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The Bishop of Brooklyn Gets Political

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The fracas in Brooklyn over the recording by Bishop DiMarzio on behalf of a candidate is telling in many ways, but none more so than the way the Church’s culture tends to lag behind the mainstream culture. DiMarzio is old enough to remember a time when dealings between the Church and the State were conducted personally, and when the laity were not inclined to question their religious leaders, and religious leaders were not inclined to become publicly involved in political storms. Those days are gone.

We saw another leftover of the old days earlier this year when a Connecticut legislator questioned the way Catholic parishes were incorporated in that state. Those laws were put on the books in the 1950s and, without any particular historical research, I can guarantee nonetheless that what happened in the 1950s was the Governor of Connecticut called the Archbishop of Hartford and asked, “How do you want us to do this?”

All Souls Day

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Today is All Souls Day.

The latest teachings on Purgatory from Pope Benedict XVI:

From III:47: "Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation 'as through fire'."

Hallows for Today, Oct. 31

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A front-page article in The New York Times yesterday, Drop the Halloween Mask! You Might Scare Somebody, lists the various costumes and props forbidden at school Halloween parties.

When I was in parochial school in the late 1940s and early '50s, I always dressed as a gypsy with big hoop earrings and lots of make-up, but today that would be considered an ethnic stereotype. The boys in my class dressed as hobos with dirty faces and bindles, but today that would be regarded as demeaning the homeless.

(There was quite a battle on the "Mad Men" message board about the symbolism of Don and Betty's children going trick-or-treating as a gypsy and a hobo, but I think it was just another touch of period realism by Matthew Weiner.)

The New York Times article said nothing about parochial schools. I wonder if kids who dress as saints for the Eve of All Hallows parties are allowed to carry the traditional symbols and instruments of martyrdom associated with them.

Lucky me!

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Last Saturday I traveled from Chiang Mai, Thailand, home to Los Angeles. I was feeling content and energized after participating in a week-long world congress of SIGNIS, the world association for communication. The theme of the gathering was “Children’s Rights Tomorrow’s Promise.” Everything on this trip had gone well.

On daily Mass, anointing, and health reform

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As part of my routine living at the Holy Family Catholic Worker house I frequently attend daily Mass at a local parish with one of my other community members.

Normally the Mass is quick and dirty. The prayers are read back-to-back, the homily is short, and there’s not much time to let your mind wander. It’s just a short little break in the day – not too long as to interrupt the rest of your plans.

This past Tuesday was a little different. In addition to the normal liturgy of the Eucharist we also celebrated the liturgy of anointing – allowing people who felt a particular need for healing to come forward and receive the mark of oil and the support of their friends.

This time the Mass was slow, even deliberate. We weren’t at a waypoint stop from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the day. We were gathered to take the time and effort to help those with health needs.

In this gentler pace I couldn’t help but feel something of a message for a Catholic understanding of healing: that we are to find ways to help those who are suffering from illness by slowing down and taking the time needed to acknowledge and confront their pain.

Tips for greening your computer use

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- The average laptop computer consumes one fifth the energy of a desktop PC. So, if you're going to own only one computer, seriously consider a laptop instead of desktop model. If a laptop won't work for you, think about whether you really need the biggest desktop you can afford or whether you might be able to get by with what's known as a "small form-factor" PC. These smaller machines are designed to take up less space on your desktop, but they have the advantage of drawing less power, too.

- Screensavers were never designed to save energy. They were actually intended to prevent "phosphor burn in" on CRT screens (and, these days, on plasma screens). Nowadays, they function primarily as a form of entertainment on PCs. However, setting your display to blank out after a period of inactivity can make a difference. Best to forgo the pretty pictures, though.

- Although each generation of microprocessors is speedier than the previous one, smart engineering means that they often also use less energy at the same time. For example, Intel's Core 2 Duo desktop processor is up to 40 percent faster and more than 40 percent more energy-efficient than its single-core predecessor.

Muslims give awards to Catholics

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I was pleased to be part of the Peace and Dialogue Awards Ceremony of the Rumi Forum Oct. 27. It took place in the Cannon House Caucus Room on Capitol Hill.

Most of the recipients (four out of six) were Catholic. Dr. John Borelli of Georgetown University received an award for his lifelong commitment to interfaith dialogue. Dr. Sidney H. Griffith of Catholic University received the Rumi Peace Award. Congressperson Gerald E. Connolly, a Catholic representing Virginia’s 11th district (Fairfax County), was given the Congressional Service Award. And I was honored to receive the Media Excellence Award for our work on Interfaith Voices.

Many of these awardees sat at my dinner table, and it was obvious that all of are “Vatican II Catholics,” people whose ideals were forged and developed in that era when ecumenical and interfaith awareness opened up the horizons of religious faith and practice in our lives.

The Rumi Forum represents a vision of Islam that values and fosters interfaith and intercultural dialogue. It is named for the world famous 13th century poet, Rumi.

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July 18-31, 2014

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