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  • The season of hope and renewal



    This time of year, trees turn color, days are getting shorter and the air cooler. Beaches close, people spend more time inside, and it can feel like the best parts of the year are over. Yet it is the exact time of year when students enter a new world of hope and optimism; a fresh slate as the school year begins. It is an odd juxtaposition -- the warmth and life of summer melting into fall and the dead of winter, just as so many new opportunities are emerging for young people.

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  • The 1842 dedication of St. Mary Church, Quincy



    On Sept. 18, 1842, the parish church and cemetery of St. Mary, Quincy, were dedicated by Bishop Benedict Fenwick. The bishop commenced his day at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Franklin Street, celebrating early Mass, and then departing by carriage for Quincy; today, about a nine-mile drive south. By the time he arrived, a large crowd had already gathered, including former President and Massachusetts Congressman John Quincy Adams, accompanied by his wife, Louisa.

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  • Living Water for the Missions



    "The Church offers her maternal care to all children and their families, and she brings them the blessing of Jesus." -- Pope Francis Imagine the hopelessness you would feel if you were unable to provide your children with basic necessities, like clean water and hygienic bathroom facilities.

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  • A great chasm



    The rich and powerful are visited with woe and exile in today's Liturgy -- not for their wealth but for their refusal to share it; not for their power but for their indifference to the suffering at their door.

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  • Honoring Andy Williams: My Huckleberry Friend



    One of the most cherished traditions of the Catholic faith is to honor the lives and memories of those we love by accompanying them with our prayers and reflecting on the preciousness and impact of their lives. One of the greatest privileges of a priest is to celebrate Masses for the repose of the souls of our loved ones. I will do this with love on Sept. 25 for my dear friend Andy Williams.

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  • Red Sox free agents



    Can we all agree that 2022 has been a lost season for the Red Sox? Good. Not good that it's been a lost season. Good that we all agree that it is. Let's dump the 2022 campaign into the dustbin of history, never (one can only hope) to be heard from again.

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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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  • The best is yet to come



    Robert Browning, John Lennon, and Pope Francis. What could a Victorian-era poet, a 20th-century rock star, and a 21st-century pope possibly have in common? Well, I recently discovered something -- each of them has tried to assure us that old age is not as bad as it might seem. For all three, "the best is yet to be!"

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  • Sticking to the letter of Vatican II



    What was the Second Vatican Council all about? With the 60th anniversary of the council's opening now close at hand, you can still get an argument about that. Instead of consulting the "spirit" of Vatican II for an answer, my suggestion is that we take a look at the letter instead. And here surely the most reliable source is the man who convoked Vatican II, Pope St. John XXIII.

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  • The church and climate change



    Q. I am appalled that the Church has apparently bought into the climate change mania. This, despite significant scientific evidence to the contrary -- and especially in spite of its obvious political motivation. Am I a bad Catholic for opposing this Church position? (Troy, New York)

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  • Queen Elizabeth II: Faithful disciple



    I was in Rome last week to give a presentation to the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences. Perhaps at a later date I will share some of what I taught and learned at that conference. I was supposed to go the following week with my Word on Fire team to England for a series of talks and events. But midway through the Roman part of the journey, word came to us that Queen Elizabeth II had died. We immediately made the decision to postpone the England trip to a later time. But I've been thinking a good deal about the Queen during these days, especially as I have taken in the marvelous pageantry around her funeral exercises. I agree with the army of pundits and commentators who have praised Elizabeth for her steadfastness, devotion to duty, sangfroid in the face of trials, and love of country. But I should like to draw special attention to a dimension of her life too often overlooked -- namely, her unapologetically Christian faith.

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  • Evangelization: What and when?



    At the "information meeting" of the College of Cardinals this past Aug. 29-30, there was considerable agreement that evangelization is Catholicism's prime imperative for the 21st century -- a consensus understandably gratifying to the author of a 2013 book with the then-provocative title, "Evangelical Catholicism." Within that consensus, however, serious questions remain to be resolved. Surveying the world Catholic scene today, and considering the past decade of ecclesiastical air turbulence, there are four "what" questions and one "when" question to be settled, if the consensus on the necessity of evangelization is to be fruitful in drawing others to, or back to, Christ.

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  • God save the queen



    When a long-reigning monarch or pope dies, the world seems less stable. I think that's the sense many of us have with the passing of Elizabeth II. Somehow, it's more than just the death of a 96-year-old sovereign; it's the end of an era. Time, of course, continues to march on. But that's why it's worth taking a moment to recognize that while I've lived through 12 presidencies and six papacies, in all that time and more, there has been only one Queen of England.

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  • It's our blessing to support our priests



    At so many pivotal points in our lives, priests have played an integral role and contributed to the deepening of our faith. When my wife, Mary, was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago, she looked to Father Peter Casey, the pastor at our parish of St. Agatha in Milton at the time. She was uncertain about the proposed surgery; he counseled her and helped her put things in perspective and develop a more focused attitude to decide on a treatment plan that felt right. Father Casey, along with Father John Carmichael of St. Ann by the Sea in Marshfield, anointed Mary as well during this time. We recently went for her final check-up with her surgeon, and he told her it was a miracle she was alive. Everything worked the way it was supposed to by God, and with prayer, and for that we are so very thankful.

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  • Charity Amidst Chaos



    One of the great joys of this ministry is meeting people from around the world and hearing their stories. As you can imagine, they are as varied as the places from which they come. A recent visitor to our office is a member of a relatively young order. Founded by a Dominican priest, the Brothers of St. John have been in existence for forty-seven years. Their charism is threefold: to follow Christ as St. John did, to form their hearts and minds in the ways of St. John the Apostle, and to offer centers of formation for those searching for meaning in their lives, especially youth and families.

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  • Prudent stewards



    The steward in today's Gospel confronts the reality that he can't go on living the way he has been. He is under judgment. He must give account for what he has done. The exploiters of the poor in today's First Reading are also about to be pulled down, to be thrust from their stations (see Isaiah 22:19). Servants of mammon, or money, they're so in love with wealth that they reduce the poor to objects; they despise the new moons and sabbaths -- the observances and holy days of God (see Leviticus 23:24; Exodus 20:8).

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  • Take the money, or not



    The typical guy, or gal, with an income of only $700 a week probably drifts off to sleep each night with dreams of someday making a cool $70,000 a year; whereas those who make $70,000 dream of hitting it big and pulling down $700,000 per annum; and those people are all scheming of ways to turn their $700,000 into an income of $7,000,000 a year. And so it goes.

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  • Who is the deacon?



    ''Let them be merciful and zealous, and let them walk according to the truth of the Lord who became servant to all." (St. Polycarp's admonition to deacons, Lumen Gentium, #29) The Order of Deacons was restored as a permanent and public ministry in the Roman Church at the Second Vatican Council. The aims of the diaconate are to enrich and strengthen the works of service being performed by the Church, to enlist a new group of devout and competent married and single men in the active ministry of the Church, and to aid in extending needed charitable and liturgical service to the faithful. Wives of deacons assist in many of these areas. The number of deacons has continued to grow steadily, and there are now more than 19,000 permanent deacons ministering in the U.S. and 281 deacons in the Archdiocese of Boston.

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  • Love and support catechists



    Catechetical programs have resumed activities or will soon start in most Catholic parishes in the United States. Children, youth, young adults and adults prepare to return to sessions where they will learn and reflect about their faith.

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  • Changing a child's godparents



    Q. I was wondering whether you're allowed to change your child's godparents and, if so, how to go about it and have it be acceptable to the church. The situation is this: When we chose our daughter's godparents, seven years ago, they were Catholic and went to church. But over the years, they stopped going to church, and I'm not even sure that they still consider themselves Catholic.

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  • Let us double the number of our seminarians!



    It was fully my intention to have all of the Winona-Rochester seminarians stand at one point during my installation Mass homily. I had told the people that, in the words of John Paul II, "ecclesia de eucharistia" (the Church comes from the Eucharist), and since the Eucharist comes from priests, it logically follows that if there are no priests, there will be no Church. So I wanted everyone to see and acknowledge the young men in our diocese who are actively discerning a call to this indispensably important way of life. During the ovation, something came to me as an inspiration. I hadn't planned to say it. It wasn't in my text. But I blurted out, as the applause was dying down, "Let's double their number in the next five years!" A confirmation that this was perhaps from the Holy Spirit is that people, at every stop I've made so far in the diocese, have, with enthusiasm, echoed those words back to me. In fact, the leader of one of the Serra groups has told me that she and her colleagues have decided to take up the challenge.

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  • Expanding the circle of protection



    One of the maddening aspects of America's political landscape for Catholics is the inconsistencies of both political parties. Some folks may oppose the death penalty but are just fine with abortion, while others proudly declare that life is sacred but support the warehousing and execution of prisoners.

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  • Finding the bishops we need



    There was considerable excitement in some quarters this summer when Pope Francis appointed three women as members of the Vatican's Dicastery for Bishops, which makes recommendations to the pope for episcopal appointments in much of Latin-rite Catholicism. Whether this innovation will make any significant difference at the final stage of a long, complex process remains to be seen; given the byzantine ways of the Roman Curia (and its boys club atmosphere and dynamics), I have my doubts. But we shall see.

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  • Bill Belichick's final quest



    I don't know about you, but I have never paid any attention to NFL preseason games -- at least, not until this year. During the two decades of Tom Brady's reign as quarterback in Foxborough, I knew that no matter how the exhibition season went, once the regular season began, the Patriots would be ready to go. After all, I reasoned, preseason games were just glorified practice sessions and didn't count in the final standings.

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  • Seeking the lost



    The episode in today's First Reading has been called "Israel's original sin." Freed from bondage, born as a people of God in the covenant at Sinai, Israel turned aside from His ways and fell to worshipping a golden calf.

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  • MCA: Helping All Children Know Their Mission



    It's no secret that those of us in the mission ministry firmly believe that it is never too early to help every Catholic understand their own responsibility to help the Church grow, worldwide. Jesus' command to "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature" is not limited to adults; it's for all ages.

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  • Judge Martin T. Manton's bid for a Supreme Court seat



    On Sept. 12, 1922, Bishop Thomas E. Molloy of Brooklyn wrote a letter to Boston's Cardinal William H. O'Connell. "Your Eminence," he began, "A distinguished Justice of the U.S. Circuit Court and a practical Catholic of this diocese, the Honorable Martin T. Manton, is mentioned very favorably for the U.S. Supreme Court, on the occasion of the next vacancy."

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  • The unspeakable wealth of almsgiving



    ''Which then is better, tell me? To be rich or to be poor? To be in power or in dishonor? In luxury or in hunger? It is quite clear: to be in honor, enjoyment, and wealth. Therefore, if you would have the realities and not the names, leave the earth and what is here, and find yourself a place to anchor in heaven: for what is here is a shadow, but all things there are immovable, steadfast, and beyond any assault." Thus said St. John Chrysostom in one of his homilies on the Gospel of Matthew.

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  • Supporting the priests who have supported us



    In the summer of 2020, both our mothers passed away within a day of each other. Along with grieving these losses, we were faced with planning two funeral Masses at once, all during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and the logistical restrictions that came with it. While many put off funeral Mass arrangements during this time, we knew that wasn't an option for us and our departed mothers, who lived very faith-filled lives. We looked to Father John Kelly at our parish, St. Joseph in Holbrook, for guidance in navigating this yet-uncharted territory. He was a huge pillar of support in working with us to honor and celebrate the lives of our mothers at the time of their passing while also keeping everyone safe.

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  • Busing migrants to states another reminder reform is 'long overdue'



    Over the past five months, the governors of Texas and Arizona have spearheaded an effort to transport asylum-seekers and other migrants, processed by federal immigration officials at the U.S.-Mexico border, to Washington and the New York metropolitan area. In effect, the governors are using migrants and refugees as tools to try to punish political leaders and jurisdictions for their more supportive positions on migrants and asylum-seekers.

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  • Agenda for bishops



    In mid-November, the American bishops, gathered in general assembly, will choose a successor to Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles to serve a three-year term as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A new vice president and chairmen of several conference committees also will be elected during the meeting.

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  • The rest of Ordinary Time



    Whenever someone asks how I am, one of my most frequent replies is "Good, but busy." That is rarely more true than it is in September's back-to-school season. For those whose lives ebb and flow with the school year, as does mine, autumn bursts into our lives with a rapid increase in the events, activities, gatherings, and obligations that will again fill our days.

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  • The triumph of failure: A tale of two bishops



    "If we achieve great things outside of ourselves, and the achieving of them does not effect any change or development in ourselves, we have done nothing. Life's purpose is to purify us, not gratify us." So says Father Edward Leen reflecting on "the triumph of failure," the way in which God's work in the soul, and correspondingly in the world, cannot be judged on the surface (see his book "In the Likeness of Christ"). Judged rightly, Leen tells us that "there is nothing so sad as the sight of those who once pressed forward to the goal of perfection frittering away the days and hours in silly preoccupation about things that are futile, transient, and unsubstantial." Those are precisely the things that take up most of our attention! The things we seek to avoid -- suffering, misunderstanding, and even failure -- are precisely the tools God uses to purify us.

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  • On the folly of ignoring dictators



    Earlier this year, I had the honor and pleasure of being introduced to Hatfield House, ancestral home of the Marquesses of Salisbury, by the seventh marquess, Robert Michael James Gascoyne-Cecil, and his wife, Hannah. After Hannah, the daughter of a distinguished Scottish Catholic family, showed Father Alexander Sherbrooke and me around Hatfield's magnificent gardens, a fine lunch was followed by the Salisburys giving us an extended tour of the house, which came into the Cecil family as part of a land-swap with King James I in 1607.

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  • A depopulated future



    I remember when people thought overpopulation would destroy us and the planet. Paul Ehrlich's 1968 book "The Population Bomb" popularized this idea, leading to urgent calls for "zero population growth." Dr. Warren Hern even warned in 1993 that the human species was a global "cancer": "We have become a malignant ecopathologic process," he wrote. (Hern happened to be a practitioner of late-term abortions.)

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  • Trouble in paradise



    Boston is a great baseball town, one of the very best. The Red Sox traditionally have had a huge and passionate fan base. Yet even here there are troubles. It used to be that at this time of year spaces like this were filled with baseball talk. There were know-it-alls who would analyze, predict, and just plain guess how things would play out as the regular season went into its stretch drive. Not this year, though -- at least, not in these parts.

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  • Counting the cost



    Like a king making ready for battle or a contractor about to build a tower, we have to count the cost as we set out to follow Jesus. Our Lord today is telling us up front the sacrifice it will take. His words aren't addressed to His chosen few, the Twelve, but rather to the "great crowds" -- to anyone, to whoever wishes to be His disciple.

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  • A Presence of Faith



    Last week, Sister Bernard Overkamp, MSC, stopped by our office to share stories about her work as a Missionary Sister of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Sister has a quick smile and engaging wit; her stories flowed naturally.

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  • Little things



    When your floors are being redone, chaos and disruption are unavoidable. Everything -- from the fragile to furniture -- has to be moved out, and if the work involves more than one room, it all gets shuffled from place to place until it's done. Don't get me wrong: it's totally worth the hassle. Tile is close to indestructible, and engineered wood laminate isn't. And most of the baseboards get painted!

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  • A tree falls and is noticed



    I've never lost a tree before. Our property had three magnificent oaks, each more than a hundred, maybe a 150 years old. Like J.R.R. Tolkien's Ents, each had its own gravitas. One died after a long decline, and we finally had it taken down. It was so large that I couldn't reach my arms around it. So lofty it could easily be seen across the street or around the block. It was home to squirrels and a way station for woodpeckers and mourning doves, blue jays, and mockingbirds. Even the occasional ill-tempered crow.

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  • What true development in moral theology looks like



    Faith does not depend upon our own reasonings and feelings. It responds to the revelation of God, which exceeds all of our own capacities. On our own, we could not know God and could have no certainty of supernatural realities. This includes our happiness, which is not found in the realization of any earthly good; it is found in God himself, transcending every finite thing, including our own selves. Faith draws us to salvation by opening our minds and our whole being to God and his will for us, enabling us to partake even of the divine nature.

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  • Christian solidarity vs. barbarism



    CRACOW. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees have passed through this ancient cultural capital of Poland since Vladimir Putin's poorly equipped, miserably led, and brutish army invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 on the spurious pretext that a "Nazi"-led Ukraine posed an existential threat to Russia's security. The bloodlands of eastern Europe, between here and the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, are no stranger to totalitarian cruelty and its effects. Between 1932 (the beginning of Stalin's terror-famine, the Ukrainian Holodomor) and 1945 (the end of World War II), this was the most dangerous part of the world, a blood-soaked killing field in which perhaps 20 million men, women, and children died violent deaths.

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  • Breakfast with Bill Russell



    I always felt that I knew the late Bill Russell. I certainly knew a lot about him, or I thought I did. I gobbled up just about everything written about him since his arrival in Boston. I had seen him play countless times over the years. I was aware of the mind games he played with his great rival, Wilt Chamberlain. I knew how he had changed the game of basketball, and of his unwavering commitment to civil rights. I had also read about the prickly side of his personality and how he could be difficult to deal with.

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  • To go up higher



    We come to the wedding banquet of heaven by way of humility and charity. This is the fatherly instruction we hear in today's First Reading, and the message of today's Gospel. Jesus is not talking simply about good table manners. He is revealing the way of the kingdom, in which the one who would be greatest would be the servant of all (see Luke 22:24-27).

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  • Whatsoever You Do... (Mt.25:40)



    The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, and indeed the whole of the mission world, recently lost a giant. Bishop J. Donald Pelletier, M.S., passed away in June, just days shy of his 91st birthday. He was ordained as a priest over 65 years ago. For all but two of those years, he ministered to the Malagasy people in Morondava, Madagascar; he was ordained their bishop in 2000.

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