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25 days of Advent in action

If your kids are anything like mine, Advent has less to do with preparing for the arrival of baby Jesus and more to do with the studied preparation of Christmas lists. In an effort to combat an increasingly present-hungry holiday focus, a few years ago we started a Jesse Tree. Every morning, we added a new ornament to our Jesse Tree and read that day’s Bible story, which took us from creation to the birth of Christ.

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In the college classroom, belief should be open for discussion

A few weeks ago I was standing in the back of a college classroom at the Catholic university where I teach while my students chatted with a guest speaker via Skype. The guest speaker was a deacon on his way to the priesthood and a graduate of the University of Saint Francis, where I teach. In the shadowy back aisle where I stood, I listened while Deacon Jay explained that he was not Catholic during his first three years at Saint Francis, but felt pulled toward the faith after a chance invite from a couple of girls to join them at Mass.

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How Catholics should think about politics and government

Next Tuesday, November 7, 2017, is election day across America. Because of our places along the spectrum of American voters, Catholics again have a pivotal role to play in these elections. How should we vote?

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Mass is boring when you’re 8

Until I had children, I didn’t understand Mass as an athletic event. Before we even get to the homily, a point when many Mass-goers get to sit and relax, I have perspiration on my upper lip and forehead. My arm muscles burn from balancing an ever-curious baby on my hip and wrangling a 3-year-old who would like very much to escape the pew and race down the aisle to the altar. While these two Littles keep me and my husband hopping, it’s our 8-year-old whose constant pursuit of distraction makes me feel like I’ve run a marathon by the time the recessional hymn begins.

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Render unto Caesar: A Catholic assessment of Trump’s tax proposal

Catholic teachings emphasize that taxes are instruments of social justice and morality. Catholics are obliged to reflect on who gets hurt most by the cost of taxes and who benefits most from what they fund. So how does the the Trump tax reform proposal now under consideration in Washington answer these questions? Frankly, we should be very concerned.

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Celebrate the gifts of this hour

I don’t know how old I was when I was first introduced to Henry David Thoreau’s admonition “to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,” but it must have been fairly young because it stuck to me in the rudimentary way of childhood when you accept fully the premise of a thing, when you swallow it down wholesale and it becomes you.

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Break your technology addiction this summer

In the early ’80s, when home computers were first widely available, my family plugged in early. My dad took a corner in the large room my brothers shared and made an office where we all took turns playing 2-bit graphic games or writing code in DOS that translated into a noisily printed image on our dot matrix printer. After that it was Atari, then Nintendo NES, and annual computer upgrades as we shot from the floppy disc era into the present era of all-consuming internet access and digital cloud storage. I came of age in a simpler time but not one without a reliance on technology.

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Do Catholics have to name their babies after saints?

When our first son was born, my husband and I, both writers, labored over the choice of what to name him. It had to be right. It had to be original. It was, my poet husband declared with much gravity, “naming a life.” The burden of that weighed heavily on us. We scoured bookstores and online lists of baby names. We wanted something our son could live up to, something that was different, but not weird. After months of combing through thousands of names, we finally landed on Atticus Levi, a nod to both Atticus Finch and my husband’s favorite poet, Larry Levis.

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The Chicago Cubs and the mystery of faith

I often joke that I came out of the womb wearing a Cubs hat. I was born in New Hampshire into a family of Chicago Cubs fans on November 9, 1992. Three months later, I was baptized.

I chose neither of these things. But before I could walk, talk, or seek a rational alternative, both were part of my temporal and eternal destiny. Cradle Catholic. Cradle Cubs fan. My ancestral birthrights. 

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Seasons of defeat: Lent and March Madness

For most Catholics, the month of March signifies the liturgical season of Lent, the 40 days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving where we take the time to reflect on and renew our relationship with God. While I engage in Lent during the month of March, there’s another ritual that I practice during this same time each year: March Madness (not to be confused with Lent Madness).

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