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Religion of the Heart

Illustration: Sean M. Foster. It is my conviction that at the core of every religious tradition lies an experience that is accessible to all of us, if we open our hearts to it. The heart of every religion is the religion of the heart.
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Mother's Day: Her Beauty Is Hiding in Plain Sight

Image: John Ottoson. This Mother's Day, contact a woman in your life who has mothered and mentored you—mom, grandma, an aunt, colleague, or friend—and shower her with love by proving that you see her unique beauty for what it truly is. I'll share a few simple steps for writing her a "beauty letter." It will be the best Mother's Day gift she ever receives.
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Fate vs. Free Will

One of the central debates in human history is the question of fate versus free will. For example, most ancient Greek mythology sends the clear message: you have no ultimate choice, fate always wins out. Recall poor Oedipus who tries his best to avoid prophesy that says he will kill his father and marry his mother on to have it all come true. In contrast, Jewish tradition assumes ultimate choice by humans, especially in their relationship to God. God may cajole, and even occasionally punish, but ultimately, we are free to decide our fate.
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Saint Gianna Beretta Molla: 'One of Us'

A hardworking, intelligent, and culturally savvy young woman made a monumental choice in April 1962. It was a choice made out of love, specifically, the tender love of a mother. The woman: Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, of Italy. Her choice: to save her unborn child’s life, even if it risked losing her own. As one of the two patrons of this September’s [2015] World Meeting of Families—the other being St. John Paul II, who canonized her—St. Gianna is a saint not only for expectant mothers, but also for anyone who sees the inherent dignity of life.
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Follower of Saint Francis: Sister Maureen Colleary, FSP

Image: John Mark Arnold.  Why Catholic? No, really—Why Catholic? That’s the name of a popular parish program offered by RENEW International, a Catholic ministry organization that has worked under the Archdiocese of Newark since 1976. RENEW now promotes spiritual renewal programs in over 160 dioceses across the United States, as well as internationally.
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Seeing Teens for Who They Are

Image: Greg Raines. Like many teens I’ve worked with, I didn’t grow up in the most functional of families. I was born to a single mother who worked three or four jobs at any given point to make ends meet. Most nights she worked late. From the age of thirteen onward I spent many weeknights home alone in an empty house feeling lonely, sad, and angry. Of course I couldn’t articulate that at thirteen, but I was hurting, and I wanted to make the hurt go away. I turned to food.
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Jesus' Challenge: Embrace Poverty

In 1987, I got sober. In 1990, with the law degree I’d earned while drinking, I landed a job as an attorney and started making money for the first time I my life. In 1994, I quit that job in order to embark on the precarious vocation of a writer. In 1996, I converted to Catholicism and joined the Church.
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Year of Mercy: Nourishing Body and Spirit

A Zimbabwean man walks through his drought-affected corn field outside Harare Jan. 20. (CNS photo/Philimon Bulawayo, Reuters) With poverty on the rise and a drought compounding Zimbabwe's problems, people are struggling to make ends meet, and the poor are becoming poorer, church workers said. In Zimbabwe's hospitals and other health facilities, "patients need to pay for everything: painkillers, drips, injections and scans," said Getrude Chimange, coordinator of the justice and peace commission in Mutare Diocese.
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Proclaiming the Message of Life: Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

Image: Altarpiece picture of Johan Ludvig Gebhard Lund (1777-1867) in Saint Peter's Church, Copenhagen. As the weekend approaches, reflect on this week's readings through the lens of life—the life of Christ and the sacredness of all human life. This reflection is taken from Proclaiming the Message of Life: Weekly Reflections from the Lectionary by Fr. Frank A. Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life.
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12 Things to Know about 'Amoris Laetitia' ('The Joy of Love')

Image: Benji Aird. What is so special about Amoris Laetitia, or The Joy of Love? If you don't have time to read the document itself, here's a must-read article of twelve things you should know about it. 
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