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  • Welcoming the stranger



    Two months ago I wrote in this space about our refugee resettlement program and our commitment to service for those in need regardless of their faith. Today I am pleased to discuss Catholic Charities' partnership with Combined Jewish Philanthropies.

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  • The ethics of new age medicine



    Patients who face serious illnesses are sometimes attracted to alternative medicines, also referred to as "holistic" or "new-age" medicines. These can include treatments like homeopathy, hypnosis, "energy therapies" like Reiki, acupuncture, and herbal remedies, to name just a few.

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  • Scientifically faithful



    I liked science a lot when I was a kid, especially when it focused on the natural world. Because I spent a lot of time outdoors, I learned the names of most birds and bugs, plants, flowers, and trees, and rocks and minerals. I could identify animal tracks in the mud and most of the constellations in the night sky. I also knew which plants I could touch and eat safely when I was wandering in the woods, which I did for hours on end all summer long.

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  • When God became man



    In 1923 the American poet Wallace Stevens published the full text of a poem he had written about what he perceived as a growing ambivalence regarding religion in general and Christianity in particular and modern culture.

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  • His mercy endures



    We are children of Jesus' Resurrection from the dead. Through this wondrous sign of His great mercy, the Father of Jesus has given us new birth, as we hear in today's Epistle. Today's First Reading sketches the "family life" of our first ancestors in the household of God (see 1 Peter 4:17). We see them doing what we still do--devoting themselves to the Apostles' teaching, meeting daily to pray and celebrate "the breaking of the bread."

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  • Golden Anniversary Recollections II



    From Winter Haven there had been hints of optimism with veiled suggestions maybe something interesting might be up with the 1967 Red Sox. But the historically gruff Boston sports-media, hardened the more by a full generation of their Town Team's fabled foibles and follies, had been loath to go overboard.

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  • Five Hundred Years of Misunderstanding



    The heart has its reasons, says Pascal, and sometimes those reasons have a long history. Recently I signed a card for a friend, a devout Baptist, who was raised to have a suspicion of Roman Catholics. It's something he still struggles with; but, don't we all! History eventually infects our DNA. Who of us is entirely free from suspicion of what's religiously different from us? And what's the cure? Personal contact, friendship, and theological dialogue with those of other denominations and other faiths does help open our minds and hearts, but the fruit of centuries of bitter misunderstanding doesn't disappear so easily, especially when it's institutionally entrenched and nurtured as a prophetic protection of God and truth. And so in regards to Christians of other denominations there remains in most of us an emotional dis-ease, an inability to see the other fully as one of our own.

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  • Difference between priest and monsignor



    Q. Could you explain for me the difference (if any) between "priest" and "monsignor"? Under what circumstances is a priest given the title of "monsignor"? (Burke, Virginia) A. "Monsignor" is a title bestowed on a priest who has distinguished himself by exceptional service to the church. It is a title granted by the pope -- typically, upon the recommendation of the priest's diocesan bishop. It is a purely honorary title and has no effect on the priest's duties or ministerial assignment.

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  • The Benedict Option and the Identity/Relevance Dilemma



    Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation has certainly emerged as the most talked-about religious book of 2017. Within weeks of its publication, dozens of editorials, reviews, op-eds, and panel discussions were dedicated to it. Practically every friend and contact I have sent me something about the book and urged me to comment on it. The very intensity of the interest in the text in one way proves Dreher's central point, namely, that there is a widely-felt instinct that something has gone rather deeply wrong with the culture and that classical Christianity, at least in the West, is in a bit of a mess.

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  • Models in Responding to the Message of Fatima



    There is so much about the occurrences in Fatima a century ago that should provoke wonder. If the Mother of God was going to be permitted to appear on earth to echo her Son's call to conversion, prayer, and sacrifice, if she was going to reveal in symbolic visions the reality of Hell, the ascent of Bolshevik communism, the dawn of World War II, and the persecution of the Church, if she was to call the world -- and in a special way, Russia -- to be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, why would she have appeared in a Fatima, Portugal, a truly out of the way place, to three shepherd children -- ages 7, 8 and 10 -- with very little formal education and even lesser influence?

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  • The importance of Jackie Robinson



    In the history of the modern American civil rights movement, three iconic moments are typically cited. May 17, 1954: The U.S. Supreme Court hands down its decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, declaring segregated -- "separate but equal" -- public schools unconstitutional.

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  • Easter: The season of faith



    The Easter season is the holiest and truly most reflective periods in the Christian faith and when our values and beliefs are foremost on our mind. I recall attending daily religious ceremonies at the Vatican during the Easter season when I was U.S. ambassador and listening to Pope John Paul II, and even traveling to other regions in the world and meeting other prominent religious leaders. I often heard them stress the critical importance of people demonstrating courage and hope in their lives, which was truly an inspiring experience for me.

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  • Jumping into the STREAM



    STREAM stands for Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art and Mathematics and is a part of many of our schools on-going efforts to improve the instruction and curriculum that we offer to our students.

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  • Missionaries to the new paganism



    Thirty years ago, Hollywood broke with its tradition of escapist fluff and gave us "The Mission," a brilliant, historical film about Jesuit missionaries sent in the name of Christ to Peru. This year the industry again broke with tradition and gave us another breathtaking film, "Silence," about Jesuit missionaries sent to 17th Century Japan. In both cases, the efforts of the missionaries to counter paganism do not end well.

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  • Cardinal Cushing's 1962 Easter sermon



    The archive is home to the Cardinal Cushing Papers which contain several hundred sermons and speeches delivered by the late cardinal. Within are several Easter sermons, most of which discuss Jesus' sacrifice, resurrection, and how we should strive to emulate the examples he gave us. Among them is a sermon from Easter 1962, in which Cardinal Cushing chose to speak about the importance of loving on another, and sharing each other's burdens, as Jesus exemplified.

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  • They saw and believed



    Jesus is nowhere visible. Yet today's Gospel tells us that Peter and John "saw and believed." What did they see? Burial shrouds lying on the floor of an empty tomb. Maybe that convinced them that He hadn't been carted off by grave robbers, who usually stole the expensive burial linens and left the corpses behind.

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  • Surprise, surprise, postseason Bruins



    Having scratched clawed, wiggled, and blustered their way into the two-month Stanley Cup festival the Bruins now strive to see if they can last more than a week. The smart money says don't bet the ranch on it. Just making this tourney -- rightly considered the least to expect from any Bruins team -- was struggle enough. It's not likely they're up to more. Bear in mind, their combined record against three key opponents this season -- Washington, Ottawa and Toronto -- was 0-11.

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  • The Empty Tomb



    Believers and non-believers alike have been arguing about the resurrection since the day Jesus rose. What really happened? How was he raised from the dead? Did an actual dead body really come back to life and step out of the grave or was the resurrection a monumental life-changing event inside the consciousness of Jesus' followers? Or was the resurrection both, a real physical event and an event inside the consciousness of believers?

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  • Sarin and the Congress



    Amid the general, bipartisan enthusiasm for the president's decision to fire 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base, I worry that we have lost sight of an important principle. The president made the decision on his own. Congress stood by like a Sunday afternoon crowd at Wimbledon, a spectator but not a player, politely cheering the volley from the sidelines. (Good shot!) This is not the role the Constitution assigned to it.

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  • "The Case for Christ" and a Stubbornly Historical Religion



    The Case for Christ is a film adaptation of Lee Strobel's best-selling book of the same name, one that has made an enormous splash in Evangelical circles and beyond. It is the story of a young, ambitious (and atheist) reporter for the Chicago Tribune, who fell into a psychological and spiritual crisis when his wife became a Christian. The scenes involving Lee and his spouse, which play out over many months of their married life, struck me as poignant and believable--and I say this with some authority, having worked with a number of couples in a similar situation. In some cases, a non-believing spouse might look upon his partner's faith as a harmless diversion, a bit like a hobby, but in other cases, the non-believer sees the dawning of faith in his beloved as something akin to a betrayal. This latter situation strongly obtained in the Strobel's marriage.

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  • Fighting a toxic culture



    In today's America, as in other countries like it, people of faith are facing a question of critical importance: How should they respond to a dominant secular culture that's not just hostile to their beliefs but bent on forcing them to conform to its values and, not incidentally, winning the allegiance of their children?

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  • The power of the Cross



    Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890) -- a theologian who came to prominence in the Victorian Age -- can help us check the Church's spiritual pulse in the post-modern twenty-first century, thanks to his prescient sense of the deep cultural currents shaping (and warping) Western civilization. Thus on August 26, 1832, Newman preached a sermon, "The Religion of the Day," that bears reflection during Holy Week 2017:

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  • The goal of Easter: To bring us to newness of life



    What will you be celebrating this Easter? A Mystery? Yes! The Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ that lies at the very center of Christian faith and discipleship. The word "paschal" comes from the Greek term, pascha, which goes back to the Hebrew, pesach, which refers to the annual commemoration by the Israelites of their liberating Passover from slavery in Egypt.

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  • If the phone rings...



    I've had the same deal with God for a long time: if the phone rings, I'll answer it. Over the years, the phone has expanded to include email, text messages, Facebook, Tweets, and whatever else has come down the pike as the next mode of communication du jour. If I can do whatever someone is asking me to do, I will. If not, I don't sweat it. It's just that because I'm the kind of person who loves, loves, loves, to be doing, doing, doing something, it's better for me to be asked than to do the asking myself. And by better, I mean better for my soul.

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  • Deep down, we know



    ''Because we all know deep down that we're doomed." This was the response author Lesley Nneka Arimah gave in a recent interview with Scott Simon on National Public Radio when asked why she thought post-apocalyptic fiction, like that of her new book, has gained in popularity these last few years. As a Christian preparing in these latter days of Lent to soon celebrate the joy of Easter, the day of our salvation, I found these words both chilling and incredibly insightful to the underlying view to which so many people currently subscribe. A belief in our inevitable doom is, in a sense, to be perpetually walking the road to Emmaus without ever becoming aware of the presence of the Risen Lord walking beside us. The person's heart cannot move past the reality of Good Friday, where their hope for redemption and a future beyond the struggles of this world still hangs lifeless on the cross. It is the role of the Church to meet those on this road who have not embraced the Good News and lead them to a transforming encounter with Christ. As we are reminded in the archdiocese's pastoral plan, Disciples in Mission, our local parish community is the primary context for this evangelization and, hopefully, a sincere conversion of heart to take place.

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  • All is fulfilled



    "All this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled," Jesus says in today's Gospel (see Matthew 26:56). Indeed, we have reached the climax of the liturgical year, the highest peak of salvation history, when all that has been anticipated and promised is to be fulfilled.

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  • While it's still winter



    Men's Basketball This marks roughly the 40th consecutive year that the NCAA basketball tourney has come and gone without any acknowledgment in this space aside from the sort of disparaging remarks I'm about to spew.

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  • Who put Christ on the cross?



    The crucifixion of Our Lord is almost always depicted in art showing the torture from asphyxiation on the cross, the nails, the wound made by the spear, the crown of thorns or the beating on the way to Calvary. While these are indeed the implements that took the life of Jesus, they are not the initiators. These did not put Jesus on the cross. People did.

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  • Good Friday



    Good Friday was bad long before it was good, at least from outward appearances. God was being crucified by all that can go bad in the world: pride, jealousy, distrust, wound, self-interest, sin. It's no accident the Gospels tell us that, as Jesus was dying, it grew dark in the middle of the day. Few images are more telling. As Jesus hung upon the cross, seemingly, light gave way to darkness, love to hatred, and life to death. How can that be good?

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  • Prayer against tornadoes?



    Q. Would you please print a prayer of protection against tornadoes? Tornado warnings get my full attention. Recently, six tornadoes touched down here in Middle Tennessee on the same day. The television news had warned that the last of the six was headed to the next road over from ours. That is too close for me. The next time we might not be so lucky. (McMinnville, Tennessee)

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  • Jackie and the Priest



    Somehow I managed to miss the film Jackie during the Christmas season, but I watched it, twice, on recent long flights to and from the east coast. Like many others, I was struck by its moody, more "European" style, the high quality of the acting, especially on the part of Natalie Portman, and its historical verisimilitude, but what particularly impressed (and surprised) me were the scenes between Mrs. Kennedy and a sympathetic priest. The man of God was played by the great character actor John Hurt, who first burst on the scene as the nefarious Richard Rich in Man For All Seasons ("...but for Wales?") and who died just weeks after filming these scenes in Jackie. Anyone interested in the art of pastoral counseling, in the problem of reconciling belief in God with great suffering, and in the human search for meaning will find the exchanges between Jackie and the priest fascinating.

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  • Fatima and the Antidote for Hell



    As authentic Marian apparitions go, many of the aspects of our Lady's appearances to the three shepherd children in Fatima a century ago seem commonplace: Mary asks the seers to pray and do penance for the conversion of sinners, calls them to daily devotion to the Rosary, advocates for peace in the world, requests the children to return on specific dates, and entrusts them with secrets.

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  • A bishop of consequence



    When I first met Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., more than twenty years ago, I was struck by his boyish demeanor, his exquisite courtesy, and his rock-solid faith. Then the bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, a diocese that serves several reservations, Chaput was obviously proud of his Potawatomi heritage without wearing his roots, so to speak, on his sleeve. Moreover, his striking modesty and personal gentleness exemplified the Franciscan vocation he had embraced. Here, I thought, is a real pastor, living out the meaning of his episcopal motto, "As Christ loved the Church."

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  • Trying to Bork Judge Gorsuch



    Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee held several days of hearings on President Trump's nomination of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court as successor to Justice Antonin Scalia, who died over a year ago. Judge Gorsuch, who is an Episcopalian, albeit one educated in Catholic schools, would be the first Protestant on the Court since the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens a number of years ago. The present eight-member Supreme Court is composed of five "born" or ethnic Catholics, and three ethnic Jews -- somewhat unusual in Supreme Court history, since for most of its 225+ years, it has been overwhelmingly dominated by Protestants.

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  • Cardinal O'Connell and the outbreak of WWI



    April 6, 2017, will mark 100 years since the United States declared war on the German Empire, officially entering World War I. It was also Holy Week of that year, with Easter landing on April 8, but Cardinal William Henry O'Connell chose to pause and address Boston Catholics on the events which had transpired.

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  • Life in the Cranberry Catholic Collaborative



    It's 8:30 on Monday morning, and the offices of the Cranberry Catholic Collaborative, housed in the first two floors of Sacred Heart Rectory, are already abuzz with activity. Jackie Bean and Lisa Bosse, administrative assistants of Sacred Heart and Sts. Martha and Mary, share the main office and keep the chaos in check. Amy Dow, our director of mission development, is working on the grant applications and plans for our vacation Bible school this summer in Lakeville. It's the first Monday of the month, staff day, and the informal work begins early.

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  • At Lazarus' tomb



    As we draw near to the end of Lent, today's Gospel clearly has Jesus' passion and death in view. That's why John gives us the detail about Lazarus' sister, Mary--that she is the one who anointed the Lord for burial (see John 12:3,7). His disciples warn against returning to Judea; Thomas even predicts they will "die with Him" if they go back.

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  • Baseball redux



    Baseball is back! The waning days of spring training having arrived, the crocuses are primed to sprout and the voice of the turtle soon rises across the land. It happens every spring. As do the lame efforts of everyone in this doge to tell you what's going to happen before it happens. We won't go that far -- prophecy being the least of ours skills -- but a setting of the agenda, if you will, is reasonable. What might happen if what shouldn't happen does happens? That sort of thing. You get my drift.

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  • God and science



    As it happens, it was Ash Wednesday when I casually flicked on an all-news radio station just in time to catch a quickie interview with a scientist. He'd written a book about the origin of the universe and wanted everyone to know that this particular story doesn't require anyone to believe in the existence of God.

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  • Byzantine Catholics



    Q. My future son-in-law is a member of the Byzantine Catholic Church. Recently, when he came to visit us, we all went together to our family's Roman Catholic parish, and he received holy Communion. First, what is the difference in the two churches? And secondly, can members of one of these churches receive Communion in the other one? (Albany, New York)

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  • Doing Violence in God's Name



    Blaise Pascal once wrote: "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction." How true! This has been going on since the beginning of time and is showing few signs of disappearing any time soon. We still do violence and evil and justify them in God's name.

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  • St. Patrick, St. Joseph, and the Conversion that Makes All the Difference



    I am always pleased when the feasts of St. Patrick and St. Joseph roll around every year, the first on March 17th and the second on March 19th. Joseph is especially dear to the Italian people, who celebrate him with festive meals, and Patrick, of course, is specially reverenced by my own people, the Irish, who celebrate him with parades, parties, and (often) too much drinking. Though separated by four centuries and though hailing from extremely different cultures, Patrick and Joseph have a great deal in common, spiritually speaking. For both stubbornly situated their lives in the context, not of the ego-drama, but the theo-drama, and therein lies their importance for the universal church.

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  • Waugh's Helena, Father General, and the reality of revelation



    Evelyn Waugh's slim and critically unappreciated novel, Helena, was something of a literary experiment for a modern master of English literature. The eponymous heroine, mother of the Emperor Constantine, talks in her youth like a flapper from the Roaring Twenties; the storytelling is spare, absent the lush prose of Brideshead Revisited; Waugh's preference for "the picturesque [over] the plausible" in historically questionable matters is enough to offend a squadron of academics. At bottom, though, the novel, the only one of his books Waugh ever read aloud to his children, is an act of faith in the reality of revelation.

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