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Spirituality

Spreading Christ's light

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At first glance, our reading from Isaiah seems to come about a month late. Weren't we just singing with Handel about the people in darkness being caught up in light? Hearing that prophecy during today's liturgy reminds us that that the light, as John says, shone in the darkness that vainly tried to overcome it. Today we remember both the light and the cost and joys of sharing it. Isaiah addressed people forced from their homeland, people whose shared suffering created shared hopelessness, who were figuratively or literally blinded to the possibility of a better future.

Strength from weakness

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It's difficult to understand the original meaning of today's Deutero-Isaiah passage unless we restore the first six verses to the Lectionary selection. Isaiah 49:1-6 is generally referred to as the Second Song of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. The disciples of the anonymous prophet (Deutero-Isaiah) responsible for Chapters 40-55 of Isaiah not only passed on his powerful oracles, they also included four reflections on what it meant for him to be Yahweh's mouthpiece. The first three are autobiographical; the last, biographical -- composed by his followers after his martyrdom.

Bill de Blasio, New York's new 'spiritual but not religious' mayor

From its historic black churches to large Jewish enclaves to landmark Catholic and Protestant churches, New York City is the ultimate religious melting pot. And now, overseeing it all is a new mayor whose only religious identity seems to be "spiritual but not religious."

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who took office Jan. 1, is now perhaps the nation's most visible "none," an icon of one of the nation's fastest-growing religious groups -- those without any formal religious identification.

'Great misunderstanding' seen on church's teachings on end of life

There is "great misunderstanding" among Catholics and others about the church's teachings on whether and when life-sustaining medical treatment can be withdrawn when death is near, according to a leading Catholic bioethicist.

Marie T. Hilliard, director of bioethics and public policy and a staff ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said the Philadelphia-based center conducts about 2,000 consultations a year with "families in distress" who want to talk with an ethicist "about the church's teaching in light of their (family) situation."

Remembering whose we are

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Most of us celebrate our birthdays. Some among us also celebrate their feast day or patron saint day, but how many of us celebrate the day of our baptism? In his book Christianity: The Making of Christians (Kevin Mayhew Ltd., 1979), Mark Searle reminds readers that for many centuries it was the custom in the church to celebrate the pascha annotinum or the anniversary of baptism. It was a sort of class reunion for the baptized, their sponsors and the bishop, at which they celebrated the Eucharist together.

Ethicists criticize treatment of brain-dead patients

The cases of two young women -- a California teen and a pregnant Texas mother -- have generated sympathy for their families, but also have left some doctors and bioethicists upset about their treatment.

Many doctors are questioning continued medical procedures on a 13-year-old girl declared brain-dead nearly a month ago, calling interventions to provide nutrition to a dead body wrong and unethical.

Luminosity

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A well-circulated Hasidic tale tells the story of a rabbi quizzing his students. He asked, "How can we determine the hour of dawn, when the night ends and the day begins?"

One of the students suggested, "Day begins when, from a distance, you can distinguish between a dog and a sheep."

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In This Issue

September 12-25, 2014

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