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Taking on incivility

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E.J. Dionne Jr., in the Washington Post today writes that "the most surprising and disappointing aspect of our politics is how little pushback there has been against the vile, extremist rhetoric that has characterized such a large part of the anti-Obama movement."

I concur. It is disappointing, especially when one believes that civility is a mark of a mature democracy and should characterize U.S. politics.

The Party-Crashers

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Icky! That is one word that leaps to mind when you look at the photos of the world’s most famous party crashers, Tareq and Michaele Salahi. Their name will now become shorthand for the cancer in our culture that thinks fame, at any cost, is a good thing, the cancer that creates shows like “Real Housewives of Wherever” and which confers significance upon people like Paris Hilton, the cancer that destroys basic standards of privacy and decency and then celebrates the destruction.

Of course, in the world of the Salahis, they have already received the worst form of punishment. They have been exposed as frauds. The whole world now knows that they were not invited to the White House state dinner, that they are not the life of the party, no matter what the photos on their Facebook page show, that this is a couple for whom the only reality is their own reality, that they genuinely seemed to revel in the clicks of the cameras and the flashes of the bulbs as they sashayed in to the White House as if they belonged, even though behind the smiles they knew that they would have to look around to figure out their escape before the appetizers were served.

An un-feast day

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Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Dorothy Day. Dedicated to a life of nonviolence and solidarity with the impoverished, Day opened the first Catholic Worker house with Peter Maurin in New York City in 1933.

Wishing to live out the works of mercy, they opened their doors and offered food, company and a kind ear to those that stopped in. Inspired by Peter and Dorothy’s example, individual Catholic Worker houses live out the Gospel by providing different types of hospitality across the world.

Day has been granted the title Servant of God and is under consideration for sainthood. Todd Flowerday has a nice little reflection on her place in the process here.

The flip side of Sabbath

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I'm all for keeping holy the Sabbath, but when your car breaks down on, say, the Saturday afternoon of Thanksgiving weekend in the middle of Indiana, it'd be nice to have a mechanic within 100 miles who could look at it before Monday morning.

Just saying.

FYI: Indiana's blue laws prohibit the sales of cars, as well as liquor--except restaurants and bars--on Sundays.

That said, the people of Indiana couldn't have been nicer while we spent our two days here. Maybe because they collectively value the importance of a day away from work for family and God.

Nov. 30, St. Andrew the Apostle

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Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

--Many Catholics say this prayer fifteen times a day from St. Andrew's Day through Christmas Eve for a special intention.



St. Andrew,
a son of Jonah, and a brother of Simon, was a fisherman in Bethsaida, and a disciple of John the Baptist. He became the first disciple of Jesus, and then, called to be an apostle, he left all things to follow Him.

"Saint Andrew was a 'networker' - a fisherman but also the one who brought the Gentiles . . . to Jesus and preached about him as far as the Black Sea. The saltire cross is a multiplication sign - reminding us that it was Saint Andrew who brought the little boy and his loaves and fishes to Jesus." -- BBC

Papal example a rebuff to Swiss vote on minarets

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tIn a surprise result, Swiss voters yesterday approved a constitutional ban on the construction of minarets, the tall spires on Islamic mosques from which the call to prayer is issued five times a day. The initiative was approved 57.5 to 42.5 percent by some 2.67 million voters. Only four of 26 cantons, or states, opposed it, granting the double approval that makes it part of the Swiss constitution.

tThe ban had been proposed by far-right political forces, and was denounced in the run-up to the vote both by the government and by a wide cross-section of religious leaders – including the Catholic bishops’ conference in Switzerland, which had issued a statement warning that “fear is a poor counselor.”

Passage of the measure is considered the clearest expression to date of mounting anti-Islamic backlash in Europe, fueled by rising levels of immigration. Though counts vary, some analysts predict the overall Muslim population will level off at 15 percent of the European total.

Move ahead by stepping back?

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Can you move ahead by stepping back? Two articles in Sunday's New York Times seem to explore that question -- and present challenges to certain factions
of the church.

The first report is not about religion at all, but focuses on South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham. Not long ago, Graham was a darling of the far right when (as a member of the House Judiciary Committee) he helped lead impeachment proceedings against President Clinton. But recently, Graham has become a voice of centrism and civility on several issues -- and segments of the GOP in his home state is having none of that.

Dublin's archbishop gets it

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For months, Catholics in Ireland's Archdiocese of Dublin have been bracing themselves for release of a government report on decades of sexual abuse of children by priests and cover up of the abuse by the hierarchy.

Catholics in the United States will find much familiar about the reports of abuse -- the patterns of grooming, of brutality, of cover up and of payoff. Strikingly different, however, from what we've become accustomed to hearing from members of the hierarchy in the United States has been the reaction of the current cardinal archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin. Read the full text of his statement here.

In part, he said:

"The sexual abuse of a child is and always was a crime in civil law; it is and always was a crime canon law; it is and always was grievously sinful.

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August 1-14, 2014

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