National Catholic Reporter

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Spirituality

A little honesty

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Some scholars of the Christian Scriptures insist we’ll never be able to get an accurate picture of the historical Jesus just by reading the four Gospels. They believe the portraits we find in those writings have been so deeply colored by the authors’ faith in him that the “real” Jesus has been permanently lost. Yet when pressed, even they admit there’s at least one thing about the Gospel Jesus that’s historically accurate: he was a friend of sinners. No one in the early church would have dared invent that characteristic.

What would you do?

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Two widows are featured in the sacred texts today. The text from Kings tells the plight of a Sidonian woman. With no husband, no inheritance rights and no voice, she was dependent upon her son, the man of the family. So it was with the widow of Nain in the Gospel: Her son, her only son, was her legal protector. When both widows lost their sons to death, they suffered not only the loss of a beloved child but also the loss of their rights -- or, as Bonnie Bowman Thurston has put it, they lost their “social security” (The Widows, Fortress Press, 1989).

Unlike anyone else

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Since the Council of Nicaea’s definition of the Trinity in 325 -- three persons in one God -- isn’t spelled out as such in Scripture, it’s challenging to give a biblical homily on this day. Perhaps we should begin with the commandment: “You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them” (Deuteronomy 5:8).

Grief could be classified as mental illness after diagnostic changes

Each year 90,000 parents in the U.S. confront the profound suffering that follows the death of a child or adolescent.

Some of those rely on faith to help them through their grief. Others look to psychiatrists, who offer therapy or prescribe antidepressants to help ease their patients’ pain.

On May 18, in a move that could add to the tension between religion and science, the American Psychiatric Association changed a controversial diagnosis regarding how grief relates to mental health.

The hands we hold are gifts

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I was sitting at my prayer desk the other night, two flickering candles in front of me, letting my mind wander as I looked at the small framed icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help that once belonged to my grandmother. It’s an inexpensive framed image, one that she must have had since the 1960s at least, but in the candlelight it shone like pure gold. And as I looked at it – a picture I see every single day -- I noticed something. For the first time, I realized that Mary and Jesus were holding hands.

That moved me.

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In This Issue

December 5-18, 2014

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