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  • Repairers of a house divided



    It is a providential occurrence that the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th President of the United States is taking place during the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. Jesus was clear in the Gospel that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mt 12:25). Against the devil's work of isolation, alienation, and separation, Jesus came to gather and unite. On the vigil of his crucifixion, when he could have easily been distracted by the details of his imminent fulfillment of gruesome Biblical prophecies, he rather prayed four times that his disciples "may be one," just as the persons of the Blessed Trinity are one (Jn 17:11, 21-23). The fulfillment of his mission, he suggested, hinged on Christian unity: otherwise, he said, the world would not be able to believe in the incarnation or in the Father's love (17:23).

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  • Holy Family: Egypt or Nazareth?



    Q. We have just read several accounts of the birth of Christ during Masses after Christmas. In reading Luke 2:39-40 and Matthew 2:13-15, it appears that there is a difference as to what happened after Jesus was born. My question is this: Did the Holy Family flee to Egypt or did they return to Nazareth? (Indianapolis)

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  • Vox populi: The voice of the people



    Francis Galton was a Victorian scientist with an interest in social Darwinism. It may have been his views on breeding that moved him to attend the West of England Fat Stock and Poultry Exhibition in 1906. The show featured a weight-judging competition: People were asked to guess what a particular ox would weigh after it had been slaughtered and dressed.

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  • Vaccines and other entanglements with abortion



    As the new COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out, several people have told me, "I don't want a vaccine with any connection to abortion." This is a valid sentiment that most of us would likely echo. At a minimum, it should serve as an important "call to action" for each of us during the course of this pandemic. Even if we decide to get inoculated with a vaccine that was produced using abortion-derived human cell lines -- which for a serious reason and in the absence of alternatives would not be unethical -- we still face a real duty to push back and make known our disagreement with the continued use of these cells by researchers in the pharmaceutical industry and academia.

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  • Archive offers new Parish Boundary Map Tool



    The Archive Department is pleased to announce a new Parish Boundary Map Tool. It is a digital map of the Archdiocese of Boston, which features parish churches and boundaries. Each territorial parish church is represented by a dot whose corresponding boundary is shaded in a matching color, while the personal, or national, parish churches are represented by black dots. It is a depiction of the archdiocese ca. 1955, when a concerted effort was made to compile parish boundary information, and a reflection of the archdiocese at its approximate height in terms of number of parishes.

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  • A World Mission Rosary that begs for an end to violence



    Fresh on the heels of the New Year's news that Auxiliary Bishop Moses Chikwe, of the Archdiocese of Owerri, Nigeria and his driver Robert Ndubuisi had been released by their kidnappers unharmed, came another report through Fides, the news agency of the Pontifical Mission Societies at the Vatican. On January 8th, armed bandits seized Sister Dachoune Severe, of the Little Sisters of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Through the grace of God and prayers of many, Sister was released two days later and is back safely with her community.

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  • Hearing the call



    In the call of Samuel and of 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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  • To a departing dynasty



    They are dying off and there is nothing that you, I, or anyone else can do about it. The numbers of 11 Boston Celtics who played for the team during the greatest of all sports dynasties, 1957-1969, hang from the rafters of TD Garden. With the passing of K. C. Jones on Christmas Day, more than half of them, six in all, have now died. None of them died young and only one, John Havlicek, did not live to see the age of 80 -- and he came close. But time was up for the six who have died and the clock is ticking for the five who are still with us.

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  • The urgent need for national unity



    With searing images of mob violence at the U.S. Capitol fresh in memory, Joe Biden comes to the presidency as a potential healer of divisions and binder up of wounds. Yet his own prior commitments could prevent him from succeeding in those roles.

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  • How are non-Catholics forgiven?



    Q. Catholics are blessed to have the sacrament of reconciliation. But what about other faiths? How do non-Catholics have their sins forgiven? (Honolulu) A. The Catholic Church has a long history of the confession of sins. In the earliest centuries, confession was actually done in public, the thinking being that when we sin, we damage not only our own friendship with God but our relationships within the community of faith; but, around the sixth century, Irish monks began hearing confessions one on one, and that practice spread to the Church universal.

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  • Stepping back from the brink



    Jan. 6, 2021 was an epiphany of sorts for Americans who watched in horror as a mob breached the U.S. Capitol, assaulted police, and vandalized offices. It was both shockingly unexpected and shockingly unsurprising given the growing extremism, a polarized electorate and the relentless marketing of allegations that a huge, if unproven, conspiracy had stolen the election.

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  • Father Maciej Zieba, OP (1954-2020)



    A wretched year came to a sorrowful end when Father Maciej Zieba, OP, died in his native Wroc?aw, Poland, on December 31. The birthplace of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Wroclaw was also the home of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, who grew up there as Edith Stein when the city was known as Breslau. Unlike those great Christian witnesses, Maciej Zieba was not a martyr; but he, too, gave his life for Christ and the Church, and he bore more than his share of suffering in doing so.

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  • Show and tell



    Whether you keep your tree up through Epiphany or Candlemas or take it down shortly after Christmas Day, the Church continues to celebrate the nativity of Christ in these early weeks of the year. I like to think of Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord, and the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple as "show and tell" feasts.

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  • Implementation in a time of pandemic



    Each year since 2012, when Disciples in Mission was promulgated, parishes have been organized into collaboratives of one, two, or three parishes under a single pastor. The primary goal of Disciples in Mission is to strengthen our parishes for the work of evangelization. Since its beginning, we have successfully implemented 93 collaboratives, consisting of 154 parishes, all focused on this goal of evangelization and making disciples.

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  • A World Mission Rosary of New Year Blessings



    One of the privileges of this ministry is being a "companion on the journey" with many wonderful people. Over the holidays, we heard from every continent via text, email, or post. Although many of the senders live in difficult conditions, their messages had common themes -- hope for the future and gratitude for the work of our Mission Societies.

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  • The anointing



    The Liturgy last week revealed the mystery of God's plan -- that in Jesus all peoples, symbolized by the magi, have been made "co-heirs" to the blessings promised to Israel. This week, we're shown how we claim our inheritance.

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  • A football fable



    Once upon time, boys and girls, in the far-off football kingdom of Foxborough, there lived an all-powerful monarch. His name was King William the Grouch. King William ruled his subjects with an iron hand, and he was the master of all he surveyed. His success was due, in large part, to his army's field general, Prince Thomas the GOAT. For many years, they ruled the football world, with King William mapping out grand strategies to defeat all pretenders to the throne, and Prince Thomas implementing those plans to perfection on the field of battle.

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  • Remembering Reginaldus Magnus



    Shortly after midnight on Christmas, Father Reginald Foster, papal Latinist for 40 years and the world's foremost Latin teacher, died at the age of 81 at St. Anne's Home in Milwaukee. I had the privilege to be his student for four years in Rome, from 1995-99. While some of the great teachers I've had in life because of the subject matter -- like moral theology -- have had a more life-changing impact on me, Father Foster, or "Reggie" as he wanted to be called, was without a doubt my greatest classroom teacher. He took what in many places is an arid subject and made it absolutely enthralling -- and did so in the early afternoons, when the sleep-inducing insulin spikes of big Italian lunches were at their strongest. He was infectiously entertaining, funny, and eccentric, with a comedian's sense of timing and perspective coupled to 2,000 years of Latin humor.

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  • Why we need a distribution of power



    A crucially important feature of Catholic social teaching, but one frequently underemphasized or misunderstood, is a clear animus against the concentration of power within a society. This perilous agglomeration can happen economically, politically, or culturally. By a basic and healthy instinct, Catholic social teaching wants power, as much as possible, distributed widely throughout the community, so that one small segment does not tyrannize the majority or prevent large numbers of people from enjoying the benefits that are theirs by right.

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  • Suicide and the Catholic Church



    Q. A friend's sibling committed suicide about 20 years ago while in high school -- after struggling with depression for years, despite getting treatment, counseling and a lot of family support. The family was -- and still is -- devastated. At the time, the family's priest said something about suicide being a sin, which added to the family's hurt and turned them away from the Church.

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  • Catholic coherence, Catholic integrity



    In 2007, the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean completed their fifth general conference with a final report, known from the Brazilian city where they met as the "Aparecida Document." Its principal authors included Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, then the archbishop of Buenos Aires. Thanks to the efforts of the future pope and others, the Aparecida Document remains an exemplary description of what it means to be the Church of the New Evangelization -- and not only in Latin America. Paragraph 436 of the Aparecida Document is of particular interest in the United States today:

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  • A radical and inspiring call



    As Advent concludes with the Nativity of our Lord, our waiting is over, and we celebrate the light of Christ entering the world. Christ did not join us in a clap of thunder and sudden appearance but through the miracle of birth. This profound human experience of Jesus captures my imagination and inspires our work at the Catholic Schools Foundation.

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  • Much to be grateful for



    ''Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude." -- A.A. Milne. As the dad of four young children, a significant amount of my leisure reading comes in the form of children's books these days. Ok, being honest, ALL of my leisure reading has pictures and large font these days. More often than not, I am struck by the profound life lessons these simple texts deliver: Be kind. Look before you leap. Count your blessings. Dream big. Mind your manners.

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  • The light that dawns



    I love midnight Mass. When the kids were young, we used to lay out our Christmas clothes and go to bed around 9 p.m., then set an alarm for 11 p.m. It wasn't always easy to rub the drowsiness from little eyes -- or from our own -- but eventually, excitement would take over. We'd pile into the full-sized van and drive to midnight Mass, determined not to miss a minute of the day it seemed the whole world had been waiting for.

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  • Proclaiming the Good News this Christmas in the Missions!



    It seems that barely a day goes by that we don't hear of another "trouble spot" in our world. Whether it's a new rash of attacks or an old conflict that rears its ugly head, people seem to be finding more ways to bring destruction to those around them. Seasons come and go, the calendar moves on, and the outlook can seem so bleak. How we long for some good news!

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  • Our true home



    Why did Jesus choose to become a baby born of a mother and father and to spend all but His last years living in an ordinary human family? In part, to reveal God's plan to make all people live as one "holy family" in His Church (see 2 Corinthians 6:16-18).

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  • The designated hitter and the National League



    Where do you stand on the question of whether the National League should permanently install the designated-hitter rule? Put me down as all in favor of it. And that's from someone who, when the rule was first adopted by the American League back in 1973, ranted and raved that it was the worst idea since General Custer challenged the Sioux Indians to a fight at Little Bighorn. The outright heresy, I thought, of installing a permanent pinch-hitter into a starting lineup is a desecration of The Grand Old Game. Surely, I was convinced, it foreshadowed the beginning of the end. I was not even mollified when the Red Sox acquired future Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda to serve as their first DH.

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  • Homilies distributed



    Q. Recently you answered a reader's question regarding their pastor, an African priest who is difficult to understand and who gives 30-minute homilies, the result being that parish attendance is dropping. (You suggested asking a parish council member to speak to the priest, voicing parishioners' concerns.)

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  • Calling a truce in the war on holly jolly



    You've heard about the war on Christmas. But have you heard about the war on holly jolly? It's a war my wife Corine has waged for some years now. It always starts the same way; my children will tell you. Something pushes her button -- one too many grinning snowmen, one too many commercials where fabulously beautiful couples give each other cars with red bows on top, one too many images of idyllic consumerism, in other words.

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  • What the Magi teach us



    Among the tenured professorial skeptics, few Gospel episodes have been sliced, diced, and tossed to the dissecting room floor as "mythology" more often than the story of the Magi: the "wise men from the East [who] came to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him'" (Matthew 2:2).

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