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  • Trump/Reagan Title X Protect Life Rule



    Washington D.C., May 22, 2018 CNA.- The following are excerpts of remarks delivered by Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) on the House floor May 21, 2018. Published with permission: Last Friday, the Trump Administration announced its intention to reassert and promulgate portions of President Ronald Reagan’s modest but necessary life-affirming Title X Rule—a policy designed to ensure that taxpayers don’t fund, facilitate or promote abortion in America’s $286 million-per-year family planning program.

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  • Federal cuts could force thousands in Mass. To go hungry



    This month, I'd like to focus on an issue that is omnipresent in our work at Catholic Charities -- food insecurity. We feed over 100,000 people in Massachusetts each year through our food pantries, but still thousands of working poor or unemployed people and their children struggle every day to find their next meal. It is with these people in mind that we ask again for your attention to pending legislation that concerns those we care for.

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  • Out of the frying pan



    ''I baptize you with water," John preached along the Jordan. "But the one coming after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." We hear that Gospel in Advent, a time of year when it seems like our ears are stuffed with holly and Christmas to-do lists. It's a reading that can leave us a bit confused, and maybe more than a bit apprehensive.

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  • Tom Evans' son



    There is a great, old tradition in Catholicism of celebrating a Requiem Mass about one month after someone's passing, the "Month's Mind." Since Alfie Evans died on April 28, we can fittingly remember him this month. It is also the month of his second birthday, May 9.

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  • Evangelization and Pentecost



    In 2011, Cardinal SeŠn wrote a pastoral letter on evangelization entitled, "A New Pentecost: Inviting All To Follow Jesus." While written prior to initiating Disciples in Mission, this pastoral letter serves as a beautiful foundation on which our work of evangelization has been built. As we approach Pentecost, it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on some relevant excerpts from this pastoral letter that can both challenge us and inspire us in our living as disciples of Jesus Christ.

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  • A New Wind: Reflecting on Pentecost Sunday



    The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history. The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God's chosen people in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai (see Leviticus 23:15--21; Deuteronomy 16:9--11).

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  • We Need a Lawyer!



    There are all kinds of lawyer stories and jokes and a lot of them are good. Some of them use different words to describe a lawyer like "mouthpiece", "counselor", "defender" and "advocate". We all know that if we are in trouble and if we need some special help with a problem, we want a good lawyer - someone who will take our side and advise us about how to get through a tough time; someone who will stick up for us in a fight and help us win a just, fair and peaceful solution to our problems.

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  • On Suicide and Despair



    For centuries, suicide was considered as an act of despair and despair itself was seen as the most grievous sin of all. In many religious circles, despair was seen as the most sinful of all acts and ultimately unforgiveable.

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  • Response to helping beggars



    (Editor's Note: Recently, a reader asked whether motorists should stop to give money to those begging on street corners. While acknowledging the traffic safety concerns, I confessed that I myself find it difficult, especially as a priest, to pass someone by and so I regularly offer a few dollars. Responses to the column arrived immediately -- and varied widely, as seen in the sampling below.)

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  • 'A Man of His Word'



    I've always loved the movies. As a child, I dreamed of directing films. Obviously that didn't work out. Nonetheless, I've seen hundreds of them. Many, like the current release "A Quiet Place," have been wonderful: an unexpected mix of great cast and directing, terrific science fiction scares, and the powerful beauty of family love. Others, not so much.

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  • The Holy See, China, and evangelization



    In a recent interview, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, suggested that certain critics of a deal between the Vatican and the People's Republic of China were misconstruing the Holy See's motivations: "There are those who've accused us of only wanting diplomatic relations as a sign of some sort of success. But the Holy See, as the pope has said many times, is not interested in diplomatic successes."

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  • How to widen our hearts on Mother's Day



    For mothers who have lost children. For children who have lost mothers. For women who long to be mothers. For mothers who never got to meet their children. As my husband and I are writing a book on miscarriage for Catholic couples, I've posed the question on social media: Has your parish's blessing on Mother's Day included prayers for women who long to have a child or women who have lost a child?

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  • The foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur



    On May 10, 1881, Mother Aloysie, superior of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, wrote to Archbishop John J. Williams of Boston. She reveals that "the Bishop of Namur has authorized me to take the preliminary steps for the introduction of the cause of the Beatification and Canonization of our Foundresses Mere Julie Billiart (and) Mere St. Joseph Blin de Bourdon," and appeals for Bishop William's support.

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  • An advocate for the Gospel of Life



    For me, a highlight of the past month was seeing Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon receive the University of Notre Dame's Evangelium Vitae medal. I have always been interested in this award, named after St. John Paul II's tremendous 1995 encyclical whose English title is "The Gospel of Life." I was the first recipient of the award in 2011, and each year I'm delighted to see it given to people more deserving than myself: Helen Alvare, the Sisters of Life, Rep. Chris Smith and his wife Marie, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and so on.

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  • Parish Nursing is more than checking blood pressures



    On Feb. 7, 1837, a 17-year-old Englishwoman by the name of Florence Nightingale had an experience that changed her life, and, eventually, the lives of countless others. She felt that God had spoken to her and called her to service, although specifically what that service was to be, was unclear to her at first. Over time, she contemplated the works of charity undertaken by religious sisters -- the work of caring for the sick and poor. While such charity work was acceptable for nuns, the role of a "nurse" was frowned upon by society, and not considered to be a noble option for nice young ladies. At that time, hospitals were commonly dark and dirty. The patients suffered from their illness and from the lack of compassionate care. The Spirit called her to ignore the social norms of her time and serve the forgotten ones of her day.

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  • The need for apologies



    When former first lady Barbara Bush died recently, memories of her good qualities abounded. In a culture where females are pressured to think a face-lift is just a matter of time and slimness is non-negotiable, she was an attractive natural with a matronly figure and soft white hair. A champion of literacy and a woman devoted to family, she was also known as being "ferociously tart-tongued" according to her daughter-in-law, first lady Laura Bush. That's not always a bad thing, but it didn't serve her well in 1984.

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  • The Good News: The Ascension of the Lord



    (In dioceses where Ascension is celebrated on Thursday, see also the reflection for the Seventh Sunday of Easter.) In today's first reading, St. Luke gives the surprising news that there is more of the story to be told. The story did not end with the empty tomb, or with Jesus' appearances to the Apostles over the course of forty days. Jesus' saving work will have a liturgical consummation. He is the great high priest, and he has still to ascend to the heavenly Jerusalem, there to celebrate the feast in the true Holy of Holies.

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  • What Catholics can learn about beauty from the Met Gala



    New York City, N.Y., May 9, 2018 CNA.- By now, you have likely heard that the theme of this year’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala was “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” I will admit: when I first heard this, I winced. I’m not really sure what I was imagining, but it certainly wasn’t what paraded down the red carpet on Monday night.

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  • Legislative chaplaincies



    Barring further developments (and let's hope that there aren't any), the kerfuffle over the Catholic chaplain of the House of Representatives seems to be over. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan asked for the resignation of Father Patrick Conroy, S.J., Father Conroy resigned, then withdrew his resignation, and Ryan withdrew his request. May everyone involved in this flap now live happily ever after. Personally, I'm glad to leave it at that.

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  • Final thoughts on the passing of Alfie



    Alfie Evans was born on May 9, 2016. He died on April 28, 2018. For 16 and a half months, he was a patient of Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool. By the time he died, a good portion of the world was aware of his short life and the battle his parents waged to prolong it.

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  • Mass attendance required?



    Q. An elderly woman in our parish has terminal lung cancer. I have seen her condition deteriorate over the last two months. She is no longer driving, is very weak and is now on oxygen full time. I had been helping her to get to church, and the other day she told me that she "goes back and forth" over whether she is still required to attend Sunday Mass.

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  • Protest, Sanity, and a Christian Response



    Dreaming is sometimes the most realistic thing we can do. Or, is there still something else we might do, like public protest, or something else? In his book on prophecy, Commandments for the Long Haul, Daniel Berrigan offers this advice. Prophetic gestures aren't always politically effective. Often they accomplish nothing that's practical; but he adds: If you can't save the world at least you can save your own sanity.

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  • Freedom is never free



    When I first visited Lviv, the principal city of western Ukraine, in 2002, the transportation from plane to airport terminal was an old bus towed by a Soviet-era tractor; today, the airport is a model of cleanliness and efficiency. In 2002, the Old Town was shabby and begrimed; today, it's become a major tourist destination, and while there is still more clean-up to do, the charms of an old Habsburg city are beginning to reveal themselves. To sit in a downtown restaurant and speak with the city's mayor about his plans for further development, it's easy to forget that you're in a country at war.

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  • First Excellence in Education Award



    Dedication. Passion. Intelligent. Caring. These are some of the words that were used in over 160 nominations for the first annual Archdiocese of Boston Excellence in Education Award. The new award, created with the support of the Catholic Schools Foundation, honors school teachers' commitment to developing saints and scholars in the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Boston. The teachers selected demonstrate strong leadership qualities, model a faith-filled life, promote academic excellence, and are devoted to their students and school. They inspire students from all backgrounds and abilities to learn, and they actively collaborate with peers, students and families to create a welcoming environment and culture of success in their schools.

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  • A ten-lane highway



    ''When God closes a door, he opens a window," at least that's how the saying goes. But lately, I think what God opens, when he is the one who is opening it, is more like a ten-lane highway. You don't have to squeeze through God's will; you can drive a truck through it.

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  • Begotten By Love: Reflections on the Sixth Sunday of Easter



    God is love, and he revealed that love in sending his only son to be a sacrificial offering for our sins. In these words from today's Epistle, we should hear an echo of the story of Abraham's offering of Isaac at the dawn of salvation history. Because Abraham obeyed God's command and did not withhold his only beloved son, God promised that Abraham's descendants, the children of Israel, would be the source of blessing for all nations (see Genesis 22:16--18).

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  • How the church can welcome young families



    Many people have assumed that once millennials started to grow older and have kids, a large number would return to the church or become more actively engaged. This has not materialized -- the numbers are troubling. And there are certainly many reasons why, from changing social norms to mistakes the church has made.

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  • Making a diverse College of Cardinals work



    With the exception of the two consistories held by Pope John XXIII in 1958 and 1959, every creation of new cardinals since Pope Pius XII has decreased the percentage of Italian members of the College of Cardinals while internationalizing it. (John XXIII's first consistory actually increased the Italian membership to 40% of an expanded College.) That pattern of internationalization and, if you will, de-Italianization has continued with Pope Francis and the College now includes members from fifteen countries (such as Tonga, Laos, and Papua New Guinea) that have never given the Church a cardinal before.

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  • Pastor's role in visiting sick/Priest difficult to understand



    Q. I read your column every week in our archdiocesan paper, and I have a question for you. What is the role of the parish priest at the time of the serious illness and death of a parish member? I recently lost my husband after a long illness, the last several months of which he was not able to attend Mass. The priest never inquired about him, called him or came to visit. And he never got in touch with me after my husband's death.

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  • Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience in a Secular Age



    Cardinal Francis George was once asked what he thought of the radical pacifism of people like Dorothy Day and Daniel Berrigan, prophetic figures who believed in absolute nonviolence. How can this be practical, he was asked, it's utterly naÔve to believe that we can live without police and without soldiers. This was his reply: The world needs pacifists in the same way as it needs vowed celibates: They're not practical. They're out of place in this world. But they point to the eschatological world, the world of heaven, a world within which there will be no guns, where relational exclusivities will not exist as they exist now, where family will not be based on biology, blood, or marriage, where there will be no poor people, and where everything will belong to everyone.

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  • Michelle Wolf and the Throwaway Culture



    The other night at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, Michelle Wolf, who I'm told is a comedian, regaled the black-tie and sequin-gowned crowd with her "jokes." Almost all were in extremely bad taste and/or wildly offensive, but one has become accustomed to that sort of coarseness in the comedy clubs and even on mainstream television. However, she crossed over into the territory of the morally appalling when she indulged in this bit of witticism regarding Vice President Mike Pence: "He thinks abortion is murder, which, first of all, don't knock it until you've tried it. And when you do try it, really knock it, you know. You gotta get that baby out of there." One is just at a loss for words. I mean, even some in the severely left-leaning crowd in Washington groaned a bit at that remark.

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  • In the beginning



    Stephen Hawking died last month. He was a brilliant and influential physicist responsible for, among other things, the conclusion that black holes emit energy that we now call "Hawking radiation." This is not supposed to happen, because the gravity of black holes is so strong that it doesn't even allow light to escape. (That's why they're black.) And it creates some problems for quantum mechanics that we still have not solved.

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  • The pleas to keep Father Cheverus in Boston



    In February 1801, Father Jean Cheverus received a letter from his father in France. Father Cheverus had fled France during the revolution, which saw a growing resentment towards and the persecution of Catholic clergy, but by this time Napoleon provided the country with stability and was allowing the clergy to return on the condition they took an oath of fidelity. Enclosed in his father's letter was a second letter from a member of Father Cheverus' former parish in France, asking him to return home and resume his role as their spiritual leader.

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  • The paradoxes of inclusion



    In a recent homily, Bishop Robert E. Barron rightly identified two paramount values in our secular culture: being "inclusive" and being "nonjudgmental." The two seem closely related. If you want to embrace everyone in society, you avoid making moral judgments that banish some people to the margins. So all are welcome, along with their own moral views -- unless they commit the sin of being judgmental.

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  • 'You are witnesses of these things'



    Engrossed by a great story, did you ever become so intrigued by how it was all going to end that you jumped forward and read the last chapter of the book? The love letters that we call the Gospels of John, Matthew, Mark and Luke are, of course, the magnificent stories that introduce us to friendship with God and a deep longing to know more of the story. In fact, they not only leave us thirsting for more, but they actually invite us to be actors in the story itself.

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  • On the Vine: Reflections on the Fifth Sunday of Easter



    In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us that he is the true vine that God intended Israel to be--the source of divine life and wisdom for the nations (see Sirach 24:17--24). In baptism, each of us was joined to him by the Holy Spirit. As a branch grows from a tree, our souls are to draw life from him, nourished by his word and the Eucharist.

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