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God in the apricot tree

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Branch Sunday is approaching, that spring celebration of fruitfulness in stories I tell about orchardists who place their excess tree prunings on the altar to praise God with the beauty of the forced blooms.

For years I convinced Tuesday mass attendees at the St. Louis Catholic Worker that it was a real feast. I brought the branches from the Worker orchard in late February with instructions to put them in water in a warm spot in the house.

It's Operation Rice Bowl Time

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This Press Release just in:

Holy Father’s Lenten Message Calls for Sacrifice

Operation Rice Bowl provides vital assistance to poor around the world through Lenten Sacrifice

Baltimore, MD, March 3, 2011 – This year Pope Benedict XVI’s Lenten message invites Catholics to consider the traditions of fasting and sacrifices. “For Christians,” the Holy Father said, “fasting, far from being depressing, opens us ever more to God and to the needs of others, thus allowing love of God to become also love of our neighbor.”

“This is exactly what we mean at CRS when we say that solidarity can transform the world," said Catholic Relief Services President, Ken Hackett. “As we state in our guiding principles: “We are all part of one human family — whatever our national, racial, religious, economic or ideological differences — and in an increasingly interconnected world, loving our neighbor has global dimensions.”

The challenge of being a parent, God's grace, and Charlie Sheen

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Every time there is another report about Charlie Sheen entering rehab, spewing weirdness on the Today show, or being the butt of late-night talk shows, all I can think is, “Poor Martin.”

It can’t be easy to watch your son implode on every media outlet willing to take advantage of someone who is obviously really ill. While his behavior is somewhere between “spoiled, rotten, brat” and “colossal jerk”, I think it shows fairly clear signs of mania, be it natural or drug-induced, and responsible media should know better than to offer him a platform from which to take a high dive.

Regardless of the cause, Sheen’s behavior is no doubt bringing enormous pain, worry and frustration to his parents. That’s because no matter how old your offspring are, you still love them with a passion untamed.

It is a love that gives and believes and hopes and -- if your child goes astray -- aches worse than anything one can imagine.

Influence of African American Churches Felt in Maryland Marriage Vote

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The Washington Post reported last week that the Catholic hierarchy’s lobbying campaign against Maryland’s pro-gay marriage legislation has been ineffectual. This despite the fact that the state’s political leadership – the governor and the leaders of the House of Delegates and State Senate – are each Catholic.

Yesterday, two sponsors of the legislation in the House of Delegates absented themselves from a key vote on the bill rather then move it forward. They were reacting, at least in part, to pressure from African-American churches, many of which have spoken out vociferously in favor of traditional marriage and oppose its expansion to include gays.

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