day’s entry, which read, “It is the quality of my life that determines its value. In order to judge the value of a person’s life, we must set up a standard. The most valuable life is one of honesty, purity, unselfishness and love. All people’s lives ought to be judged by this standard in determining their value to the world. By this standard, most of the so-called heroes of history were not great men. ‘What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, if he loses his own soul?’”


They were Christ’s own words, and yet how little we heed them. Getting ahead, staying ahead and beating out the other guy in the race for success are what motivate us much of the time. After all, who wouldn’t love to gain the world and be rich, famous and powerful?


My father was hardly rich and famous, and he certainly was not a “hero of history.” For much of his life while he was drinking, he wasn’t even a hero in our family. However, nobody is beyond recovery or redemption, and for his last 25 years, he tried hard to live by the standard of “honesty, purity, unselfishness and love.”


Not too many people do and few even try. Sad to say, those intoxicated by power and prestige probably never consider the importance of “honesty, purity, unselfishness and love.”


All this, of course, leads you to wonder whether questionable moral values are a prerequisite to rise to the top of the ladder. At the same time, there are countless so-called good people who are community icons, political leaders, religious figures, corporate executives and ostensibly upstanding men and women who “compartmentalize” their lives, which means to say they leave their values at home when they go to work.


They have the unsettling ability to disassociate the good they are supposed to do from the bad they consent to do. There’s always a convenient excuse for evil.


My father, with wisdom acquired from his years in the college of AA, would often say, “You can’t just talk the talk. You have to walk the walk.”


The meditation in the Twenty-Four Hour Book was illuminating when you consider the so-called heroes of our world – heroes in sports, in politics, in business and in entertainment, from Roger Clemens and Lindsay Lohan to former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who spent thousands of dollars on a call girl.


How many of these high-profile figures and celebrities come close to the standard? Some pretend to live by these values and others give them lip service, but after you scratch the surface and direct a little light into the hidden corners of their lives, you uncover the sad truth of their decadence and selfishness.


Whenever I become disenchanted with the world I encounter in the newspaper headlines, I try to remember there are still some people struggling to live lives of “honesty, purity, unselfishness and love” by reading a small black book that helps them do it a day at a time. Fortunately, it’s a path available to everyone.


J.F. Pisani is a writer who lives with his family in the New Haven area.


alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.