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Meditation: Prayer of the Heart

Our guest blogger is Laurence Freeman, OSB, author of Sensing God: Learning to Meditate During Lent. Image: Bara Cross How best to move forward with meditation? The way of meditation I would recommend is in many ways universal, but also an integral part of the Christian tradition of prayer. In this tradition it is called the “prayer of the heart.” This distinguishes it from either mental prayer or the external forms of worship with which many Christians have come to identify prayer.
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Self-Giving Love

Our guest blogger today is Edward Sri, author of Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights from John Paul II's Love and Responsibility. Image: freestocks.org One of the chief hallmarks of the objective aspect of love is the gift of self. John Paul II teaches that what makes betrothed (married) love different from all other forms of love such as attraction, desire, and friendship is that two people give themselves to each other. They are not just attracted to each other, and they do not simply desire what is good for each other. In betrothed love, each person surrenders himself entirely to the other. Yet the very idea of self-giving love raises some important questions: How can one person give himself to another? What does this mean? After all, each human person is utterly unique.
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A World of Illiteracy

Image: Micah Hallahan. What God writes in the skies, the oceans, the wind, and the rain provides a glimpse of his purpose for our lives, rooted in his incomparably generous love. Since we are made in his image, this love gives meaning to our lives, so it makes sense to be on the lookout for signs of his presence in the world around us. In fact, recent scientific discoveries point resolutely to the existence of our Creator, revealing all the structures of the universe’s intelligent design by a “someone” with a purpose and a plan.
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Follow in the Footprints of Jesus

Image: Alex Wong | killerfaith | via unsplash. The very first phrase in the Franciscan Rule reads, "The Rule and life of the Friars Minor is this, namely, to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." Discover Christ in the Gospels and all of Scripture and in a prayerful way get deeper and deeper into his mind and heart, and then you can, as Francis liked to say, "follow the footprints of our Lord Jesus Christ." 
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Why I'm Still Catholic

Image: Daniel Kainz. It was an honest question. After listening to me recount all my frustrations with the Catholic Church one night after dinner, my sister-in-law, who is not Catholic, asked me very honestly, “So then why do you stay?” The question stopped me in my tracks. At first I bristled a little at the question, feeling a bit defensive. But then it occurred to me that I really didn’t know how to answer her.
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Does the Earth Have Cancer?

Image: Kaitlyn Jameson. My 71-year-old mom has stage IV non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and she is currently undergoing an aggressive chemotherapy regimen. Cancer has been a painful, difficult journey, both for her and for all of us who love her. In my environmental work, I’ve come across the idea that human beings, as a species, have become something like a global-scale cancer. I never agreed with this line of thought—and still don’t—but with cancer such a real and present concern in my family’s life right now, I find myself pondering it once again.
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What's New about the "New" Feminism?

Image: Tachina Lee. Recently, something called “The New Feminism” has been getting quite a bit of press, both in print and online. An expression coined by St. John Paul II in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, the New Feminism is about helping women to live and express Gospel values more effectively in the Church and in the world, by recognizing their own authentic gifts and mission. It remains to be seen what new initiatives will arise from this more recent conversation, but as the mother of a teenage daughter, I am thrilled that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has called for a more profound theology of women in the Church. His cry for progress recalls St. John Paul II’s Letter to All Women:
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Feast of the Holy Family

Image: Giorgio Vasari and Andrea del Sarto. A Word from Pope Francis The message that comes from the Holy Family is first of all a message of faith. In the family life of Mary and Joseph, God is truly at the center, and He is so in the Person of Jesus. This is why the Family of Nazareth is holy. Why? Because it is centered on Jesus. When parents and children together breathe in this climate of faith, they have an energy that allows them to face even difficult trials, as the experience of the Holy Family shows, for example, in the dramatic event of their flight to Egypt: a difficult ordeal.
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A Christmas Miracle

Catholic and Jewish people people are kindred spirits. We worship the same God, and honor God as the creator and sustainer of all life—especially that of our own human family. We both celebrate endless years of God’s saving actions among us. As Pope St. John XXIII famously said upon welcoming Jewish leaders to a meeting, recalling the Genesis story, “I am your brother, Joseph.” Of course, we all know that this brotherhood and sisterhood has not been observed for most of Christian history. Ours has been a long and horrible story of distrust and finger-pointing, of jealousy, discrimination, and violence against Judaism. The low point of this sad history, we all know, is the Nazi attempt to eliminate Jews completely.
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The Tale of a Classic Christmas Song

Although the names of Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne may not be familiar, they composed many popular songs together, including “Rain, Rain, Go Away,” recorded by Bobby Vinton. Their masterpiece, however, is “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Many people mistakenly assume this Christmas classic has been around for years and that it is of European origin. But it was written in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis as a powerful plea for peace by a man who had experienced the horrors of war. The song’s message of peace is as desperately needed today as it was then.
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