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Worried? Here's the Phrase That Helped Me (Wisdom From my Mom)

Worried? Here's the Phrase That Helped Me (Wisdom From my Mom)

In my late thirties, I was sitting in my office, the entire building penetrated by an eerie silence. It was the day after 911 and the skies were silent. Uncertainty cloaked the country as the march toward war began.I felt so small, so really all alone, there in my small corner office writing a newsletter and working on a website.Tragedy and uncertainty can isolate us from others. We might lose perspective as larger-than-life problems take over our awareness. The present darkness may seem too big...
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How Little Things Build Intimacy in Big Ways

How Little Things Build Intimacy in Big Ways

Imagine this scene. There is a blackout in the city. A young couple has planned a romantic and elaborate Valentine’s Day evening together—dinner at an expensive restaurant, excellent tickets for a popular show, expensive gifts for each other.But now the blackout. No dinner. No show. No way to drop by the jeweler’s to pick up the gifts. Just the two of them in their dark apartment.It would be easy to call the evening ruined, wouldn’t it? But let’s look more closely a...
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A Guide to Seeing the Vibrancy of Faith in a Dark World

A Guide to Seeing the Vibrancy of Faith in a Dark World

“It is the business of the artist to uncover the strangeness of truth.”Flannery O’Connor It’s often said that truth is stranger than fiction. Nobody is more familiar with this reality than Fr. Damian Ference, who, as a priest, is often witness to life’s most dramatic and mysterious events. In his new book, The Strangeness of Truth, meditations on the incarnation and resurrection are presented alongside scenes from his own life: a midnight call to the ICU t...
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What Martin Luther King Did When He Was Afraid

What Martin Luther King Did When He Was Afraid

I’m always hyper-aware of Martin Luther King Jr. Day for several reasons. My own birthday falls right around the same time. I did my doctoral work at Boston University, as did the Rev. Dr. King; in many ways he is still a presence around the B.U. School of Theology. And I am, as are we all, deeply aware of his writing, his sermons, and the influence he had on the American psyche.But as a Catholic, I’m always looking a little deeper. What sort of spiritual practice undergirded what he...
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I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s Why.

I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s Why.

We live in an odd world. As soon as we manage to get through the wonderful madness of Christmas, the first thing on everyone’s mind isn’t rest, or rejoicing in the birth of Christ, or enjoying the quiet of the Christmas season after the day itself.No; what’s on everyone’s mind is change. This is the year, we all decide, when we will lose weight, manage our finances, start a new hobby, be nicer to our spouses. We’ll buy a self-help book and replace all our old bad ha...
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Welcome to Advent! God’s presence with us

Welcome to Advent! God’s presence with us

And so Advent begins. Some of us are ready: our wreaths are out, our calendars prepared, our readings marked. Some of us, on the other hand, are feeling already overloaded as the year seems to accelerate toward Christmas. Ready or not, though, it’s here.I’ve recently been reading some of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s writings, and the other day I came across his homily at the First Vespers of Advent in 2009. “Advent,” he writes, “this powerful liturgical season...
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Thanksgiving—and Gratitude

Thanksgiving—and Gratitude

Last week, I had one of the most frustrating days ever. I was supposed to pick up a prescription, then do a series of errands that would take up an hour or so of my time. My prescription wasn’t ready; the office-supply place had to order my printer-ink refill, the grocery store had to give me a raincheck for the eggs that were supposed to be on sale, and I was feeling like life just shouldn’t be this difficult. Then, when I came home, I happened upon an article about a man in Mexico ...
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Could You Be a Saint?

Could You Be a Saint?

Have you ever looked at the life of a saint and thought, I could never do that—I’m nothing like them? Have you ever felt like sainthood was challenging you to a stare-down, and you couldn’t hold your gaze steady?Some days, the thought of being called to be holy seems about as achievable as making it up Mount Everest without an oxygen tank!We all know that we’re called to sainthood—and that we all fall short. How many times have you heard questions or insecurities, w...
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Why Passing on the Good News Matters

Why Passing on the Good News Matters

It was late on a Sunday afternoon, and I was sitting in the chapel of a hospice care facility, waiting for Cherry to die.Cherry and I weren’t related by blood, but as her dementia increased—she was in her nineties when we met—I was asked to take on legal and other responsibilities around her care. It was my honor and my delight: I never knew my grandparents, and she became in many ways the Nana I would have loved to have. She was still smart, still funny, still kind.Even before...
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How Does a Person Become a Saint, Anyway?

How Does a Person Become a Saint, Anyway?

We’re all called to sainthood—or to try for it, anyway! Scripture and the Church both make that clear: we’re all called to seek holiness and sainthood, whatever our state in life. The Church expresses this Universal Call to Holiness over and over again, most recently in Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate. The vocation, the calling, to holiness is universal; God is speaking to all Christians when he says, “Be holy because I [am] holy”...
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