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A Lent that matters

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What would make your Lent the best ever? It’s worth pondering because it’s not going to happen unless you decide that is your goal.

We’ve got the advantage of a collective spiritual energy in Lent that can support our efforts, so it’s a perfect time to get more serious. And we never know when it’s our last Lent, so let’s seize the 40 days while we can.

Life reveals in us the impulse and the intuition to welcome God

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When I was young, my family lived on Olive Street in Kansas City. Milk was delivered in glass bottles onto the porch. Our mothers bought vegetables out of the back of a pickup truck parked on the corner, from an Italian with a Panama hat and a moustache.

Summer evenings all of us kids on the block played outside together, on the sidewalk and even in the street. Kick the Can, Red Rover, cowboys and Indians, Inch me and Pinch me were our pursuits -- my brother, Bob, and Buck and Jake Smith, Rita Bunting, Al Wendell, Roland Pease, Bill Dosier, Sid Gold, Martha Schuster and Mary Kleinbach.

Sid we called “Perch Breath,” because his family was poor and ate fish that his uncle caught in the city park’s lake. Roland was nicknamed (behind his back) “Bumpy” because he was always leaning into you hard, trying to pick a fight. He smelled funny too. Bill was “Willy Scared Silly” because he wouldn’t stay overnight with us at the abandoned Schuster house, an abode of spooky noises.

Mostly we had fun together, except for our run-ins with the Gruesome Two.

Fr. John Rausch: Why complicate a simple life?

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Fr. John S. Rausch, a Glenmary priest, directs the Catholic Committee of Appalachia and lives in Stanton, Ky.

Every year Appalachia-Science in the Public Interest (ASPI) produces its “Simple Lifestyle Calendar” with daily reminders about walking more gently on the earth.

“Take time to get away and be alone,” “Feel good, live simply, laugh more,” and “Put more art in your life” all suggest ways to become more human, more gentle, more spiritual. How appealing: “Sing in the morning,” “Indulge your need to read,” “Listen to silence!”

Unfortunately, many of us need to ponder more deeply the reality presented in the calendar’s May 12th date: “Stress can make you vulnerable to disease.” While we recognize the salutary effects of living slower-paced lives, we find ourselves swept along in the rush of popular culture. Maybe we need the ASPI calendar more than we realize: “Limit your email time,” “Disable the envy switch,” “Turn away from consumerism.”

Star of the month: Algieba

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Second magnitude Algieba, Arabic for "forehead" of the lion, marks the radiant of the annual Leonid meteor shower. Located in the constellation Leo's mane, this double star is comprised of a pair of orange and yellow stars that can be observed in a good telescope. Algieba is about 125 light years away and both stars are quite luminous, shining 180 times brighter than our sun. One star has a diameter over 20 times the size of the sun and the other is about 10 times the size. The orbital distance from each other is twice the distance Pluto is from us. In 2009, it was discovered that a large planet may orbit the primary star.

Leo can be seen rising in the east on clear evenings in March and will ride higher in the sky in April and May.

St. Louis archbishop speaks out on the environment

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Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, Mo. recently wrote in his regular column about the environment.

"We hear a lot about the environment these days. Is global warming really happening? How serious is our abuse of the natural resources of our planet — the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we cultivate? Have we lost our ability to marvel at the beauty of Earth and the vastness of the cosmos? Do we regard ourselves as "masters of the universe" or as stewards of what truly belongs to God alone?

"Pope Benedict XVI is sometimes called "the green pope" because he frequently speaks about our duty to care for God's creation in respectful and responsible ways. Pope John Paul II and Pope Paul VI also taught the importance of environmental stewardship, but in keeping with growing international concerns, Pope Benedict speaks about this issue with a new urgency."

Read more in the St. Louis Review, the publication of the archdiocese.

Hal Borland: 'The incredible, inevitable renascence of life'

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Hal Borland wrote a nature editorial for many years in the New York Times. This one is reprinted from his book "Twelve Moons of the Year."

March comes, a kind of interregnum, winter’s sovereignty relaxing, spring not yet in control. But the pattern is now established.

The incredible but annually commonplace change that is life eternally renewed has begun to stir. Out of the cold and dormant earth will come the leaf, the blossom, and the twig. Out of the pupa, the egg and the womb will come the palpitant swarming of gauzy wing, chitin-clad body, feathers, and fur. The pulse of plasma with its green chlorophyll and red hemoglobin begins its slow vernal throb. Sap stirs. Blood livens. The protoplasm of life begins to quicken.

\"Bright winds God walks down every single day'

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Southern Missouri hollows are somewhat mysterious places, with clear-water streams that disappear then reappear a hundred or two hundred yards down the hollow. There are shadowy nooks and high walls of limestone cliffs above under the ridgetops. Logging roads crisscross the streams taking advantage of any flat terrain.

One afternoon I was exploring a remote hollow I had never before visited. It was in late March, a stormy day. The somber pageantry of the clouds hid the sun. Mists were forming up around the garrets and lofts of the ridgecrests. As I entered the deeper woods of the lower hollow, the sky darkened. Down the path an animal disappeared quickly in a blur of movement before I could get a good look. A rain crow’s long labored call echoed against the stern hillsides. A nuthatch circled the trunk of a hickory upside down searching for larvae and making its high-pitched liquid tin trumpet call.

The Sierra Club's Michael Brune: United we stand for solutions

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Michael Brune is executive director of the Sierra Club.

When workers began protesting Governor Scott Walker's attempt to bust the public employee unions in Wisconsin, I was proud to say that the Sierra Club stands firmly behind the right to organize and bargain collectively.

By now it's obvious that Walker’s anti-union efforts, like so many recent assaults on the right of people to protect their livelihoods through collective bargaining, were paid for by the same corporate interests that are bankrolling the attacks our nation's environmental policies. In Wisconsin and beyond, people with no regard for clean water, air, or public health (including the Koch brothers) are pouring the money they made from dirty fossil fuels into an all-out attempt to put our nation permanently in the control of the privileged few.

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August 15-28, 2014

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