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  • Vermont's first resident priest



    On June 23, 1847, Father Jeremiah O'Callaghan wrote Bishop John Bernard Fitzpatrick of Boston, describing a terrible epidemic afflicting his congregation in Burlington, Vermont. The culprit was what he referred to as "ship fever," a form of typhus carried by lice, which would have infected the recently arrived Irish immigrants during their long voyage across the sea. In his letter, Father O'Callaghan describes how the victims were "prostrate with fever in every Irish house, shed and barn in the village, craving for the sacraments....What awful sickness and destitution is visible on all sides among the dying and the dead."

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  • The new new thing recovered from the graveyard



    Trending today is not just the hottest new Internet game. No, the quiet revolution at the creative fringes of American education is a 2,000 year old language: Latin. In tony private schools, inner city charters and among the 2 million homeschoolers, the teaching of Latin is roaring back. It is not, however, your father's Latin, as in the hoary chestnut, "Latin is a dead language. At least it used to be. First, it killed the Romans. Now it's killing me."

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  • Dehydration is more common than you think



    There is a reasonably good chance that you are dehydrated right now. According to a 2013 CBS report, 75 percent of adults experience chronic dehydration. What may be more startling is that older adults over the age of 65 are even more likely to experience dehydration than the younger demographic surveyed in the report.

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  • A 'Good News' story



    The work of evangelization has many appearances. In some parishes the focus is on creating a welcoming community. In some, the focus is on strengthening the weekend liturgies with good music and preaching. In others, attention is given to helping parishioners speak about their faith. Recently, one collaborative found a new and creative way to engage in evangelization and at the same time attend to some apostolic and charitable activities.

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  • Calling God our Father



    Our last 11 grandchildren in a row have been girls, so I've gotten careful about asserting claims of male prerogative. But this Father's Day got me thinking about how we talk to God. Pope Francis recently reminded us, in one of his general audiences, that "when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he taught them to call God Our Father."

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  • Be not afraid



    Our commitment to Christ will be put to the test. We will hear whispered warnings and denunciations, as Jeremiah does in today's First Reading. Even so-called friends will try to trap and trip us up.

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  • Scouting Scooter and baseball alterations



    Earlier this month an obscure and undistinguished spare part of the Cincinnati Reds named Scooter Gennett took an illustrious seat in baseball history right alongside the fabled likes of Lou Gehrig, Chuck Klein and Willie Mays. Scooter hit four home runs in a single game; four in a row. He's only the 17th chap to do that in baseball's interminable annals.

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  • A new strategy to fight addiction crisis



    It would be too simple to say that temperance is the sole solution to America's multifaceted crisis of addiction, but it's entirely realistic to think there will be no solution that leaves out temperance. In the absence of temperance, we shall continue to apply patchwork, partial solutions here and there while piously decrying addiction as a bad thing.

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  • The Exclamation Point of the Fatima Apparitions



    In the first article of this mini-series in celebration of the centenary of the apparitions in Fatima, we looked at how the Church, in approving private revelations as worthy of belief, does not oblige the faithful to believe in them with the faith with which they believe in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, or even at all. Rather, it calls them to evaluate claims on the basis of the natural faith with which we believe things that we don't strictly speaking "know," like, for example, the veracity of facts from the present or previous ages that we must accept on the testimony of others.

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  • No heaven?



    Q. I am 86 years old. I was baptized as a child, educated for 12 years in Catholic schools and am still a regularly practicing Catholic. Some weeks ago, I read a column of yours that absolutely floored me and my family as well.

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  • Pope Francis Speaks to Priests



    I write these words from the Nuremore Hotel in Monaghan, Ireland, where I am conducting a retreat for the good priests of the Dublin Archdiocese. As I look out at these men, I am reminded of so many of my own relatives on both sides of my family ("Gosh, he looks like Uncle Charlie" and "That one is the spitting image of my cousin Terry"), for I am Irish all the way through. Many of the priests who are making the retreat are retired, and it is edifying to see so many who have bravely borne the heat of the day. Do say a prayer for them.

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  • Being Good-Hearted is Not Enough



    Charity is about being good-hearted, but justice is about something more. Individual sympathy is good and virtuous, but it doesn't necessarily change the social, economic, and political structures that unfairly victimize some people and unduly privilege others. We need to be fair and good of heart, but we also need to have fair and good policies.

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  • It's Howdy Doody Time!



    Three or four times each month, Father X (as I'll call him here) celebrates the noontime daily Mass I regularly attend. I'm grateful for his homilies, which are almost always thoughtful. Thus in a recent commentary on Jesus's debate with the Sadducees over the resurrection of the dead, Father X gave a lucid and moving explanation of the "communion of saints" and how it functions in our Christian lives.

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  • Making the summer months brighter for families in need



    As the warm weather returns to the Commonwealth, and schools across the state let out for the summer; new challenges arise for Massachusetts families living on the margins. Parents in low-income families must now find ways to not only keep their children active, and out of trouble, but also keep their children well fed, and well nourished. When the academic year ends, nearly 300,000 children from low-income families lose access to the school breakfasts and lunches they rely on during the school year in Massachusetts alone.

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  • Broken body



    When people come into the Church from outside her, there's a high probability it had something to do with the Eucharist. When people return to the Church after years of absence or even a brief period, it almost always has something to do with the Eucharist. When people struggle deeply with their faith, but decide not to give it up, it is likely that the Eucharist is what kept them from moving on to seemingly greener pastures. The Eucharist -- the true Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ -- is a magnet for the human soul.

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  • A time for leisure



    Growing up on a farm, I learned about work. I was taught, from a very young age, that all work is good and that you should always work hard. I also learned that work was seasonal in nature. You had months that were very busy, but you also had days or a week or two, where you could relax, without a long list of things to do.

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  • Come Holy Spirit!



    An important aspect of Disciples in Mission is being able to speak to another person about the difference Christ makes in one's life or how one has come to recognize Christ in the experiences of life. For the last couple of years, the Catholic Community of Lakeville, Middleboro and Rochester, also referred to as the Cranberry Catholic Collaborative, invites and trains parishioners to give witness talks. This year, Holly Clark, Pastoral Associate in the Cranberry Collaborative shared the following witness that describe the way Christ revealed himself to her in her ministry. These reflections were shared at some Masses in the collaborative on Pentecost Sunday. I share her reflections so that you have an idea of how simple yet profound giving witness can be and invite you, as does Holly, to consider what you might say about Christ's presence in your own life and the importance of your relationship with Christ.

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  • Word of the 'Living Father'



    The Eucharist is given to us as a challenge and a promise. That's how Jesus presents it in today's Gospel. He doesn't make it easy for those who hear Him. They are repulsed and offended at His words. Even when they begin to quarrel, He insists on describing the eating and drinking of His flesh and blood in starkly literal terms.

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  • End of winter, finally



    On the eve of summer, winter finally ends. The skates are hung up, sneakers stashed away. Seasons that once routinely ended around Easter now drag on to the ides of June. But all good things come to an end. The winter games, having long overstayed their leave, are finally packing it in. Bring on the off-season.

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  • Trump and Laudato Si'



    How should a Catholic view President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord? Was it a "slap in the face" to the Vatican, as Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo claimed? After all, Pope Francis had timed the publication of his encyclical, "Laudato Si', "On the Care for our Common Home," so that it would appear in time for the Paris meeting, to support that accord.

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  • Can I donate my body to science?



    Some people may wish to "donate their body to science" after they die. Such a gift of themselves can be objectively good and praiseworthy provided that their body would contribute to meaningful research or study, and that it would not be used in a disrespectful or otherwise inappropriate manner.

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  • How God loves



    We often begin Mass with the prayer from today's Epistle: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you." We praise the God who has revealed himself as a Trinity, a communion of persons.

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  • A myth of neutrality



    Once upon a time, we were told to allow dissent from time-honored legal and moral norms in the name of "freedom of choice." Politicians assured us they were "personally opposed" to abortion but couldn't impose their values on others. Assisted suicide was advocated not as a way to demean the lives of seriously ill patients but as a way to let desperate people make their own choices at the end of life.

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  • As the seasons crunch



    Unconquerable These days, the seasons crunch. Spring rolls into summer bringing with it a flood of pre football-season annuals, dope-books, treasure troves of analytics and if you've checked much of it -- (proof of being the proud possessor of an idle mind, by the way) -- you know this much: your Patriots had better be ready to go unbeaten, untied, and rarely scored upon in the coming season; wire to wire.

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  • Interreligious dialogue with edge and purpose



    The evening of September 12, 2006, was, in a word, memorable. My wife and I were having dinner in Cracow with two of John Paul II's oldest friends when my mobile phone rang and an agitated Italian journalist started hollering in my ear, "Have you zeen zees crazee speech zee Pope has given about zee Muslims? What do you zay about it?" I replied that I wasn't in the habit of commenting on papal texts before I had read them, which only drew the further plea, "Yes, yes, but what do you zay about it?" I finally asked my caller to e-mail me the text and call again the next day.

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  • Gay priests?



    Q. I have heard that 60 percent of Catholic priests are gay. Is this the truth? (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) A. Frankly, no one has an accurate answer to your question. Numbers vary widely, and I have seen "guesstimates" that range from 10 percent to 60 percent. My belief is that the reality tends toward the lower end of that scale.

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  • Kathy Griffin and the Vanishing of Argument



    By now the whole world has heard about comedian Kathy Griffin's appalling staged-photo of herself holding a mock-up of the bloody, severed head of Donald Trump. Despite her rather pathetic apology, a firestorm of protest has broken out pretty much everywhere. To say that this stunt was in poor taste or, in the parlance of our times, "offensive," would be the understatement of the decade. At a time when the most barbarous people on the planet are, in point of fact, decapitating their enemies and holding up the heads as trophies, it simply beggars belief that Griffin would have imagined this escapade as an acceptable form of social protest.

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  • Empathy: A Father's Day gift



    While visiting with friends and family who work with the homeless population and elderly veterans, the conversation turned to how many of these men are estranged from their families. Some have had no interaction with their children for decades. This brokenness, deep and searing, is probably encrusted in dark stories of abandonment, addiction or abuse.

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  • Gifts and fruits



    Come, Holy Spirit! There is no prayer more central to our Christian faith -- and no request more likely to be answered. God, in all his mystery and love, pours himself into humanity in Christ Jesus. And once humanity takes its place at the right hand of the Father, he sends his Spirit to dwell in us.

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  • 'Paradise on the Moluncus'



    Now on display at the Pastoral Center in Braintree are documents related to the Benedicta Community of Maine. During the 1830s and 1840s, there were many attempts to found new communities based upon common backgrounds or interests, one notable example being Brook Farm in West Roxbury. The Catholic community was not immune to such ideas, and Bishop Benedict Fenwick of Boston desired to start his own "Catholic Utopia" that would offer an escape for poor Catholic immigrants living in the squalor of Boston's waterfront.

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  • Waiting for God



    Last year, young Catholics praying on the streets of New York performed a short play. A young man would step away and invite Jesus to take the steering wheel of his car, but would get scared and grab the wheel before Jesus could sit on the driver's seat. It reminded me of the times I had prayed for something, but I would not have the patience to wait for God to act.

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  • A mighty wind



    The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history. The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God's chosen people, in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai (see Leviticus 23:15-21; Deuteronomy 16:9-11).

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  • One third down, two thirds to go



    Tradition -- a rather precious thing in this space -- obliges a close look at the baseball season as the first checkpoint -- the Memorial Day weekend heralding the nearness of summer -- comes and goes. And, with roughly 30 percent of the regular season having been devoured, it's a nicely checkered and potentially convoluted scene that we have in 2017.

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  • Fatima's Great and Hidden Servant Who Stayed a 'Little Longer'



    The history of Fatima is a continuous illustration of God's words to us through the Prophet Isaiah: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways" (Is 55:8). The divergence between divine and human ways, between God's thinking and ours, is seen in the selection of three uneducated shepherd children in a small out-of-the-way Portuguese village to entrust Mary's poignant appeal to conversion, prayer and sacrifice, consecration and peace. It's shown likewise in Mary's entrusting to them a message and then telling them to keep it secret. It's also very much seen in what happened with the seers after the apparitions.

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  • Going On, Ahead



    "I go on ahead to prepare a place for you!" Jesus speaks those words to his disciples on the eve of his death as he sits at table with them and senses their sadness as they grapple with his dying, his going away. His words are meant to console them and give them the assurance that they aren't being abandoned. It's just that he is going on ahead to prepare a place for them to come and join him later.

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  • Thoughts on the Western Wall, Fifty Years Later



    Photographs can capture exceptional moments in an iconic way, making the original experience "present" emotionally as well as pictorially. The photo of U.S. Marines raising the American flag on Iwo Jima's Mt. Suribachi "means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years," Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal said in 1945. The image of John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s boyish salute as his father's casket left Washington's St. Matthew's Cathedral in 1963 helped cement the "Camelot" myth into its seemingly impregnable place in American public life. The "Earthscape" pictures shot by Apollo 8 astronauts at Christmas 1968 continue to play a not-insignificant role in today's environmental movement.

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  • Silence and the Meaning of the Mass



    Robert Cardinal Sarah's recent book The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise explores a number of themes both theological and spiritual, all centering around the unhappy role that noise has come to play in our culture and more specifically in the Church. His observations are most trenchant in regard to the liturgy, which should come as no great surprise, given his role as head of the Vatican Congregation devoted to liturgy and sacraments. As I read the sections of his book dealing with the importance of silence during Mass, I often found myself nodding vigorously.

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  • Dementia and holy Communion



    Q. My father is 86 years old and was raised in the Catholic Church. He was considered an intellectual and earned his Ph.D. in philosophy. He became a nonpracticing Catholic and in fact rejected the church, although he had a thirst for justice and continued to treasure the church's teachings on human rights.

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