Yesterday I did the practical exam portion of the Paramedic refresher I’m in. The majority of it is on-line (I think I’ve written about that, but I’m not sure) at Greenfield Community College in western Massachusetts. The content fits both Massachusetts’ requirements as well as those of the U.S. Department of Transportation, which means it will be acceptable to the National Registry as well. I know a number of people who have taken it and had it be accepted, so I’m not concerned. It shouldn’t be an issue anyway because the content is so thorough.
Now all I have to find are an ACLS and a PALS re-certification class before the end of October. That should prove to be a challenge in itself. Then there is FCCS, or Fundamentals of Critical Care Support. I’m planning to get into the December class being held at Boston MedFlight. The hitch for that is the two Fridays it is being offered on are the last two days the A&P class I’m taking meets. So – I’ll have to see what I can do about working those around each other. I hope I can.
I drove almost two and a half hours to get to Greenfield from my house. I was there for just over an hour to do the practical exam, and it took me almost three hours to drive home because of construction. And I ended up on some dirt road in southwestern New Hampshire (somewhere between Hinsdale and Fitzwilliam) that took me past a religious community whose convent/monastery/I don’t know quite what was off of this dirt road. I still can’t figure out how I got there, but the only way out to the main road was over a one lane bridge that crossed over a creek. And a car drove past me headed towards this community with three nuns in it all wearing traditional habits. It un-nerved me slightly.
Because I didn’t know who they were (and what they were doing so far out in the middle of nowhere) I did some research. Found out that the place I passed is the St. Benedict Center, which is home to a rather conservative Catholic community known as the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, or Mancipia Immaculata Cordis Maria in Latin. From what I know of them, they are an offshoot of the original community of the same name that originated in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the mid-1940’s. Their founder was a Jesuit priest, Fr. Leonard Feeney, who adhered strongly to the doctrine of “Outside the Church there is no salvation”, or Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salas. He had two co-founders, Catherine Goddard Clarke, and Avery Dulles, who later was created a cardinal in the Catholic church. He passed away last year.
As an aside to this, I have a memory of Cardinal Dulles from back during my service in the Marine Corps. He wasn’t a cardinal back then – he was on the faculty at Georgetown – and he was con-celebrating the Funeral Mass of a friend of mine who was killed in a helicopter crash off the Maryland coast. He was the pilot of a CH-53 that went down a quarter-mile from land – the victim of a bird strike, of all things. I never forgot his kindness toward my friend’s family; he made sure they had whatever they needed to get through the difficulties they were dealing with.
Anyway, this community is fractured; apparently there are a few who live in Richmond, NH (which is where I was apparently lost) and a number who live in Still River, Massachusetts (a village incorporated in the town of Harvard). And the group in Still River is sub-divided even further; there are two convents with an unknown (at least to me) number of nuns, a community of brothers, both of which who run a traditional Catholic school, plus a second community of nuns a little further up the road that are situated next to a Benedictine monastery. All of these smaller communities were at one time united together under the umbrella of Fr. Feeney.
I have actually been down there; a number of years ago (I think it was either 2001 or 2002; I can’t remember which) I spent some time at the monastery as a retreatant and stayed in their guest house. It was actually a very pleasant experience. The community members were very good to me; the guest master at the time was Fr. Andrew, a priest who I got to know a bit. Very conservative, as they all were, but just the same he was thoughtful and quite kind to me. I kept to myself, attended Mass each day I was there and went to community prayer, did a lot of reading and thinking (I wasn’t writing much back then), and generally was still doing a lot of deep soul searching at that time.
Now while this community of monks adheres to the Rule of St. Benedict, they haven’t ever forgotten their history. As far as I’m concerned, that’s commendable. As for the other three groups I mentioned, I didn’t concern myself with them as that wasn’t my purpose for being there.
With respect to this community in Richmond, however, apparently they are not well-regarded. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Richmond group as being anti-semitic. Not the folks in Still River, though; I found no mention of them by the SPLC, in fact. Conversely, the Richmond community compares the SPLC’s operations to those of Hitler and Stalin and says quite openly that the SPLC needs to be shut down.
Interestingly different points of view on each other. Personally, I have no idea who is right – or if either organization is right - and in my copious spare time I’ll be researching both organizations more closely. Provided I don’t come to a sort of impasse, I will likely write about what I find.
Other than it being hotter than blazes here (right now it’s 91 degrees F outside) there isn’t a lot to talk about. About the only thing I’m dealing with of any consequence is a problem I’ve uncovered with the new CPAP mask I got last week. I’ve developed the beginning of a pressure sore on my face just below my right eye. This isn’t good; it means that there is a part of the mask putting pressure on one spot on my face, and my skin can’t tolerate it. That is incredibly sad as I really like the mask. So I have an appointment next Monday to find a suitable replacement – the earliest that I could get in to be seen. But I can tolerate it until then; I simply will keep the mask (and my face) extra clean so as not to antagonize the tissue on my face. At the moment it is a red spot about the size of a dime with a scab forming over what had been an opening. Maybe it’s starting to settle down, but I don’t want to take a chance with it. As I’ve had some experience with this, I know it can be downright unpleasant.