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  • Come Holy Spirit



    As a student at Boston College High School and then again at Fairfield University, like many Catholic schools, the school year began with the Mass of the Holy Spirit -- a tangible reminder that the Spirit is at work in our lives and a reminder to keep our hearts and minds open to the work of the Spirit. In the upcoming weeks, tens of thousands of students in Catholic schools across the archdiocese will start their year in the same way, thinking and praying about what the year will hold and calling to mind the presence of the Spirit in their lives and school.

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  • St. Damien of Molokai



    On Aug. 21, 1959, Hawaii, a United States territory since 1898, became the 50th state of the Union. With this in mind, let us turn our attention to a brief account of the life of St. Damien of Molokai.

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  • Miracle at Lanciano



    I was 12 years old when my family took our first trip to Italy. We spent a good portion of time visiting my father's cousins in Abruzzo. On a walk one afternoon through the town of Lanciano, a group of us were casually making our way down some old narrow streets. One of the cousins said something quickly while gesturing toward the fašade of a church.

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  • Gateway to life



    Jesus doesn't answer the question put to Him in this Sunday's Gospel. It profits us nothing to speculate on how many will be saved. What we need to know is what He tells us today -- how to enter into salvation and how urgent it is to strive now, before the Master closes the door.

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  • A not-so-good year for the Sox



    Question: What's the difference between the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Red Sox earned run average? Answer: The Dow Jones is going down. It is true that the Dow Jones is somewhere around 26,000 and the Sox' ERA is hovering at about 4.75, but doesn't it seem on some days like they should be reversed? This is a trend that was briefly interrupted the other night, when Chris Sale's evil twin failed to show up for a game against the Los Angeles Angels, causing Sale himself to make an emergency start. The result: eight innings pitched; 13 strike outs; and zero runs allowed.

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  • Getting beyond Darwin



    Bishop Robert Barron and others working hard to evangelize the "Nones" -- young adults without religious conviction -- tell us that a major obstacle to a None embracing Christianity is the cultural assumption that Science Explains Everything. And if science explains it all, who needs God, revelation, Christ, or the Church? To be even more specific: if Darwin and the Darwinian theory of evolution explain the origins of us (and everything else), why bother with Genesis 1-3 and Colossians 1:15-20 (much less Augustine's "Thou hast made us for Thee and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee")?

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  • Do we really believe in the Real Presence?



    When Pope Francis recently said that every time we receive Communion, it should be like our first time, it reminded me of a friend's story. He had left his then-youngest son in the pew while the rest of the family went up to receive Communion. Upon his return, his son was missing. Looking around to see where he went, he suddenly saw his little boy racing down the aisle shouting, "I got one! I got one!"

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  • Racism and immigration



    Q. There is currently in the U.S. an issue of serious concern to those who follow the teachings of Jesus, but I have not heard a word about it from the pulpit or in my Catholic newspaper. It is the racism being displayed by those in authority in our government.

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  • Holy days of obligation



    We have just begun the four-and-a-half month span -- between the solemnities of the Assumption (Aug. 15) and Mary, mother of God (Jan. 1) -- into which all our holy days of obligation are now compressed.

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  • Begin with Eucharist



    Catholics are up in arms -- again. This time, it's the recent Pew Research report that only one in three of us believe that the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Christ. One in three. In other words, for every Catholic who believes what the Church teaches about the Most Blessed Sacrament, there are two who don't.

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  • Consuming fire



    Our God is a consuming fire, the Scriptures tell us (see Hebrews 12:29; Deuteronomy 4:24). And in this week's Gospel, Jesus uses the image of fire to describe the demands of discipleship. The fire He has come to cast on the earth is the fire that He wants to blaze in each of our hearts. He made us from the dust of the earth (see Genesis 2:7) and filled us with the fire of the Holy Spirit in Baptism (see Luke 3:16).

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  • A walk is as good as a hit



    "A walk is as good as a hit." That's a baseball axiom with which I became very familiar as a kid, having heard it called out to me by my teammates virtually every time I stepped into the batter's box. They knew that if I kept the bat on my shoulder there would be at least a chance that I'd reach base safely with a base on balls. Whereas, if I swung away, I'd run the risk of actually making contact with the pitch resulting in, at best, a weak ground out to an infielder. More likely, I'd simply swing and miss, and three such futile attempts would guarantee my return to the bench in disgrace (so what else was new?). Thus in my case waiting and hoping for a walk wasn't just a good strategy: it was the only strategy.

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  • The real presence



    Back in 1995, the American theologian Germain Grisez and I published an article noting with dismay poll data showing that a very large number of self-identified Catholics in the United States believed that Christ's presence in the Blessed Sacrament was only "symbolic" rather than a Real Presence as the Church clearly and firmly taught.

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  • A different team and a lasting championship



    As a former athlete and lifelong sports fan, I visit Espn.com a couple of times a day. There, I get more than box scores, videos and articles on recent happenings in major sports. I also receive inspiration from the heroism of various teams and athletes, who overcome seemingly insurmountable life situations to make the pros, or mount incredible comebacks under pressure to win games or championships, or handle crushing defeats with grace and maturity.

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  • Heroism and priesthood, Dachau and Amazonia



    In late June, I visited the concentration camp at Dachau, located in a wooded suburb a few miles from downtown Munich. The camp site struck me as rather too neat: virtually all of the huts in which hundreds of thousands of prisoners lived, starved, and died are gone, and the atmosphere, despite a blistering hot afternoon, was antiseptic. There was little of the miasma of raw evil that remains at Auschwitz and Birkenau, even though Dachau was the prototype for those extermination factories. The Dachau camp site's Chapel of the Agony of Christ, built after the war, is touching. But, to my mind at least, its stark modernism somehow fails to register the suffering it is intended to commemorate -- and transfigure.

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  • Sharpen your pencils for the school of love



    Did you know the family is a school of love? The Second Vatican Council declared this teaching, St. John Paul II deepened it and Pope Francis affirmed it. Our Catechism of the Catholic Church spells it out clearly: The family is "a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity" (No. 1666).

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  • The establishment of Mission Church



    Within Archbishop John J. William's papers resides a document dating to Aug. 15, 1869, outlining the terms agreed upon with Father Joseph Helmpraecht, provincial superior of the Redemptorists, permitting the order to establish a church in the Diocese of Boston.

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  • Faith of our fathers



    We are born of the faith of our fathers, descending from a great cloud of witnesses whose faith is attested to on every page of Scripture (see Hebrews 12:1). We have been made His people, chosen for His own inheritance, as we sing in this Sunday's Psalm.

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  • Computer: the death of me and maybe of baseball



    Baseball has been through gambling scandals, strikes, and steroids, and still it has survived as the best of all games. But can baseball survive computers? The explosion of information we now have at our fingertips has led to launch angles, spin rates, and wins above replacement. But it's taken a lot of fun out of the game. For spectators, it's fast becoming a game of strikeouts and home runs and not much more. Sophisticated statistics extracted from computers now rule baseball; in fact they rule everything.

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  • A news junkie hits the beach



    I know it's not just me. More and more people are telling me that they just can't take the news anymore. Like me, they find it overwhelmingly depressing. It raises our blood pressure. It leaves us discontented. It makes us feel hopeless.

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  • One cheer for George Will's 'The Conservative Sensibility'



    I have been following George Will's thought for a long time. I'm old enough to remember when his column occupied the last page of Newsweek magazine every other week and when he sat in the chair of conservative thought on David Brinkley's Sunday morning political talk show. I have long admired his graceful literary style and his clipped, smart manner of speech. Will was always especially good when, with lawyerly precision, he would take apart the sloppy thinking of one of his intellectual or political opponents. When I taught an introductory course in political philosophy at Mundelein Seminary many years ago, I used Will's book "Statecraft as Soulcraft" to get across to my students what the ancients meant by the moral purpose of government.

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  • Dipping host into chalice



    Q. Earlier this year, I saw a communicant take the host and proceed to dip it into the consecrated wine before consuming it. Is this acceptable? (I had never seen it before.) (Annandale, Virginia) A. No. What you saw is not permissible -- unless the one receiving Communion happened to be a priest concelebrating the Mass. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the Church's "rulebook" on liturgy, does envision "intinction" but limits self-communicating to priest-concelebrants.

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  • Extraordinary coincidence, contemporary lesson



    Forty years after Pope John Paul II bent the course of the 20th century in a more humane direction during his first pilgrimage to his Polish homeland in June 1979, new information continues to emerge about what happened behind the scenes, shedding further light on those epic events. The latest surprise involves a hitherto unremarked (and evidently impromptu) meeting of the Polish episcopate with the Polish pope in the middle of what's become known as the "Nine Days." Polish scholars recently discovered and published a transcript of that encounter, and kindly shared a translation with me while I was teaching in Cracow last month.

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  • Surrounded by love



    An airport bathroom might seem a rather strange venue for the love of God to be revealed, but the truth is that we don't have to be in church to be Church. An experience I had last week while traveling to the Applied Biblical Studies Conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville was a powerful reminder of that.

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  • Redressing anti-Catholic bias in education



    There is a strange anomaly in American Constitutional Law as it has come down to us through the courts: the freedom of private schools, including religious schools, to educate children according to their parents' wishes is guaranteed in that no public school monopoly over education is allowed. But when it comes to public funding, religious schools have generally been excluded.

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  • The Fool's Vanity



    Trust in God -- as the Rock of our salvation, as the Lord who made us His chosen people, as our shepherd and guide. This should be the mark of our following of Jesus. Like the Israelites we recall in this week's Psalm, we have made an exodus, passing through the waters of Baptism, freeing us from our bondage to sin. We, too, are on a pilgrimage to a promised homeland, the Lord in our midst, feeding us heavenly bread, giving us living waters to drink (see 1 Corinthians 10:1--4).

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  • Mookie Betts and his missing smile



    There is something missing from the Red Sox this year. It's something that endeared us to the team in recent years, especially last season. I'm not sure if the fact that it's gone missing is a cause of the team's spotty performance in 2019 or a result of it, but I do believe there is a relationship there.

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  • Friday abstinence for vegans



    Q. What do persons who don't normally eat meat do about the church's rules on abstinence, such as on the Fridays during Lent? Nowadays, many Catholics are mainly fish eaters anyway, or they are vegans or vegetarians. What can they do to participate in the discipline of the church? (New Middletown, Indiana)

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  • Lessons in virtue from Apollo 11



    Fifty years ago this week, the crew of Apollo 11, the world's latest heroes, were doing decidedly unheroic things: napping, drinking beer, playing cards, reading magazines, and otherwise killing time in the Manned Spacecraft Center's "Lunar Receiving Facility," where they were quarantined to ensure that no lethal bugs had been brought back from the Moon's surface by Neil Armstrong (who saved the mission to taking personal control of Eagle and landing it safely after overflying a vast field of lunar boulders), Buzz Aldrin (who memorably described the moonscape as one of "magnificent desolation"), and Michael Collins (who, orbiting the Moon in Columbia while Armstrong and Aldrin were on its surface, was more alone than any human being since Genesis 2:22). The Lab was perhaps the least glamorous (and, as things turned out, least necessary) of NASA's Apollonian inventions. For as Charles Fishman vividly illustrates in "One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon" (Simon and Schuster), just about everything involved in effecting that "one small step . . . [and] one giant leap" had to be imagined, and then fabricated, from scratch.

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