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Spiritual Reflections

What shepherding requires

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Four neighbor women gather their teenage children as the smog-filtered sun begins to rise. The mothers check backpacks and bundles, all the while giving directions. Do this, don't do that. Go here, don't go there. Keep clean. Pray. Every day, pray. Everyone is frightened, confused. Each holds on to another as if existence itself depends on the feel of skin on skin. The teens hold back tears. The mothers' eyes are overflowing.

Talent show

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Do you know what a talent is? In the biblical sense, it's not the ability to carry a tune or the instinct for making a fortune on the stock market. A talent is a measure of weight, specifically the typical weight of a soldier's pack, something in the range of 75 to 100 pounds. As it is used in this parable, it refers to the weight of the coins entrusted to three servants. The talents the master gave his servants made a heavy load of very valuable coins; one talent is estimated to be worth something like a million dollars in today's money.

Holy people, holy places

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Today, we celebrate the oldest and first-ranked of Rome's four great basilicas. St. John was surnamed "Lateran" because it stands on the site of the palace of the family of the Laterani. During his reign as emperor, Constantine gave the palace and its lands to the church in 311. A church council was first held at the Lateran in 313. A papal residence until the scandal of Avignon, St. John is considered the cathedral of Rome and the mother church of Christendom. From the 12th century, this day, Nov. 9, has been observed as the anniversary of its dedication.

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