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  • 'Great pain for survivors'



    [Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley released the following statement Jan. 20 after Pope Francis's response to a journaalist in which he defended the 2015 appointent of Bishop Juan Barros to lead the Diocese Osorno in Chile. Bishop Barros had been accused by abuse advocates of covering up abuse perpetrated his friend Father Fernando Karadima. -- Ed.]

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  • What are you looking for?



    Last week's Gospel reminded me of something that happened rather frequently when I was a child. My mother or grandmother would ask me to bring something to them. Usually, it was something familiar and easy to find, like a sponge under the kitchen sink or a fresh roll of paper towels. But every once in a while, the go-and-get-it request involved something unfamiliar to me. That's when the directions I was given would become very specific: "Go into the laundry room, and open the steel cabinet. On the left side of the second shelf, there is a tube of glue with a red cap. Bring that to me."

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  • Oblates come to Lowell to serve French Canadian Catholics



    In the papers of Archbishop John J. Williams resides a letter from Father Florent Vandenberghe, OMI, provincial superior of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate based in Montreal, dated Jan. 14, 1868. The letter references a meeting the two had in Burlington, Vermont, the previous month, and the prospect of the Oblates establishing a parish in Lowell to serve the French-speaking Canadian Catholics residing there.

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  • Who will be in charge?



    Whether watching "The Crown" or "The Post," audiences are fascinated by those at the pinnacle. Queen Elizabeth takes the crown with its difficult roles of monarch, sister, wife as well as head of state and head of church. Her sister is denied permission to marry someone she loves as he is married. Duties as sister and monarch collide. Despite being the daughter of duty or maybe because of it, Elizabeth is a sympathetic character. The Washington Post's Katharine Graham also held dual authority. She was both the doyen of Georgetown hostesses and the scrappy newshound ready to take down the establishment. Established traditional order is under assault from freewheeling dissidents who have other agendas in mind and easy access to express their views.

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  • 'Equilibrium' and ignominy



    This past December 18, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the department of external relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, received an honorary degree from the Faculty of Theology of Apulia in Bari, on Italy's Adriatic coast. During his remarks on that occasion, Hilarion thanked the Holy See "per la sua posizione di equilibrio riguardo al conflitto in corso in Ucraina [for its balanced position regarding the conflict underway in Ukraine]." Did anyone in the Vatican blush in shame at that compliment? A lot of high-ranking Roman churchmen should have.

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  • Can You Lose Your Vocation?



    Recently I received a letter from a man who shared that he was still deeply haunted by a story he'd heard in grade-school many years before. One of his religion teachers had read them a story about a priest who went to visit a childhood friend. While staying with his friend, the priest noticed that, while his friend was cheerful and affable enough, he seemed to be harboring some deep, residual sadness. When he asked his friend about it his friend confessed that he "had lost his salvation" because he had felt a call to priesthood when he was young but had chosen instead to marry. Now, he felt, there was no existential redemption from that. He had had a vocation and lost it and, with that, also lost for good his chance at happiness. Though happily enough married, he felt that he would bear forever the stigma of having been being unfaithful in not accepting his God-given vocation.

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  • Caring for 'the other America'



    In the wake of Donald Trump's election as president, much has been made of the voters he attracted, usually identified as white, male, small town and rural, working class. While such statistical generalizations obscure the fact that many who did not fit that stereotype also voted for him, it did attract a great deal of attention to that "other America" that resides between the crowded coastal states and media centers.

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  • Nuclear deterrence



    "We are at the limit of what is licit." In early December Pope Francis offered that assessment of nuclear deterrence during a question and answer session with reporters on the plane back to Rome from Bangladesh.

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  • 'Thank you for your service'



    Together with another Little Sister I was invited to represent our Congregation at a somewhat exclusive reception during the Christmas season. We were happy to bring two of our Residents along with us. One of them, a 97-year old veteran of World War II, proudly wore his best tweed sport coat and his VFW Garrison cap decorated with a host of ribbons. The other, an immigrant and artist, is the widow of a U.S. Navy veteran.

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  • To be or not to be -- parsing the implications of suicide



    In recent years we have witnessed a growing tendency to promote suicide as a way of resolving end-stage suffering. Physician-assisted suicide is now legal in a handful of states and a number of other jurisdictions are considering laws to legalize the practice. A few years ago on "Nightline," Barbara Walters interviewed an assisted suicide advocate who summed it up this way: "We're talking about what people want. There are people who, even suffering horribly, want to live out every second of their lives, and that's their right, of course, and they should do it. Others don't want that. Others want out!"

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  • Moral authorities



    There is an unavoidable circularity in ethics. We decide whether a teaching is correct, based on the life of the person who teaches it, but we also decide whether a manner of life is praiseworthy, based upon teachings that we already accept.

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  • Evangelizing parishes -- always in season



    The Christmas season is over and now we return to ordinary time until the beginning of Lent. Ordinary time has a way of making us think that we now get back to business, to the usual day to day tasks. The tasks before the parishes that are in collaboratives is to keep the eyes of parishioners on the task of evangelization, of helping people come to know Jesus Christ and to recognize his presence in their lives. Becoming an evangelizing parish cannot be limited to one liturgical season over another. It is something that the collaboratives work at each and every day.

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  • A call for civility



    During the Christmas-Epiphany Season I had the pleasure of celebrating liturgies with both the Haitian Catholic Community on their Independence Day (January 1) and last week with the Cape Verdean Catholic Community at St. Peter's Parish in Dorchester.

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  • Hearing the call



    In the call of Samuel and the first Apostles, today's Readings shed light on our own calling to be followers of Christ. Notice in the Gospel today that John's disciples are prepared to hear God's call. They are already looking for the Messiah, so they trust in John's word and follow when he points out the Lamb of God walking by.

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  • The ambassador's visit to Rome's American seminary



    Vatican City, Jan 10, 2018 CNA.- On Jan. 10, Callista Gingrich, the United States Ambassador to the Holy See, was a guest at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. She visited the college to receive a blessing as she embarks upon her work as ambassador, according to sources at the North American College.

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  • Recompense for a serious mistake



    I won't venture into classical Roman literature, which is not my forte, but I will say with assurance that the greatest modern Latin pun was the result of a schoolgirl prank. In 1844, General Charles James Napier, commanding a British army during the heydays of imperialism in South Asia, was ordered to subdue the province of Sindh (which is now in Pakistan). His methods were criticized in Parliament, and young Catherine Winkworth remarked to her teacher that Napier's report to his superiors should have been a one-word double-entendre, "Peccavi," (literally, "I have sinned," but also, phonetically, "I have Sindh"). Miss Winkworth sent her pun to the humor magazine Punch, which then published it as a factual report from Napier under the headline, "Foreign Affairs." General Napier later commented that, "If this was a piece of rascality, it was a noble piece of rascality."

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  • Reaping What We're Sowing



    Before Christmas, Time Magazine named the "Silence Breakers" their 2017 Persons of the Year. Time focused fundamentally on the women who courageously came forward to bring into the light the sordid sexual abuse and harassment they had suffered silently years at the clutches of powerful entertainment and political leaders who, once acclaimed and admired, are now scorned and humiliated as perverts.

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  • How Can it All have a Happy Ending?



    There's a line in the writings of Julian of Norwich, the famous 14th century mystic and perhaps the first theologian to write in English, which is endlessly quoted by preachers, poets, and writers: But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. It's her signature teaching.

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  • New priorities for one seminarian



    Pope Francis' 2015 visit to the United States was a thrilling time to be a seminarian in our nation's capital. My seminary is directly across the street from where the Holy Father would celebrate Mass for tens of thousands of people, making our building an ideal place for news crews to film their shows or file their stories. Media personnel were buzzing around the seminary busily preparing for the pope's arrival, and the atmosphere was electric.

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  • Come in from the cold



    People used to say, "Cold hands, warm heart." If that's true, there are a whole lot of warm-hearted people out there these days. In almost 40 years living in New England, I can't remember a time when single-digit temperatures held on for more than a few days. Certainly not for a few weeks. I mean, I don't remember moving to Minnesota. I also don't remember the last time (but I think there was one) when I seriously considered shopping for dog boots. Our little guy can hardly stay out long enough to do what dogs do -- or are supposed to do -- outside. His feet just can't handle the cold. Meanwhile, our son Austin is headed out to a commercial shipping internship on an Alaskan oil tanker. The temperature in Washington State when he arrived was a balmy 40 degrees. That's practically bikini weather. When last we checked, it was warmer in Juneau and Anchorage than it was at home. Ironic, right?

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  • How the 'Star Wars' franchise lost its way



    I fell sound asleep for about ten minutes during the most recent installment in the Star Wars franchise, 'The Last Jedi.' This was not only because the narrative had wandered down a very tedious alleyway, but because Star Wars in general has lost its way. What began as a thrilling exploration of the philosophia perennis has devolved into a vehicle for the latest trendy ideology -- and that is really a shame.

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  • The Mystery of Mary, Mother of God



    Today (1/1), while much of the world marks the new beginning of the calendar year, the Church commemorates the great solemnity of the Mother of God. What does this mean? That the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of God means that the child--conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit, carried in her body for nine months, and born into this world--is God. As such, this celebration highlights the pivotal truth of the Church's Faith: that God has, in Jesus Christ, accepted a human nature, chosen to be born into this world as we have all been born into this world, and has lived a real, human life.

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  • Newborn King



    Today the child born on Christmas is revealed to be the long-awaited king of the Jews. As the priests and scribes interpret the prophecies in today's Gospel, he is the ruler expected from the line of King David, whose greatness is to reach to the ends of the earth (see Micah 5:1-3; 2 Samuel 5:2).

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  • The Class of '17



    The distinguished class of 2017 is led by Milton Conrad Schmidt who came to us from Kitchener as the D'Artagnan of the fabled Kraut line and became the face of a noble hockey franchise for 80 years. Rarely has a great athlete more entirely embodied the spirit of a team so well and so long. The memory of him and his fellow Krauts -- Brothers Bauer and Dumart -- being carried off to war on the shoulders of their foes sings further the praises of the Greatest Generation.

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  • The Surprising Message of 'Downsizing'



    When I saw the trailer for Alexander Payne's new film, Downsizing, I thought the movie would be a light-hearted farce, relying principally on visual gags. In point of fact, the jokes based on the contrast between regular-size people and their five-inch tall counterparts are surprisingly rare. Most of the film deals with events within the world of the downsized--so everything seems more or less normal. And when I took in the opening scenes, and heard a lot of talk about protecting the environment and the dangers of overpopulation, I thought that Downsizing would be a propaganda piece for left-wing causes. Here I was surprised again, for the film amounts, I will argue, to a not-so-subtle critique of that ideology.

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  • My Top Ten Books for 2017



    Taste is subjective. Keep that in mind as I share with you the ten books that most touched me this past year. That isn't necessarily a recommendation that you read them. They may leave you cold, or angry at me that I praised them. Be your own critic here and one who isn't afraid to be critical of my taste. Nobody buys everything that's advertised in a store.

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  • Viva Cristo Rey!



    In the 1920s, when the United States had a quasi-Stalinist regime on its southern border, "Viva Cristo Rey!" was the defiant battle cry of the Cristeros who fought the radically secular Mexican government's persecution of the Church. "Viva Cristo Rey!" were likely the last words spoken by Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ, whose martyrdom in 1927 may have been the first in history in which the martyr was photographed at the moment of death. Today, in the United States, "Cristo Rey" has a different, although not wholly-unrelated, meaning -- for it's the name of an important experiment in Catholic education for poor children.

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  • Benson's conversion



    It's said that Robert Hugh Benson's conversion to Roman Catholicism was an act of rebellion against his father, Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1883 until his death in 1896. Whether it was or wasn't, the younger Benson's spiritual autobiography at least offers grounds for seeing his conversion in that light.

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  • God present in prison



    Q. A recent letter in your column from an inmate in Jefferson City, Missouri, has been in my heart in such strong way that I had to write. (Editor's Note: That letter was from someone who had been in prison for 25 years and was seeking to have his sentence changed from life to the death penalty because of what he termed his "unbelievable suffering" and the fact that his heart was "hardened" and he could not discover any role that God might possibly have for him to play in prison.)

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