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Missing the missal's poetry? Here's a replacement

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Over Thanksgiving weekend, concern about the revised Roman Missal was causing major angst among a number of Catholics as they experienced the language changes for the first time in the Advent liturgy.

Advance comments this week from friends posed the question: "How can we possibly pray using these clumsy words, these endless phrases?"

Here is an idea: First, take a deep breath. Next, search through your bookshelves for anecdotes of beauty. The poetry and depth of other prayer styles are waiting to feed your hungry souls.

One of my favorite collections is "Earth Prayers from Around the World," edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon. "Earth Prayers" has been available since 1991, but its contents are timeless. Contributors include Pablo Neruda, Black Elk, Thich Nhat Hanh, T. S. Eliot, Brother Antoninus, St. Francis, Rainer Maria Rilke and Albert Schweitzer.

The authors' introduction to the section "Praise and Thanksgiving" is particularly timely:

Nature Deficit Disorder: Spiritual fallout from our disconnect with God's creation

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"If one steps out on a starry night and observes one's inner state, one asks if one could hate or be overwhelmed by envy or resentment. ... Is it not true that no man or woman has ever committed a crime while in a state of wonder?" -- Jacob Needleman from A Sense of the Cosmos

What memories do you treasure from childhood? Growing up in Xenia, Ohio, our house abutted a farm. Whether it was exploring that farm, going down to the creek, making a snowman or riding my bike with friends, most of my early memories and those of my generation were of running around in the outdoors, climbing trees or hanging out at the lake. A sense of place was as real to us as the air we breathed.

But, as Tom Occhipinti, environmental education coordinator of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, points out in a recent paper, children born in the last couple of decades have replaced formative experiences in the out-of-doors with text messaging, the iPod, etc.

Politicians take food stamp challenge to call attention to program

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Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from Hillsborough, Calif., went hungry on purpose the first week of November. She described her sparse diet as "humbling and difficult."

Speier joined other Democrats in a "food stamp challenge" campaign. They lived on $4.50 a day to call attention to possible cuts in the federal food stamp supplemental program. About 44 million poor people depend on this assistance, but if supercommittee member Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama has his way, the program will be chopped significantly.

Read more about Speier's grocery shopping efforts from Catholic San Francisco.

Keystone XL pipeline decision delayed

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The Obama administration has delayed making a decision on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the United States.

On Thursday, Nov. 10, the State Department explained that it wants to study an alternative route through Nebraska. According to a Friday New York Times story, the postponement will push any action well past the 2012 election and into 2013.

For additional information go to the websites of Tar Sands Action, The League of Conservation Voters, Audubon, CREDO Action and The Houston Chronicle.

More on the Keystone XL pipeline:

Friar receives national Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Award

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The following is a press release announcing that Fr. Louie Vitale has received the U.S. Secular Franciscan Order's Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Award.

Fr. Louie Vitale, OFM, a Franciscan friar known for protests against war and torture and advocacy for the poor, is the recipient of the U.S. Secular Franciscan Order's Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Award.

The award was presented at the order's recent national chapter at St. Francis Retreat Center in San Juan Bautista, CA.

Formerly known as the Peace Award, it was "renamed this year to capture the significant efforts in the areas of justice, peace and the integrity of creation," noted Award Chairman Kent Ferris, SFO, who also chairs the order's Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Commission. "Our Franciscan Rule reminds us of our responsibility to 'individually and collectively be in the forefront of promoting justice by the testimony of our lives.' The JPIC Award allows us to recognize those who have modeled such courageous efforts."

Keystone XL debate's plotline thickens

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The pro-environmental plotline thickens. And it's good news all around.

On Nov. 6, an estimated 12,000 protesters encircled the White House, urging President Obama to reject the proposed Keystone XL, a 1,700-mile oil pipeline that would stretch from Canada to Texas.

Among the numerous ecological objections to Keystone XL: If it were to leak, the pipeline could poison the 174,000-square-mile Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies drinking water to roughly two million people in the American heartland, reports the Huffington Post.

Meanwhile, as environmentalists rallied in D.C., several news sources and an independent labor study revealed that TransCanada, Keystone's owner, has exaggerated the number of jobs the project would create.

Earlier reports were touting 20,000. Turns out that's not exactly the case.

The gift of clean air

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Bishop Blaire calls for good stewardship to protect God's gift of air

By Catholic News Service

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CNS) -- The gift of clean air provided by God to humanity deserves to be protected through strong environmental stewardship by making changes in daily life so that fewer pollutants enter the atmosphere, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice Human Development.

'Tipping Point': A primer on the Alberta tar sands

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As more attention is brought to the proposed Keystone Pipeline that would bring Alberta Tar Sands Oil from Canada through the central United States to refineries in Texas, people of faith are looking for resources to help them understand the issues involved and who will be affected. Tipping Point: The End of Oil is a powerful new documentary produced by Clearwater Media. It serves as a primer for parish adult education, and justice and peace groups.

Tipping Point, first shown on CBC's Nature of Things in January, introduces us to the real stories of real people whose health and way of life have been tragically upended by the "biggest construction project on the planet." The movie begins with the story of the indigenous people of Fort Chipewyan, who live downstream from the Tar Sands and have been dying in disproportionate numbers from rare forms of cancers.

Bioneers: A new vision of reality

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The experience of liturgy, I believe, should impact us in two ways.

First, good liturgy paints an alternative vision of reality. Good liturgy (and good preaching) wakes us up to the sinful condition of the status quo, presents the way the world could be and hints at pathways toward that future. It inspires us toward a different way in which our future might be created.

Second, good liturgy presents a gathering of the community of communities. Folks who have been shaping in their day-to-day reality something of that world to come gather together.

In sharing their stories, their common wisdom of what has happened and how they have experienced the sense of the sacred, my own eyes are opened. I am encouraged and inspired by the stories of others to approach the coming week with a freshness of spirit and new eyes. In so doing, I forge allies for the work ahead.

Global governance of food security

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The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) met in Rome from Oct. 17-22 at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. One hundred and twenty countries of the world belong to the FAO. This was the 37th annual meeting of the committee.

It was the first time that civil society (nongovernmental organizations and grassroots organizations) had a voice at the meeting.

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October 24-November 6, 2014

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