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  • 185 years and counting



    Now that Labor Day has come and gone, it is time for new beginnings, full of challenges and full of opportunities. This is also a special time for us at The Pilot, as on Sept. 5 we marked 185 years of striving to bring you, our readers, the Catholic perspective on current events, so you can be fully informed.

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  • Recalling a 'painful' time in the Church



    When Pope Francis on October 19 formally declares Pope Paul VI "Blessed," the event will recall one of the most painful periods in the history of the Church together with the long-suffering servant pope who stood at the helm when the storm was at its worst.

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  • Witness for civil marriage / Mixing water and wine at Mass



    Q. I am a practicing Catholic. A female friend of mine who was baptized Catholic and her live-in boyfriend (of 25 years) decided to get married by a justice of the peace. My friend attends a Christian non-denominational church; the boyfriend does not attend any religious services. (He has been on disability for many years from schizophrenia; she is manic-depressive.) The brother of the boyfriend is a Catholic priest.

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  • Wanted: A Synod of affirmation



    Pope Francis has called a special session of the Synod of Bishops, which will meet from Oct. 5-19 and prepare the agenda for the ordinary session of the Synod that is scheduled for the fall of 2015; both sessions will focus on the family. In my view, the Synod should focus on two related themes: marriage culture is in crisis throughout the world; the answer to that crisis is the Christian view of marriage as a covenant between man and woman in a communion of love, fidelity and fruitfulness.

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  • Loading the Dice Against the Poor



    NEW YORK, September 24, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Here is a reflection on climate change written by Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, the president of Caritas Internationalis. When hunger and poverty turn every day into a battle for survival, climate change loads the dice against the poor. That's why I've been in New York this week to urge for immediate action by governments.

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  • Freedom isn't free



    After the prayer service at the Shrine of St. Joseph in Northern New Jersey on the eve of Sept. 11, and then speaking to a gathering of Legatus, a group of Catholic business leaders, a family member of one of the people killed in the nearby World Trade Towers in New York City 13 years ago, came up to me and said, "Ambassador, I was moved by what you told us about all the chaos and violence taking place today in the Middle East. As you know, this community lost a lot of neighbors, friends and family members in the terrorist attack. Let me ask you, is there a willingness on the part of the American government to take decisive action to stop all the brutality taking place in the Middle East and world today? Or is this the way it will always be? People are constantly living in fear. If the International Community can't come together on this and do something, what hope do we really have that all this carnage and violence can end? You served in our national government and in the highest diplomatic post at the Vatican, why can't we do something, like President Reagan and Pope John II did in Poland and Eastern Europe? I know that you were friends and spoke to both of them often. They helped end the brutality and oppression of communism. Are things so different today in the world? Where is the spine of our political leaders? Why is the national press so timid in reporting on this atrocity?"

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  • To serve or not to serve -- that is the question



    As a lawyer, I belong to a profession that is supposed to be dedicated to service -- to justice, to my clients, to due process, to the rule of law. It's really not fundamentally about me. Of course, like everyone else, I need to earn my living as well -- which I do personally by teaching law, mainly constitutional law, at the law school at UMass Dartmouth. And so I should also be of service to my students, who are my ultimate employer. Occasionally, I also handle cases and causes I believe in pro bono, on a volunteer basis for the sake of the good I might accomplish. In some ways, my regular salary gives me the freedom, which many others do not have, to try to be helpful in that way.

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  • Divine Butler?



    Upon his return from Asian Youth Day, Pope Francis explained, "The meaning of this apostolic visit can be summarized in three words: memory, hope and witness. The Church is the custodian of memory and hope. It is a spiritual family in which the adults transmit to the young the flame of faith received from their ancestors; the memory of the witnesses of the past become a new witness in the present and hope for the future."

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  • The right place



    Nobody, I imagine, would be very surprised to learn that one of my favorite things to read when I was a kid was Bartlett's Book of Quotations. Whenever our classes went to the school library, I spent my time pouring over -- and usually memorizing -- words of wisdom that notable people had written or said. One of my favorite quotes was attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: "No one can put you in your place if you're already there."

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  • The school's latest smokescreen



    We're told America is a faddish country. We like the new-new thing. It used to be cars. We lusted after the newest models with the latest chrome grills, fancy fins and two-tone paint jobs. Then TV programs and the fad jumped from westerns to quiz shows to wall-to-wall crime shows to reality shows, which increasing look like updates of the old Ed Sullivan Show. Today, the fad is smart phones with fierce battles among supporter of Apple, Samsung and the ever-fading BlackBerry.

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  • Planning for vocations



    When speaking about Disciples in Mission, the pastoral plan for the Archdiocese of Boston, vocations are always part of the conversation. Disciples in Mission asks each collaborative to prepare a local pastoral plan that will chart the direction for that particular collaborative. Over the course of three years, the pastor, collaborative leadership, councils, and parishioners will monitor progress to make sure that the collaborative is doing its best to live out what they set forth in their plan. The local pastoral plan is unique to each collaborative, reflecting their context, needs, and gifts. Each plan must contain three pastoral priorities, one of which focuses on promoting vocations to diocesan priesthood. Father Daniel Hennessey, director of vocations for the archdiocese, is encouraged by the great potential provided by Disciples in Mission to build a culture of vocations and create environments in parishes where priestly and religious vocations will flourish. Father Hennessey says that this is more than just offering programs. Infusing a genuine culture of vocations into every aspect of parish life requires a concerted effort.

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  • Derek's long goodbye



    Have you ever read Raymond Chandler's dandy little classic, "The Long Goodbye"? Probably Raymond's best work, it's about the lamentable fade away of Terry Lennox, a breezy though reckless hustler who nonetheless remains most likeable.

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  • Explosive business in North Dakota



    The "Official Portal for the North Dakota State Government" lists that commonwealth's nicknames as the Peace Garden State, the Flickertail State (something to do with squirrels, evidently), and the Roughrider State. Most Americans know today's North Dakota as the Fracking State, where fortunes are being made in the energy industry. Catholics in the United States may soon know North Dakota as the cutting edge of Catholic higher education reform.

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  • The Reason the Church Exists



    There would be several ways one could explain the purpose of the Church: to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth; to continue Jesus' mission for the salvation of the world; to abide in and bring about the Kingdom of God; to the salt of the earth, the light of the world and the leaven of the human race; to love God, love others, and make disciples. All of these descriptions are true and complementary.

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  • Another presidential war



    It is distressing how little attention the media have paid to the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The campaign has been so widespread, cruel and brutal that Pope Francis has taken the unusual step of leaving open the possibility of a military intervention of some kind.

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  • Is lying always wrong? Dress code for church?



    Q. In a book I read recently explaining the teaching of the church in simple language, it states that a person cannot lie even to save a life since you "cannot do evil that good may come of it." This would seem to contradict the right to defend people even if others were trying to kill them: e.g., if Nazi soldiers were at the door asking if any Jews were in that house, I would think that lying to save Jews who in fact were in the house would actually prevent a greater evil from happening.

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  • The Parable of the Talents



    The attendance at our daily Mundelein Seminary on Labor Day weekend was sparse. Many of the students had gone home while others were on a special tour of Chicago churches. The celebrant and preacher for the Sunday Mass was Fr. Robert Schoenstene, our veteran Old Testament professor. Fr. Schoenstene offered the best interpretation I've ever heard of a particularly puzzling parable of the Lord, and I wanted to make sure his reading got a wider audience.

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  • 'Not getting it' at the Vatican



    "Not getting it" is an observation when someone fails to recognize something that is very obvious to others. Those who resisted women's suffrage just didn't get it when they insisted that women were not qualified to vote. Those who resisted racial integration because they believed "separate but equal" was better, just didn't get it. And those who thought that automobiles would never replace horses just could not see what was so plain to Henry Ford and a nation on the move.

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  • The cycle of domestic violence



    Whether we like it or not, athletes hold a great deal of influence in our pop culture -- so much so that every year Americans are asked by research firms, like Nielsen and E-Poll, which pro athletes they believe carry the most influence with the public. These rankings then drive decisions about which athletes get the biggest endorsement contracts from corporate sponsors (think LeBron James with Nike, and Peyton Manning with Papa John's).

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  • Two lists



    This week The Pilot names 36 parishes that will form 18 collaboratives in Phase III of the archdiocesan pastoral plan Disciples in Mission. The collaboratives will be inaugurated in early June, bringing the total number of collaboratives in the archdiocese to 50, made up of 107 parishes.

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  • More questions than answers



    In a sporting world suddenly gone topsy turvy there are many, many, questions currently raging that are quantum leaps beyond the poor capacity of this space to offer answers. Nor will your host be dumb enough to hazard even a try.

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  • A Tale of Two Churches



    CHICAGO, September 16, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Once upon a time there was a church founded on God's entering into human history in order to give humanity a path to eternal life and happiness with him. The Savior that God sent, his only-begotten Son, did not write a book but founded a community, a church, upon the witness and ministry of twelve apostles. He sent this church the gift of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of love between Father and Son, the Spirit of the truth that God had revealed about himself and humanity by breaking into the history of human sinfulness.

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  • Regensburg vindicated



    On the evening of Sept. 12, 2006, my wife and I were dining in Cracow with Polish friends when an agitated Italian Vaticanista (pardon the redundancy in adjectives) called, demanding to know what I thought of "Zees crazee speech of zee pope about zee Muslims." That was my first hint that the herd of independent minds in the world press was about to go ballistic on the subject of Benedict XVI's Regensburg Lecture: a "gaffe"-bone on which the media continued to gnaw until the end of Benedict's pontificate.

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  • Are statues idols?



    Q. In the Book of Revelation (9:20), I read this: "The rest of the human race, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, to give up the worship of demons and idols made from gold, silver, bronze and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk."

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  • Peace for one day



    A schoolyard in a big urban neighborhood; recess - and one boy less physically mature and shy is being bullied over in a corner. He is scared and there is no one to take his side - all the other boys are friends of the bully. He knows that if he cries, it will get worse. And if he fights back, it will get worse.

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  • Advocate because you care, not for political votes



    The dust has yet to settle from the Ted Cruz debacle at the "summit" of the nascent political action group, In Defense of Christians (IDC). Stones have been hurled from all sides -- often with no clear target other than self-defense. "Lord have mercy," said one clergyman who attended the summit, "everyone seems to use (this) sad event to support their own preconceived conclusions."

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  • We have lost the sense of sin



    Pope Pius XII famously once said that "the evil of this civilization" -- our civilization--is "the loss of the sense of sin: we can do anything, we will resolve anything! The power of man is substituted for the glory of God." Pius XII did not say that this loss was one evil, or a significant evil, or a distinctive evil of our times. He said that it was "the" evil.

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  • Laughter binds us together



    Most of us want in on laughter, wherever we may encounter it in daily life. If you've ever walked into a room full of laughing people, your first instinct was probably to search for a visible source of hilarity. You may have asked someone to explain the joke. Of course, people were probably too busy laughing to explain it.

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  • Teachable



    And so another school year begins, accompanied by my regular repertoire of parental advice, better known, (if not more affectionately known), as "lectures." Last week's play list featured a personal and perennial favorite. When one of our kids came out with the "I really don't like my English/ math/ history/ science/ whatever teacher," I was ready. "You don't have to like your teacher, and your teacher doesn't have to like you," I replied. "Your teacher's job is to teach you, and your job is to learn."

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  • Rocket science?



    "Two Catholic, rocket-scientist clergymen walk into a bar ... ." Obviously, we are talking about Father Paul Soper, the director of the Pastoral Planning Office, and Deacon Dan Burns, the director of the Permanent Diaconate Formation Office -- and it's no joke. Although both men are scientists by education, and have well-honed senses of humor, each is very serious about his vocation. With the implementation of Disciples in Mission, their work is intertwined.

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  • Football is back! Three cheers, as they say



    Bursting with record profits, soaring in television ratings, fawned over and adoringly promoted by all the media, and given a free pass by arbiters of the culture's ethics and mores our loveable old gridiron wars, in all their oft mindless fury, float through the popular fancy untouched and untouchable.

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  • "Calvary" and a Portrait of a Real Priest



    St. Pope John Paul II said that a priest should have the heart of Christ the Good Shepherd. Far too many saccharine paintings of effeminate Jesuses in the midst of delicate lambs have conduced toward a misconstrual of this image as something sentimental and harmless. But shepherds not only had the smell of their sheep (to use Pope Francis's language), but they also wielded a stick, meant to bring back strays and to fend off threats. Real shepherding was, and is, a dirty and hard-edged business.

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  • Life, Marriage and Family Must Be Affirmed at UN General Assembly Session



    NEW YORK, September 11, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Every year like clockwork, as New York City experiences the first signs of fall with cooler nights and changing leaves, organized chaos descends upon the city during the month of September. This year, September 16 marks the start of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. This is the biggest U.N. event of the year, which brings with it presidents and prime ministers, along with their ministers, aids, and members of the press. Thousands of civil society representatives come to the United Nations to observe and influence the discourse. The United Nations is a battleground for the prevailing issues of our day, and the General Assembly is the most crucial fight of the year.

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  • Why the church does not ordain women



    Q. As a practicing Catholic, what should be my answer when my Protestant friends ask me why my church does not ordain women to the priesthood? (City of origin withheld) A. Catholics believe that the ordained ministry has its origin in Christ's choice of the Twelve Apostles. Why Jesus selected only males for this sacramental and teaching ministry, no one can say with certainty, but the church feels bound by the decision of its founder and by its earliest and consistent tradition.

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  • The Sad and Scandalous Controversy over Sheen's Beatification



    During my time in college and seminary, I developed a great devotion to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. I would regularly listen to recordings of his innumerable retreat conferences, Good Friday meditations and catechetical instructions on my "Walkman" while exercising or in my car on frequent long drives. I read many of his 69 books and purchased and repeatedly watched his "Life is Worth Living" videos.

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  • Remembering the great Fouad Ajami



    In a year replete with devastating news, the June 22 death of Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami hit especially hard. For decades, Fouad, a man of genius I was honored to call a friend, was an invaluable mentor in matters involving the Arab world and its often-lethal discontents. It was a cauldron of self-destructive passions he knew well, this Lebanese Shiite who came to the United States because he found here a model of the civility and tolerance he wished for his people.

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  • We are masterpieces of God's creation



    The month of October is a real bonanza for us Little Sisters of the Poor. During October we celebrate the anniversaries of the birth, beatification and canonization of our foundress, Saint Jeanne Jugan. Along with Catholics all over the United States, we also observe Respect Life Month. Rereading Pope Benedict's canonization homily recently, I realized how appropriate it is to simultaneously celebrate Saint Jeanne Jugan and respect for life.

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  • Big ideas



    Earl F. Cheit saw it coming 43 years ago. "The New Depression in Higher Education" was the title given to a report he wrote for the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education. It carried the subtitle, "A Study of Financial Aid Conditions at 41 Colleges and Universities."

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  • Fall brings with it a spiritual renewal



    September has always been one of my favorite times. Instead of going in big for New Year's resolutions, something in me cries out for renewal in autumn. Is it the lifelong habit of getting ready to go back to school? Is there anything that makes you feel as ready for growth and change as a new pair of sneakers and a new backpack? All those clean and new notebooks with empty white pages beckon you to fill them.

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  • Amazing parishes



    The Amazing Parish movement describes itself as, "a group of committed Catholics from around the United States who love the Church and ... want to help parishes be amazing by connecting them to great resources." Last week over 525 participants from 115 parishes joined by priests, bishops, and diocesan staffs from across the United States and Canada, gathered in Denver, Colo. for a two-day Amazing Parish Conference. Hoping to attract 25 parishes, conference organizers registered 115 parishes with a waiting list of 125! The conference, materials and meals were free thanks to generous Catholic donors who want to help parishes be amazing. Boston was represented by members of pastoral teams from the Belmont, and Salem Collaboratives, staff from Immaculate Conception Parish in Malden, and from the Archdiocesan Office of Pastoral Planning and the Secretariat for the New Evangelization.

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  • Fall ball



    Here we go again, rounding the pole and bearing into the stretch; another season, another show. Time honored is the custom of solemnly observing this moment here in this space, although the fun of it this year is limited, the season having been mailed in soon after Memorial Day.

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  • "The Giver" and the Fading Memory of Christianity



    Lois Lowry's 1993 novel The Giver has garnered a very wide audience over the past two decades, since it has become a standard text in middle schools and high schools across the English-speaking world. With the enormous success of the Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games films, Hollywood has been busy adapting books written for the young adult audience. The most recent example is the movie version of The Giver, which was produced by Jeff Bridges and which stars Bridges and Meryl Streep. Having never even heard of the novel, I came at the film with no expectations, and I confess I was quite surprised both by the power of its societal critique and by its implicit Christian themes.

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  • The covenant of marriage



    My son Stephen and I spent an unusual, albeit unusually moving, Independence Day: we attended the golden wedding anniversary celebration of my friends Piotr and Teresa Malecki, which began with a Mass of thanksgiving in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of Cracow's Wawel Cathedral--the place where Piotr and Teresa had exchanged vows on July 4, 1964, kneeling before their old kayaking and hiking friend, the archbishop of Cracow (who, as Pope St. John Paul II, was canonized some two months before the Maleckis' jubilee.)

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