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Spirituality

Lady Madonna, cyclists at her feet

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PORTLAND, ORE. -- Reflections of blinking white bike lights danced up and down the organ pipes inside St. Stephen’s Episcopal Parish here on a recent Monday night. On the north wall, Lady Madonna had 35 bicyclists at her feet.

Pushing their bikes inside the church, the riders had escaped the autumn chill of downtown Portland. They had come to watch the Rev. Dennis Parker bless the nation’s first known church shrine honoring the Madonna del Ghisallo -- patron saint of cyclists.

“Creator God,” Parker said as he bowed his head in a corner of the sanctuary that held four long pews, “we ask that on this day you be with us in our travels.”

The lost significance of hunt and harvest

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It started in the blackberry patch. As a kid one July day I was taken to an overgrown pasture outside of town where gallons of this delicious wild fruit hung, free for the taking, on thorn-bristling vines that dropped heavily toward the earth. We filled our pails with berries until our hands were stained dark blue and then hauled them home to use in pies, cobblers and homemade ice cream.

10 Minutes with ... Harvey Cox

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For more than four decades, Harvey Cox has been one of America's most influential and provocative theologians.

In his new book, The Future of Faith," Cox argues that Christianity is moving from an "Age of Belief" dominated by creeds and church hierarchies to an "Age of Spirit," in which spirituality is replacing formal religion.

Cox, who is retiring from Harvard, spoke about why he believes creeds are divisive, religion on campus, and why Pope Benedict XVI didn't invite him to lunch.

One of God's most beautiful names

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Earth and Spirit

When we breathe out a heartfelt “Wow!” we are praying, for it’s more than just an element of surprise, originality, or a coolness factor that elicits this expression.

Kabir, a 12th-century Indian mystic, said: “When we say, ‘Ahhhhh!’ and say it with a deep sigh” -- the kind of exclamation that comes from our depths whenever we witness some aspect of the world’s blessing -- “that ‘Ahhhhh!’ is one of God’s most beautiful names.”

Eucharistic adoration: peaceful, despite the squabble

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These days, some things may still be impossible to find online, but adoration chapels are not among them. Go to www.therealpresence.org, pick out your state on the big map and click. Up will pop a list of churches that expose the consecrated host for adoration, along with hours of operation and contact numbers.

Regardless of the city, the list should be striking for its length.

In the right place at the right time, help arrives

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Ministries

Ten o’clock one night, the on-call phone rang.

“Father?”

“Yes?”

“I need to speak to Shane.”

I didn’t know who was calling or why. I tried to explain I didn’t know a Shane and there was no one on staff by that name. Disgruntled, the lady hung up. The next morning I got another call, from another person asking for Shane. This person tried to explain the situation. He started by telling me his story.

The God who beckons

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Katie was a second-grader in one of our schools. One Friday at art class as the teacher roamed the aisles checking progress, she stopped at Katie’s desk and asked, “Well, Katie, what are you drawing?”

“I am drawing a picture of God,” Katie said proudly.

“Katie,” the teacher answered, “you can’t draw a picture of God. Nobody knows what God looks like.”

Katie said, “They will when I’m finished.”

The lunar communion service

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was the first human to witness how liquid behaves in the weak gravitational field of the moon -- but this was no science experiment.

This was a believer giving thanks to God for an extraordinary adventure.

Forty years ago, in the first moments of July 20, 1969, after Aldrin had piloted the Eagle lunar module into the dust of the moon with only seconds of fuel to spare, he asked NASA for a radio blackout. He suggested that people around the world take the opportunity to "contemplate for a moment the events of the last few hours, and to give thanks in his own individual way."

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September 12-25, 2014

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