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  • A shared reflection



    St. Mary's High School in Lynn recently invited me to participate in their Wednesday reflections program. First, I was honored to be asked. Second, I suggested that far better people existed to offer a reflection. Both are incontrovertible facts, but the school still graciously invited me to participate even with my mild protest.

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  • Cardinal Cushing addresses the call to holiness



    On Sept. 27, 1953, the Union of Holy Name Societies hosted a meeting at Fenway Park to mark the start of a "Crusade for Sanctity" among Catholic laymen. An estimated 45,000 Holy Name Society members from over 300 parishes across the Archdiocese of Boston assembled. A large altar was erected upon which Cardinal Richard Cushing stood to deliver the keynote address on the subject of personal holiness.

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  • Welcoming our Afghan brothers and sisters



    Media coverage of the crisis in Afghanistan compels our attention and stirs our compassion. Each day, we hear more about the tens of thousands of Afghan families and individuals who are arriving in the United States, fleeing unimaginable danger in their homeland. Catholic Charities of Boston (CCAB) will support the transition of over 100 of our newest neighbors by leading the effort to welcome and resettle our Afghan brothers and sisters to Greater Boston. Many will arrive with no possessions and need support building a new life here in Massachusetts.

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  • Serra club



    California's legislature now has it in for St. Junipero Serra, who has long been considered the founding father of the Golden State. Authorities let an angry mob tear down the Franciscan missionary's statue in Los Angeles. Now they aim to lay at his feet all the offenses of the Spanish Empire and its Anglo successor.

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  • Is God calling you to serve him and his Church as a deacon?



    How does one discern a call from God to a vocation in the Church? God calls all people to holiness. Within this call, God calls each of us to a particular state in life. For some, this particular call is to marriage. Others are called to religious and consecrated life. Still others are called to ordained ministry as a deacon, priest, or bishop. As a young boy, I thought I was being called to the priesthood. In time, I discerned that God was calling me to the married state. This call was confirmed on the day of my wedding when I saw my beautiful bride and was reconfirmed when each of my three children were born.

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  • Leave a Legacy of Love



    There's a saying we like to repeat in the Mission Office: Some people give to the missions by going, others go to the missions by giving. Recently, we found the exception that proves the rule. Last year, a Friend of the Missions, who spent many years serving God's people overseas went home to his reward. We were grateful that he had given so much to the missions. Imagine our surprise when we were notified that The Society for the Propagation of the Faith had been mentioned in his will as a beneficiary. We were told that, in his words, he did so because, "All my life I have been trying to spread the Faith." He saw us as partners in that work.

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  • To belong to Christ



    Today's Gospel begins with a scene that recalls a similar moment in the history of Israel, the episode recalled in today's First Reading. The seventy elders who receive God's Spirit through Moses prefigure the ministry of the Apostles.

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  • RIP the game of pepper



    When was the last time you saw big-league players engaged in a game of pepper? It wasn't lately, that's for sure. In fact, there are probably a lot of players who don't even know what the game of pepper is. For the uninitiated, pepper is, or was, a warm-up game in which a batter faces a line of two, three, or more teammates who are stationed about 20 feet away; using a short, chopping bunt-like swing, he hits ground balls to the others who quickly toss them back to be batted again. The fielder farthest to the right is next in line to hit if the batter fouls off a toss or hits one that is caught in the air; then, he must take his place at the end of the fielders' line.

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  • A portrait in Ordinary Times



    Years ago, I was in an art gallery in Amsterdam. In contrast to the sacred themes abundant in the southern European art with which I am more familiar, the masterpieces of Dutch art have more secular themes. Centuries ago, authorities in the Netherlands disfavored public displays of religious art. Hence, Dutch collections of fine art feature stunningly beautiful still life paintings, landscapes, and portraits instead.

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  • The lethal tenderness of the death doctors



    By the time Dr. Jack Kevorkian was put in prison for second-degree murder, he had helped an estimated 130 patients kill themselves. The first person he "helped" was an Oregon teacher suffering from Alzheimer's disease. It was hardly "death with dignity." With a suicide machine he had rigged up inside his rusty Volkswagen van, he enabled Janet Adkins to take her life.

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  • Morality of boxing



    Q. Why has the Catholic Church not condemned boxing? It is the only sport in the world whose purpose is to hurt your opponent, even to knock him out. People in other sports get hurt, but the purpose is not evil. The goal is to get a home run or a basket or a touchdown.

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  • After Roe



    In a long, somewhat rambling piece about the bishops and abortion appearing in the September Commonweal, Peter Steinfels makes a crucial point. It's been made before by others, but it bears repeating at this moment when the Supreme Court, in the term beginning Oct. 4, is widely expected to reverse or significantly modify Roe v. Wade, its 1973 decision legalizing abortion, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision reaffirming Roe.

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  • Catholic 'beliefs' and the abortion debate



    Do Catholics "believe that human life begins at conception" -- a formulation that's become ubiquitous in recent weeks? Well, yes, in precisely the same sense that Catholics "believe" that the Earth is spherical, not flat; that Venus is the second planet in the solar system; that a water molecule is composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom; that blood circulates through the body; that the human heart has four chambers; and so forth and so on.

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  • Support our priests this September



    We recently celebrated the life of Father Paul Rouse, who was called home to God unexpectedly last month. Father Rouse was a dear friend who shared in many of the happiest and saddest moments of our family's lives. During his time as a pastor at Holy Name in West Roxbury, Father Rouse would often come over to our house and play the piano as we all sang along. He baptized our children and celebrated their first Communions. Most importantly, he was a mainstay of our strength during the life of our daughter Marisol, who passed away at age eight after a long illness.

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  • Spiritual contractor needed



    The neighborhood we live in doesn't flood. I think I can say that definitively after Hurricane Ida came through a few weeks ago. But when you've got winds in excess of 150 miles per hour, there's a pretty low chance of coming out with absolutely no damage. For us, it was mostly siding, some leaning fence poles, and buckling floors from the wind-driven rain that leaked in through those oh-so-stylish French doors -- all five on the southern side of the house.

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  • Servant of all



    In today's First Reading, it's like we have our ears pressed to the wall and can hear the murderous grumblings of the elders, chief priests, and scribes -- who last week Jesus predicted would torture and kill Him (see Mark 8:31; 10:33-34).

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  • Dinner at Pino's



    In June of 1990, a book written by Dom DiMaggio, "Real Grass, Real Heroes," about the 1941 season, when his brother Joe hit in 56 consecutive games and his friend and outfield mate, Ted Williams, became the last man to hit .400, was released. To mark the occasion, a book party took place at Tavern on the Green Restaurant in New York City's Central Park. I happened to be in New York at the time, so I was invited to join in the festivities.

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  • How to live a meaningful life



    Last week, I had the great good fortune to sit down for a Zoom interview with Jordan Peterson, Jonathan Pageau, and John Vervaeke. As I'm sure you know, Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, is one of the most influential figures in the culture today. Pageau is an artist and iconographer working in the Orthodox Christian tradition, and Vervaeke is a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto. All three of these gentlemen have a powerful presence on social media. The topic of our conversation was a theme that preoccupies all four of us -- namely, the crisis of meaning in our culture, especially among the young. To kick things off, Peterson asked each of us to give our definition of meaning and, more specifically, of religious meaning. When my time came, I offered this: to live a meaningful life is to be in purposive relationship to value, and to live a religiously meaningful life is to be in purposive relationship to the "summum bonum," or the supreme value.

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  • The Cross, our only hope



    After moving to New York City in early 2015 to serve the Church at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, one of my first excursions was to go to Ground Zero to visit the 9/11 Museum that had opened about 10 months prior.

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  • Guard the net



    When my daughter Maria was a senior in high school, the girls' hockey coach asked her to be the goalie for the team. This might seem a reasonable request except for one thing: Maria didn't play hockey. She was a good athlete, on a competitive soccer team that traveled to other states. She was a skier and a skater. But she wasn't even a soccer goalie. And a hockey player? No.

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  • Discord in the early Portuguese Catholic community



    Throughout the 19th century, Boston's bishops regularly contended with a lack of priests, especially those who spoke a language other than English and could effectively communicate with Catholics recently arrived in New England. While meeting the challenges of this chronic problem was a trying task on its own, external pressures could add to the difficulty, as a letter to Archbishop John Williams reveals.

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  • It's Our World -- On Mission



    Every year Missionary Childhood Association's (MCA) Mission Education Day brings an experience of mission to the hearts and minds of the youngest missionaries of our Archdiocese. In past years, Catholic students along with adult advisors gathered at the Pastoral Center in Braintree to learn more about their own baptismal call to be missionaries.

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  • Following the Messiah



    In today's Gospel, we reach a pivotal moment in our walk with the Lord. After weeks of listening to His words and witnessing His deeds, along with the disciples we're asked to decide who Jesus truly is.

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  • A team in transition



    The Boston Red Sox are a team in transition. They will always be. "That's the way it is," as Walter Cronkite used to say. In fact, it's the way it has been for a number of years. It has taken a while for the reality of the Age of Free Agency to settle in, but it's here, and there is no denying it. When Travis Shaw was brought back to the team after an absence of about five years, there were only three members of it who were with the Sox when he left: Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes, and Christian Vazquez. Everyone else was gone.

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  • When our children leave the faith



    Once upon a time, you may have prayed for your darling child to become a nun. Odds are you never prayed that she become a none. Gallup reported earlier this year that church membership by Americans has hit a historic low, falling for the first time below 50 percent. More disturbing is the growing number of young people who identify as "nones," those without any religious affiliation.

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  • Pope kissing hand



    Q. I have always seen on television the reverence shown to the pope, including people kissing his hand. I am wondering whether the pope ever kisses anyone else's hand. My understanding is that the Holy Father never does this. (Kansas)

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  • The greatest Catholic novel



    If you think a novel set in 14th-century Norway has to be dull, think again. Sigrid Undset's "Kristin Lavransdatter" is such a book, and far from being a bore, it is surely one of the most exciting works of fiction ever -- to say nothing of being the finest Catholic novel.

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  • The mighty pen of Father Paul Mankowski, SJ



    In the summer before the Second Vatican Council opened, Pope John XXIII met with Cardinal Léon-Joseph Suenens in the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo. "I know what my part in the Council will be," the pope told the Belgian archbishop. "It will be to suffer." Pope John was prescient, and not just because the Council's opening weeks would prove contentious; shortly before Vatican II began its work, the pope was diagnosed with the painful cancer that would kill him in less than a year.

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  • Tracking God's diplomats



    There's a new book that's just been published about the Vatican's diplomats, their history and current engagements. It's called "God's Diplomats: Pope Francis, Vatican Diplomacy and America's Armageddon," and it's written by a long-time friend of mine, Victor Gaetan. It's a fascinating read, well written, widely sourced, with over a hundred pages of endnotes. It is also a sympathetic view of the Church's involvement in world diplomacy, with particular emphasis on recent hotspots. I recommend it most highly.

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  • Painting a Picture, Calling all Witnesses



    Twenty-two years ago, when I started my work for The Pontifical Mission Societies, I thought of it as just that -- a job. I spent years at home, raising three children. When the time came that they were all in school, I felt the pull to return to the "real world." Little by little, I found that the Holy Spirit had different plans for me with The Pontifical Mission Societies. My part time work became a full-time vocation. I became a witness.

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  • All things well



    The incident in today's Gospel is recorded only by Mark. The key line is what the crowd says at the end: "He has done all things well." In the Greek, this echoes the creation story, recalling that God saw all the things He had done and declared them good (see Genesis 1:31).

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  • The day I nearly won the Pillsbury Bake-Off



    This Labor Day weekend marks the 45th anniversary of the time I nearly won the Pillsbury Bake-Off. And I can't even cook. I couldn't cook 45 years ago and I can't cook now. Well, I must admit that I am a whiz at heating up canned soup (Helpful hint: For best results remove soup from can before heating. You're welcome). Also, there was a period in my life when I'd go out into the backyard with a glass of wine and throw some steaks on the grill; then I'd sip thoughtfully on the wine as the steaks got totally ruined. I don't do that anymore. I stopped drinking wine a while ago so I no longer have any need to go out into the backyard. Other than that, my record as a non-cook is unblemished.

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  • Vatican diplomacy making a difference



    This past June 25, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See's secretary for relations with states -- usually dubbed the "Vatican's foreign minister" -- told a press conference that he and his colleagues didn't believe that the Vatican's speaking out publicly on the massive repression underway in Hong Kong "would make any difference whatever."

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  • Trapped in the self



    Recently, I've seen television footage of two protests against vaccine and mask mandates. In my home state of Washington, a protester held up a large sign saying, "My Body My Choice." A protest in Louisiana featured the slogan "Freedom of Choice."

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  • The great danger of a misguided charity and false compassion



    The push to substitute "gender identity" or "gender expression" for biological sex has enormous ramifications in terms of law, education, economy, health, medicine, safety, sports, language, and culture, as well as in terms of basic anthropology, human dignity, human rights, marriage and family, motherhood and fatherhood, and the cause of women, men, and especially children.

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