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Fr. Ed Benioff

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First Things Last

As a priest I’ve been trained in the virtue of detachment. I need to be able, when my bishop gives me the word, to walk away from one ministry for the sake of another. St. Philip Neri put it well: When we go from one assignment to another, we “leave Christ for Christ.” After years of encountering...

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One Village And OneLife

How do you get information? If you’re like most people — and like me — you get it through some form of mass media. You’re surfing the Web, or listening to the radio, or watching TV and you’re receiving the same message with the same details as millions of other people. The information we...

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Be The Innkeeper

There’s a priest in Pittsburgh who, for the last 40 years, has spent every Christmas Eve broadcasting live on the radio. He starts at midnight and continues until sunrise on Christmas morning. He keeps the phone lines open and he welcomes people to call in — and people do, in great numbers. Some...

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An Advent Challenge

Why, do you suppose, we Catholics don’t take to Advent the way we take to Lent? It’s true! In Lent, Catholics — at least churchgoing Catholics — really get into the season. They dutifully show up for ashes at the launch, and they wear the smudge to work. They “give something up” for Lent...

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Waiting For The Blockbuster

If we Southern Californians are good at anything at all, it’s creating expectation. We can generate years of anxious waiting for a blockbuster film. While the ink is still wet on the first contract, the studio dribbles out the first of its many leaks to the press. Who might direct the film? Who...

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You Say You Want A Revolution

We live in a country that was founded by revolutionaries. The remarkable thing is that it happened more than 200 years ago, and our constitutional system is still around. France was not so lucky. The French made their revolution shortly after we had ours, and then they had many more, with an...


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One More Chance

In Southern California we are famous for our entertainment. We make stories. We make movies and television shows, and each of them has a plot. Each has a beginning, a middle and an end. Before the credits roll, we get to see the resolution of the drama or the punchline of the comedy. The...

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Nobel Aspirations

When Bob Dylan was named the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, my thoughts immediately turned to a certain auxiliary bishop in our archdiocese. Bishop Robert Barron is known for invoking the singer-songwriter in improbable places (seminary classrooms, church pulpits), and has even...

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Friendship With The Angels

Pity the holy angels, whose feast days are almost upon us. They’re the namesakes of our diocese and our city, Los Angeles. We Angelenos raise their name whenever we fill out a form. But do we give them a second thought? As we celebrte their feasts, Sept. 29 for St. Michael and all angels...

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Cross Purposes

There’s not a lot of variety in our climate hereabouts. So I think it’s safe to say that our saint, Junípero Serra, is a saint for all seasons. I love his motto: ¡Siempre Adelante! Keep moving forward! I find it useful in my own prayer, especially when I grow tired — at midday, or midweek, or...

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Working It Out

Everybody complains about work, just as everybody complains about the weather. If our work is demanding, we gripe because it’s too hard. If it’s effortless, we whine that it’s boring. I have a friend who calls this the Law of Conservation of Discontent. In certain areas of life, our...

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Learn Something

How much I rued these August days when I was a kid. The store circulars arrived in the mail — and they all screamed BACK TO SCHOOL! Did they have to shout? Did they think we wouldn’t show up otherwise? It seemed to me that these store-owners just wanted to rub it in. They just wanted to cast a...

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The Marian Heart Of The Summer

August is a month of brutal heat in our hemisphere. For many years the popes observed the custom of fleeing Rome for the countryside in late summer. It seemed a sensible thing — though Pope Francis has opted to stay in the city and work, like everybody else. Can anything good come of August?...

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Love On The Rock

In my last column I spoke about the many ways our ancient ancestors spoke of love. We use that one little word to describe all our affections. From sausage pizza to a lifelong spouse, from California wines to almighty God, we love what we love. One word fits all. The Greeks, on the other...

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Love, Love, Love, Love

Back in the 1880s, the anthropologist Franz Boas noted that Canada’s Eskimos had more than 50 words for snow. There’s one word for a gentle snowfall and another for the kind of snow that’s good for sled riding. When snow is the dominant feature of your habitat, you learn to make distinctions, and...