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Spirituality

Up to Jerusalem

We’ve finally reached Mark’s third way of dying with Jesus. There’s just one problem: Those who chose our Sunday liturgical passage failed to notice Mark’s prediction-misunderstanding-clarification pattern. They left out the prediction: “They were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them. They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him ...”

Bare before the truth of the word

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Gathered together once again in the presence of God’s living and effective word, we are revealed for who we are before God and others and, even better, God is revealed, yet again, in our midst. Like the author of Hebrews (second reading) who understood the power of God’s word to cut to the quick of all matters so as to lay bare the truth, the 12th-century doctor of the church Bernard of Clairvaux was similarly convinced. “The word of God,” Bernard wrote, “is not a sounding but a piercing word, not pronounceable by the tongue but efficacious in the mind, not only sensible to the ear but fascinating to the affection. God’s word is not an object possessing beauty of form, but rather, it is the source of all beauty and form.

In the footsteps of saints, contemplative tradition persists on Lindisfarne

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In central London, a stone's throw from St. Pancras rail station, is one of the world's largest libraries, container of national treasures including the Lindisfarne Gospels, begun about the year 700. Recently another Anglo-Saxon Christian treasure, which predates the legendary Lindisfarne Gospels, has been added to the famed British Library's trove, the St. Cuthbert Gospel of John.

Digital tool kit collects resources for young adult ministry

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Young adults in the Catholic church: Where are they? You could say they're all over the place: Some are regular Mass attendees, some are away from home, some don't attend Mass, some are mothers, some are in the military, some are entering their third job, some are entering their first job, some are in college. It's a difficult demographic to minister to -- it encapsulates so many life stages and spiritual stages.

Conservative law firm fights atheists' suit over cross at 9/11 museum

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A lawsuit that was filed by the group American Atheists to keep a revered cross out of the National September 11 Museum is being challenged by a conservative law firm that defends the public display of religious symbols.

The American Center for Law and Justice filed a friend-of-the-court brief Monday on behalf of the suit's two defendants, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum Foundation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site.

"The legal arguments of the atheist organization are both offensive and absurd," the center's chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, said in a statement. He said 190,000 people had signed a petition opposing the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is just one more controversy surrounding the 9/11 museum, which has been delayed by an ongoing financial dispute between the foundation and the Port Authority. Most recently, the foundation has resisted efforts by some victims' family members to place the Koenig Sphere at the entrance to the museum. Like the cross, the sphere survived the attack damaged but intact, and has become a symbol of resilience.

Eclipse and aftermath: religious life and the shift from soul to self

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Viewpoint

All is not well in religious life in the English-speaking world -- that is, if we are to believe the media of late. The situation of the troubled state of apostolic women religious in the United States brought this to world attention with reports of both a review of one leadership group and an apostolic visitation conducted in regard to the question of quality of life of contemporary membership.

Much has been said about these matters and no doubt much more will be said over time. But all the discussion and inquiry is secondary to what underlies the nature of the changes that have taken place in religious life throughout the past 50 years. The root cause of the changes has been totally unacknowledged. Indeed, it has never been recognized.

The Catholic church's ritual unites us more than beliefs

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Viewpoint

In his recent book, Toward A True Kinship Of Faiths: How The World's Religions Can Come Together, the Dalai Lama recounts a 1994 visit to Israel during which he asked one of the chief rabbis "what it is that unites Jewish people the world over -- what the kernel of the doctrine is that unites all Jews." He was taken aback by the rabbi's response: "When it comes to doctrine, there is hardly any uniformity. What unites all faithful Jews are the rituals. Come Friday, all Jewish homes, from Siberia to Ethiopia, hold Sabbath in the same manner. We have been doing this for thousands of years, since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem."

Not being "a great believer in the efficacy of ritual in its own right," the Dalai Lama was initially surprised by this answer. But he came to understand what ritual means in the context of exile and diaspora: "a particular form of continuity and connection that allows great pluralism of views and beliefs," he said, "while at the same time links people through a shared set of practices and a language ... to a powerful lineage of memory and tradition."

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July 18-31, 2014

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