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Health care African style

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In a routine search for Catholic news on the Internet this morning, I came across this gem of a story from the Catholic Information Service of Africa.

The Catholic Diocese of Uvira in the Democratic Republic of Congo is building a new hospital in South Kivu, which is near the border with Rwanda and Burundi. Church officials said the hospital is "a symbol of peace among peoples suffering war."

Two bits of the story struck me: "The hospital, while it awaits electricity, will have a large central generator and generator sets for the various smaller pavilions."

While it waits for electricity ... That kind of puts our health care debate into perspective, doesn't it.

And: "There will also be 5 acres of land for agricultural crops (peanuts, maize, cassava, soy plant, beans, peas, legumes), and another 10 hectares to be cultivated to help self-financing of the hospital, available to the families of hospital staff and the sisters."

Dec. 30, Blessed Eugenia Ravasco, Founder

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Today is the feast of Blessed Eugenia Ravasco, 1845-1900.
At the age of 23, she founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

"Bl. Eugenia Ravasco was wholly concerned with spreading love for the Hearts of Christ and Mary. Contemplating these two Hearts, she was passionately devoted to serving her neighbour and joyfully devoted her whole life to young people and the poor. With foresight, she was able to open herself to the pressing needs of the mission, with special concern for those who had 'fallen away' from the Church.

The Holy Family: Muslim Choices

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This past Sunday, I worshiped with an intentional Eucharistic community in the DC area, known as Communitas. Those present customarily share their reflections on the Scriptures after the celebrant offers his reflections.

Sunday was, of course, the celebration of the Holy Family, and the celebrant raised up the Scripture passage about a follower of Jesus leaving family to follow him, even though that was not the gospel passage for the day.
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I realized that I had never really warmed up to that passage. It juxtaposes values that are most often not in major conflict. Most of us work out the meaning of our faith in the context of family, not in opposition to it.

Miracle-challenged

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Miracle-challenged, I guess you could call me. A devout nonbeliever in the tooth fairy, winning the lottery, the accuracy of ouija boards, A Course in Miracles, Medjugorge, personally I have never beheld a vision, seen a statue weep, been dealt a royal flush in poker, witnessed a UFO or even a spoon-bending. As a Catholic kid I heard, and didn't buy, the Fatima tales that included the sun spinning in the sky overhead like the ultimate Texas baton twirl. To me, "miracles" seem to say more about human sociology than about theology.

Ignoring the laughable astronomical misunderstanding, the Fatima story, for example, may validate your faith ticket with a hefty punch, but at heart shows the spirituality of a bully or terrorist. The Source of Life and the Universe spun the sun like a top to confound some two-bit Portuguese communists but refuses to nudge nature's laws a millimeter when an innocent child is slain by random shrapnel in one of the world's many wars or beaten to a raw bloody death by Rwandan thugs? Given a choice, in which scenario would you root for some divine breaking of the laws of physics? And what do such attributed behaviors say about God?

Oblate Father Carl Kabat senteced to time served

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An Oblate priest who has long protested against America’s nuclear weapons arsenal was found guilty Dec. 21 of criminal mischief and trespassing on government property at the site of a nuclear missile silo in northern Colorado.

Father Carl Kabat, 76, was sentenced by Weld County Court Judge Dana Nichols to time served — 137 days — after his Aug. 6 arrest at the silo near New Raymer, Colo.

2004 tsunami still taking toll on victims

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In Tamil Nadu, southeast India, the tsunami tragedy of 2004 is still weighing heavily on widows, orphans and smallscale fisherfolk, according to this report from the Italian mission news agency, AsiaNews.it.

Fr P. A. Santhanam, a Jesuit priest and lawyer, was among the first responders to the coastal district of Kanyakumari district in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu. He didn't bring aid though; he brought a team of legal aid lawyers, because he knew that the survivors would need legal representation just as keenly as they needed food and shelter.

Five years on, the aid groups have pretty much packed up and left. Santhanam's legal team, though is still on the job, helping fisherfolk fight for housing and fishing rights and against political forces that would either forget them or take advantage of their tragedy.

Dec. 29, St. Thomas Becket, Martyr

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"What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?"

--King Henry II

Today is the feast of St. Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury, who was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral on December 29, 1170.

He was canonized just three years later, and pilgrims began following the route of his last journey from Southwark to Canterbury.

Click here for a map of the route taken by Chaucer's pilgrims.

Thomas Becket has been the subject of many books, plays, and films, including:

Murder in the Cathedral, by T. S. Eliot;

Becket, a 1910 silent film, directed by Charles Kent, who also played the title role, and with William Shea as Henry II;

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April 11-24, 2014

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