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Nov. 26, St. John Berchmans, S.J.

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Today is the feast of St. John Berchmans, 1599-1621.

From an account of the saint's short life by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.:

"Here's a quotation from St. John Berchmans that every Jesuit has memorized. Let me give you the Latin first. It sounds so nice -- 'meus maxime mortificatio est vita communis.' -- my greatest mortification is community life. I repeat there is no statement of any saints that a Jesuit will not agree with more heartily than that one, that his heaviest mortification, his worst penance, is community life. That doesn't mean you don't like your brethren, but, being human, being oneself and living with other human beings, community life is indeed a great mortification."

Dorothy Day is Smiling: The Nun's Story of the 21st Century

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I was both amazed and pleased to read Tom Fox’s story about the “almost universal resistance” among the leadership of women’s religious communities in answering the intrusive questionnaire from the Vatican about American nuns’ “quality of life.” These responses are no doubt rooted in years of prayerful, non-violent struggle against global human rights violations, injustice and war. Dorothy Day must be smiling!

Obama's First State Dinner

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Yes, I have been distressed lately that President Obama has not done more to honor his pledge to ensure that the health care reform bill contains no federal funding of abortion. And, like many on the left, I have been distraught that more has not been done to push for cap-and-trade legislation or immigration reform or higher taxes on the rich. But, let’s take a minute to gush over him. Last night, at the state dinner, he looked fabulous. And Michelle – OMG! Not since Jackie Kennedy greeted guests to the White House has a First Lady been so glamorous you could almost hear the heads turning as she walked into the room.

Two priests for the year of the priest

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Voice of the Faithful honored Fr. Joseph Fowler and Fr. Donald Cozzens with its Priest of Integrity Award at its 2009 National Conference.

Fr. Fowler was recognized for his work in Louisville, Kentucky, for survivors of clergy abuse. Over the years, Fr. Fowler has tirelessly worked to make things better for those in need. He has spoken out against injustice and dishonesty in our Church and society.

Fr. Cozzens was recognized as a priest who challenges the status quo with wit, wisdom and unflinching honesty. He encourages priests and laypersons alike to be persons of integrity: to speak the truth, to be a voice for the voiceless, to right the wrongs that have been done, to both challenge and encourage one another, and to do so with compassion and kindness.

India is a rising Catholic power too

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tPresident Barack Obama’s red-carpet welcome this week for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the first state visit of Obama’s presidency, is obviously calculated to deepen ties with one of the world’s emerging superpowers. With a massive population of 1.2 billion, India has always been a potential global titan, but today it’s increasingly exploiting that capacity.

An under-appreciated point about India’s rise, however, is that it is also home to some of the impressive growth in Christianity anywhere in the world. That includes the Catholic church, which means that as the 21st century rolls on, India is positioned to become an important player not just in geopolitics but Catholic affairs too.

Here’s some background on Catholicism in India, drawn from The Future Church.

Oblate Sisters in Need

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I remember well the summer of 1970, when I worked in the “sea island” area of South Carolina. People lived in shacks, and lacked many of the necessities of life. I lived in a convent of the Oblate Sisters of Providence that summer, and they taught me how to behave in that predominantly African-American community in the rural South. I learned a great deal from them, and we had some great times together.

I have known several Oblate Sisters of Providence over the years, and they do wonderful work wherever they go. They were founded as an African-American community in the days of segregation, and are still predominantly (although not exclusively) African-American. Their ministries have focused on the urban poor, and their work is treasured in those communities.

But now, I discovered that they are need themselves, hit hard by the recession. Their story was in today’s Washington Post.

Is The Catholic Church Too Political?

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NCR Today blogger Michael Sean Winters was a guest on Jack Rice's show "Live in Washington," which airs on Air America.

Listen here: Is The Catholic Church Too Political?

The teaser for the show reads: "Over the past few weeks the Catholic Church has been injecting itself, more and more, into the political arena. From backing the Stupak Amendment to denying Representative Kennedy communion because of his position on abortion to fighting gay marriage legislation, the Church has been very vocal. Pro-life Democrat and practicing Catholic Michael Sean Winters debates Jack Rice over the Catholic Church's involvement in these recent political issues."

Nov. 25, St. Catherine of Alexandria

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Today is the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria, a saint loved and venerated by Christians of the East and of the West.

St. Catherine, portrayed by countless artists over the centuries, is shown debating with the philosophers, or with the wheel upon which she was to be tortured. The spiked wheel broke, and Catherine was beheaded instead.

Catherine of Alexandria may have been a Christianized version of Hypatia of Alexandria, another woman of late antiquity, another philosopher, mathematician, and public lecturer, whose brilliance inflamed the powerful men of her era. In Catherine's case, the Christian woman was martyred by pagans. In Hypatia's case, the pagan woman was destroyed by Christians.

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August 15-28, 2014

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