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Saint Francis/Pope Francis: Loving the 'Least of Us'

In every suffering brother and sister that we embrace,” Pope Francis said in 2013 while visiting Saint Francis of Assisi Hospital in Brazil, “we embrace the suffering body of Christ.” Perhaps such encounters with Christ are the motivation behind the Holy Father’s consistent practice of reaching out to the sick. 
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Our Quest for Peace

There’s nothing like an election to divide people. I remember a number of political discussions and arguments in my family. We were a divided house when elections approached. Mom worked for the Republicans and Dad was a Democrat. I remember a couple of heated arguments around our house which ended with a terse, “My vote cancels yours.” Still, my family had a sense of the common good. 
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The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

In the first reading, we find the ancient prayer of blessing which God gave to Moses to hand on to Aaron and his sons: “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” Numbers 6:24–25.   There is no more meaningful time than the beginning of a new year to hear these words of blessing: they will accompany our journey through the year opening up before us. 
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An Important Resolution for the New Year

As we get into the new year, we’ve probably heard more than a few conversations about New Year’s resolutions. Many are never followed; others last only a few weeks. But one resolution can be considered an act of prudence. The prudent person is one who does the good, as opposed to one who merely knows the good. Prudent people are wise enough to plan for the future. 
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Jesus and the Canaanite Woman

Many people face a conundrum when reading the scene in Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus meets the Canaanite woman who begs him to release her little girl from demonic possession (15:28ff). The Lord’s first response is silence, and we are struck by how out of character that is for him. No response to a cry for help? Then the woman kneels and pleads, “Lord, help me,” to which the Lord replies that his mission is not to gentiles, but to Israel. 
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The Sanctity of Santa

If you know any Romance languages or have traveled, you’ve come across the word santa many times. Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Santa Lucia, San Francisco. Santa means “holy” or “holy one.” There in the name is a hint, not just about the origins of his name in St. Nicholas but also about his nature. He’s not just a goblin; he’s a saint, the object of religious awe and honor. What if we treated him like a saint as much as a gnome?
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Making Room at the Inn This Christmas

With all the joy and celebration that accompany Christmas, it’s easy to forget that the first Christmas was a harrowing and, at times, dehumanizing experience for the Holy Family.  In Luke 2:7, we find out that Mary gave birth to Jesus in a manger, “because there was no room for them in the inn.” Perhaps there truly wasn’t a square inch to spare at the inn, but I wonder if the Holy Family, being outsiders to Bethlehem, were rejected in part because they were strangers in an unfamiliar land. 
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Advent Reflection, Week 4

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Christmas without Kids

“The guys want to hang out,” said our 26-year-old son after breakfast Christmas morning. “So, do you need me around for any . . .” he looked at me as he annunciated, “traditions?” Rob and I exchanged looks. We exchanged more looks than presents that Christmas. Of course, we expected the children to begin pulling away as they grew up, but we were still caught off guard when the holidays rolled around that year. “Sure, son,” my husband said. “Have a good time.” Because, really, what else could we say? It’s the bittersweet truth that we raise our children so they will leave. But that Christmas Rob and I found ourselves sitting in stunned silence, flipping channels, and napping.
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A Mary Christmas: The Adoration of the Magi

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
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