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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

U.S. CATHOLIC - March 25, 2014

March 25, 2014

Week Three: Three refreshing gifts of Lent
In part three of our Lenten Reflections series, author Robert Wicks offers some new takes on the classic approaches to embracing Lent.
Lent is a beautiful time of renewal that is often missed. Yet, just like an unexpected afternoon free, a chance to walk quietly alone in the forest or along the beach, Lent can provide the space to lean back into the now and take a deep refreshing breath with God when we see it in the proper perspective. The two questions remain though: Will we take this opportunity? If we do, how should we best go about it in a simple, sincere way? Read more

To see more in our series of Lenten Reflections, click here. And, we want to know how you and your family choose to observe the solemnity of Lent. Take our survey and let us know about your Lenten traditions!

Will the meeting between Pope Francis and President Obama foster a 'social justice spring'?
These two leaders have more in common than appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone. These are two people who wish they could do big, big things in the world.  

Ever since I read that President Obama and Pope Francis will meet at the Vatican on March 27, my hopes for the year have been rising. Not just for the two of them--although as a Catholic and as director of the group where Obama learned to be a community organizer I feel a connection to both--but for all of us who see this as the year that social justice comes roaring back. Read more.

Best practices for engaging youth
Whether they come with tattoos and piercings or ponytails and polo shirts, youth deserve a warm welcome from the whole parish. 

My first year working as a youth minister, I had a group of about 10 or 12 kids who came on a regular basis. These were kids whose families routinely went to Mass--kids you expected to be in a youth group. But then other kids came in who didn't fit that mold. Some of them came to Mass regularly, some didn't. Some weren't even Catholic. Some would go to the Baptist youth group on Tuesday and to the Catholic youth group on Sunday. Some were kids who were extraordinarily in need, who would act out on occasion, trying to get that attention teenagers crave. They were a group of kids who weren't sure where they fit in. Read more

Is fracking the answer to our energy crisis?
In our national energy crisis, fracking for natural gas has been hailed as a "bridge" solution. But there are other options that we should not be ignoring. 

The problem of climate change is well understood, even if the outcomes are not entirely certain. Fossil fuel consumption is generating greenhouse gas pollution, that is, more greenhouse gases beyond what naturally occurs to keep the planet in balance. We have to immediately slow and quickly reverse this activity or we'll likely cook the planet and generate enormous hardship for ourselves, especially the poor and vulnerable. So what's the tool, what's the lever that we need to get the job done smarter and with less pain?

Some, including President Obama, think that one important tool is natural gas because it burns cleaner. Even if this method of pulling natural gas out of the ground can be made safe, it seems that the fuel and the process are, in many ways, the same old approach. What we really need are new, but very attainable, tools. It's clear we cannot keep burning fossil fuels (even relatively clean ones like natural gas) and save the planet from harmful climate change. Read more.

What do you think? Can fracking provide us with the energy--and jobs--our country needs, or is this one more way we are neglecting care for God's creation? Take our survey and let us know!

Should we hold hands during the Lord's prayer?
Holding hands (or not) is less important than praying in a "commonly bodily posture," as the body of Christ. 
One of my first memories of Sunday Mass was my mother taking my hand when we joined in the Lord's Prayer. As time went on and with the addition of three younger brothers, the family "Our Father" chain grew, expanding beyond our immediate household to the families that sat closest to us in church. Holding hands during the Lord's Prayer was taken for granted in my years of high school youth ministry, and by the time I graduated from college, pretty much everyone held hands in my home parish. Read more

Will the church get on board with the push for universal pre-K?
Supporting children's development and promoting family life are important issues for the church, and they should be out at the forefront of this debate.
How much do you remember about your first day of kindergarten? That might depend on how good your memory is and how many years ago it was, but it also might have something to do with what you were doing in the years prior. For some children, kindergarten is their first foray into the world of education, their first time away from home, their first experience inside a classroom alongside other kids. But for those whose parents are able to afford a pre-kindergarten education, that first day of kindergarten is less a rite of passage than the next step in an educational experience that's already well underway. Read more.

Read: Without Apology
By Stanley Hauerwas (Seabury Books, 2013)

It's a weird thing to review a book of sermons, let alone one written by a theologian known less for preaching than his academic work. It makes more sense if you know that Stanley Hauerwas is an odd breed of theologian. Recently retired from Duke, he is an Episcopalian but is seen as a deeply Catholic thinker. Unlike many scholars who do their work within the academy, he has often written with those outside the university in mind. Read more

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March 2014

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