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October 21st, 2014
What to do if you suspect a friend is a victim of domestic violence

Question: I have a friend that I think might be in an abusive relationship, but I don’t know for sure. Every time I try to talk to her about it, she shuts down, and now she barely talks to me at all. Why does anyone stay in an abusive relationship? Is there anything I can do to help?
Answer:… I wish there was a simple answer to your question. Being aware of the potential for abuse is one way to protect your friend, but as you have found out, it’s very difficult to confront the situation if she isn’t willing to talk to you about it.
Any type of relational abuse, including verbal abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, coercion or controlling behavior, is considered “domestic violence.” It happens in dating relationships,

October 17th, 2014
Learning to trust God when you realize that you are not in control

When you become ill, seriously ill, you might feel hopeless or angry or full of despair. One of life’s most terrifying realizations is that we are not in control — God is. This virtual retreat provides guidance for prayer and reflection during the times when we need to trust God and to feel God’s presence, even when the future seems unclear. (Click here for a printable pdf of this retreat.)

GETTING STARTED­…
Find a quiet, comfortable place to experience this retreat – at home, outside, or at a local place of worship. If you are confined to bed, consider having someone open the blinds or curtains to brighten your room. Imagine the love of God as bright, warm light. Picture that light coursing through your

October 16th, 2014
Searching for answers after a natural disaster

Earthquakes and natural disasters are sometimes described as “Acts of God.” What a terrible misnomer. Storms occur due to natural phenomena — weather patterns, pressure systems, and, in the case of earthquakes, a shift in the earth’s plates. The causes of these disasters might be explored on The Weather Channel, but witnessing the profound loss and suffering they bring about can leave us struggling with doubt and searching for answers.
Among the questions that might arise is, “If we have an all-loving, all-knowing and all-powerful God, then why didn’t God prevent the suffering of innocent people and stop the storm?” This question is one of the oldest, and most struggled with, in the history…

October 15th, 2014
Halftime at the Synod brings with it an “earthquake” regarding the Church’s attitude toward the LGBT community.

As the extraordinary Synod of Bishops shared a midpoint document summarizing dis-cussions so far, we should remind ourselves that the Synod is far from over. In fact, there will be another session next year when Pope Francis will issue his own teachings on the subject of family. Nonetheless, several issues raised in the conversations so far should cause us to sit up and pay attention.
#1 New Attitude Toward the LGBT Community… — While the Synod upholds Catholic teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman, there was a remarkable change in tone toward gay couples that the acclaimed Vaticanologist John Thavis called “an earthquake.” The document states first and foremost that “homosexuals have

October 15th, 2014

“Active waiting.” Isn’t that an oxymoron? We associate the word “active” with movement and energy. And isn’t “waiting” a passive term? Can we really simultaneously do both?
Consider the Serenity Prayer:
“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
It challenges us to practice a healthy balance of action and contemplation. But how exactly do we discern when to step up and when to stand down with each new decision?

Have a conversation with God. 
Turn to God first. Not only because God knows our inner workings, tics, desires and weaknesses, but also because God just “gets it.” In…

October 14th, 2014

Millions of people are victims of domestic violence every year, but very rarely does it come into the spotlight. Over the past few months, there’s been nothing but a spotlight on former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice, the surveillance tape showing him beating his now-wife in an elevator, and the NFL’s handling of the situation. The revelations about Rice bring the issue of domestic violence to the forefront of our minds as we move through October, Domestic Violence Awareness month. It’s time to call all sectors of society to greater awareness and vigilance in the face of an evil that is often kept in silence.
Victims and survivors of domestic violence are all races, genders and faiths. They are married, dating,…

October 10th, 2014

I wonder if you are like me in the morning. Do you gulp coffee, eat toast standing up, and hurl dishes into the dishwasher while watching Good Morning America?
On this particular morning, the news came through that one of my favorite actors, Robin Williams, had committed suicide. My coffee cup hit the tiles and liquid cascaded across my kitchen floor.
“How could this happen?” I wailed to my husband, who was going through his own frantic dance of trying to leave for work.
“What happened, Annie?”
“Robin Williams committed suicide.”
He left his backpack on the floor and came skidding into the kitchen. From his face, he was as shocked as I was.
“How could someone who was loved by so many not know that he was…

October 9th, 2014

Patti Rogers was a superhero young wife, mom and party hostess when she received news that would change everything from her career to her spirituality.

Lynn Freehill-Maye: What was your life like in your 20s and 30s, pre-cancer?
Patti Rogers: I grew up a long-distance swimmer. Because of swimming, I had been introduced to healthy eating young. So it was a real surprise that after a lifetime of whole foods eating — that and all the exercise didn’t prevent me from getting this.
LFM: Tell me about the moment you were diagnosed.
PR: …I’m pretty sure no one else on the planet can say they were diagnosed in a Batgirl costume.
I was 41. I was on my way to pick my kids up from school on Halloween. I was merging onto the highway,

October 8th, 2014

In middle school, you may have celebrated your ascent into adolescence with Vitamin C’s tear-inducing “Graduation” (Friends Forever). Perhaps in high school, you threw your cap into the air to the words of a more contemporary graduation song like “Good Riddance” (Time of Your Life). In college, however, you march to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance,” down a path that may just determine the rest of your life. No pressure!
As my grandfather told me after I graduated from college, “Finally, a diploma you can do something with!” The message was clear: I now had to choose to do something with this diploma. Unlike in past graduations, where the next step was practically thrust upon me, I had no clear…

October 7th, 2014

For Catholics, the Rosary is among the most popular forms of prayer. Many also believe that saying the Rosary has the power to affect great good in our world. It is prayed aloud each day in Catholic churches, on Catholic TV channels, and also online. There are even Rosary apps available. With 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, it is not a far reach to say that millions pray the Rosary each day.
October is the month of the Rosary, and October 7, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. The term “rosary” comes from the Latin word “rosarium,” meaning rose garden, and refers to the religious practice of reciting prayers, as well as to the string of beads used for this purpose. In…

October 6th, 2014

Let’s be honest: Christianity is built on seemingly irreconcilable paradoxes. God becomes human. Jesus is both God and man. Death brings life. And we’re all called to be last so that we might be first.
It’s a lot to take in — and that’s why we should all be particularly interested in this week’s extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family. There’s a lot of paradox — a lot of seemingly irreconcilable difference –and we get a front-row seat to watch the Holy Spirit work.
Any cursory glance through Catholic news reports and blogs over the last few months will show you what I mean. We’ve seen journalists at each other’s throats trying to interpret…

October 3rd, 2014

Fall brings with it so many great outdoor activities that only work this time of year. Many of these adventures are centered on God’s creation. So, why not get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer. Take advantage of the mild weather and spectacular scenery that the autumn months provide with one of these activities.

Fall Foliage
Take a ride through any and all of New England to witness the breathtaking colors and hues of the leaves this time of year. Foliage — just another word for leaves — means something entirely different in the Northern regions of New England than it does elsewhere in our country. Oranges, reds, pinks and even dark purples dot the trees and make for spectacular scenery and photos. To…

October 1st, 2014

Climate change is in the air, so instead of going with a scary Halloween photo for this month, we decided on an even more terrifying image: “Glacier Affected by Climate Change Seen in Antarctica”.

September 30th, 2014
How St. Thérèse of Lisieux answered my prayers

In a time where instant gratification is the rule of the day, do we allow ourselves the opportunity to wait for an answer to a prayer? Most of the time, getting the answer takes a while. On other occasions, prayer affords quicker, clarion moments that provide understanding, enlightenment, and very cool opportunities for growth. This feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux serves as a reminder to me of how modern this wonderful saint is. And, what a blessing it was for her to show me that prayer works.
That blessing began to unfold as I was going about my chores on a particular Sunday, tackling the “excitement” of laundry and more in my apartment. I was listening to a Catholic podcast, and the host happened to be discussing…

September 30th, 2014

I live in a bustling Philadelphia neighborhood, where the symphony of street racing, heated arguments and emergency sirens is punctuated by occasional, and very brief, stillness. A country girl at heart, I find solace at a Franciscan spiritual retreat center an hour south of the city, where a cluster of small, sparsely appointed cabins sit amidst a forest and foster the mental quiet necessary for deep connection with God. If visitors wake up early enough in the winter months, they are treated to a rainbow of color and chorus of praise as the birds of the forest gather around a wooden carving of St. Francis of Assisi holding a tray, which the sisters keep stocked with seeds. It serves as a reminder that God sees and cares…

September 26th, 2014

I’m sure you have a good image in your mind of Machu Picchu, but this is what it is like for me: Waking up at 4 a.m. to start trekking alongside a gurgling river, with nothing but a few slivers of sunrise to light the way. Trudging up a winding path and gradually rising higher than the early morning mist-laden clouds. Seeing the white oversized cotton balls slithering between and above and below the peaks and valleys of the mountains. Seemingly tip-toeing through the early morning air, catching mere glimpses of the ruins still hidden within the low-hanging cloud cover. Climbing nearby Huayna Picchu and sitting on the peak of a mountain, gazing down at everything, lost amid the white of the clouds, and then, finally,…

September 25th, 2014
Natural ways to enjoy pumpkin and other fall flavors

As the air gets chilly and the leaves turn shades of orange, all we want to do is snuggle up on the couch with a good book and a steaming bowl of soup or hot mug of cider. Fall is comfort food season and a great excuse to cook with fall flavors like pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. With the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte and Panera Bread pumpkin muffins, it’s tempting to simply buy already-prepared pumpkin foods. But many times, these items (specifically the two mentioned above) are high in calories and artificial sugars/flavorings. This fall, don’t be intimidated in the kitchen. Try some of these autumn-inspired recipes and enjoy these warm dishes with delectable flavors on your own and in a more natural way.
Put …

September 25th, 2014
As ISIS/ISIL terrorizes the Middle East, we’re called to dialogue, and to work with people of other faiths for peace

The recent 9/11 anniversary of the 2001 attacks by al-Qaeda on the Twin Towers in Manhattan and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., also brought with it, especially in light of the present actions of ISIS/ISIL, memories of the backlash against Muslim and even Sikh communities on our own continent. Those memories underline the importance of building relationships with people of other faiths — in our efforts to help those who are the victims of such violence, and in seeking together the common goal of peace.
The Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said as much when it reasserted its commitment to dialogue with other religions, and Muslims in particular,…

September 24th, 2014
The long, and sometimes difficult, road from seeing their struggles to seeing our struggles

When I was 21, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to get my doctorate in theology and become a renowned theologian of sexual ethics. When I approached my mentor for letters of recommendation, she said something that stopped me in my tracks: “You should really consider taking a year off. Maybe you should do a year of service.”
I cried for a week. I don’t like a change in plans. In theory, I could have stayed the course, but I respected and admired her too much not to consider what she had to say.
The following fall, I started what would become two years of service at a Catholic service organization in Chicago. My chosen assignment was teaching English at an all-girls Catholic high school on Chicago’s…

September 23rd, 2014

Remember family television? The Brady Bunch, The Cosby Show, Family Matters, George Lopez, and Everybody Hates Chris? It seems that lately, the idea of the family comedy has all but disappeared, save for Modern Family.
These shows have been replaced with competitive cooking shows, reality television and talent competitions. Finding a single show which will keep every age range in the family entertained and satisfied has grown increasingly difficult.
But ABC is revamping family television and here are three shows to watch:

Black-ish — series premiere Wednesday, September 24 at 9:30/8:30 Central
The new fall comedy Black-ish follows a black family living in a predominantly white upper-middle class…

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