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Spirituality is healthy

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Many pscyhologists and others in the health professions have recognized the vital contribution spirituality makes to mental and physical well-being. Fran Ferder, a Catholic sister with a long and active practice in psychotherapy, points out that the Genesis accounts in the Bible describe God as Energizer, Breath-Sharer, one who hovers, who breathes life into and wants to relate to all of creation. Those same qualities, Ferder notes, also describe people who are psychologically healthy and robust.

Such people behave in ways that give life to others. They attend to and want to relate with others in productive and meaningful ways. "When our lives most reflect the sacred pattern that brought us into being," Ferder writes, "perhaps then we are closest to the holy, and therefore the most whole and healthy." The longing for holiness and wholeness is also good mental hygiene, she concludes. Good spirituality is good mental health.

Jan. 13, St. Hilary of Poitiers, doctor of the church

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"I find particularly beautiful the following formula of St Hilary: 'God knows not how to be anything other than love, he knows not how to be anyone other than the Father. Those who love are not envious and the one who is the Father is so in his totality. This name admits no compromise, as if God were father in some aspects and not in others.'"

--Pope Benedict XVI on Saint Hilary of Poitiers

Hilary was a pagan, who became a Catholic, and a husband and father who became a bishop. He lived from about 300 to about 368.

He fought against Arianism, which "denies that the Son is of one essence, nature, or substance with God; He is not consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father, and therefore not like Him, or equal in dignity, or co-eternal, or within the real sphere of Deity".

'Grayby Boom' a potential windfall for the Church

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tEcclesiastes may want us to believe there’s nothing new under the sun, but according to a UN report issued this week, not so. Rapid aging of the human population, the report asserts, is a demographic trend of mammoth consequence, and one “without parallel in the history of humanity.”

tThat’s a bold claim, especially since the modern science of demography really didn’t take shape until the 18th century. But without doubt, today’s demographic landscape – dominated by declining birth rates and rapid aging across the planet – represents a startling inversion of the assumptions that have long dominated the field, the sound-bite version of which was the “population bomb.”

If the old demographic worry was relentless population increase, today’s anxieties cut in exactly the opposite direction.

The USCCB's Bulletin Inserts

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The USCCB’s bulletin insert on health care reform is problematic in several regards. Unlike the video on their website, it does not praise the central objective of the bill, namely, extending health care coverage to more Americans. It notes that the bishops have long supported health care reform but they fault the current bill for a variety of reasons. Like the USCCB, I deplore the provisions limiting the access of immigrants to the new health care options the bill enacts. And, I agree that the conscience provisions could be tightened, though the current ones do not, to my mind, constitute a deal breaker and I suspect any language will be clarified by the courts.

There is one bullet point, however, that seems very arguable. The bulletin insert states: “On December 24, the U.S. Senate rejected this policy and passed health care reform that
requires federal funds to help subsidize and promote health plans that cover elective

Women religious visitations to begin in April

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In remarks made on the Apostolic Visitation Web site, the Vatican appointed Apostolic Visitator, Mother Mary Clare Millea, has offered a few more details about the process of the ongoing Vatican look at women religious congregations.

Millea says that a core team from her office is currently analyzing information culled from questionnaires returned to her office by women religious congregations. After examining that information she said she will decide which congregations will receive personal visitations from teams of women and men religious.

According to the plan outlined by Millea, the first congregation visits will take place in April and these will be with selected religious congregation leaders. A second round of visits will take place next fall.

Millea say that there is a lot of good to tell about the history and reality of religious women in the United States. There are also a lot of challenges, she said.

Should England be a Catholic country again?

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The U.K. publication Spectator announced that it will host a public debate to answer this proposition: England should be a Catholic country again

Speakers for the motion included Catholic Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.

Here's the description:

The Anglican Communion is deeply, and perhaps irrevocably, split, and the Catholic Church is offering a berth to any Anglican who wants to convert. In this year of the Pope’s visit, is it time for England to become a Catholic country again?

The debate is scheduled for March 2. Here's more details.

Weakland controversy resurfaces

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A new piece of artwork that portrays former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland is causing a stir in Milwaukee. The bronze relief pedestal to the Mary statue at the Cathedral of St. John depicts Weakland with Mary, St. John and other figures, including children.

Among those criticizing the artwork is SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Weakland resigned in 2002 after revelations that he had had a relationship with an adult seminarian whom he paid to keep quiet about the affair. He also has admitted to moving around pedophile priests.

Conservative Catholics also have blasted the pedestal as well as the fact that Weakland was on the altar at new Archbishop Jerome Listecki's installation last week.

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