5 travel essentials that made a big difference in my Jordan trip

A few people have asked me questions about my just-completed jaunt to Jordan, so I thought I’d post a few answers. If you’re planning an overseas trip or pilgrimage, you might find these ideas useful. Or not. (Your mileage may vary.) They worked for me. So here goes: 1. Shoes. You don’t need a graduate degree [Read More...]

Journey to Jordan: a refugee who fled ISIS tells me his story

Saturday morning brought an emotional encounter with a man who has fled evil, and whose face tells the story. His name is Agnan Adnidihad, a 62-year-old repairman from Mosul who barely escaped the horrors of ISIS last year. Now he is living in Amman—one of tens of thousands of refugees who are crowding into Jordan [Read More...]

Journey to Jordan: seeing, at last, where everything really began

Tuesday morning we were up bright and early to pack our bags and head out the door, leaving Amman behind and heading into the wilderness: Bethany, where Jesus was baptized. But first: breakfast. We departed the Sheraton a little before 9 and headed up the road to Bethany, about an hour away. Along the way, [Read More...]

Journey to Jordan: where Elijah was born and where Mary wept tears of blood

Monday took us to two remarkable sites: a hilltop adjoining the village where Elijah was born, and a parish church that has become a popular shrine devoted to Mary. Atop a hill, overlooking Elijah’s birthplace, we visited the ruins of a 6th century church. Below, you can see the nave and the center aisle, where [Read More...]

Hello from Jordan!

So I arrived in Amman around 4 p.m. My memory is hazy, but I think the flight was about 10 hours.  I slept fitfully, but at least I slept. (Royal Jordanian Airlines, by the way, is incredible. We had two really good meals and the nicest flight attendants.) After making our way off the plane, [Read More...]

Study: Christianity will continue to move from Europe to Africa

Some intriguing projections and analysis from Pew:  The global Christian population has been shifting southward for at least a century and is expected to continue to do so over the next four decades, according to new demographic projections from the Pew Research Center. Overall, the share of Christians in the world is expected to remain flat. But [Read More...]

On Christ’s Seven Last Words: “They offer one final sermon on a mount, a lasting message of forgiveness and mercy”

Friday night, my parish will have a performance of Thomas Dubois’ oratorio, “The Seven Last Words.” I’m preaching a reflection on it, below.  +++ Without question, it is the most infamous public execution of all time. No death has been more depicted in art, in drama, in literature and, as we’ve just heard, in music. On [Read More...]

“God, I’m a dancer! A dancer dances!”

Is he auditioning for “A Chorus Line”? The YouTube description says: “French Provincial Minister Michel Laloux expressed himself in dance during our morning Mass for the Annunciation.” Because, of course, that’s more important than, like, listening to the wisdom of Pope Benedict XVI, who said: It is totally absurd to try to make the liturgy [Read More...]

Number of priests, permanent deacons worldwide continues to grow

From CNS: The number of Catholics in the world and the number of priests and permanent deacons rose slightly in 2013, while the number of men and women in religious orders declined, according to Vatican statistics. For the second year in a row, the number of candidates for the priesthood also decreased. The numbers come [Read More...]

Catholic high school requires girls to submit photos of their prom dresses for approval

View image | gettyimages.com From Huffington Post: A controversy over prom dresses has erupted at a Pennsylvania high school following the announcement of a new policy requiring girls to submit photographs of their dresses for pre-approval before the big event. According to the York Daily Record, Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown announced the new [Read More...]