April 2, 2021  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

We are in a time of remembering and mourning those who have recently died during this pandemic, but death and its customary remembrances are a common enough occurrence of what we should all be mindful of in the achievements of notable lives around us.

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THE CATHOLIC REVIEW: God and the Pandemic

A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and its Aftermath
February 19, 2021  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

Although less lethal than the ancient plagues, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a global impact on our sense of well-being, and perhaps even our faith. Personally, there is still the little voice in the back of my mind that suggests that the year 2021 may yet have a few difficulties in store for us, and perhaps I am not alone. The Gallup organization reports the highest levels of mental anguish in 20 years in the United States, with similar results in the United Kingdom and Europe. As an ancient history amateur (and an actual participant as I age myself), religions have expanded during periods of extreme stress, a trend that provides grounds for a spiritual rebirth. How can we get there?

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THE CATHOLIC REVIEW: Books for a New Year

Three Books to Renew Our Spirits for 2021
December 18, 2020  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

At this point in our global pandemic, we maintain hope in our Creator, we understand the manner in which this virus spreads and can take reasonable precautions, and have renewed encouragement from the science that has brought our world effective vaccinations which will be available in the coming year. No doubt we have all been touched by grief and loss, but we are of stronger stuff than those who grieve without hope. And so, we offer reading for the new year, intellectual engagement that will fortify and strengthen our spirits, early light to the beacons of hope that may yet shine upon our church, our nation, and our world.

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THE CATHOLIC REVIEW: Evaluating and Selecting A Catholic Bible

How to choose the edition and translation that will be most beneficial
November 20, 2020  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

St. Isidore, who served as the Archbishop of Seville in Spain in the seventh century, wrote, “Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. If we want to be always in God’s company, we must pray regularly and read regularly. When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us. All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.”

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THE CATHOLIC REVIEW: On Fraternity and Social Friendship

Pope’s latest encyclical is dense and wordy but does not deviate from Church teaching
November 6, 2020  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

When we first heard that Jorge Bergoglio would be our pope, his devotion to his namesake, St. Francis, became an opportunity to learn more about this beloved saint. Pope Francis’ reflection on the care of creation and our shared earth, “Laudato Si,’” (2015), was titled after a song of St. Francis. And so, it was to be expected, on that saint’s feast day this year, an encyclical on human community and solidarity was signed by Pope Francis.

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October 16, 2020  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

The year 2020 has been a bad one for statues. We witnessed the tearing down of many in the South, originally hoisted in honor of former Confederate Army generals, and I was pretty okay with their removal.

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September 18, 2020  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

A few weeks ago, I served with Bishop Sheridan and Father Kirk Slattery of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in a COVID-delayed Confirmation Mass for 53 young people.

 Most of the time I worry about getting the sequences, prayers, and actions right as a deacon. What struck me at this Mass was the homily of the Bishop. The exact words escape me now, but his opening words to the young people were “Are you ready?”

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August 21, 2020  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

One solace we find in times of testing and during a global pandemic is the comfort of spiritual reading. From the Sacred Scriptures to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, from books about and from the saints, from the wise priest or the careful and diligent scholar, we cherish the gift of the printed page (and in whatever else an electronically read or audibly listened form it may take), we abide in Christ, gird the loins of our spirit, and ponder life’s mysteries with words that those wiser can provide. Is it thus true that in reading, we can be guided into heaven at the end of our days? The authors of the three books reviewed here would argue that we can.

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May 15, 2020  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

At just the right time, the Catholic Church is blessed by a renewed kindling of love and devotion to St. Joseph. This new book is an outgrowth of that love, and a practical guide to renewing our own devotion to “our spiritual father.”

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April 17, 2020  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

Like two disciples in St. Luke’s Gospel walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus on Easter morning, through some strange set of affairs we seemed to have missed Jesus today. Perhaps we saw him on television or had an encounter via prayer. But we missed him in the Eucharist and with our brothers and sisters, and it might have caused our faith to shrink back a bit. But we are not of those who shrink back and are lost, but those who by faith hear the same words as came to Augustine in his garden, “tolle, lege,” which means “take and read.” May we find Christ opening himself to us the Scriptures, using words to call us closer in this time of testing.

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March 20, 2020  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, churches are shuttered, and we huddle in our homes, afraid of cellular microbes we barely understand. The old and infirm at greater risk, we worry for our loved ones and our faith community. Things may well get worse before they get better, but we are of a faith that has endured greater storms than we face even now. So as we hunker and bunker down, work from home, rush through the grocery stories looking for toilet paper (no, stop that!), we know that “everything works together for good for those who love the Lord and are called to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Perhaps time at home means more time with family.

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February 21, 2020  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

I’m guessing you’re Catholic.” Ania nodded. “Me too,” the tour guide replied. “They’d destroy the church in Poland if they could, but there are too many of us.” (Excerpt from “Ania: Behind the Iron Curtain” by Lois Chance, written in collaboration with Anna Kowal and published by Outskirts Press).

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January 17, 2020  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

Of all the books to select for review at the beginning of the new year, one would think the category we should most avoid is books on politics and culture. With a presidential election looming, international tensions mounting, and conflict in the Church, perhaps we are safer in probing mythic symbolism of the lilies of the field in the Sermon on the Mount. Is it really possible to identify some of the causal influences for the divisions in our society without tearing each other apart?

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December 20, 2019  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

The noted apologist and philosopher Peter Kreeft once observed the saints as ones who “had wandering minds, and to recall their constantly wandering mind-child home. They became saints because they continued to go after the little wanderer, like the Good Shepherd.” Let’s face it: our image of the saints tends toward the other-worldly — folks definitely not like we mere mortals, but rather “men and women that are amazing for their moral intellect, spiritual strength, and for the effects their choices and actions had on the birth of Europe and Western civilization,” (from Saints that Changed the World, Moderno, Italy). I always felt that we love and admire the saints simply because they are just not like us at all.

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December 6, 2019  |  By DEACON RICK BAUER

Thoughtful Catholics like to read, and it’s always a joy to recommend good Catholic books to give as gifts. This year we’ve sorted them by several themes, so you can root around and have a selection of good ones. All are thoroughly Catholic, thoroughly Christian, and well written. So, go get your shopping list, get a cuppa, sit down, and let’s go shopping!

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