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  • Lots of good news about Catholic schools in the archdiocese



    In a few weeks, thousands of parents in the Archdiocese of Boston will choose to send their children to Catholic schools. They choose our schools for a variety of reasons. Parents find our schools to have environments that are nurturing and strong academic programs. They also choose us because our schools are places where children learn about Jesus and his saving grace.

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  • The Panic of 1837



    On Aug. 29, 1837, Bishop Benedict Joseph Fenwick of Boston wrote a report to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome, describing the present state of the Diocese of Boston which then encompassed all of New England. He opens the report by describing the effects of the financial Panic of 1837 and, in particular, its effect upon New Englanders.

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  • The 'Expendable Children'



    Couples who struggle to get pregnant are turning with greater frequency to the in vitro fertilization (IVF) industry for assistance. In some cases, they can end up feeling they are "too pregnant" when twins, triplets or quads arise. This occurs from the practice of implanting more than one embryo at a time to improve pregnancy success rates. A multiplet pregnancy can involve significant risk, both for the children in utero, and for the mother. Because of these risks, the pregnant mother will sometimes be advised to opt for a "selective reduction," where potassium chloride is injected into one or two of the growing babies, to cause their hearts to seize, followed by death and the gradual re-absorption of their bodies during the remainder of the pregnancy. This can allow the one or more remaining brothers or sisters to grow more safely and avoid further complications during the pregnancy. Given the incredible effort expended by the couple to become pregnant in the first place, these lethal practices often draw gasps of disbelief from others.

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  • Permanent Diaconate Inquirers Program: Is Christ Calling You?



    God is calling each of us to serve one another in charity and love and Pope Francis speaks to this call constantly. For some there is a particular invitation to serve Christ and the Church in ordained ministry. The Permanent Diaconate, restored at Vatican II, is a ministry of service that is open to married and single men. In the words of Saint John Paul II, the ministry of the deacon "is the Church's service sacramentalized."

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  • St. Clare and the priority of Christ



    Saint Clare, whose feast the Church celebrates today, was born into a wealthy family in the year 1193. When she was eighteen years old, a charismatic wonderworker by the name of Francis came to preach a series of Lenten sermons at the church of St. Girogio in the town of Assisi. Clare was cut to the heart by Francis' words and literally left behind everything to enact in her own life Francis' call to embrace evangelical poverty.

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  • Sunday Reflections



    Most of us are the foreigners, the non-Israelites, about whom today's First Reading prophesies. Coming to worship the God of Israel, we stand in the line of faith epitomized by the Canaanite woman in today's Gospel. Calling to Jesus as Lord and Son of David, this foreigner shows her great faith in God's covenant with Israel. Jesus tests her faith three times. He refuses to answer her cry. Then, He tells her His mission is only to Israelites. Finally, he uses "dog," an epithet used to disparage non-Israelites. Yet she persists, believing that He alone offers salvation.

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  • Late summer musings



    Rounding the bases -- long the occasional custom here -- while wondering if the Patriots sloppy exhibition kick-off against the eternally pathetic Jaguars officially ends talk of "perfection" this season. Not that the team itself would be guilty of such wooly thinking -- and certainly not the coach -- but all the savants have been raving about the prospect of a wire to wire blitz with Patriots Nation being utterly giddy over the notion. Alas, already it's been tainted and it's only early August.

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  • Motown and the turbocharged Church



    Detroit hasn't gotten a lot of good press in recent decades as it's struggled to cope with the myriad problems of rustbelt American cities in the age of globalization. But the Church in Detroit is not playing defense. Under the leadership of Archbishop Allen Vigneron, it's going on offense, challenging itself to become a diocese of missionary disciples.

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  • Taking the dog for a walk



    We used to have a proper dog, Shiva, a large German shepherd mix with broad shoulders and golden eyes. She was as bright as some 5-year-old children. She came when she was called and would lie respectfully by my chair in her spare time. A year before Shiva's demise, we got a small utility backup dog named Gus.

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  • Refuse to baptize?



    Q. Can a priest refuse to christen a child born out of wedlock? (Mason Neck, Virginia) A. The answer -- which may not be the one you were expecting or wanted -- is, "It depends." Simply that the child's parents are unmarried would not justify refusing a baptism, and I would call Pope Francis as my witness on this.

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  • 'ABCs of the Christian Life'



    I suppose it will be considered heresy in some quarters, but I've never been what you would call a fan of the writing of G.K. Chesterton. Some people can't get enough of GKC. I can. Not that I haven't tried to read him. Now and then, failing to acquire this particular taste and suspecting the fault lies with me, I've tackled still another book by Chesterton in hopes of falling in love with him as others have done.

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  • Persevering in prayer



    The daughter of a good friend of mine died this week of a drug overdose. I had been praying for her for at least two years. I keep a list of people I pray for. I always hated the idea of saying, "You are in my prayers" and then that not being so. I started keeping track, and if the person passes away, I keep praying for them.

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  • Towards the Feast of the Assumption



    The old Catholic Encyclopedia, published before the dogma of the Assumption of Mary was defined by Pope Pius XII in 1950, is nonetheless edifying in what it says about the Feast which the Church celebrates on August 15th: "It is the principal feast of the Blessed Virgin." Not the Immaculate Conception; not the Feast of the Mother of God; not the Annunciation -- but rather the Assumption is "the principal" Marian celebration in the Church.

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  • A population implosion?



    Remember when everybody worried about a "population explosion" filling the world with too many people? In the 1970s, this fear drove campaigns to legalize abortion and pour billions of dollars into birth control programs.

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  • High hopes



    In English, "hope" is a word much like "love." You can use it for just about everything. I can hope for good weather, hope to hear from a friend, hope to sell my house, hope the roast doesn't burn, and hope my sister's chemotherapy works this time. And, I can hope in the Lord. It's the same word, but it reflects vastly different meanings.

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  • Sinking fear



    How do we find God in the storms and struggles of our lives, in the trials we encounter in trying to do His will? God commands Elijah in today's First Reading to stand on the mountain and await His passing by. And in the Gospel, Jesus makes the disciples set out across the waters to meet Him.

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  • Grinding baseball wheels



    Although its prominence has been irrefutable for at least 40 years now, the mid-season, non-waiver, dump 'em while you can still get something for 'em, trade deadline has never generated more sheer noise even as this year's rendition proved to be mainly just the usual sound and fury.

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  • Our Utmost in Dealing with our Faith



    The complexity of adulthood inevitably puts to death the naiveté of childhood. And this is true too of our faith. Not that faith is a naiveté. It isn't. But our faith needs to be constantly reintegrated into our persons and matched up anew against our life's experience; otherwise we will find it at odds with our life. But genuine faith can stand up to every kind of experience, no matter its complexity.

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  • Married Catholic priests?



    Q. I have been a Catholic since birth (over 50 years), but I am still learning things about my religion. Recently we were at a wedding in another city, and the priest who performed the ceremony told us that he has been a priest for 10 years but has been married for 30 years. Did I miss something here?

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  • The Mysterious Church on the Edge of the World



    Even though I lived in France for three years while doing my doctoral studies, I never managed a visit to Mont Saint-Michel, the mysterious, mystical, and hauntingly photogenic abbey situated on a promontory just off the Normandy coast between Caen and St. Malo. But last week, in connection with the filming for my Pivotal Players series, my team and I made the pilgrimage. I first spied the mount from the backseat of the van, when we were still many miles away. It looked like a great ship, moored on the line of the horizon. As we got closer, the place became increasingly impressive, sometimes looming like a fortress, other times seeming to float on the sea. When we entered the gates this morning to commence our work, we stepped out of our world and into the Middle Ages. Our climb to the top--arduous and steep--mimicked that of thousands of pilgrims and monks and spiritual seekers over the centuries.

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  • A Captivating Model of Marian Devotion and Christian Charity



    The Church exists to make saints, to continue Jesus' mission to save us and bring us to eternal life. In the final analysis, we either become holy -- in this world or thanks to the merciful cleansing of Purgatory -- or we go to hell. While few of the saved will ever be raised to the altars as examples and intercessors, it is a sign of a properly eschatological focus that the Church actively promotes causes of canonization that show us that sanctity -- the ultimate purpose of our baptism -- is possible in every age and in every state of life.

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  • Ecumenism, influence-envy, etc.



    Defending the indefensible is never pretty. Or so we're reminded by recent attempts from the portside of the Catholic commentariat to defend the madcap analysis of America's alleged "ecumenism of hate" that appeared last month in the Italian Catholic journal, La Civiltŕ Cattolica (edited by the Jesuits of Rome and published after vetting by the Secretariat of State of the Holy See). The more sober-minded defenders admit that the article, jointly authored by Fr. Anthony Spadaro, SJ, and Pastor Marcelo Figueroa, contains errors of fact and tendentious interpretations of recent history -- but then go on to suggest that it raises important questions. How, though, are serious questions raised, much less clarified or answered, by falsifications of both history and contemporary reality?

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  • From Conflict to Communion



    We are just a month away from the fall season in which the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation will be commemorated on Oct. 31. Each earlier centenary commemoration has been shaped by church and political agendas that reflected the cultural and political context of the time.

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  • Friends are good for your health



    While our social instincts may become less intense as we age, our friendships can have a significant impact on how we feel. In various studies, older adults who maintained active friendships were shown to be happier and to live longer. Being connected with others provides us with increased self-confidence and a sense of belonging. At the same time, friends expand our perspectives and make our worlds bigger. Researchers believe that these emotional benefits translate to better health in older age.

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  • Men who gave their lives for others



    Later this year, two American men will be beatified: Father Stanley Rother, who will be beatified in Oklahoma City on Sept. 23 as a martyr; and Capuchin Father Solanus Casey, who will be beatified in Detroit on Nov. 18 for having lived heroic virtue. This will be a pair of firsts, as they will be the first U.S.-born males to be raised to the altars. (There have been a number of American-born females, like Native American St. Kateri Tekakwitha or St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, or St. Katharine Drexel. Women tend to outpace men in the race to holiness.)And the men who worked in America who have been beatified or canonized up till now have all been from other countries: the martyr St. Isaac Jogues from France, for example, or St. Junipero Serra from Spain, or St. Damien of Molokai from Belgium. All these heroes of our faith, women and men, stand as models of holiness and heavenly intercessors for us before God. The fact that they lived and worked in our society and close to our time makes them especially pertinent as witnesses to the universal call to holiness and apostolate that we all share.

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  • The Bold Witness of St. Ignatius of Loyola



    "Go forth and set the world on fire." -- St. Ignatius of Loyola During the sixteenth century, it seemed to many that the Catholic Church was down for the count and would not get back up again. Internal corruption has sapped the Church's spiritual energies; scandal and intrigue left the Church with little credibility; most of the faithful, including the Church's own clergy, were desperately ignorant of the Church's noble spiritual tradition; attempts at reform had degenerated into divisions and rancor. It seemed hopeless for the Church.

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  • Sunday Bible Reflections



    High on the holy mountain in today's Gospel, the true identity of Jesus is fully revealed in His transfiguration. Standing between Moses and the prophet Elijah, Jesus is the bridge that joins the Law of Moses to the prophets and psalms. As Moses did, Jesus climbs a mountain with three named friends and beholds God's glory in a cloud. As Elijah did, He hears God's voice on the mountain.

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  • 1967 remembered IV



    It's seemingly become a staple of the fable; something, if you weren't around then, you might smile about and wonder why it was such a big deal. It was a different time, you see. Still, a simpler time. Moreover, it's true. It's the way it was.

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  • Is yoga communing with devil?



    Q. My wife was recently at a gathering of her prayer group that meets every week. At the end of this particular meeting, a deacon spoke to the group and said something that has disturbed both of us. He said that when you practice yoga, you are communicating with the devil.

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  • Musing on the Teeth of St. Ambrose



    I write these words from Milan, Italy, where I am with my Word on Fire team filming new episodes for our Pivotal Players series. I've seen lots of marvelous things on this trip, including the ruins of the ancient baptistery under the Milan Cathedral where, in the spring of 387, St. Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose. But the most fascinating sight I've taken in is the vested and mitered skeleton of that same Ambrose, which rests in the basilica that bears his name, not far from the Cathedral.

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  • Suicide -- Redeeming the Memory of a Loved One



    One year ago, virtually everyone who knew him was stunned by the suicide death of the most prominent American Hispanic theologian that we have produced up to now, Virgilio Elizondo. Moreover, Virgil wasn't just a very gifted, pioneering theologian, he was also a beloved priest and a warm, trusted friend to countless people. Everyone dies, and the death of a loved one is always hard, but it was the manner of his death that left so many people stunned and confused. Suicide! But he was such a faith-filled, sensitive man. How could this be possible?

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  • Questions of competence



    It's a safe bet that 99.95% of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics have never heard of La Civiltŕ Cattolica [Catholic Civilization], a journal founded in 1850 by the Jesuits of Rome to combat the evils of the age (then taken to be secularist liberalism and freemasonry). Its current circulation is perhaps half that of First Things, and while it has recently made attempts to broaden its readership by publishing English, Spanish, French, and Korean editions, it's also a safe bet that Civiltŕ Cattolica will remain a small-circulation magazine with a readership confined to what we might call "Catholic professionals:" clergy of various ranks; papal diplomats; officials of the Roman Curia; academics and pundits.

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  • Mission at New Bedford



    Last summer, this column highlighted a document by Father Henry E.S. Henniss describing the history of Catholic missions on Nantucket. While responsible for Nantucket, Father Henniss had also served much of the local area, including New Bedford, and also composed a document entitled "Notes on New Bedford Mission," dated July 21, 1857.

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  • Transitions



    In a few weeks, my husband and I will get on a plane with our youngest daughter and help her move into a dorm room to begin her freshman year of college. Now that it is finally happening, it's hard to believe that our years of active child raising are essentially over. I expected to be very sad when this moment came, and have waited its inevitable arrival with a good deal of apprehension. But now that it is here -- even though our children are my very favorite people -- I feel ready for the changes ahead.

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  • Latest martyr from Rome's Irish College -- an Iraqi



    Pope Francis recently visited St Bartholomew Basilica in Rome, this church sits on an island in the middle of the Eternal City's Tiber River, and guards the memories of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians murdered for professing their faith in recent decades. During the prayer service Pope Francis wore a red stole that had been owned by one of those martyrs Father Ragheed Ganni.

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  • Considering the options for infertile couples



    When Catholic couples experience trouble getting pregnant, they often seek medical help and begin to research what options are available to them. A number of moral considerations and questions generally emerge during this process: Why are techniques like in vitro fertilization (IVF) considered immoral? What approaches will the Church allow us to try? What does our infertility mean, spiritually and personally, in the face of our fervent but frustrated desire for a baby?

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  • Treasures of the Kingdom



    What is your new life in Christ worth to you? Do you love His words more than gold and silver, as we sing in today's Psalm? Would you, like the characters in the Gospel today, sell all that you have in order to possess the kingdom He promises to us? If God were to grant any wish, would you follow Solomon's example in today's First Reading--asking not for a long life or riches, but for wisdom to know God's ways and to desire His will?

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  • Bishop Nelson J. Perez and a new moment for Catholicism in the Midwest



    The appointment of Hispanic bishops as ordinaries of dioceses in California, Texas or Florida is rather common. This is not surprising since most Catholics in the South and the West are Hispanic. However, the recent appointment of Bishop Nelson J. Perez as the next bishop of Cleveland is not business as usual. It is a historical milestone for U.S. Catholics. Many reports have noted that Bishop Perez is the first Hispanic bishop of Cleveland. More interesting is that he is the first Hispanic bishop to head a diocese in the entire Midwest.

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  • The state of the game



    Summer peaks and so with it should baseball be peaking. But 2017 is not your ordinary season. While ostensibly booming financially -- ever the foremost consideration -- fundamental questions about how the game is being played including some challenges to its basic artistic integrity are being raised inspiring debate that's fast getting sharp and could become ominous.

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  • Are jihadis "losers"?



    When I first visited Israel in 1988, my friend Professor Menahem Milson, a distinguished Arabist at Hebrew University who was Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's military aide during Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem in 1977, told me that "you have to meet my friend, Colonel Yigal Carmon." Carmon worked in the Israeli Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv; I had a very busy schedule in Jerusalem and around Galilee; so I tried to decline. Menahem insisted and I finally agreed to spend a morning in Tel Aviv. It was one of the most fruitful surrenders of my life.

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  • Reform from within



    This year marks the 500th anniversary of the launch of the Protestant Reformation. As we draw closer to Oct. 31, the date on which Martin Luther posted 95 theses on the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, it is important for Catholics to formulate the most fitting way to mark the occasion.

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  • Angels and the City



    Several years ago Hollywood made a movie, "City of Angels," about an angel named Seth whose job it was to accompany the spirits of the recently deceased to the afterlife. On one such mission, waiting in a hospital, he fell in love with a brilliant young woman surgeon. As an angel, Seth has never experienced touch or taste and now, deeply in love, he longs to physically touch and make love to his beloved. But this is his dilemma: As an angel with free will he has the option to let go of his angelic status and become a human person, but only at the cost of renouncing his present immortality as an angel.

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