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  • Shortchanging Catholic school students on special education services



    As if it's not bad enough that the Massachusetts Constitution still includes amendments rooted in the anti-Catholic bigotry of the 19th century, we now learn that the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is using the amendments to deny hundreds of millions of federal dollars' worth of special education services to students who attend private and religious schools.

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  • Family separation at the borders



    We have all seen the heart-wrenching videos of children crying for their parents, or worse yet, being held in cages in detention centers at the U.S. border. Today, we are paying particular attention to the efforts being made to re-unify children with their parents in this humanitarian crisis at the border.

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  • The glue that binds families together



    Summertime in Boston is a time for families to rest, reconnect, and recreate. From Memorial Day to Labor Day families reconnect with one another basking in the promises of a warm summer day and the good food cooked over a hot grill -- there is nothing more American than a hot dog cooked on a charcoal grill on the 4th of July. Vacation homes on area lakes and beaches are filled with families resting in each other's presence amidst the crashing of waves and the smell of BBQ or maybe even fried clams.

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  • What are judges for?



    With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court, interest groups and politicians are insisting that any replacement must pledge to uphold the court's Roe v. Wade decision on abortion.

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  • Diamond vs. gridiron



    We are all wired differently. No two of us are exactly the same. We might have many things in common but there are other things that separate us, that give us our own identity. My brother, Jim, and I, for example, are what were in the old days known as "Irish twins." We were born two days short of a year apart. Jim and I grew up in the same bedroom; shared the same loving parents; ate the same things for breakfast; had the same friends; and went to the same schools. We even looked like brothers (and still do), but we are different, and always have been, in at least one important way.

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  • A Slur that Cuts Deep



    He's a loser! You're a loser! Among all the hurtful slurs we mindlessly utter this particular one is perhaps the most hurtful and damaging. It needs to be forbidden in our public discourse and stricken from our vocabulary.

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  • Celebrating our technicolor glory



    My wife and I moved from the Midwest to the East Coast a few years ago. There was a predictable amount of culture shock for both of us in leaving the manifest blessings of the Midwest: Housing prices (you can buy a palace for what a garage might cost elsewhere). Traffic (four drivers politely waving each other through at a four-way stop). Endless expanses of corn and soybeans (OK, those do get boring after a while, but they make current talk of tariffs affecting crop prices much more real).

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  • Cohabitation and Catholic seniors



    Q. I was born in 1926 and attended Catholic schools before being called into military service during World War II. My wife of 57 years, a convert to Catholicism, died in 2005. Two years later, I began seeing a widow who had been raised Catholic and sometime later asked her to marry me.

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  • Getting out of the Sacristy: A Look at Our Pastoral Priorities



    For the past several days, I've been with my Word on Fire team, filming for the Flannery O'Connor and Fulton Sheen episodes of our "Pivotal Players" series. Our journey has taken us from Chicago to New York to Washington, DC, and finally to Savannah and Millidgeville, GA. At every step of the way, we have met numerous people who have been affected by Word on Fire materials: sermons, podcasts, YouTube videos, and the CATHOLICISM series. Many have told me that their exposure to Word on Fire started a process that led them back to the Church. Now I'm telling you this not as an advertisement for my media ministry, but rather as an occasion to muse about what I consider to be a needful change in the way the Church thinks about its essential work.

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  • Reception of 'Humanae Vitae'



    In the half-century since Pope Paul VI published his encyclical Humanae Vitae reaffirming that contraception is always wrong, opponents of the teaching have frequently focused on "reception" and "sensus fidelium"--the sense of the faithful. The argument from "sensus fidelium" takes public opinion as an indicator of whether a teaching is true. "Reception" is shorthand for saying a teaching must be validated by having a majority "receive"--that is, accept--it.

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  • France vs. Croatia: A Catholic World Cup breakdown



    Denver, Colo., Jul 12, 2018 CNA.- On Sunday, France and Croatia will square off on the soccer pitch for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Championship. While most U.S. Catholics are only casual soccer fans, many will join more than 3 billion people around the world who are expected to watch the game.

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  • A pastor in full



    Almost a quarter-century ago, Father Jay Scott Newman, back in Rome to finish a graduate degree after his priestly ordination in Charleston, took me on an extended ramble around the Eternal City: my first hike up the Aventine; my first visit to the crown jewel of paleo-Christian architecture, Santa Sabina; my first exploration of Santa Maria in Cosmedin -- and, later in the evening, some essential instruction as to what you don't put on a pasta dish featuring seafood (hint: a certain hard cheese). I had a grand time but little idea then of the impact Father Newman would have on my life and work in the future. Now, as he celebrates the silver jubilee of his priestly ordination, it's time to do some of what our evangelical Protestant friends would call "witnessing."

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  • Priests and marriage preparation



    One of the duties of parish priests is to prepare couples for the Sacrament of Matrimony. Many priests love this work. Others admit they find parts of it taxing. But almost all parish priests do it, dedicate quite a lot of time to doing it, and, like other aspects of priestly work, try to do it well.

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  • 'Last rites' in a coma



    Q. My daughter, who was 50 years of age, became deathly ill, spent six weeks in the intensive care unit, then entered hospice to die. When death was imminent, a nurse finally found a priest to administer last rites. (It was a Jewish hospice, and they weren't used to calling a priest.)

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  • The summer reading list



    The vacation season is an opportunity to escape TwitterWorld and do some serious reading. These books will help make your summer enjoyable, instructive, or both. "Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution," by Todd S. Purdum (Henry Holt): From "Showboat" (1927) through "The Man of La Mancha" (1965), musical comedy was America's most successful native art form, and at the center of that bountiful harvest of story and song were Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. This tale of their collaboration, replete with inside-Broadway stuff, is also laugh-out-loud funny at certain points. Throughout, and while acknowledging their human flaws, Purdum helps us get to know two creative geniuses who lifted the spirits of tens of millions through entertainment that didn't appeal to derangement.

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  • The Supreme Court as battleground



    In its June 26 decision on freedom of speech, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a California law that forced pro-life pregnancy aid centers to tell pregnant women how to get an abortion. This "forced speech" policy, making Americans facilitate what they recognize as the unjust taking of human life, was too extreme for the court's perennial swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy. "Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions," he wrote.

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  • What is the origin of the word 'Mass'?



    Q. In all of my 78 years (and with 16 years of Catholic education), I have never heard where the word "Mass" comes from to describe the Eucharist. (It seems like an odd word.) (Gambrills, Maryland) A. The word "Mass" comes from the Latin word "missa." When Mass used to be celebrated commonly in Latin, the people were dismissed with the words, "Ite, missa est" -- which could be translated literally as, "Go, it has been sent."

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  • The Kennedy Succession



    For Americans on both sides of social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court has created a crucial moment. As the court's swing vote, Kennedy was a powerful supporter of both things, and his departure brings with it the expectation of change.

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  • June's Supreme Court rulings



    In keeping with its now-traditional practice of injecting drama into the otherwise lazy days of late June, the Supreme Court on Monday announced rulings in two closely watched and hotly debated cases. Although the implications of these rulings remain to be seen, their cultural -- and political -- relevance is crystal clear.

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  • Acts and us



    The Church's custom of reading virtually all of the Acts of the Apostles at daily Mass during the Easter season struck me as particularly apt this year, and for three reasons. First, Acts reminds us that, with the exception of several great public set-pieces (like the first Pentecost), evangelization for the first missionary disciples was a retail affair. The deacon Philip converts the Ethiopian eunuch man-to-man in Acts 8. Peter converts the centurion Cornelius, his family and friends, and thereby begins the mission to the Gentiles, in Acts 10. Paul evangelizes Lydia on the riverside outside Philippi in Acts 16, and builds his local churches by the retail catechesis of families and small groups throughout Asia Minor and Greece.

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  • What "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" Gets Right and Wrong



    The original Jurassic Park film from twenty-five years ago rather inventively explored a theme that has been prominent in Western culture from the time of the Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment--namely, the dangers of an aggressive and arrogant rationalism. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, poets and philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Herder, William Blake, and John Keats warned that the lust to understand and control nature would result in disaster for both the human soul and for the physical world. Goethe, for instance, railed against the Newtonian scientific practice, which involved the intrusive questioning of nature rather than the patient and respectful contemplation of it. And Blake memorably complained of the "Satanic mills," which is to say, the forges and factories that had begun to blight the English countryside with the onset of the Industrial Revolution.

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  • The gospel work at the border



    [Deacon Timothy Donohue of Holy Family Parish, West Roxbury made a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border city of Brownsville, Texas June 24-26 to see first-hand and raise awareness of the experience of immigrants and asylum seekers at the border. The following is among his observations of the situation there. -- Editor]

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