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Essays in Theology

Reclaiming Catholicism

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There is a new book out, entitled Reclaiming Catholicism (Orbis Books) and edited by my friend and former colleague at Boston College, Thomas Groome, chair of its Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, and by Michael Daley, religion teacher at St. Xavier High in Cincinnati.

Perhaps the book will help younger Catholics to better understand and appreciate Catholicism’s roots in the pre-Vatican II era, and older Catholics to recall the spiritual assets that contributed to their own religious formation.

The New Roman Missal

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Fr. Michael Ryan has been pastor of St. James Cathedral in Seattle since 1988. His recent article in America magazine, "What If We Said, 'Wait'?: The case for a grass-roots review of the new Roman Missal" (December 14, 2009), has evoked a heavy and largely positive response. By the latter part of January, well over 12,000 people had submitted signatures in support of Ryan's efforts.

Lent: a season of communal preparation

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Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent, is observed this year on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

The word "Lent" is derived from an old English word which means "springtime." The Latin adverb lente means "slowly."

On the basis of etymology alone, Lent signals the onset of spring and invites us, at the same time, to slow down our usual pace of activity and to take stock of our lives.

Schillebeeckx: No salvation outside the world

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One of the fast-diminishing number of theological giants died Dec. 23. Edward Schillebeeckx, a Flemish Dominican priest, was 95 years old.

Unlike Jesuit Fr. Karl Rahner, (d. 1984) and Dominican Cardinal Yves Congar (d. 1995), for example, the bulk of Schillebeeckx's major work was done after rather than before or during the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

Saints and today's church

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This coming Saturday, Jan. 30, is the day of death of one of the 20th century's spiritual giants. He has never been canonized, however, nor even put on the canonical track leading to canonization.

This individual, though not a Christian, was, in the literal meaning of the word, a martyr (or "witness") for peace and reconciliation. He was a Hindu holy man and modern pioneer of non-violent resistance, who inspired many others, including the American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., to follow this same path against all odds.

What effective leadership looks like

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Clint Eastwood's latest film, "Invictus" (Latin, "Unconquered"), stars Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa who served 27 years as a political prisoner in that country, and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, the captain of the national rugby team that Mandela used -- successfully -- as a means to bring the racially divided nation together.

During his long years of incarceration, Mandela studied his Afrikaner enemies, not only learning their language but understanding the role that sports, especially rugby, played in their psyche.

Two saints: minor and major

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This coming weekend the Church in England observes the feast day of one who is known by few Catholics in the United States and Canada, namely, Adrian of Canterbury. Meanwhile, the churches of the East, as well as Benedictines and Cistercians in the West, celebrate the feast of an emerging major figure in the history of theology, Gregory of Nyssa, one of the three Cappadocian fathers (along with his older brother, Basil the Great, and Gregory Nazianzen).

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July 18-31, 2014

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