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Today is the feast day of St. Maurus and St. Placid

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"Brother Maurus, run as fast as you can, for Placidus, who went to the lake to fetch water, has fallen in, and is carried a good way off."

--St. Benedict

A very happy feast of St. Maurus and St. Placid to all Benedictines -- Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Cistercian, and Trappist; to all Oblates; to all alumnae and alumni of Benedictine schools; and to everyone whose life has been touched in any way by Benedictine contributions to world culture. (That's everyone, so happy feast to one and all!)

In perfect obedience to Benedict, young Maurus rescued Placid from the water.

Fra Filippo Lippi illustrated the miracle.

For the blessing of Saint Maurus over the sick, click here.

For a Medal of St. Benedict, used in the blessing, click here.

End of Danneels era in Belgium completes European facelift

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One of my early reporting assignments in Rome was to cover the European Synod in 1999, and I remember sitting down over dinner my first night in town with a few veteran vaticanisti. They gave me the lay of the land, among other things explaining that the liberal bloc in the European church had long been led by three towering cardinals: Carlo Maria Martini of Milan, Basil Hume of Westminster (who died shortly before the synod), and Godfried Danneels of Brussels.

tMore than ten years later, Hume is gone and Martini is retired, and in a matter of days it seems likely the third member of the trio will also be out of job. Rumors in Belgium suggest that sometime soon, Pope Benedict XVI intends to appoint Bishop André-Mutien Léonard of Namur to succeed Danneels in Brussels.

tIf so, the changing of the guard at the senior levels of the European church will be virtually complete.

Abp Burke Warns of 'Totalitarianism'

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Archbishop Raymond Burke came to Phoenix to deliver the homily at the Red Mass in that city’s cathedral. In the course of his remarks, the archbishop said of America, “It is a society which is abandoning its Judeo-Christian foundations, the fundamental obedience to God’s law which safeguards the common good, and is embracing a totalitarianism which masks itself as the 'hope,' the 'future,' of our nation.

"Reason and faith teaches us that such a society can only produce violence and death and in the end destroy itself,” Archbishop Burke warned.

"Totalitarianism"?

UN: Civilian deaths 'soared' in Afghanistan

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The Associated Press, citing statistics from the United Nations, is reporting that civilian war causalities rose 14 percent in 2009 over the year before (2,412 civilians killed in 2009).

Nearly 70 percent of civilian deaths last year, or 1,630, were caused by Taliban suicide bombings and other attacks, the report found.

NATO and allied Afghan forces were responsible for 25 percent of the deaths, or 596, the U.N. said, down from 39 percent, or 828, in 2008.

The U.N. report concludes: Many Afghans now blame the violence on the Taliban rather than foreign forces.

Read more here: UN: Taliban cause Afghan civilian deaths to soar

Pat Robertson's Theological Pundritry

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Pat Robertson has taken the "blame the victim" mentality to a new level.

Robertson's geo-religio-political analysis of the Haitian disaster is that it's their own damned fault. He contends that the island's slaves enlisted the devil to overthrow their French colonial oppressors in 1805 and have been punished ever since.

The television preacher has played on this grandiose stage before, once famously claiming to have turned the course of a hurricane.

That episode became the stuff of stand-up comedy, but there's nothing funny about this one. If anything, it suggests that the "pact with the devil" is more a projection of his own consorting with evil. So in an odd way he may be on to something.

Robertson may still be smarting from his rebuff as a candidate for the Republican nomination. He once fancied himself the guardian of the nation's "family values" crusade when restoration of morality was all the rage. But he had to return to his 700 club sanctuary in defeat. His brain stock, and he has plenty, seems to have been invested in greater nuttiness ever since.

Permaculture: a good idea

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We hear a lot about “tipping points,” those places at which momentum becomes irreversible, in connection with looming environmental challenges such as climate change. The Earth now spins toward many points of no return, reputable scientists say. Opinions vary as to how long it will take or whether indeed we have already passed through them.

“The tipping points are falling like dominoes,” said Albert Bates, founder of the Global Village Institute for Appropriate Technology. “We are losing. We need to sprint.”

Needed for that sprint are eco-tipping points, levers that dramatically reverse environmental decline and set in motion restoration and sustainability.

There are indeed many pioneering projects and efforts around the world that are not technological fixes so much as returns to ways humans have employed for hundreds of thousands of years or to ways and means that nature herself uses.Here’s one involving the new/old science of permaculture.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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