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Contributor Sr. Joan Chittister

James Kavanaugh dead at 81

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Author of the best-selling book, “A Modern Priest Looks at His Outdated Church.” James Kavenaugh died Dec. 29 at the age of 81. His subsequent books of poetry touched the lives of millions.

The cause of death was complications from surgery Kavanaugh underwent earlier last year, said Katherine Markel, his stepdaughter.

Kavanaugh attended school in Kalamazoo and at the age of 14 went to seminary in Grand Rapids. After serving as a priest in Flint he rose to fame after he wrote an article for the Saturday Evening Post in 1967 entitled “I am a Priest, and I Want to Marry.”

Tradition is pope's best protection

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I am not making this up.

Writing in this week's Catholic Herald, the U.K. weekly, security expert Dominic Scarborough urges the Vatican "to draw on tradition to prevent a repeat of the Midnight Mass attack on Benedict XVI." He says that bringing back the sedia gestatoria would protect the pope. He means the pope should be carried around on a portable throne.

The Catholic Encyclopedia offers this description of the sedia gestatoria

Morna Murray to Lead CACG

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Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) announced today that Morna Murray will take over the leadership of the organization as its new President. Murray was previously senior counsel and policy advisor to Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and she brings a wealth of knowledge about issues critical to Catholics to her new role, especially poverty, health care, education and juvenile justice.

The new 'kibbutz-ism'?

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Those of you who liked Tom Robert's latest offering in his "In Search of the Emerging Church" offerings, which was titled "The 'new monasticism,' " may like this report from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, "Old kibbutz pins hopes for revival on Conservative Judaism."

While some of Israel's kibbutzim are in steady decline, 10 mostly young families have arrived at Hannaton since the summer. They are part of a larger group of 20 families aiming to revitalize the country's only official Conservative kibbutz. ...

The objectives of the kibbutz's new cohort are as diverse as their reasons for relocating there. Some have come to escape urban life, others for the chance to shape a tight-knit community from the ground up. Still others have come because the religious offerings elsewhere in Israel were seen as inadequate. ...

The day we found the universe

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Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. Another epiphany that occurred in January -- January 1, 1925 -- is celebrated and explored in a recently published book I'm reading now. Until that date, we humans didn't know exactly where we were. That day astronomers learned conclusively that the universe extends at least a million light years or more and faint clouds of light observed by the world’s largest telescope at the time twinkled from distant galaxies. Essentially, the date marked the universe’s discovery, science writer Marcia Bartusiak argues in her newly published history of early 20th century astronomy, The Day We Found the Universe, published by Pantheon Books.

I wrote a column last month about the important night sky light -- that of the Andromeda galaxy -- that enabled Edwin Hubble to make his important discovery that was formally announced on Jan. 1 in 1925, that our Milky Way home galaxy is just one of billions.

Riffing with myth

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'Avatar,' like all good sci-fi films, asks, 'What does it mean to be human?'

People can say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that what's we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alone. That's what it's all finally about, and that's what these clues [myths] help us to find within ourselves.

—Joseph Campbell

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