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  • A prophecy of joy



    In his message to the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, May 22, Pope Francis encouraged the sisters gathered in Rome for the General Chapter to be open to the Holy Spirit. This is expressed through openness to sharing and listening to one another in the community, seeking to understand one another as we work together to spread the message of Christ to the people of today. It is a message of joy and hope.

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  • Reading the signs of the times



    The recent tragic death of a rock musician has me thinking about St. Benedict. The musician is Chris Cornell, who died alone in a hotel room in Detroit on May 17. He had been lead singer for Soundgarden and other bands, and his distinctive voice is featured in the films "Casino Royale" and "The Promise."

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  • Faith, patriotism and courage on display in South Boston



    We often hear it said, "That our culture and times are changing and we have to accept it." Yesterday, after all the Masses, we heard Father Frank Daly say goodbye to the Catholic parishioners of South Boston as he left for a new assignment as Pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows in Sharon. When he delivered his farewell comments to the people, you could see many of them wiping their eyes with tears of sadness. In such a short time, he made a big impact on people. Father Daly, who had been previously married, joined the priesthood after his wife and mother of his children, passed away. The community got to love his homilies about the challenges of raising families, but also hearing that with prayer and God, all things were possible. Yes, our society and culture may be changing, but our family values continue. But Father Daly's emotional farewell to parishioners at St. Brigid and Gate of Heaven Church would not be the only event that made us all proud to be a Boston Catholic.

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  • Challenged yet greatly blessed



    During these last weeks of the Easter Season, the Scriptures being read at Mass reflect on the different activities of the disciples, especially of Peter, Paul and Barnabas. They were untiring in their preaching and teaching about Jesus Christ. Sometimes, we want to focus only on the successes and overlook the challenges they faced in bringing people to faith in Christ. When we listen closely to the accounts of their experiences we see that they suffered rejection, had attempts made on their lives, and were jailed because they would not stop teaching about Jesus! Yet, in spite of facing those many challenges, these disciples only grew more determined in their preaching and ministering. Their success bore fruit because of their prayer and hard work.

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  • Evicted: The housing crisis in the U.S.



    My husband and I are sitting on our front porch on a gentle spring evening, reading. I hold up my book and show Jim Chapter 6: "Rat Hole." "This pretty much sums up this book," I say, and silently thank God for my house, my neighborhood, my life. Simultaneously, I grieve for my country.

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  • Knowing God



    Jesus has been taken up into heaven as we begin today's first reading. His disciples - including the Apostles and Mary--return to the upper room where he celebrated the Last Supper (see Luke 22:12).

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  • When Does Faith Disappear?



    When Friedrich Nietzsche declared that "God is dead" he added a question: What kind of a sponge does it take to wipe away a whole horizon? I often ask that question because just in my own lifetime there has been an unprecedented decline in the number of people who go to church regularly and, more recently, an equally unprecedented spike in the number of people who claim to have lost their faith completely and are now classified under a religious category called, "None".

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  • Problem with song leader



    Q. I live in a large parish and find my affiliation with my church meaningful and positive -- except for one thing. (I've struggled with this, as I don't want to be unkind, so I would appreciate your guidance.) One of our regular song leaders is difficult to listen to -- and that is an understatement.

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  • A Word to Those Being Confirmed



    One of the greatest privileges I have as a bishop is the opportunity to preside at the sacrament of Confirmation. A drawback, however, is that I am obligated to conduct over forty Confirmations in roughly a two month period--which means that I become tired, rather quickly, of my own homily! As a result, I'm frequently shifting gears, trying out new ideas, looking at the complex phenomenon of Confirmation from a variety of angles. I want to share with you in this article some of the key ideas in the latest iteration of my Confirmation sermon.

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  • Discerning the news



    Just when you think things can't get any worse, they do. That's been the story of Donald Trump's relationship with the media for a long time, and we aren't seeing the end of it yet. I don't wish to add to the hysteria by declaring this situation a crisis. But if it's not that, what is it? It would be absurd to call the clash between Trump and the media an unfortunate misunderstanding, sure to blow over in time. Mutual antipathy runs too deep for that. This faceoff between the president and the press will persist until Trump leaves office--whether that be in January 2021, January 2025, or a few months from now.

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  • Doping athletes



    The use of performance-enhancing drugs by professional athletes not only leads to serious challenges in maintaining a level playing field in competitive sports but also raises broader ethical issues and concerns.

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  • Boston's first ordination



    On May 31, 1817, a native Irishman by the name of Dennis Ryan received the honor of being the first priest ordained in the Diocese of Boston. Throughout its early history, the diocese, which then encompassed all of New England, was always struggling to fulfill the demand for priests within its expansive territory. In a report to Rome on Feb. 7, 1817, Bishop Jean Cheverus wrote that while the diocese "is not lacking in sacred vessels, vestments or other things which pertain to the decent performance of divine service," there was still only one priest, Father Francis Matignon, in addition to himself. However, he continues that "there is also Mr. Denis Ryan, an Irishman, recently made deacon and soon to be raised to priesthood. He made his theological studies in the episcopal residence, where he lives with the Bishop and the priest."

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  • Honoring service at our Spring Celebration



    This week, Catholic Charities held its annual Spring Celebration at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. The annual Catholic Charities event raises funds to provide basic needs resources such as food, utility and rental assistance to those in our community living in poverty, and support a wide range of educational programs for children and adults that provide paths to self-sufficiency. Our distinguished guests included Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, and 2017 Justice and Compassion Award honoree William F. Kennedy.

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  • Unless the Lord builds the house



    We received notification that the house around the corner from us had been condemned and was going to be demolished. But when the heavy equipment arrived to tear it down, I couldn't help but feel sad. Whatever circumstances led to that end couldn't have been happy ones. The couple who lived there had always been neighborly and nice. They had suffered fire damage to a roof more than a couple of years ago; I'm not sure it was ever repaired.

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  • What is the Pastoral Plan Advisory Board?



    The Pastoral Planning Advisory Board (PPAB) was formed in 2014 at the direction of Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley to assist him in examining the progress and effectiveness of the 2012 Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan, Disciples in Mission. See the plan website at www.disciplesinmission.com.

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  • Alive in the Spirit



    Jesus will not leave us alone. He won't make us children of God in Baptism only to leave us "orphans," He assures us in today's Gospel (see Romans 8:14-17) . He asks the Father to give us His Spirit, to dwell with us and keep us united in the life He shares with the Father.

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  • Money, money, money



    Money! Follow the money. It's all about the money. Money makes the world go round. Money talks and you know what walks. In Baseball, the color of money is ugly. The subject of money suffocates the Game. You can't talk about baseball without getting into it. It pervades every decision; permeates every plan; colors every discourse; dominates every policy. No move is made without calculating its weight and effect. No step taken without factoring its cost and consequence.

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  • Coming Full Circle -- From Storybooks to Spirituality



    My first love was literature, novels and poetry. As a child, I loved storybooks, mysteries and adventures. In grade school, I was made to memorize poetry and loved the exercise. High School introduced me to more serious literature, Shakespeare, Kipling, Keats, Wordsworth, Browning. On the side, I still read storybooks, cowboy tales from the old West, taken from my dad's bookshelf.

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  • Good examples of virtue



    It's that time of year again -- time to fight over commencement speakers. It happens every May. Some Catholic college will feature a speaker who has taken public positions at odds with the church's teaching.

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  • At life's end



    My father-in-law died this past month. He was a good, hardworking man, an immigrant, self-taught and self-reliant. As is likely both the fear and the fate of many of us, he died in a hospital, tethered to a swarm of Ivs. With various doctors weighing in on his various conditions, his family struggled to make the right decisions at a time of conflicting advice and great emotion. No one wanted him to go. No one wanted him to suffer.

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  • Adoption by same-sex couple



    Q. I read recently in the Catholic press that representatives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) had written a letter in support of the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act. That legislation would protect social service agencies who refuse, on religious grounds, to provide adoption services for same-sex couples. Does that mean that the Catholic Church is opposed to such adoptions? (Queensbury, New York)

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  • A Maternal Ambassador's Peace Plan Unveiled at the United Nations



    On May 12, at the very time Pope Francis was arriving in Portugal to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Fatima apparitions and the canonization of Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto, something special was taking place at the United Nations: the Holy See and Portugal were jointly sponsoring a conference, which I had the joy to coordinate, on the Fatima centenary and the enduring relevance of its message of peace.

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  • A Hillarian lesson for Church leaders



    Perhaps it was being "overcome with Paschal joy" (as the Prefaces for Easter put it). Maybe it was my guardian angel whispering in my ear. Perhaps I'm just getting older and thus less crotchety. But for a brief moment, at around 0730 EDT on the morning of May 3, I felt a blush of sympathy for Hillary Clinton for the first time in twenty-five years.

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  • Giving our youngest Catholic school students a strong foundation



    I became a grandmother two years ago, and it is a joy! I highly recommend it! When my grandsons recently visited, I was reminded of how quickly the time goes and how rapidly our children learn. The acquisition of language, the development of thought processes and the physical skills that progress in two years are impressive. Our children are bundles of energy and happiness as they explore and learn how to navigate the world.

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  • Catholic Schools: A tradition for Boston, a tradition for me



    Catholic education has taught me great values such as working hard, treating others well, and being empathetic. These values are the same ones that my father was taught when he attended St. Margaret School in Dorchester in 1955. When my wife and I attended Catholic schools, these same values were integral to the education and enlightenment that helped us navigate the path to adulthood. And today, as our two daughters receive a Catholic education, we are heartened by the simple yet powerful fact that the same values which were important to our family so many decades ago are still being instilled today.

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  • A betrayal with a happy ending



    Last fall, an outstanding teacher and leading Catholic scholar was publicly taken to the academic woodshed by his university's president. The professor is Anthony Esolen and the university is Providence College. His offense? According to the president's public letter, Esolen caused "pain" to some students, and thereby violated PC's "fundamental imperative on a Catholic campus: to be charitable to one another." Or, at least, that is the charge.

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  • Freeing up space for the love of knowledge



    This is important: a university is a natural institution. But let's define terms. By an "institution" I mean a repeatable form of human association, with a structure that is "objective" in the sense that it exists independently of the will of the members. By "natural" I mean the institution arises to meet some need of human nature, with the assistance of natural impulses.

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  • Pope and president should unite on common cause



    Anytime a U.S. president is greeted at the Vatican by the pope, it is always one of the most widely attended media events in the world. This happens routinely, even when world events like world wars, genocides or moral conflicts are not occurring. Yes, the interrelationship between politics and religion is a fascinating topic that always attracts a lot of media and public attention. Many outstanding national political reporters always travel with the president and thousands of reporters from throughout the world report on religion and cover the pope. When they come together, it generates a lot of news, too often controversial.

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  • Making disciples ... Growing the Church



    The Easter Scriptures tell the story of the early Church's growth after the Resurrection of Christ. The preaching and teaching and hard work of the disciples began to bear fruit. We hear of their successes in the Acts of the Apostles as we are told "the number of disciples continued to grow" (Acts 6:1) and "Those who accepted the message were baptized and about three thousand were added that day." (Acts 2: 41) It is both thrilling and challenging to hear such wonderful stories about the work of the disciples. They took the commissioning that Christ gave them to "go and make disciples" very seriously and were always ready to give witness to their faith in Christ.

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  • Building his house



    By His death, Resurrection and Ascension, Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for us in His Father's house. His Father's house is no longer a temple made by human hands. It is the spiritual house of the Church, built on the living stone of Christ's body.

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  • Spring around some



    In retrospect, how much more can we make of the curious stretch of "old-fashioned baseball" the Red Sox and Orioles recently featured in successive meetings? Probably nothing, says I. More than enough has already been sputtered; too much of it dumb.

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  • Despair as Weakness Rather than Sin



    Classically, both in the world and in our churches, we have seen despair as the ultimate, unforgivable sin. The simple notion was that neither God, nor anyone else, can save you if you simply give up, despair, make yourself impossible to reach. Most often in the popular mind this was applied to suicide. To die by your own hand was seen as despair, as putting yourself outside of God's mercy.

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  • Legalism versus morality



    In case you didn't notice, Pope Francis thinks legalism is a bad thing--and that's good news. For legalism, correctly understood, is opposed to authentic morality. The Pope returned to this theme, a favorite of his, in several recent homilies preached at his morning Mass in the Casa Santa Maria, the Vatican guest house where he lives. In one, his special targets were the doctors of the law who tried to keep the apostles from preaching the risen Christ. For them, he said, the Word "was not made flesh--it was made law."

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  • Marriage to non-Christian



    Q. As a baptized and confirmed Catholic and member of a parish, if I marry a non-Christian who does not want to convert to Christianity, can I be married in a Catholic church? And if we don't get married in a Catholic church, can my children be baptized as Catholics as long as I am a member and my spouse does not object? (We plan for me to bring up our children as Catholics.) (Iowa City, Iowa)

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  • How to Preach Like the Apostles



    I have always loved the Acts of the Apostles and have often recommended it to those who are approaching the Bible for the first time. Filled with colorful narratives, adventure, martyrdom, persecution, journeys by sea, etc., it makes for stimulating reading indeed. But I love it especially because it shows us the excitement of being a follower of Jesus. Long before there were parishes and dioceses and the Vatican and other institutional structures, there was this band of brothers and sisters who were so overwhelmed and energized by the fact of the resurrection that they went careening around the world and to their deaths with the message of Jesus.

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  • The fifty-day party



    If you can find it in your attic, open your old, pre-Vatican II missal, and look at the Sundays between Easter and Pentecost, which are titled "Sundays after Easter." Now look at a contemporary Missal, or your current issue of Magnificat, and note the difference: those Sundays are now styled "Sundays of Easter." Three letters were lost in the transition from after to of, but that subtraction represents a great recovery of liturgical insight.

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  • The secret of Fatima



    Fatima. It's one of those unforgettable stories of Catholic faith. A glowing Lady from heaven appears to three shepherd children in a village no one would ever have heard about otherwise. She has a message that amounts to practical guidance for spiritual growth: pray the rosary, offer small sacrifices to God, go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation monthly, honor Mary's Immaculate Heart. She also tells the three children a "secret," one which involves war, the spread of Communism, eternal damnation, and the persecution of the Church.

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  • Confirmation in Boston's missionary past



    Many Catholics around the world will be receiving the sacrament of confirmation this month. While the sacrament is ordinarily conferred by a bishop, the Code of Canon Law (883-884) provides rules for exceptions to this, allowing for priests to confer the sacrament in certain circumstances.

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  • Walking at their pace



    I balance the laundry basket on my hip while coaxing a sleepy preschooler downstairs. He wants me to carry him. I explain that my hands are full. He crosses his arms and pouts. I ask him to come with me. He takes one stubborn step down the first stair and glares.

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  • What are we to do?



    Easter's empty tomb is a call to conversion. By this tomb, we should know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Messiah, as Peter preaches in today's First Reading. He is the "Lord," the divine Son that David foresaw at God's right hand (see Psalms 110:1,3; 132:10-11; Acts 2:34). And He is the Messiah that God had promised to shepherd the scattered flock of the house of Israel (see Ezekiel 34:11-14, 23; 37:24).

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  • Presidential sport



    Boldly above the fold on the front page of the Sunday 23rd of April's New York Times was a neat presentation of passport style photos of the 20 people -- 18 of them men -- who the Times, in its unquestioned wisdom, declares to be President Donald Trump's 20 best buddies. The Times calls them his "touchstones" adding, "Many of whom he consults at least once a week."

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  • Pride, Humility, and Social Media



    On a recent trip to Sacramento, from my home base in the LA area, I flew Southwest Airlines. In an idle moment, I reached for the magazine in the seatback pocket and commenced to leaf through it. I came across an article by a woman named Sarah Menkedick entitled "Unfiltered: How Motherhood Interrupted My Relationship with Social Media." The piece was not only wittily and engagingly written; it also spoke to some pretty profound truths about our cultural situation today and the generation that has come of age under the influence of the Internet.

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  • An Extraordinary Book



    Dorothy Day is alleged to have said: Don't call me a saint; I don't want to be dismissed that easily! A new biography on her by her granddaughter, Kate Hennessy, Dorothy Day - The World will be saved by Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of my Grandmother, will, I believe, go a long way in preventing anyone from turning Dorothy Day, soon to officially canonized by the church, into what she feared, a plaster-saint who can be piously doted-upon and then not taken seriously.

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  • Reaction of Jews and Romans to resurrection of Christ



    Q. I have always been puzzled by the lack of reaction to Christ's resurrection from Jewish citizens and Roman officials. It is well-documented that Jesus suffered and died, and his execution was authorized by Roman leaders; but, even at a time of no media coverage, how could Christ's return to life have gone unnoticed by the very officials who had clamored for and authorized his death?

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  • Apres Gorsuch le deluge



    Did you find the Gorsuch hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee a depressing exercise in political theater? Are you tired of the members of the "world's greatest deliberative body" playing "Gotcha!" games that would embarrass a well-trained high school debate team? Have you had it with a mainstream media that doesn't hold senators accountable for gross ignorance and bias and a social media universe that's constantly in hysterics?

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  • The ambiguity of the empty cross



    During the 40 days of Lent, Catholics prepared spiritually and liturgically to celebrate Easter. Yes, it was worthy. The Lord is risen! Because of those Lenten days, we are better disposed to celebrate the beauty and hope of the resurrection.

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  • Tired of religious discrimination?



    New U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch hit the ground running in April, taking part in oral arguments on what I see as this year's most important case. At issue is a Missouri program for safer playgrounds for children. Helped by a tax on new automobile tires, Missouri recycled old tires into rubber surfacing to cover hard playground surfaces. Nonprofit institutions could apply for grants for the resurfacing -- except religious institutions.

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  • What our collaborative is and is not



    I started working for the Sacred Heart and Our Lady's Collaborative in Newton about 18 months ago. By that time, this "Phase I" experiment had already written its local pastoral plan and was at the very beginning stages of implementation. My metrics-driven university admissions background was excited to see goals and priorities strategically thought out and prioritized. The goals of our staff and our collaborative were not vague or contrary ideals, but written and quantifiable realities.

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  • Brotherhood of Hope: What's a Brother?



    What is a brother? Why become a brother? What is the difference between a brother and a priest? Why aren't all brothers priests? These are some of the questions that the Brotherhood of Hope has encountered over the years. They often emerge because people are unaware of the Church's history and teaching concerning consecrated and religious life. Although relevant Church documents discuss various forms of consecrated life, when cited here they will apply specifically to religious brotherhood. The elements discussed here are from the experience of our own religious family, the Brotherhood of Hope.

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  • The varied ministry of a religious brother



    I send you Greetings from Lowell on the shores of the Merrimack River. About 51 years ago I made my first vows as a religious brother. Recently, a lady in a church foyer asked me "What's the difference between a priest and a brother?" It's a perennial question, but it's been a while since I was asked so directly. In my answer I mentioned the sacramental ministry of the priests -- Masses and Confessions, weddings, etc. Brothers can do some of that, but quite often the brothers do just about everything else to keep the places of ministry functioning.

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  • Religious Brothers: Gifts received, shared, given



    Our Church has had opportunities for consecrated life for non-ordained, "lay" men since its early centuries, starting in the desert areas of Egypt and the Middle East. Over time, many of the men's religious orders that developed from groups of laymen included both ordained and non-ordained memberships. Often, the lay members did the majority of the manual labor required for their monasteries and ministries, while the "choir monks" focused more on chapel services and more intellectual activities. By the late Middle Ages, some congregations were founded to be exclusively or almost exclusively lay, specializing in education like the Brothers of the Christian Schools or in health care like the Brothers of St. John of God.

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  • Preach the gospel always ... Mirrors of the Gospel message



    Religious Brothers are men who, as an extension of their baptismal commitment and members of the priesthood of Christ, respond to a "call" to serve the Church in a variety of ministries. Under the umbrella of the Gospel message and in imitation of Mary's "yes" to God, brothers have heard the "Word" and seek to become ''mirrors" of the Gospel message in the modern world. Committed to a consecrated way of life, brothers live their vows in community and give further meaning to what it means to be "brother" to one another and to all those we minister with and those we serve. With the Gospel before us, brothers are men of reflection and vision.

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  • Never-ending parenting



    A dear friend recently became a grandma for the first time and now the baby is "already" a month old. How did that happen so quickly? In a couple of months, two of my three children will "already" be in their 40s. How did that happen so quickly?

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  • Emmaus and us



    We should put ourselves in the shoes of the disciples in today's Gospel. Downcast and confused they're making their way down the road, unable to understand all the things that have occurred. They know what they've seen--a prophet mighty in word and deed. They know what they were hoping for--that He would be the redeemer of Israel. But they don't know what to make of His violent death at the hands of their rulers.

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  • April in Boston



    Things in our fragile sporting world can flip-flop willy-nilly in April, of which -- we are again reminded painfully -- oft tends to be the cruelest of the months. What a difference a fortnight makes.

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