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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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  • '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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  • The God who answers with fire is God



    I recently joined Facebook, so I figure the thing is about to go the way of diplodocus and the typewriter eraser. No early adopter, I! (I was going to add the Walkman to the list of entities lost in the mists of history, but who knows? "Guardians of the Galaxy" might just revive the fortunes of the audiocassette. "Hello, hipster retro recovery service?")

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  • Childhood and parenting, then and now



    The older I get, the more I'm convinced childhood was much easier for me than it is for kids today. Why? Back then I was never concerned about my tablet battery running low. I could dump my bike in any neighbor kid's yard, play for a while, and know it was perfectly safe.

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  • Joy is an exercise to be practiced daily



    We all have bad days. But not all days are bad. For those who live a life devoid of joy, I'd suggest looking at joy as a form of exercise. First, think of joy as a feeling. Feelings follow thoughts. Faithless thoughts upset your emotions. But uplifting thoughts, those that bring you joy, can help keep you balanced.

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  • Here and there



    Golden Franchise We have some dribs and drabs from the sporting scene for bantering while awaiting the summer's suffocating dog days to run their miserable course. And is there a sporting experience more painful -- either to play or watch (at the going price) -- than an exhibition football game in mid-August?

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  • Adult faith formation -- collaboratively



    The Billerica Catholic Collaborative, made up of St. Andrew, St. Mary, and St. Theresa Parishes, serves the entire Catholic community of Billerica. Now in its second year of collaborative ministry, staff and parishioners continue to explore this new model of leadership. Father Shawn Allen is pastor of all three parishes, ably assisted by parochial vicars, Fathers Martin Dzengeleski, and Gerald Souza, senior priest in residence Father John J. McCormick, and Permanent Deacons Phillip DiBello and Allan Shanahan. Pastoral associate Adrienne Cullen is part of the dedicated lay staff of the collaborative.

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  • Life story



    Being a journalist isn't usually at the top of anyone's list of the most dangerous professions. Perhaps it should be. When reporters rush into explosive situations armed only with cameras and keyboards, they are certainly risking their own safety -- and sometimes even their lives. The kind of journalist who is willing to do this isn't naive or reckless. And, I suspect that the kind of reporter who flies into war zones or natural disasters doesn't do it just for the story alone. That kind of journalist does it for the people whose story it is.

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  • Authentic Compassion Does Not Include Assisted Suicide



    WASHINGTON, D.C., August 20, 2014 (Zenit.org) - The British Parliament is currently considering the legalization of assisted suicide. The act under consideration was introduced by Lord Falconer and eschews the term "suicide," preferring instead the euphemism "assisted dying." Under current British law outlined in the 1961 Suicide Act, it is a crime to encourage or assist another in the act of suicide. The Falconer Assisted Dying Bill would carve out an exception for doctors to prescribe a lethal cocktail of drugs if the patient requests it, is thought to have six months or less to live, and is determined to be mentally competent.

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  • The Ice Bucket Challenge and Lou Gehrig's Disease Research



    The Ice Bucket Challenge aims to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease. According to the website of the ALS Association (ALSA), here is how it works: The challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness. People can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS Charity of their choice, or do both.

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  • Knowing the Trinity



    Richard of St. Victor, a 12th-century Scottish theologian, is not exactly a household name in 21st-century Christian circles. Truth to tell, I only know of him because of a curious conversation I once had with my friend, the late Richard John Neuhaus, who, as only he could, told me of a friendly discussion he'd had with Rabbi David Novak one summer about the Scotsman's Trinitarian theology, which tried to establish by reason that God must be triune. (We talked about a lot of strange and wondrous things, up there on the cottage deck in the Ottawa Valley.)

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