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Praying for relief from our suffering

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I just got this prayer for rain on the Internet.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You said whatsoever any two or more come together and agree and ask in Your Son's name, it shall be given. We come to you, humbly, and ask that you bring down the rain to our parched lands. Our farmers and ranchers need it desperately, as well as our firefighters. We ask this all in Jesus' name.
Amen.

I immediately prayed this prayer. And I share it with you. I love Jesus' invitation to ask for what we want and I join with the victims of drought in wanting rain for them. But at the same time, I thought some contrition for our damage to the earth and our role in climate change would be appropriate. I began to rewrite the prayer.

Public prayer is political. Do we say Heavenly Father or Gracious God? Do we petition only for our own needs or do we include the foreigner? What do we repent and what do we propose to amend? How do we express our own strong desires without offending others in the congregation? Here's my first take.

On this day: Bl. Frederic Ozanam

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On this day we celebrate the feast of Blessed Frederic Ozanam, husband, father, lawyer, author, Dante scholar, professor in the Sorbonne, founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

"Frederic Ozanam was schooled in law, literature and philosophy, and he taught at the university level in Lyon and Paris. Frederic and six companions founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul on April 23, 1833. On June 23, 1841 Frederic married Amelie Soulacroix, and their child Marie, was born in 1845. This exemplar of the lay apostolate in the realms of family, society and intellect succumbed to ill health and died on September 8, 1853. Pope John Paul II beatified Frederic Ozanam in Paris on August 22, 1997, declaring September 9 as his feast day."

--Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

Morning Briefing

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Jobs and the economy: As Obama urges action, GOP points to standing pat

German court says: Catholic institutions can fire staff for breaking rules, such as marriage vows.

Sunday Best? Church Leaders Blush at "Casual Catholic" Dress

Arkansas, 1962-1964: Vatican Council II draws weekly reports from Bishop Fletcher , Time Capsule: A 33-part series on history mined from the first 100 years of Arkansas Catholic and its predecessors.

BXVI: The unsung heroes of the Indian Church

Limits to growth

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There are limits to growth. The asceticism of religion is an effort to teach ourselves to live within limits. But for all of America's self-proclamation as a nation under God, we are unwilling to accept the notion that there are limits, much less set them and strive to live within them.

There are global limits as well as national ones. But the U.S. is the richest, the most extravagant, always claiming to be No. 1. If only we could be No. 1 in living simply.

Take the current economic crisis. It's a bad situation and may get worse. A temporary fix is to grow ourselves out of it, either the Republican way by letting private enterprise loose to grow business and gain profits, or the Democratic way through a massive infrastructure jobs program and payroll tax cuts, putting money in people's pockets so that they will buy more, grow business and create profits.

It's the wrong answer to the wrong question. Neither greed nor consumer confidence is a virtue. What the political parties don't recognize is that there is plenty of work that needs to be done; but no one is willing to pay for it.

The \"spiritual but not religious\" debate

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We all know folks who identify as “spiritual but not religious.” Do you have compassion, tolerance and understanding for their spiritual journeys? Or do you find them immature, shallow and a little bit boring?

A few weeks ago, a United Church of Christ minister, the Rev. Lillian Daniel of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, wrote a blog post entitled “Spiritual But Not Religious? Please Stop Boring Me.” In it, she vents about a recent flight during which a “spiritual but not religious” person tried to enlighten her about how he can find God in sunsets.

“Like people who go to church don't see God in the sunset! Like we are these monastic little hermits who never leave the church building. How lucky we are to have these geniuses inform us that God is in nature. As if we don’t hear that in the psalms, the creation stories and throughout our deep tradition.”

As you can tell, her tone is a bit snide and snarky:

Egypt confronts legacy of religious segregation

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tThe German-based relief organization “Aid to the Church in Need” is perhaps the most active, and reliable, international body tracking anti-Christian persecution around the world. Recently one of its officials, Roberto Simona, traveled to Egypt to assess the situation facing Christians after the fall of the Mubarak government.

tThe following is an NCR translation of excerpts from a piece Simona wrote for “Oasis”, a project founded by Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan, while he was still in Venice, designed to promote Muslim/Christian dialogue and to raise the visibility of the Christian churches of the Middle East.

By ROBERTO SIMONA

Morning Briefing

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Nicholas P. Cafardi: Advice for new Philly archbishop: Real Catholic agenda is way broader than abortion

Raleigh Catholic diocese plans new cathedral. 2,000-seat cathedral and campus on 39 acres, estimated to cost $75 million to $90 million

South Bend, Ind. Judge blocks city's land deal with Catholic school

Missouri parents sue retired priest, diocese in boy's suicide

$18 million awarded to charities to help those affected by BP oil spill New-Orleans based Catholic Charities one of four nonprofits from "Future of the Gulf Fund"

The Tiffany trickle-down

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Congress heads back to, er, "work" this week -- and high on the agenda is what to do about the economy. The battle lines are as dug-in as they are familiar: short-term government spending versus immediate budget cuts.

Over the summer, you'll recall, the president's "grand bargain" over economic policy fell apart on the question of taxes for the top 3 percent or so of income earners. Republicans could not agree to this -- calling such taxes a job-killing burden on a group of people once called "the rich," but now termed "job creators."

This push is a variation on trickle-down economics of the 1980s: if the rich are taxed less they will spend more, and that prosperity will fuel the rest of the country. It makes a kind-of-sense, and yet a look at the numbers shows otherwise.

On this day: Buddy Holly

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On this day, 75 years ago, Buddy Holly was born in Lubbock, Texas.

"Buddy Holly played rock and roll for only two short years, but the wealth of material he recorded in that time made a major and lasting impact on popular music. Holly was an innovator who wrote his own material and was among the first to exploit such advanced studio techniques as double-tracking. He pioneered and popularized the now-standard rock-band lineup of two guitars, bass and drums. In his final months, he even began experimenting with orchestration. Holly’s catalog of songs includes such standards of the rock and roll canon as 'Rave On,' 'Peggy Sue,' 'That’ll Be the Day,' 'Oh Boy!' and 'Maybe Baby.'"

--Buddy Holly Biography, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

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