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  • Father Cheverus writes a Catholic in Maine



    On April 17, 1801, Father Jean Cheverus of Boston wrote to one of his flock residing in Maine. His letter was in reply to one received dated March 30. It was delivered by a Captain Ewell who was now ready to return to Maine, and so Father Cheverus hastily penned a response to be conveyed by the captain.

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  • Cheap grace and cheap mercy



    ''When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die," writes Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his spiritual masterwork, "The Cost of Discipleship." And Bonhoeffer did die. For him, the cost of opposing the Nazis, in obedience to Christ, was to be executed vindictively, just two weeks before the Flossenburg concentration camp, where he was imprisoned, was liberated by the U.S. military. This weekend is the anniversary of his death, April 9, 1945.

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  • Sharing God's Love in Helpless Situations



    A great blessing of this ministry is that many of the missionaries I meet become my friends. Although we exist in very different parts of the mission world -- they go, stay, and live the work, while I visit, experience it, and come home to tell their stories -- we feel a deep connection through our shared love of mission.

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  • The day the Lord made



    Three times in today's Psalm we cry out a victory shout: "His mercy endures forever." Truly we've known the everlasting love of God, who has come to us as our Savior. By the blood and water that flowed from Jesus' pierced side (see John 19:34), we've been made God's children, as we hear in today's Epistle.

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  • The unkindest cut



    Talk about rubbing salt on an open wound! Some guy from Los Angeles has rented a billboard right across the street from Fenway Park that says, "Dear Boston, thanks for Mookie Betts." The perpetrator of the outrage then had the audacity to claim that he meant no harm -- as he carefully removed the dagger from our spleen. It's not enough to say that the billboard has interrupted our healing process. We're not even through grieving yet.

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  • Three philosophers



    Intellectual confusion resembling a smog of the mind has been a deadening presence in Catholicism in the years since Vatican Council II. But here and there amid the swirling mists of bad arguments and lame analogies, a small yet significant body of Catholic intellectuals has stood firm in defense of clear thinking and good sense.

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  • Marriage open to children



    Q. My boyfriend and I are starting to have conversations about marriage. I am a Catholic; he is a Baptist. I have not felt called to have children and have health issues that will make it difficult to get pregnant. My boyfriend is not primarily interested in having kids.

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  • Light from the East



    Ten years ago, last month, the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church took a striking decision: it elected its youngest member, 40-year old Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, as leader of the largest of the eastern Catholic Churches, a choice confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI. In the ensuing decade, what appeared bold and even risky now seems brilliant and providential. For Major-Archbishop Shevchuk has become one of the world's most dynamic Catholic leaders under exceptionally challenging circumstances.

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  • Impenetrable darkness



    ''From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon" (Mt 27:45). "When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon" (Mk 15:33). "It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun's light failed" (Lk 23:44).

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  • 'The Relevance of the Stars' explores writings of Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete



    The Puerto Rican-born priest and physicist Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, affectionately known as the "mystical monsignor," didn't quite plan on becoming one of the most highly demanded commentators on religion. Known for his witty sense of humor and profound insights into the human experience, Msgr. Albacete was first "discovered" by the secular media by chance at a dinner party hosted by the liberal journal The New Republic.

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  • Finding God on the Bridge



    Once again, the headlines bring more news of terror inflicted on Catholics as they worship. On Palm Sunday, the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Makassar, Indonesia was targeted by two suicide bombers. Thankfully, security guards were able to stop the perpetrators from gaining entrance to the Church. Though dozens of the faithful were injured, the bombers themselves were the only casualties.

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  • New morning



    The tomb was empty. In the early morning darkness of that first Easter, there was only confusion for Mary Magdalene and the other disciples. But as the daylight spread, they saw the dawning of a new creation.

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  • The new-look Red Sox



    Once April begins, the baseball games all count and the pressure gets turned on. That's especially true this year at Fenway Park. None of us knows what to expect from this season's edition of the Red Sox. The team has been almost totally rebuilt and re-designed from the 2019 model, the last one to be around for a full season. Let's not even bother to count the 2020 version, which, if they ever made a movie of it, would be called "Nightmare on Jersey Street." Of the 2019 Red Sox starting rotation, David Price has been traded as part of the Mookie Betts disaster, Rick Porcello left via free agency and is now with the Mets, Chris Sale has undergone Tommy John surgery from which he is still recovering, Eduardo Rodriguez missed all of 2020 because of heart issues related to COVID-19, and Nathan Eovaldi spent half of 2019 on the injured list and ended up back on the list again last year. So, with Price and Porcello long gone, we are left hoping that Sale can make it back later this year, that Rodriguez's heart issues are behind him, and that Eovaldi can stay healthy for a season.

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  • Cardinal Seán -- 2021 Easter Message



    Easter is the center and core of Christian faith. Christian faith is Resurrection faith; the Risen Christ, having conquered sin and death, remains with us across the ages. When we celebrate "the Triduum" -- the great feasts of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday -- we recall and present again through words and worship the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord.

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  • Good News brightens ordinary time



    I recently read reports about a study positing that the American news media has been biased toward reporting bad or negative news in its coverage of the COVID pandemic. Certainly, there was, and is, bad news to be reported. Yet, what saddened me was the report's assertion that negative articles are the ones most sought out by the public as reports of bad news garnered more clicks and public attention than those that reported on progress or hopeful developments. Could it be that we seek out bad news more than the good?

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  • What if Eucharist is stolen?



    Q. I have recently volunteered to attend adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as a "guardian." I do this twice a week. I have been wondering this: What happens if the monstrance and Eucharist is stolen? The monstrance can be replaced, but I have heard that a priest may have to reconsecrate the church itself. (Baltimore)

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  • The choice we face



    From the time I was a child, participating in the reading of the Passion account on Palm Sunday and Good Friday has always been jarring. The most discomfiting, even interiorly violent, part is the dialogue between Pontius Pilate and the crowd assembled in the praetorium. After parading a scourged Jesus in royal purple with a crown of thorns before them, the procurator asks, as part of the paschal pardon, whom the crowd wants released to them, Jesus or Barabbas.

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  • The Easter explosion



    Let me adapt to recent circumstances a thought-experiment theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar proposed decades ago: Imagine that a friend contracts a severe case of COVID-19 and medicine can do no more for him. The doctors inform his widowed mother and us, so we gather with her for the final scene in the drama of this life. The ventilator is removed; the man grows weaker from lack of breath and whispers his final farewells. We hear the death-rattle. Then he expires and takes on the pallor of death.

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  • We can act to give hope to others



    ''I don't know how we will make it work." This phrase is a common one we hear at the Catholic Schools Foundation during our emergency fund process, especially this past year. Many families who work hard to give their daughters and sons an opportunity in life through a Catholic education are reaching a point where they just can't make that dream possible. No amount of hard work will make it so rent doesn't increase or hours cut due to the pandemic suddenly return. It is not an issue of effort or willingness to sacrifice; it is an issue of access to opportunity. Families at the lower end of the economic spectrum and small business owners have borne the financial brunt of this pandemic, and we continue to see the effects on the students and families we serve.

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  • A reflection on the anniversary of the pandemic



    This month marks one year of living through a deadly pandemic with devastating economic consequences throughout the archdiocese. Thousands of families face job losses, food insecurity, physical and mental health struggles, and financial instability. At no other time has the need for social services been as dire. At Catholic Charities of Boston (CCAB), we continue to respond compassionately to an unprecedented number of neighbors seeking help with life's basic needs.

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  • A history of the Catholic Cemetery Association



    It was recently announced that the Catholic Cemetery Association of the Archdiocese of Boston (CCA) is making its records, spanning 1833 to 1940, and cemetery maps available online. This has encouraged us to better understand cemeteries and cemetery associations in the archdiocese, and so this week's column provides a brief history of the CCA.

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  • Darkness at noon



    Crowned with thorns, our Lord is lifted up on the Cross, where He dies as "King of the Jews." Notice how many times He is called "king" in today's Gospel -- mostly in scorn and mockery. As we hear the long accounts of His Passion, at every turn we must remind ourselves -- He suffered this cruel and unusual violence for us.

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  • 'Casey at the Bat' and Worcester



    Expect a big resurgence of interest in the poem, "Casey at the Bat," this baseball season. The great ballad of a star-crossed slugger has never gone completely out of style, but baseball is coming to Worcester this season and that just happens to be the hometown of "Casey's" author and the place where he wrote it 133 years ago. That's old news to folks from Worcester and environs but not to the rest of the country. And the story of how "Casey at the Bat" was written and how it became such an iconic piece of Americana is a great one.

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  • The future is here for U.S. Catholics



    Eight years ago, I published a book called "American Church." The subtitle explained what it was about: "The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America." Now the future is here. That sound you heard was the future of the Church in America landing with a masked-up thud. At least for the short run it is anything but bright.

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  • Were the apostles baptized?



    Q. I am a 90-year-old cradle Catholic, and there is something I have always wondered about. Is there anywhere in the Scriptures that mentions when the apostles were baptized? (Indianapolis) A. There is nothing in the Scriptures that describes the apostles having been baptized by Jesus -- but of course the Gospels provide only the broad outlines of the public life of Christ and not every detail.

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  • Good news after a very bad year



    There is no need to belabor the awfulness of the year of lockdowns, shutdowns, and other downers that began in mid-March 2020. Among the failures that will bear serious scrutiny going forward are those of inept local governments. If Americans can fly an SUV-sized robotic rover to a planet 292 million miles away, and then soft-land it on a dime, why can't we distribute vaccines rapidly? (Perhaps the vaccination program should be led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, one agency of government that seems to know what it's doing.)

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  • Taking care of those who care for us



    I am honored to have joined the archdiocese earlier this year to serve as executive director of Clergy Trust, which provides on-going care and support for the health, well-being, and retirement needs of 536 active and senior priests in good standing across the Archdiocese of Boston.

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  • St. Joseph, migrant spouse and father



    Pope Francis has invited Catholics to focus our attention this year on St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church. I commend him for this invitation. I have always been fascinated about how much Christians have said throughout the centuries about someone for whom we have no record of having said anything! Our Catholic imagination is creative. I have been reading some books and articles about St. Joseph and have arrived at two conclusions.

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  • Liturgy and life



    ''God himself will set me free, from the hunter's snare." The words of this responsory from the Liturgy of the Hours for Lent have been echoing in my head for days. Andrew and I have been attempting to pray Morning and Evening Prayer together for a while now, and we've finally gotten to a point where it's happening more often than not.

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  • This Rose by Any Other Name ... Was a Mission Hero



    George Rose would be the first one to tell you that he lived a life full of blessings. Although his father died when George was only three and his mother worked multiple jobs to raise the family, George knew he was loved by God. When he took his first job at age nine, pulling a manure cart during the Depression, he received a Holy Card as payment; it helped to inspire a life filled with faith.

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  • The 'hour' comes



    Our readings today are filled with anticipation. The days are coming, Jeremiah prophesies in today's First Reading. The hour has come, Jesus says in the Gospel. The new covenant that God promised to Jeremiah is made in the "hour" of Jesus -- in His Death, Resurrection, and Ascension to the Father's right hand.

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  • Baseball's problems



    You might have missed it, but Major League Baseball has decided to change the specifications that go into the making of baseballs -- again. Just before the start of spring training, MLB distributed a memo to all 30 teams, informing them that the second of three windings of woolen strings that go into the balls' manufacture will be loosened somewhat. The effect is expected to deaden the balls a bit, thus addressing, let us hope, the explosion of home runs that reached a crescendo in 2019, baseball's last full season of play. In that year, homers reached the gargantuan total of 6,776, smashing the previous record of 6,105, set in 2017. There was a bit of a drop-off in 2018 when a mere 5,885 four-baggers were hit; that happens to be the third most in history, trailing only '19 and '17.

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  • The filibuster bolsters stability



    The United States Senate is a unique institution. Other legislative bodies lack its peculiar rules, which require a supermajority vote to get most things done. In the Senate, a voting minority can hold up business by extending debate, a tactic we call a filibuster. The members of the Senate can end a filibuster by voting to shut off debate (cloture).

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  • We're all becoming Platonists now -- and that's not good



    One of the most fundamental divides in the history of philosophy is that between a more Platonic approach and a more Aristotelian approach. Plato, of course, saw the universal or formal level of being as more real, more noble, whereas Aristotle, while acknowledging the existence and importance of the abstract, favored the concrete and particular. This differentiation was famously illustrated by Raphael in his masterpiece "The School of Athens," the central figures of which are Plato, his finger pointing upward to the realm of the forms, and Aristotle, stretching his palm downward to the particular things of the earth. This archetypal demarcation had (and has) implications for how we think about religion, science, society, ethics, and politics. Just as most Beatles fans separate themselves rather naturally into Lennon or McCartney camps, so most philosophers can be, at least broadly speaking, characterized as either more Platonic or more Aristotelian in orientation. So far, so harmless, for each side complements and balances the other.

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  • Donating bodily remains



    Q. At my death, I would like to donate my body to the local medical school for their continued research and training of students. Is this allowed in the Catholic Church? (Kailua, Hawaii) A. Yes, it is allowed -- but with certain cautions. The Catholic Church teaches that it is permissible and even laudable to donate one's body to scientific research after death. The intent is to enable others to live longer if any viable organs can be used -- or to provide the material for research that might prevent disease in the future.

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  • Woke 'rights,' the Equality Act, and Speaker Pelosi



    On February 25, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives could have addressed any number of pressing issues. The nation was in its 11th month of a pandemic that had already caused enormous economic and social dislocation. Schools remained closed as evidence mounted that online learning was disserving vulnerable poor children. Civil unrest continued in cities whose local governments refused to maintain public order and protect small businesses whose owners often live a hair's breadth from bankruptcy. The stunning work of scientists in quickly producing effective anti-COVID-19 vaccines was being thwarted as incompetent local governments botched the early phases of the vaccine rollout. The budgetary process in the House was a shambles, as usual, and the national debt was increasing exponentially. A sane immigration policy remained to be devised.

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