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  • A new day kindled



    If the events of Holy Week this year prove anything, it's that Humphrey Bogart was wrong when he uttered the line, "We'll always have Paris." Even something we've taken for granted for almost 900 years can be destroyed. Although it looks like the famed medieval cathedral can be salvaged and will be rebuilt, Notre Dame de Paris will not last forever.

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  • You don't have to run a marathon to help those in need



    The Boston Marathon, in addition to being the world's oldest annual marathon, has become a symbol of strength, unity, and pride for the Boston community. This year, we were proud to have the opportunity to share in that communal experience by sponsoring four runners on Team Catholic Charities, thanks to our friends at John Hancock. At Catholic Charities, we keep the well-being and benefit of our clients at the forefront of everything we do. We strive to put our mission of building a just and compassionate society rooted in the dignity of all people into action.

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  • Seeing and believing



    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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  • And all manner of being shall be well



    We are all, I suspect, familiar with the famous expression from Julian of Norwich, now an axiom in our language. She once famously wrote: In the end all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of being shall be well. To which Oscar Wilde is reported to have added: "And if it isn't well, then it's still not the end."

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  • A letter in the inbox of every young Catholic



    Attention Catholic young people, by which I mean everyone under 30: Pope Francis has written you a letter. Called "Christ Is Alive," it is a historic document in that it isn't just a letter about young people. It is to young people. Whether you are in high school or in college or in your 20s and trying to figure out what comes next, this letter, also called an apostolic exhortation, is for you.

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  • Going to Mass in pain?



    Q. In a few weeks I will turn 65 years old. I have arthritis in most of my joints; in the early spring, when it's rainy and damp, the arthritic pain can be unbearable. Is it a sin to miss Sunday Mass, given the extreme pain?

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  • Look at this



    I am so proud of our students. This month, the student government association, the body that represents our undergraduates, passed a resolution asking the university to prohibit access through the campus network to the 200 most frequently visited pornography websites. I told them we'd be happy to.

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  • The Easter Effect today



    Some two millennia ago, a ragtag bunch of nobodies learned what their tortured and executed friend, the rabbi Jesus from Nazareth, meant by "rising from the dead" (Mark 9:9-10) -- because they met him again, the same but utterly transformed, as the Risen Lord. The Easter Effect upturned all they had once thought about time, history, and God's promises to Israel; it also transformed these nobodies into extraordinary evangelists, for the missionary project they launched converted perhaps as much as half the Mediterranean world over the next two and a half centuries.

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  • A lethal bill



    A bill, which is currently before the Massachusetts Legislature, has got my attention -- and I think it should get yours too. If MA House Bill #3320 and Senate Bill #1209 (Act to Remove Obstacles and Expand Abortion Access, hence the ROE Act) become law, our legislators would have approved a law that seriously offends the dignity of human beings, threaten our civilization, and cause unspeakable pain to other human beings like us. We have reached this point because some legislators have arrogated to themselves the right to decide on who should live and who should die. Although the bills are worded in the context of promoting women's rights and healthcare, if passed, these bills will be lethal to children, and they will amount to an abuse of power by some adults at the expense of the weakest and the most vulnerable in our society.

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  • Boston priests answer the call



    Two-time inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame, Magic Johnson always said, "I grew up poor, but I didn't have poor dreams." As a young person, playing basketball in a league at my local church was key to achieving my own dream -- a dream I would never have attained without the help and support of a Boston priest, Father Paul O'Brien.

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  • A letter from Bishop John DuBois of New York



    On April 17, 1834, Bishop John DuBois of New York wrote to Bishop Benedict Fenwick of Boston. He starts by discussing the need to properly vet visiting priests; his trouble incorporating a seminary in Nyack, New York; and continues a debate about whether Protestants should be allowed to attend Catholic colleges.

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  • Passion of the Christ



    "What is written about Me is coming to fulfillment," Jesus says in today's Gospel (see Luke 22:37). 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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  • Dustin Pedroia and Manny Machado



    It happened two years ago, on April 21, 2017, in Baltimore's Camden Yards. It appeared to be just another early season game, Red Sox versus Orioles, when in the bottom of the eighth inning, Baltimore's Mark Trumbo, batting with a man on first, hit an easy ground ball to the shortstop. Xander Bogaerts scooped it up and threw it to Dustin Pedroia to force out the runner coming from first. The throw was to the outfield side of second, but Pedroia grabbed it with ease. It was just a routine play, except for one thing.

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  • Facing the crisis: What needs to be done to address the crisis underlying the crisis of sex abuse



    When the U.S. bishops gather in plenary assembly in Baltimore two months from now, their immediate task will be putting in place a new system of episcopal accountability in dealing with sex abuse. Its elements will likely include a code of conduct for themselves, a hotline for receiving complaints, and a framework for judging bishops who commit abuse or cover it up when committed by others.

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  • Seeing Abortion



    We stand at a pivotal point in the great moral debate over abortion in our country -- not because new arguments have emerged, but rather because laws so breathtaking in their barbarism have been passed, and a film so visceral in its presentation of the reality of abortion has found a wide audience. As John Henry Newman reminded us, assent to a proposition is rarely a matter of acquiescing to rational demonstration alone; instead, it often has to do with the accumulation of argument, image, impression, experience, and witness.

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  • Our own Good Friday



    When the Romans designed crucifixion as their means of capital punishment, they had more in mind than simply putting someone to death. They wanted to accomplish something else, too, namely, to make this death a spectacle to serve as the ultimate deterrent so that anyone seeing it would think twice about committing the offense for which the person was being crucified.

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  • Remember to forget



    Here we are, in the home stretch of Lent, a breath away from Holy Week. Every successive Sunday the readings push us forward -- closer to the culminating events that define us as Christians. Week by week, we take another step toward Jerusalem, toward the table, the cross, and the empty tomb. And Mass after Mass, we are reminded of all that has come before, all that has prepared the way of suffering to become the path to glory.

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  • Something new



    The Liturgy this Lent has shown us the God of the Exodus. He is a mighty and gracious God, who out of faithfulness to His covenant has done "great things" for His people, as today's Psalm puts it. But the "things of long ago," Isaiah tells us in today's First Reading, are nothing compared to the "something new" that He will do in the future.

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  • Alex Cora and Dave Dombrowksi



    There is an old show business story -- perhaps apocryphal, but maybe not -- concerning the wife of famed Broadway lyricist/librettist Oscar Hammerstein II and the wife of the equally renowned composer, Jerome Kern. The two women had a famously adversarial relationship that was not shared by their husbands, who enjoyed a close friendship and working partnership (this was years before Hammerstein would team up with Richard Rodgers to form the most famous partnership in Broadway history). Kern and Hammerstein had just finished collaborating on the words and music for their ground-breaking play, "Show Boat," when they and their wives attended a glittering upper East Side cocktail party. As Dorothy Hammerstein was passing by a covey of women who were gushing over Mrs. Kern's husband having written "Ol' Man River," the iconic show's most dramatic song, she interrupted. "Excuse me," she firmly said. "Her husband did not write 'Ol'Man River.' Her husband wrote, 'Daa daa de-dum.' My husband wrote 'Ol' Man River.'" Then, executing a perfect spin-on-the-heel maneuver, she stalked off.

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  • What we haven't got right about sex



    Several years ago, in the question and answer period after a public lecture, a rather disgruntled young man asked me a question that carried with it a bit of attitude: "You seem to write a lot about sex," he said, "do you have a particular problem with it?" My lecture had been on God's mercy and had never mentioned sex, so his question obviously had its own agenda. My answer: "I write 52 columns a year and have been doing that for over 30 years. On average, I write one column on sex every second year, so that means I write on sex, on average, every 104 times I write. That's slightly less than 1% of the time. Do you think that's excessive?"

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  • Earbuds at Mass



    Q. My wife and I are traditional Latin-rite Catholics who moved to central Virginia from an area that had numerous Catholic churches, where Masses with dignified, traditional music could always be found. But the churches where we live now are small in number and feature contemporary music at every Mass.

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  • Scary prayers that are good for you



    I have a short list of scary prayers. Scary prayers are prayers where even the very words you say seem to convict you. Most prayers are prayers of petition, prayers where we are asking God for his intervention. I have two friends who are battling breast cancer, and I try to pray for them daily.

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  • The high-priced spread, revisited



    Readers of a certain vintage (say, over 60) will remember the Imperial Margarine TV ad that dismissed butter as "the high-priced spread." That image came to mind rather unexpectedly when I was addressing the parents' associations of two prestigious Catholic prep schools several years ago.

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  • It's not just about the frozen embryos



    I remember a conversation I had with a married Catholic couple a few years ago. They were feeling lost and desperate over their inability to conceive a child. They were casting about for options. They understood there were moral concerns with doing in vitro fertilization (IVF), though they weren't sure about the specifics, so they asked: "Would it be OK for us to do IVF as long as we don't make any extra embryos and we're careful to implant all the ones we make?" The thinking behind their question was understandable and they clearly recognized it would be wrong to produce and then store their embryonic sons and daughters in the deep freeze. It's important to note, however, that the possibility of "spare" embryos ending up in "frozen orphanages" would not be the only reason, or even the main reason, that IVF is morally unacceptable. The immorality of IVF is primarily due to the fact that the process turns human procreation into a method of production in which children are made, not begotten.

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  • Abortion at the extremes



    One of the crazier features of politics these days is that opponents of our quixotic president seem to have themselves become unhinged: when he cuts federal funds to Planned Parenthood, and through his Supreme Court appointments says he wants to undo Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized abortion throughout the country, the abortion industry and its legislative allies propose to outdo Roe as a matter of statutory law. And thus in Massachusetts they have proposed "An Act to remove obstacles and expand abortion access (S No. 1209)."

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  • Losing our humanity to robots?



    As a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, I have attended its annual assemblies in Rome since 2012. Pope Francis has asked the academy to explore a range of issues with moral implications, in keeping with an "integral ecology" linking respect for human life with human solidarity and respect for creation.

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  • Found alive again



    In today's First Reading, God forgives "the reproach" of the generations who grumbled against Him after the Exodus. On the threshold of the promised land, Israel can with a clean heart celebrate the Passover, the feast of God's firstborn son (see Joshua 5:6--7; Exodus 4:22; 12:12--13).

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  • You're Brad Stevens and you've got a problem



    Let's suppose, for just a few moments, that you are Brad Stevens, the coach of the Boston Celtics. If you are, there is no way you can be pleased about how the current basketball season, which is winding down to the last few games of the regular season schedule before the real season -- the playoffs -- begin, has played out. Oh, it hasn't been like one of those epic car crashes that close down the Mass Turnpike during rush hour so the wreckage can be cleared. But it hasn't been pretty. There have been times that the team has shown flashes of the brilliance which was expected of it, but the consistency has not been there. "Disappointing" would not be an inappropriate word to use in describing the Celtics this season.

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  • Pius XII and the Jews



    In his exhaustive history "The Papacy in the Age of Totalitarianism, 1914 to 1958," Cambridge University historian John Pollard expresses doubt whether the argument over Pope Pius XII's response to the Holocaust is "a genuine historiographical controversy" -- that is, whether it concerns matters of demonstrable historical fact -- and concludes instead that it is "a highly political dispute." Coming from Pollard, no great fan of Pius, that is a telling comment.

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  • Bell at consecration?



    Q. I was in a liturgy committee meeting at my parish, and I suggested that we have the altar server ring the bell at the consecration during the Mass on Easter Sunday. (We don't normally use altar bells at our parish.) One of the committee members said that the use of altar bells has been banned by the church since the Second Vatican Council. Is this true? (Owings Mills, Maryland)

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  • But where are the others?



    Most of us have been raised to believe that we have right to possess whatever comes to us honestly, either through our own work or through legitimate inheritance. No matter how large that wealth might be, it's ours, as long as we didn't cheat anyone along the way. By and large, this belief has been enshrined in the laws of our democratic countries and we generally believe that it is morally sanctioned by Christianity. That's partially true, but a lot needs to be nuanced here.

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  • An open letter to Cardinal Reinhard Marx



    Your Eminence: I noted with interest your recent announcement of a "binding synodal process" during which the Church in Germany will discuss the celibacy of the Latin-rite Catholic priesthood, the Church's sexual ethic and clericalism, these being "issues" put on the table by the crisis of clerical sexual abuse.

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