Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike! What day is it, Mike?

Happy Hump Day from these guys in 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...]

CNN anchor: “There is something about Pope Francis that has reawakened my faith”

Here’s a testimony you don’t hear every day, from CNN’s Carol Costello:  I remember the day I stopped praying. It was the day after my little brother, Jimmy, died of cancer. He was 25. I was so angry at God. I was 27 at the time, and, like most young people I had stopped going [Read More...]

Go ahead, eat with your fingers—and four other things to know about dining in Jordan

One of the more intriguing parts of this adventure in Jordan has been discovering an array of exotic foods. Monday night, for example, we visited a restaurant in Amman called Don Quixote, to sample authentic Jordanian cuisine—and I do mean authentic. This led me to come up with five important things to know about dining [Read More...]

Pope: “We do not advertise” to spread the faith

From today’s homily:   The Church is a place of “openness” where people should say things with frankness.  That’s what Pope Francis said at the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican on Monday.  The Pontiff added that only the Holy Spirit is able to change our attitude, the story of our lives, and [Read More...]

Journey to Jordan: Happy Easter!

We spent the afternoon visiting a souk (open air marketplace) in downtown Amman. Amid the blocks and blocks of winding streets, meandering alleys and open storefronts, you can buy anything and everything. The shopkeepers were uniformly friendly and helpful (and, it should be noted, willing to barter). It gave us a chance to sample a [Read More...]

Movement begins to have priest who died on the Titanic declared a saint

Some may remember the homily I preached three years ago, on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, relating the story of the priest who was on board, Fr. Thomas Byles: Exactly 100 years ago, Sunday, April 14th, 1912, Fr. Byles celebrated Mass.  It was “Low Sunday” for the first Sunday after Easter.  [Read More...]

Journey to Jordan: Easter with the Melkites

After spending a half hour or so at the local Roman Catholic church, we hopped into our van and drove a few minutes away to join the liturgy at the St. Peter and St. Paul Melkite Catholic Church in Amman. This tiny parish of about 400 families is presided over by Fr. Nabil Haddad, a [Read More...]

We pause here for a word about food during our trip

The word is: incredible. You have to read Max’s account of loaves and fishes from yesterday. But back at the hotel? Like I said: incredible. Especially the desserts. But wait, there’s more to whet your appetite, with some tasty food for thought from other Patheos bloggers. Diana von Glahn has the first account of our visit [Read More...]

Journey to Jordan: The most amazing Easter of my life

On a cold and drizzly Saturday night, I found myself standing in a small, crowded Catholic church 6,000 miles away from my home parish in Queens, and I couldn’t help but weep. Dozens of people were holding candles. Incense filled the air. And a deacon climbed into the pulpit and began the familiar chant that [Read More...]

Journey to Jordan: Waking up to the Muslim call to prayer—and walking ancient streets

After yesterday’s long plane ride, I slept fitfully but somewhere around 5 a.m. found myself hearing the not-too-distant call to Muslim prayer—a sound both mournful and humbling. I figured it was a good time to get up and pray, anyway, so climbed out of bed and did Morning Prayer.  “All you heavens, bless the Lord,” I [Read More...]

Why I’m celebrating Easter a second time

An explanation:  Catholics in Jordan will celebrate Easter on April 12, in accordance with a new agreement that unites the day of the Easter celebration for Orthodox and Catholic believers in the Holy Land. In 2012, the Catholic ordinaries of the Holy Land made a commitment to celebrate Easter at the same time as the [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...]

A Blessing for Travelers

View image | gettyimages.com From my friend, Deacon Bill McNamara: All-Powerful and Merciful God, You led the children of Israel on dry land, parting the waters of the sea; You guided the Magi to your son by a star. Help our brother Greg and give him a safe journey. Under Your protection let him reach [Read More...]

Boom: Catholic schools growing in South, Southwest U.S.

From The Orlando Sentinel:  Catholic schools in Central Florida have been growing, bucking the national trend of declining Catholic school enrollment. That news has won the Orlando diocese praise during the National Catholic Education Association convention in Orlando this week. The diocese also got a boost from the announcement that the University of Notre Dame will work [Read More...]

Boom: number of priestly ordinations in 2015 climbs 25%

From the USCCB: The 2015 class of men ordained to the priesthood report that they were, on average, about 17 when they first considered a vocation to the priesthood and encouraged to consider a vocation by an average of four people. Seven in 10 (71 percent) say they were encouraged by a parish priest, as [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...]