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  • One nation, under God



    In 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as our nation's first president. Since 1937, Inauguration Day has taken place on Jan. 20. When the 20th falls on a Sunday, the newly elected president takes the oath in a private ceremony at noon and, the following day, repeats the oath in a public ceremony. Since the inauguration of John Adams in 1797, the "Oath of Office" has usually been administered by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. And so it is, this coming Friday at 12 noon, as Chief Justice Roberts administers the Oath of Office, our nation will once again, peacefully transfer the power of leadership from Barack Obama to Donald Trump.

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  • Would somebody please turn on the lights!



    Is our human compassion being hoodwinked by the promoters of assisted suicide? Last October a Boston newspaper highlighted the issue with a front page story of Dr. Roger Kligler. Dr. Kligler had brought a suit against the commonwealth because he wanted to end his life. The details were highly emotional. I responded with a letter to the editor suggesting the doctor might want to consider palliative care. I have yet to see my letter in print.

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  • Faith and solidarity



    Each New Year gives us an opportunity to reflect, and promises to bring change to everyone. 2017 supplies more than most, as a seat change in our nation's highest office brings new hopes and new uncertainties to us all.

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  • In the bleak mid-winter



    In his Midnight Mass homily on Christmas Eve, Cardinal Sean said, "I like having the Mass at midnight -- at the darkest moment of the night is when Christ, the Light of the World, makes his presence felt." The Christmas season is over, we're back in Ordinary Time, and just about mid-point in "meteorological winter" which began on Dec. 1 and ends on Feb. 28. Even though the days are getting ever so slightly longer, this is a dark time of the year. There is another kind of darkness, one that is more about interior gloom than inky skies in the morning and afternoon.

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  • Our Broons at-halfpoint



    Say this for the Bruins. They are resolutely predictable. In a world turned upside down wherein nothing seems as it once was, the Bruins -- who have always tended to play to the fullness of their potential whatever it may be -- remain relentlessly what you thought they'd be; nothing less, nothing more.

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  • Fake history



    Speaking of public policy debates, Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that, while everyone had a right to his opinion, no one had a right to his own facts. Something similar might be said about today's debates within the Church: everyone has a right to their opinion about the state of Catholicism in 2017, but no one has a right to invent their own Church history.

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  • Taking our Wounds to the Eucharist



    Recently a man came to me, asking for help. He carried some deep wounds, not physical wounds, but emotional wounds to his soul. What surprised me initially was that, while he was deeply wounded, he had not been severely traumatized either in childhood or adulthood. He seemed to have just had to absorb the normal bumps and bruises that everyone has to absorb: some belittling, some bullying, never being the favorite, dissatisfaction with his own body, unfairness within his family and siblings, career frustration, unfairness in his workplace, the sense of being chronically ignored, the sense of never being understood and appreciated, and the self-pity and lack of self-confidence that results from this.

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  • Child poverty and marriage



    In setting out to confront a problem, it's necessary to understand its causes in order to apply realistic solutions. Child poverty in America provides a painful illustration of what comes of ignoring that truism.

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  • Are Catholic schools 'worth it'?



    2017 is here and it came with many resolutions from many people! I was like many and thought about what I should resolve to do. The usual list of losing weight and disengaging from technology are always on my list. I added more time for prayer to my list and I was pretty much ready for the New Year.

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  • The Protestant Reformation: Positive aspects



    The Jan. 18-25 international Week of Prayer for Christian Unity takes place this year as part of a big ecumenical lead-up to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation next October. This will be the first centenary commemoration of the Protestant Reformation to take place during an ecumenical age, and the first one that must deal with the challenge of a new evangelization in a time marked by both the proliferation of new religious movements and, at the same time, the growth of secularization in many places. Therefore, a Protestant-Catholic common commemoration presents us with the opportunity to offer a joint witness of faith.

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  • Civil war chaplains



    A letter from Archbishop Francis Patrick Kenrick of the Archdiocese of Baltimore to Archbishop John Joseph Williams of the Diocese of Boston, dated June 27, 1862, discusses faculties, or the authority granted to priests, serving as military chaplains during the American Civil War.

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  • 'The holiest priest I ever knew'



    St. Lawrence was martyred by being roasted on a gridiron over an open flame. "This side is well done," he joked, "You may turn me over now." But perhaps we forget why he was martyred so gruesomely. A Roman prefect had demanded that Lawrence turn over the wealth of the Church in Rome. Lawrence promised to show him secret riches of surpassing splendor, not generally known to the public. But the prefect had to meet him at a certain church at a certain time. Meanwhile, Lawrence went through the city, gathering up the poor. He placed them in rows--the lame, the blind, orphans, the sickly, the abandoned, forsaken, and excluded. "Here are the treasures of the Church. And I will add some pearls and precious stones -- widows and consecrated virgins, which are the Church's crown." The prefect who was lusting after gold in his rage put Lawrence to a painful death.

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  • What it hinges on



    Our kitchen cabinets are really beautiful. I can say that with no risk of arrogance because we didn't put them in. They were here when we bought our house in November 2000. The previous owners told us the cabinets were imported from Italy. They are ivory Formica with a brown stripe, in an art deco style; several of them have curved doors. My plan is never to replace them. They are definitely better quality than anything I'd be likely to buy, partially because they really don't make things like they used to.

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  • Vocations



    Cardinal Sean asked that vocations to the diocesan priesthood be a priority in every local pastoral plan (LPP). From "Disciples in Mission" the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan: "The collaborative pastoral plans will address vocation recruitment within the parishes of the collaborative -- especially to the priesthood, ..." (Pt. 1 10.d). Local Plans are unique to each collaborative. Even when collaboratives have the same priority, the goals and actions under the priority will have the "flavor" of that collaborative. Twenty-seven collaboratives are now implementing their approved plans. How are vocations priorities doing? Exciting, encouraging things are happening.

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  • Return to Divine Love



    Today (1/9) the Church celebrates the solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, and it is with this awe-filled liturgy that the three great revelations or "theophanies" of the Christmas season are brought to stunning fulfillment.

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  • Perfect Offering



    Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 49:3,5-6; Psalm 40:2,4,7-10; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34 Jesus speaks through the prophet Isaiah in today's First Reading. He tells us of the mission given to Him by the Father from the womb: "'You are My servant,' He said to Me."

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  • Schmidty



    Ordinarily -- as if there were anything "ordinary" about the kingdom of Sport in these times -- the subject of the week would be the NFL playoffs, that fierce if sometimes mindless celebration of pain and mayhem that's taken custody of the otherwise bleak month of January in our popular culture.

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  • 'The Ghetto'



    I grew up in a neighborhood where everyone pretty much looked the same, went to the same schools, church, markets, bakeries, bank, park and so forth. It was a kind of Irish enclave. We followed with passion the Boston sports teams, most had brothers and sisters and everyone knew everyone else's family members, and their story. Anybody's mother could correct any child and hopefully would not carry out the threat to tell your mother. We never knew it was different anywhere else.

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  • Cremation and burial at sea



    Q. I am a lifelong Catholic and served 28 years in the Navy. As a junior officer, I saw the ashes or bodies of deceased sailors buried at sea; I decided at the time that this is what I want done with my body after I die, and I have not changed my mind.

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  • Lessons from an era of confusion



    In the introduction to Aggiornamento on the Hill of Janus: The American College in Rome, 1955-1979, Msgr. Stephen DiGiovanni warns readers that his book will be most easily understood by students and alumni of the Pontifical North American College. With respect to my old college classmate and friend, I hope Msgr. DiGiovanni is wrong about that. For amidst all the inside baseball about Roman seminary life over two and a half turbulent decades, Aggiornamento on the Hill of Janus offers a snapshot of a once-stable institution caught in the maelstrom of ecclesiastical confusion and crisis. And from that picture, much can be learned for today.

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  • A New Year's revolution



    After attending the 12:10 Mass at Mission Church in Roxbury on Tuesday, a couple of long-time area residents greeted us after the service us by saying, "Happy New Year Mayor Flynn, it's great to see you here once again. You may not realize it, but whenever people from Mission Hill get together and talk about the old days, your name is always brought up in the most affectionate way." Sure we talk about the day you came here with St. Mother Teresa and the night of the Carole Stuart murder, but also about all the many funerals, weddings and all the Holy Week events that you attended over the years. You even brought the President of Ireland here, and who can forget Ted Kennedy's funeral. But talking to Trisha Fitzgerald, the wife of the beloved and now deceased State Representative Kevin Fitzgerald as she was leaving Mission Church, I told her how I often came over to the novena with my mother every Wednesday night as a kid. After praying for my dad's recovery from TB and then getting a cup of hot tea at Mike's Donut Shop across the street and talking to the Irish ladies, we would catch the bus back home to South Boston. Two hours later she would go off to work scrubbing big downtown office buildings all night with the other ladies.

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  • The Mystery of Mary, the Mother of God



    Sunday (Jan. 1), while much of the world marks the new beginning of the calendar year, the Church will commemorate the great solemnity of the Mother of God. What does this mean? That the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of God means that the child-- conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit, carried in her body for nine months, and born into this world-- is God. As such, this celebration highlights the pivotal truth of the Church's Faith- that God has, in Jesus Christ, accepted a human nature, chosen to be born into this world as we have all been born into this world, and has lived a real, human life.

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  • A King to Behold



    The Epiphany of the Lord: Isaiah 60:1-6 Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13 Ephesians 3:2-3A, 5-6 Matthew 2:1-12 An "epiphany" is an appearance. In today's readings, with their rising stars, splendorous lights and mysteries revealed, the face of the child born on Christmas day appears.

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  • Hell for 75 cents



    When I was a young woman, I went to the grocery store with my mom in the farm town where I grew up. It was before the days of computerized cash registers that automatically revealed the amount of change due. You needed some rudimentary math skills back then to work at a store.

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  • A tranquilizing crisis



    The children's Christmas Mass was packed. In past years, it exuded busyness: children putting on a pageant, proud parents and grandparents watching and music abounding. Not so this year! What changed was a power outage that left the church in darkness, the organ without power and everyone without heat.

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  • Ave atque vale 2016



    Eras ended and doors closed on history. It was a year of tumultuous transition. The class of 2016 is long on numbers and even higher in distinction. Oft infuriatingly complex and willfully enigmatic, Muhammad Ali nonetheless transcended Sport. It may be that when he departed he took boxing with him.

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  • A letter to the president-elect



    Dear President-elect Trump: Unsolicited advice is said to be the best kind because the most easily ignored. But even if this letter accomplishes nothing else, at least it will help me focus my own thinking about what I expect from you as president.

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  • Retirement: An invitation for something more



    Hello. I feel like I should re-introduce myself to you as I have just finished my five-year term of service at Catholic Relief Services and now write to you in my status as "me" and not president and CEO, or dean, or professor or whatever titles I have held since starting my professional career in 1979. Yes, this is THE big step: retirement.

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  • Go In Haste! Be Amazed! Treasure!



    By now most of you are probably aware of the depressing statistics regarding the "nones," that is to say, those in this country who claim no religious affiliation. The most recent survey showed that now fully one fourth of Americans belong to no religion at all -- that's approximately 80,000,000 people. And among those in the 18-29 age group, the percentage of nones goes up to 40! This increase has been alarmingly precipitous. Fifty years ago, only a fraction of the country would have identified as unreligious, and even a decade ago, the number was only at 14%. What makes this situation even more distressing is that fully 64% of young adult nones were indeed raised religious but have taken the conscious and active decision to abandon their churches. Houston, we definitely have a problem.

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  • New Year's wishes for some Catholic brethren



    2017 promises to be a challenging year for the Catholic Church. Thus some new year's wishes: I wish Catholic progressives a calmer 2017 than they managed in 2016. The last months of the year now fading into the rear-view mirror were marked by an extraordinary number of bilious attacks on those raising questions about Pope Francis's apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia from the party of dialogue, collegiality, and pluralism. The biliousness was, to be sure, replicated in spades on traditionalist websites; I'll get to that momentarily. Still, the gang that regularly declares itself the cutting edge of a Catholicism that has "turned the page" and "moved on" displayed an astonishing amount of defensiveness (often couched in cheesy psychologizing) in 2016. That behavior hardly suggests people confident of their position and the future of their project.

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  • Another view on 'football priest'



    Q. I am disturbed by a question you printed from an anonymous person requesting your thoughts on a retired priest who talks about the local sports team and concludes the liturgy with the words, "The Mass never ends; it must be lived by each of us today." I know this priest well and have the honor of assisting him each week.

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  • A New Year's Revolution



    After attending the 12:10 Mass at Mission Church in Roxbury on Tuesday, a couple of long-time area residents greeted us after the service us by saying, "Happy New Year Mayor Flynn, it's great to see you here once again. You may not realize it, but whenever people from Mission Hill get together and talk about the old days, your name is always brought up in the most affectionate way." Sure we talk about the day you came here with St. Mother Teresa and the night of the Carole Stuart murder, but also about all the many funerals, weddings and all the Holy Week events that you attended over the years. You even brought the President of Ireland here, and who can forget Ted Kennedy's funeral. But talking to Trisha Fitzgerald, the wife of the beloved and now deceased State Representative Kevin Fitzgerald as she was leaving Mission Church, I told her how I often came over to the novena with my mother every Wednesday night as a kid. After praying for my dad's recovery from TB and then getting a cup of hot tea at Mike's Donut Shop across the street and talking to the Irish ladies, we would catch the bus back home to South Boston. Two hours later she would go off to work scrubbing big downtown office buildings all night with the other ladies.

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  • Specific saints for specific requests?



    Q. I often hear people say that they pray to specific saints for specific needs and that this is effective. I, though, have a certain few favorite saints, and I ask each of them to intercede with the Lord for all of my requests. So my question is this: Should I make an adjustment and pray instead to designated saints according to their "specialties"? (Danville, Indiana)

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  • A "merciless assault on human dignity"



    The archbishop of Toronto is given to deprecating himself as "just a simple country cardinal." In my experience, though, Cardinal Thomas Collins is one of the premier leaders of the Catholic Church today. He's a bishop of the New Evangelization who does a lot of his evangelical work retail: like treating potential seminarians to early morning pancakes at a greasy spoon -- "but it's a good greasy spoon" -- a couple of blocks from his residence. Now that retail approach is being applied to another urgent matter, as Cardinal Collins works one-by-one with members of the Ontario Provincial Parliament to ensure that the conscience-rights of Catholic health care providers are not compromised by Canada's recent embrace of euthanasia.

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  • Scorsese's "Silence" and the Seaside Martyrs



    I have long been an ardent fan of Martin Scorsese's films. Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Aviator, Gangs of New York, The Last Waltz, Casino, etc. are among the defining movies of the last forty years. And The Departed, Scorsese's 2007 crime drama, was the subject matter of the first YouTube commentary that I ever did. It is certainly the case, furthermore, that the director's Catholicism, however mitigated and conflicted, comes through in most of his work. His most recent offering, the much-anticipated Silence, based upon the Shusaku Endo novel of the same name, is a worthy addition to the Scorsese oeuvre. Like so many of his other films, it is marked by gorgeous cinematography, outstanding performances from both lead and supporting actors, a gripping narrative, and enough thematic complexity to keep you thinking for the foreseeable future.

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  • A new year



    Here is an unsigned editorial titled "A new year" from the Dec. 19 issue of Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic newsweekly based in Huntington, Indiana. By the grace of God, Catholics can obtain a "fresh start" in the Christian life every time we freely participate in the sacrament of reconciliation. As we flip the calendar to a new year, we have a different kind of opportunity before us -- one that challenges us to look at how we will spend the empty days, weeks and months facing us in 2017. Will we live the Christian life to our fullest potential?

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