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  • Walking the waves



    Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Or more accurately, out of the boat and into the water. This Sunday's gospel is definitely one of my favorites and I'd venture to guess it's at or near the top of almost everyone's list of the Bible's most memorable moments.

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  • Catholics in America



    ''A state need not subsidize private education. But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious." So said the Supreme Court's majority opinion in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue on June 30.

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  • The growing edge of liturgical living



    Have you heard of "liturgical living"? The catchphrase has gained popularity in recent years among Catholics seeking to follow the rhythms of the Church year at home. Celebrating feast days with special meals, decorating with liturgical colors and teaching children through crafts are examples of liturgical living, found in blogs and books that encourage families to embrace liturgical living as part of their Catholic identity.

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  • Sanger's name being removed is the start



    Here is an unsigned editorial which appeared July 29 on the website of The Tablet, the newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. On July 21, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York decided to remove the name of Margaret Sanger, one of the main founders of this organization, from its Manhattan clinic. The reason it gave for removing the name of Sanger was that she possessed, in their own words, "harmful connections to the eugenics movement" and it was "both a necessary and overdue step to reckon with our legacy and acknowledge Planned Parenthood's contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color."

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  • From Fatima to Waltham and back!



    These last few weeks have felt like "All Fatima! All the time!" for us here in the Mission Office! And what a delightful time it has been as we have drawn ever closer to the Blessed Mother by concentrating on her message of peace and the conversion of the world to her Son.

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  • Some nice things to think about in lousy times



    It doesn't take very long for me to fall in love. Only about 30 seconds. That's how quickly I fell back in love with baseball once the shortened season finally got underway. Nate Eovaldi uncorked the very first pitch of the year for a strike, a 100-mile-an-hour fastball on the inside part of the plate. That got me infatuated. I equate 100 miles an hour with the days of Nolan Ryan and Bob Gibson when balls thrown at that speed were unhittable. Nowadays, though, when it seems that half the pitchers in baseball hit triple figures on the speed gun, hitters have learned to get their bats around on them and even occasionally hit them.

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  • Sinking fear



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

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  • Reparation for the frightful wounds inflicted on the whole human family



    We mark this week, on August 6 and 9, the 75th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As Americans we look with horror and rightly condemn the evil attacks against Pearl Harbor or on 9/11, where 2,403 and 2,977 people, respectively, died. What should our attitude be toward the dropping of the uranium gun-type bomb "Little Boy" on Hiroshima and the plutonium implosion "Fat man" bomb on Nagasaki, which between them killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, the equivalent of six to 10 weeks of September 11s?

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  • Distractions in prayer



    Q. I am a layman who likes to pray the Divine Office. When I am praying this (or reading other prayers), if I am distracted, should I go back and reread those sections? (Worcester, Massachusetts) A. First, it pleases me that you have found the Divine Office a helpful resource for prayer, and I wish that more laypeople were aware of this treasure. The office consists primarily of psalms but also includes other biblical texts as well as selections from Church fathers and other spiritual masters. The central parts to the office -- morning prayer and evening prayer -- can each be recited in five to 10 minutes.

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  • Counting our blessings in the hard times



    A reader recently wrote asking me for more uplifting and hopeful subjects for my columns. She was responding specifically to a recent column I wrote on racism, which she called a "downer." I must confess that this year has not provided a banner crop of hope-inducing topics. The daily newspaper has become a gauntlet of gloom, an endurance slog through reports that both anger and depress. I take her point, however. Sometimes we need a reprieve from the bad news.

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  • AM[D]G



    Last November 11, on the centenary of its relocation to a 93-acre campus in suburban Washington, D.C., Georgetown Preparatory School announced a $60 million capital campaign. In his message for the opening of the campaign, Georgetown Prep's president, Father James Van Dyke, SJ, said that, in addition to improving the school's residential facilities, the campaign intended to boost Prep's endowment to meet increasing demands for financial aid. Like other high-end Catholic secondary schools, Georgetown Prep is rightly concerned about pricing itself out of reach of most families. So, Prep's determination to make itself more affordable through an enhanced endowment capable of funding scholarships and other forms of financial aid for less-than-wealthy students is all to the good.

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  • Separation and neutrality



    At the time of the Revolutionary War, the Church of England was the established church in the mother country and the southern colonies (plus a few New York counties). King George was the head of the church. Land grants and tithes supported it. Preachers were licensed; bishops sat in the House of Lords.

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  • COVID and encounter



    In the news recently: An amusement park in Japan encouraged roller-coaster riders not to scream. Screaming is a great way to project COVID-19 particles into the air for a much farther distance than speaking. It's why most parishes are encouraging their congregations not to sing during Mass.

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  • Fatima Calling us to Hope and Peace



    In her July 13, 1917 apparition to three shepherd children at Fatima in Portugal, the Blessed Mother spoke of a message of prayer and hope. She told the children to "Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it."

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  • Food in due season



    In Jesus and the Church, Isaiah's promises in today's First Reading are fulfilled. All who are thirsty come to the living waters of Baptism (see John 4:14). The hungry delight in rich fare -- given bread to eat and wine to drink at the Eucharistic table.

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  • Baseball and Gloria Swanson



    "Alright Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close up now." With that, Norma Desmond, an over-the-hill, delusional former movie queen, slithers toward the camera in what she assumes is her most irresistible and alluring manner, but which is in fact pathetic and deranged.

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  • Religious liberty after Bostock



    Does the Catholic Church have a right to follow its convictions about sexual morality in its own institutions without being penalized by government? In its June decision declaring "gay" and "transgender" to be protected categories under federal law barring sex-based discrimination, the Supreme Court left that question unanswered.

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  • The next pope and the crisis of the West



    In February 1968, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla wrote Father Henri de Lubac, SJ, about a project in which the cardinal was engaged: a philosophical explanation of the uniqueness and nobility of the human person. The idea of the human, Wojtyla suggested, was being degraded, even pulverized, by ideologies that denied the deep truths built into us. The response could not be "sterile polemics." Rather, the Church should counter-propose a higher, more compelling view of "the inviolable mystery of the person."

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  • Don't let the noise drown out the good news



    To say that the last few months have been challenging is probably the understatement of the century. The United States went from having one of the lowest unemployment rates in history in February to a high of 14.7 percent unemployment in April. COVID-19 continues to rage in some areas while civil unrest inflames an already stressed populous, and political discourse has devolved to finger-pointing. Did I mention it is also an election year?

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  • The long haul



    Among the many lessons we are learning as a result of the coronavirus, the one most crucial to our well-being may be the adage most of us heard when we were children: patience is a virtue. Parents or grandparents used to remind us of that when we wanted something we couldn't have, or when the answer to our pleading was an unequivocal "no."

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  • The rear view mirror



    On the one hand, I must admit to being an instinctive proponent of working with what presents itself today, and how that may affect our actions for the future. While there is benefit in looking back into the past for a historic or reflective process -- what worked, what didn't, the mistakes and errors, what went right -- it is generally not my way.

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  • Treasures of the kingdom



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

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  • The death of the 'Golden Greek'



    It was early in the afternoon of June 27, 1955, just 65 years ago, when the news first surfaced. It was just in the rumor stage at first, for the news cycle back then bore no resemblance to the 24-hour, round-the-clock circus that it is today. But when the story broke, it spread throughout greater Boston like a raging California wildfire. People gasped in disbelief upon hearing it. Soon, however, Boston's evening newspapers, the Traveler, the American, and the Evening Globe, were on the street with extra editions to confirm the unthinkable. People just getting home from work turned on their TV sets and listened in stunned silence as Arch MacDonald reported on that evening's newscast that it was, in fact, true.

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  • How Catholic organizations are weathering the pandemic



    It is no surprise that Catholic dioceses, parishes, schools, and organizations have been profoundly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. With unemployment impacting so many Catholic families, as well as the canceling of Masses and their offertory collections, many Catholic institutions and the communities they serve are in precarious shape.

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  • Cancelling Padre Serra



    I have just received word that, after voting to remove a large statue of St. Junipero Serra that stands in front of their City Hall, the government of Ventura, California, (which is in my pastoral region) is now considering removing the image of Padre Serra from the county seal. This entire effort to erase the memory of Serra is from a historical standpoint ridiculous and from a moral standpoint more than a little frightening.

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  • Natural phenomena at death of Christ



    Q. At the precise time that Jesus died, the sanctuary curtain was torn in half, darkness and earthquakes occurred and many were converted to Christianity because they felt this was proof that Jesus was the Son of God. So why didn't the Jewish faith gradually disappear? (South Glens Falls, New York)

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  • The next pope and Vatican diplomacy



    During a short papal flight from Boston to New York on October 2, 1979, Father Jan Schotte (later a cardinal but then a low-ranking curial official) discovered that Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the Vatican's secretary of state, had done some serious editing of the speech Pope John Paul II would give at the United Nations later that day. Schotte, who had helped develop the text, found to his dismay that Cardinal Casaroli had cut just about everything the Soviet Union and its communist bloc satellites might find offensive -- such as a robust papal defense of religious freedom and other human rights. Schotte took the revised, bowdlerized text to John Paul II's private cabin on Shepherd One and explained why he thought Casaroli, the architect of the Vatican's attempt at a rapprochement with communist regimes in the late 1960s and 1970s, was wrong to dumb down the speech.

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  • Ideas for summer reading



    It is easy to tear down, hard to build. Cathedrals built over centuries were destroyed in days during the Reformation. A man nurtured lovingly from birth, educated, instructed in sports, formed in art and music, can be struck down in a second by a shell or bullet. To educate and raise for over 20 years is difficult. To shoot down lifeless -- it's the easiest thing in the world.

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  • Cardinal Cushing urges peace in Vietnam



    On July 6, 1970, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. wrote a letter to Cardinal Richard Cushing, archbishop of Boston, about his Fourth of July audience with Pope Paul VI. Lodge, who had been the United States ambassador to South Vietnam under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, was then serving as President Richard Nixon's personal envoy to the Holy See. He spoke to the pontiff about the war in Vietnam and the outlook for peace. "I thought it might interest you," Lodge wrote to Cushing, "to receive a first-hand report from me about it."

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  • The virtual lessons Catholic schools can teach



    In a time when COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges, Catholic schools like St. Joseph Preparatory High School in Brighton and Boston College High School have risen to the occasion and delivered consistent, high-quality education during the pandemic. Sadly, that hasn't been true everywhere. With the resumption of traditional classes this fall appearing less likely every day, schools across Massachusetts should draw lessons from successes like St. Joseph Prep and B.C. High.

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  • Witness the Miracle of Fatima!



    The Society for the Propagation of the Faith cordially invites you to attend the contact-free, drive-in premiere screening of "Fatima", the movie, to benefit the missions, and enter to win an all-inclusive pilgrimage for two to Fatima and Lourdes in 2021!

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  • Of wheat and weeds



    God is always teaching His people; we hear in today's First Reading. And what does He want us to know? That He has care for all of us, that though He is a God of justice, even those who defy and disbelieve Him may hope for His mercy if they turn to Him in repentance.

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  • The (almost) Washington Red Sox



    They were almost named the Washington Red Sox -- not the baseball team, the one that plays in the National Football League. The now formerly Washington Redskins, whose name for years was rightfully chastised as demeaning toward native Americans -- if not outright racist -- were almost called the Red Sox.

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  • Sound advice from the chief



    Disappointed pro-lifers were predictably angry at Chief Justice John Roberts for providing the fifth vote in the five-member Supreme Court majority that last month struck down a Louisiana law requiring doctors who do abortions to meet one mildly restrictive prescription. It was no surprise that the court's four liberals -- Justices Ginsburg, Breyer (who wrote the opinion), Sotomayor, and Kagan -- voted as they did, but Roberts, a conservative, came as a shock.

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  • Martin Luther King and the religious motivation for social change



    A principal reason why the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was so successful, both morally and practically, was that it was led largely by people with a strong religious sensibility. The most notable of these leaders was, of course, Martin Luther King. To appreciate the subtle play between King's religious commitment and his practical work, I would draw your attention to two texts -- namely, his "Letter from the Birmingham City Jail" and his "I Have a Dream" speech, both from 1963.

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  • Do converts have to be 'remarried?'



    Q. A friend and his wife, along with their daughter, were recently confirmed into the Catholic Church after being Methodists their entire life, including getting married within the Methodist Church. They were told by some parish officials (laymen) that their marriage is not recognized by the Catholic Church and that they must be "remarried" within the Catholic Church.

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  • The next pope and Vatican II



    Polemics about the Second Vatican Council continue to bedevil the global Catholic conversation. Some Catholics, often found in the moribund local churches of western Europe, claim that the Council's "spirit" has never been implemented (although the Catholic Lite implementation they propose seems more akin to liberal Protestantism than Catholicism). Other voices claim that the Council was a terrible mistake and that its teaching should be quietly forgotten, consigned to the dustbin of history. In "The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission" (just published by Ignatius Press), I suggest that some clarifying papal interventions are needed to address these confusions.

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