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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.

Dorothy Day stopped by NCR yesterday

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Dorothy Day stopped by NCR yesterday. We go way back with Dorothy. From its start in 1964, NCR has emulated Day's commitment to journalism in and about the church in the world. The Catholic Worker newspaper, started in 1933, is still in business, selling for a penny, still promoting a radical approach to living the gospel through houses of hospitality, the works of mercy and by opposing all war as an underlying cause of poverty and social injustice. We sometimes ponder who has gotten the most coverage ("ink") from NCR over the years, Dorothy Day or Oscar Romero. Probably about even. In 2010, we will celebrate again these amazing exemplars of holiness and service on the 30th anniversary of their deaths in 1980.

The GOP's Maginot Line

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“Out of the mouths of Fox News reporters…” Politico.com has an interesting article about former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s declining to officially endorse Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in the three-way race in New York’s twenty-third congressional district. Hoffman has been endorsed over his Republican and Democratic rivals by such GOP luminaries as Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty and Fred Thompson.

The comments of conservative activists show why the GOP will have a hard time climbing out of the ditch into which they have thrown themselves. They voice disappointment, surprise even at Huckabee’s unwillingness to back Hoffman. They want him to “take a stand.” This small upstate contest has become a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, and there will attach a sense of betrayal, not disagreement, to those who do not sign on.

\"Become human again\" says Archbishop of Canterbury

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Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, head of the Church of England and leader of the worldwide Anglican communion, said the climate change crisis is an opportunity for people to become human again, setting aside the addictive and self-destructive behavior that has damaged their souls. People have allowed themselves to become "addicted to fantasies about prosperity and growth, dreams of wealth without risk and profit without cost," he said.

Speaking before an audience at Southwark Cathedral, Dr. Williams said that small changes, such as setting up carbon reduction action groups, would help them reconnect with the world in addition to repairing some of the damage to the planet. "When we believe in transformation at the local and personal level, we are laying the sure foundations for change at the national and international level."

Williams' full speech

Bishops to elect five committee chairs

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WASHINGTON -- The U.S. bishops will vote on five United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) chairs-elect of five committees at their November 16-19 General Assembly in Baltimore.

The following bishops were nominated for these positions.

1. The Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations

1. Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis
2. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, N.C.

2. The Committee on Divine Worship

1. Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans
2. Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit


3. The Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
1. Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif.
2. Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla.


4. The Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth
1. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan.
2. Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Harrisburg, Pa.


5. The Committee on Migration
1. Bishop James A. Tamayo of Laredo, Texas
2. Archbishop José H. Gomez of San Antoino, Texas

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