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  • Help us make The Pilot's archives accessible



    The first issue of The Pilot was published on Sept. 5, 1829, as The Jesuit, or Catholic Sentinel. Over the next 30 years, it would go through several name changes, including the Literary and Catholic Sentinel, United States Catholic Intelligencer, and The Boston Pilot before settling on The Pilot in 1858.

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  • 'Holy God, We Praise Thy Name'



    Every 12 months or so, I'll remind my wife that I would like the recessional at my funeral to be "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name." I mentioned this to a friend last week and he said, with some surprise, that he had just had the identical conversation with his wife.

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  • Reopening Sunset Point Camp: A summer oasis for inner-city youth



    For over 100 years, Catholic Charities of Boston's (CCAB) Sunset Point Camp in Hull has operated an overnight week-long seaside camp for low-income, at-risk children aged six-13 from Greater Boston and the South Shore. Many campers live with the harsh realities of poverty, violence, homelessness, and a host of other challenges; spending a week away at summer camp helps them learn new skills, make friends, receive academic summer support, build personal confidence, and enjoy a vacation free from the worries of everyday life.

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  • The Stories in the Stained-Glass Windows



    With Mission Appeal season upon us, it is my privilege to visit parishes in the Archdiocese to tell stories of the missions. I love going to, what is for me, a new church. The variety of architecture is amazing but the thing that catches my eye most is the stained glass. The stories told in the windows intrigue me.

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  • In the storm



    "Do you not yet have faith?" Our Lord's question in today's Gospel frames the Sunday liturgies for the remainder of the year, which the Church calls "Ordinary Time." In the weeks ahead, the Church's liturgy will have us journeying with Jesus and His disciples, reliving their experience of His words and deeds, coming to know and believe in Him as they did.

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  • Johnny Pesky remembered



    I've been thinking about Johnny Pesky lately -- for no special reason, really. It's just that old guys like me like to muse once in a while about the long vanished days of our boyhoods. Johnny was one of the four pillars on which the great Red Sox teams of the post-war period were built. The others were Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, and Bobby Doerr.

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  • What will Breyer do?



    What is Breyer going to do? As the Supreme Court nears end of its 2020 term, many court-watchers ask that with an urgency that equals or even surpasses their eagerness for the results of several high-visibility cases due to be announced in the next couple of weeks.

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  • Pray for Satan?



    Q. Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Satan is our enemy. Should we love Satan, perhaps by praying for his redemption? Is it possible that, through our prayers, Satan could repent and be reunited with God? (Woodbridge, Virginia)

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  • Breaking out of the prison of self-invention



    For the past many years, I have been maintaining an internet ministry that allows me, through comment boxes, to listen in on the questions, complaints, and pontifications of thousands of people in regard to religion. I have noticed that these commentaries sort themselves out in fairly predictable ways, centering around issues of God's existence, the problem of suffering, the uniqueness of Christianity among the religions of the world, and the whole range of the Church's sexual teachings.

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  • The stories we tell, the lessons we learn



    When I have reunions with my brothers and sisters, at some point we start telling stories about growing up. Invariably, we will remember events, good and bad, from different perspectives. We each tell the same story slightly differently. In the retelling, we sometimes get a fuller picture of what happened. Or we realize that as children, we didn't fully understand at the time what was taking place.

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  • Cardinal Pell at 80



    Fifteen months ago, it looked as if Cardinal George Pell might spend his 80th birthday in prison. A malicious trolling expedition by the police department of the State of Victoria in his native Australia had led to the cardinal's indictment on manifestly absurd charges of "historic sexual abuse." His first trial ended with a hung jury heavily in favor of acquittal; but because of a court-imposed media blackout on the trial, the public did not know that the defense had shredded the prosecution's case by demonstrating that the alleged crimes couldn't have happened how, when, and where the complainant said they'd happened. The cardinal's retrial ended in an incomprehensible conviction, which was followed by an even more incomprehensible (and feckless) rejection of the cardinal's appeal. Happily -- for the sake of an innocent man's liberty and the reputation of Australia's justice system -- the country's High Court unanimously quashed the guilty verdict on April 7, 2020, and entered a judgment of "innocent" in the case of Pell v. The Queen.

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  • Another no-hitter? Ho-Hum



    Do you suppose Eliot from Jordan's Furniture is getting a little edgy these days? More to the point, has anyone checked his insurance man's blood pressure lately? Baseball has witnessed an unprecedented rash of no-hit games in the first two months of this season -- six, so far, and the modern record (since 1900) for a full season is only seven. It's a good bet that it will be broken -- no, obliterated this year. This wouldn't matter much, except that Eliot, Jordan's CEO, was all over TV and radio in April and May, promising to give a full rebate on anything bought at Jordan's between April 14 and May 23 if the Red Sox pitch a no-hitter between August 3 and October 3 when the regular season ends. It's still a pretty good bet that it won't happen -- only once in the last 56 years have they thrown a no-hitter in the specified August-October time frame (Clay Buchholz on Sept. 1, 2007). There have been no Red Sox no-hitters at all for 13 years (Jon Lester, 2008). Still, there's a chance that it could happen.

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  • Sacred Heart of Jesus



    I've been Catholic for 38 years and counting, but there are still a few things that -- from time to time -- strike me as a bit odd. Mostly, it has to do with the human body. I've acclimated to Catholic culture as it is expressed in art and devotion, but sometimes, what we do with body parts makes me squeamish. Images and abstractions like St. Paul's "body" or "bride" of Christ are fine. But if I allow myself to think about how we display St. Anthony's tongue or St. Catherine's head for more than a minute or two, I can't help but wonder if we couldn't tone it down a bit.

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  • The first point of faith



    We say it so often and so quickly that we may not even appreciate what we are saying, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and of earth, of all things, visible and invisible." Found at the beginning of our creeds, it is the first point of Christian faith.

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  • Our doubts can move us toward Christ



    Sometimes I imagine what it might have been like for people at the foot of the cross as Jesus' body was taken down, wrapped in linens and spices, and taken away to the tomb. Did some people bunch together, while others stood around in ones or twos silently?

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  • The Work of Your Hands in the Missions



    Imagine if it were your hands that changed a life forever. Imagine if there were people in ministry at this very moment because of you. If you are a donor to The Society of St. Peter Apostle, helping to educate future priests and religious Sisters in the missions you don't have to imagine -- it is true.

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  • Tree of righteousness



    In the cryptic message of the prophet Ezekiel, long centuries before the Lord's coming, God gave His people reason to hope. Ezekiel glimpsed a day when the Lord God would place a tree on a mountain in Israel, a tree that would "put forth branches and bear fruit." Who could have predicted that the tree would be a cross on the hill of Calvary, and that the fruit would be salvation?

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  • A celebration in Ordinary Time



    Recently, I celebrated a birthday. It was not a milestone year, but a happily ordinary one that was a beautiful time to count blessings, celebrate friendships, and enjoy the company of loved ones. But, coming up soon lies another landmark that I often let slip by without notice. In a very real way, however, that day — the anniversary of the day on which I was baptized — is far more important in the eternal scheme of things. So, this year, I resolve to pay a bit more attention to the events that unfolded on that day long ago, when I was merely 36 days old.

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  • Religious practice and parents’ concern



    Q. I am a cradle Catholic, as are my children. My concern is that, since they reached adulthood, they started going to nondenominational Christian churches instead of to a Catholic church. When they visit me they go to Mass with me, but otherwise they don’t. They are, however, very close to Jesus and read their Bibles regularly. But I can’t help being concerned because I have always learned that not going to Mass is a mortal sin.

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  • Visiting the school of courage



    After lectures as well as in dinner conversations, I often get asked what I think is the biggest challenge — or need or crisis — facing the Church in the United States. “Faith” is always an appropriate answer to that query: since God is always faithful, what we need is to trust in him, bank on his promises, receive well the help he gives, and respond wholeheartedly.

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  • Thirty years of Poland



    It was a two-week whirlwind that changed my life forever, that first visit of mine to Poland in June 1991. Looking back on it, I’m reminded of something H.L. Mencken wrote of a similarly transformative experience: “It was brain-fagging and back-breaking, but it was grand beyond compare — an adventure of the first chop, a razzle-dazzle superb and elegant, a circus in forty rings.” My first weeks in Poland were all of that, and more. For what I learned in dozens of conversations during that fortnight became the crux of “The Final Revolution: The Resistance Church and the Collapse of Communism”; the publication of that book (the first to argue that John Paul II and the Church had played pivotal roles in the collapse of European communism) led to my first serious conversation with the Polish pope; our relationship ripened over the next few years to the point where, in 1995, I rather boldly suggested to John Paul that I write his biography; and the rest, as they say, is history.

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  • The oldest cathedral and the newest challenge



    It's now the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but for native Baltimoreans of a certain vintage (like me) it is, was, and always will be "the Old Cathedral:" the first of its kind in the United States. The genius of its architect, Benjamin Latrobe, was long muted by ill-conceived mid-20th century alterations; a restoration completed in 2006 recovered the extraordinary play of light within the building, by which Latrobe and Archbishop John Carroll sought to express the Catholic commitment to religious freedom in the new American Republic. As it marked the bicentenary of its dedication on May 31, the Baltimore Basilica is far more than a splendid example of Federal-period architecture, however. It's also home to a lively (and largely young) parish and an innovative urban ministry, "Source of All Hope," that conducts a mission to the homeless in a deeply troubled city.

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  • Till we have faces



    My husband and I don't have cable, a choice made in part to spare ourselves from the punditry served up by cable news shows. However, I was visiting family members who do have cable when the CDC released its updated guidelines indicating that people who have been fully vaccinated could remove their masks while outdoors and in most indoor spaces.

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  • Discord in Bishop Cheverus' absence



    In the papers of Bishop Jean Cheverus, there exists a letter from Father Philip Lariscy, OSA, dated June 24, 1821, one of several exchanged between the two during that month. Father Lariscy, a 34-year-old Augustinian and native of Ireland, had spent the three years at St. John's, Newfoundland, and more recently seven months in Halifax prior to his May 1818 arrival in Boston. He was permitted to minister within the diocese, and shortly after his arrival Bishop Cheverus characterized him as being "strong and robust, zealous and pious," and furthermore "a humble man (who) asks nothing except work" and "intends to stay here at least during the summer."

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  • If you educate a girl-child, you educate a nation



    If you educate a boy-child, you educate a man. If you educate a girl-child, you educate a nation. -African Proverb In many mission countries, where the Catholic Church is the largest provider of social services, an important goal has become the better inclusion of girls in the education system. In many places, it is an uphill battle.

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  • Blood of the covenant



    All of today's readings are set in the context of the Passover. The First Reading recalls the old covenant celebrated at Sinai following the first Passover and the Exodus. In sprinkling the blood of the covenant on the Israelites, Moses was symbolizing God's desire in this covenant to make them His family, His "blood" relations.

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  • Ty Cobb's comeback



    Could Ty Cobb be coming back into fashion after all these years? Maybe. The man with the highest batting average in the history of baseball, the guy who was considered by his peers to be the greatest player of all time, fell out of popular favor 60 years ago -- after his death.

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  • The court and abortion



    The Supreme Court's announcement that it will consider an abortion case from Mississippi next fall touched off a predictable outpouring of frenzied criticism from pro-choice sources worried lest their cherished 'right' to abortion be in jeopardy. No small part of it was what might politely be called exaggeration or, not so politely, baloney.

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  • Sensitive to incense



    Q. I have a daughter who is extremely sensitive to the incense that is used in church on feast days and during certain liturgical seasons. She is a chronic sufferer of migraines, the incense triggers them instantly and she becomes deathly ill.

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  • Going buggy with Brood X



    When I first learned of the imminent arrival of the 17-year cicadas, Brood X according to those who name such things, it brought to mind my years in the Midwest. There, the whir that accompanied their annual appearance was comforting. It was nature's Muzak, soothing background noise as summer drew to a close.

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  • Shepherds of Ordinary Time



    In these weeks when spring gives way to summer, many celebrate the ordinations of new priests -- new shepherds who, in these difficult days, commit the rest of their lives to the sacred service of God and the people of God. It is also the time when others celebrate the anniversaries of their own ordinations. These ordinations are times of great celebration and rejoicing. But, no less worthy of celebration and rejoicing are the many days when that vocation is lived with fidelity in unnoticed ways in ordinary times.

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  • The doors will be unlocked



    Almost two months after Jesus' death, the disciples are still reeling from the death of their friend. They are unsure about their own safety and what lies ahead for them. They are exhausted from what has happened and the effort to maintain their focus and vigilance. So, what do they do? They lock themselves away in fear of the unknown and anxiously wonder what is next. Would they face the same fate as their friend? Would it ever be safe to emerge from their locked room?

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  • A tradition of faith: Memorial Day and our Catholic Cemeteries



    While summer doesn't officially start until June 20, families everywhere unofficially celebrate Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial start to summer with the first picnics and barbeques of the year. For many others, however, Catholics included, Memorial Day weekend remains true to its intended purpose -- to honor men and women who died while serving this country in the U.S. military.

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  • Aflame



    And with Pentecost, we return to Ordinary Time. Just like that. The paschal candle is no longer front and center, the Easter lilies are gone, and the extra alleluias have retreated. The incense and holy water that mark the liturgical pageantry of Holy Week and the joy of the Resurrection have disappeared into safe-keeping once again.

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  • Family of love



    Last Sunday, we celebrated the sending of the Spirit, which sealed God's new covenant and made a new creation. In this new creation, we live in the family of God, who has revealed himself as a Trinity of love. We share in His divine nature through His Body and Blood (see 2 Peter 1:4). This is the meaning of the three feasts that cap the Easter season -- Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and Corpus Christi.

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  • The dreaded Mendoza Line



    Mario Mendoza was a big-league baseball player. He was not an all-star and was seldom even a starter. He'll never get into the Hall of Fame without buying a ticket. He is, however, a baseball immortal.

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  • Unity on the Fifth Commandment and basic sacramental theology



    Next week, the Church will celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi. It is a time for us, as St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in 1263 for the first celebration of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus, to "dare to do all we can" to express our gratitude at the "res mirabilis," the mind-blowing reality that poor and humble servants, like us, not only have the opportunity to be in God's real presence, to praise and adore him, to take him on processions, but actually to eat him and draw our life from him.

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  • Jesus on the cross



    Q. What was the meaning of Christ's words from the cross when he said, "Father, why have you forsaken me?" (Leicester, United Kingdom) A. Both Matthew and Mark indicate in their Gospel accounts that among the last words of Jesus on the cross were the following: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

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  • The healer: Paul McHugh at 90



    One of the adornments of American Catholicism turned 90 on May 21: Dr. Paul R. McHugh, longtime head of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins and a healer after the heart of the Divine Physician. Few scientists have made greater contributions to unraveling the mysteries of our complex inner lives than Paul McHugh; few men of such eminence have suffered such calumnies from critics who haven't one-fifth of his intellectual wattage or one-tenth of his moral courage. He has been a sign of contradiction for much of his professional life, not because he sought controversy but because he sought truth. And he did that because Paul McHugh, consummate scientist and serious Catholic, understands that knowing and living by the truths, embedded in us and in the world, helps satisfy our innate desire for happiness, while ignoring or denying those truths adds to the burdens of human suffering.

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