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Losing a child

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Ethan Seitzer would have been 10 years old today. But instead of celebrating that milestone, his family--and our whole parish and school--is grieving. Ethan drowned while swimming in Lake Michigan two weeks ago.

I don't know how parents who lose a child go on. A special Mass was offered for Ethan this morning, and many members of the school and the parish adoptive families group were there to support and pray for Ethan's parents and his 3-year-old sister.

It's the least we can do. I'm not sure how else to offer any consolation to his parents; even well-meaning words sound so trite. Instead I just say, "We're here for you" and show up.

A Catholic shrine and center in Chicago offers a "Lost Child Pilgrimage" for those who have lost a child whether through miscarriage or the death of an adult child or any time in between. Organizers hold up Mary as a model of a grieving parent who drew on her faith for hope.

The Tillman Story

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On Aug. 22, a few days before President Obama marked the end of combat by U.S. forces in Iraq on August 31, “The Tillman Story” opened in four theaters in Los Angeles and New York. Last January it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and it played during the Los Angeles Film Festival in June. Still, for the travesty of how this pro football player died and the cover up that followed, I expected more interest; more outrage. More sorrow. More movie screens.

Pat Tillman, the eldest of the three sons of Dannie and Patrick, joined the army in 2002 with his brother Kevin following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. He never explicitly said why he joined up, preferring to keep his motives private, but after Tillman’s death, heroic patriotism was attributed to him. General Stanley McChrystal approved him for the Silver Star; he also received a Purple Heart.

No doubt

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What if, as human beings, we could erase all doubt? Would that make us better people? That’s the central focus of a new branch of American psycho-analysis called "Positive Psychology" -- it's sort of a Tinker Bell solution to life's worries: if we just believe hard enough, it will all work out.

Time to preach about the 'common good'

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Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus was at Glen Beck’s event on the Mall last Sunday, asking people why they attended. A quote from one woman she interviewed stunned me. “…My freedoms are lost. To be able to preach anywhere we want, to have God in our schools, to drive any kind of car we want and if I want to drive a gas guzzler, I can, if I want to eat a lot of sugar and salt, and I shouldn’t be forced to buy medical care… to be able to burn the kind of light bulb I want…the list goes on.”

A Prayer for Creation

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The Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE) is staging a "Green Pilgrimage" in Hungary, Slovakia and Austria, Sept. 1-5, to foster what Pope Benedict XVI described as "binding respect for the divine gift of creation" in a telegram to organizers.

As part of the "Green Pilgrimage," an ecumenical prayer service is being held this evening in the Cathedral of St. Pölten, Austria. The following is the English text of a "Prayer for Creation" which is being read during the service. (The citations of "CV" refer to Pope Benedict's social encyclical Caritas in Veritate.)

A Prayer for Creation

Almighty God, who created heaven and earth and all they contain, come to our help at this historic moment in humanity’s journey from heaven to earth.

You are beyond all things. All things praise you, and all things give honour to you, both things that have intellect and those that do not.

The desires of all human beings are common to all, common are the groans of all those who surround you; anything that moves in the universe is thanks to You.

Mother Teresa's birthplace gets a makeover

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In Mother Teresa's own words:

"By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus."

Now her birthplace, Skopje, now the capital of Macedonia, is getting a makeover.

"Its charms are many, but architecture is not usually seen as one of them. Rebuilt after an earthquake in 1963 wiped out most of the city, Skopje, the capital of the ex-Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, was for years characterized by ugly concrete blocks and strange empty spaces. But earlier this year Nikola Gruevski's conservative government produced a video that revealed the full ambition of “Skopje 2014”, its plan for a radical reinvention of the city center."

A Vatican lion who defied conservative/liberal labels

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Generally speaking, the Vatican is an environment that doesn't exactly encourage individuality. Officials typically move in the shadows, subjecting their own styles and passions to the corporate interests of the Holy See. When you find a personality that shines through even here, therefore, you know you’ve got a live wire.

For the last decade, that’s unquestionably been the case with Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, who stepped down on Wednesday as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, a position he had held since November 2001.

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