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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.

Nov. 27, St. Bilhildis, O.S.B.

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Today is the feast of St. Bilhildis, widow of Duke Hetan I of Thuringia, who, after her husband's death, founded the monastery of Altmünster near Mainz. She was abbess of the large community until her death in 734.

(This Orthodox site, in German, has information near the bottom about a recent scientific examination of a skull, preserved as a relic of St. Bilhildis through the centuries. The age is right -- 60, and the date of death -- 750-815, is right.)

Dublin sex abuse coverup report out

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Press reports out of Dublin this morning say that the Church in Dublin covered up decades of child abuse by priests in order to protect the church's reputation, an expert commission reported Thursday after a three-year investigation.

The government said the investigation "shows clearly that a systemic, calculated perversion of power and trust was visited on helpless and innocent children in the archdiocese."

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."

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September 12-25, 2014

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