Abbey restoration: “an epic moment of history”

History buffs, take note:  Restoration work on a monastery dating back to 1196 is expected to be completed six months ahead of schedule. The £4.7m Torre Abbey project in Torquay, Devon, started in January with an original completion date of 2014. But Torbay Council said it was predicted the restoration would now be completed in [Read More…]

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The Christmas message from Newtown’s pastor

Msgr. Robert Weiss published the following in his parish bulletin this week: Dear Parishioners, Had I written my Christmas message a couple of weeks ago as I had planned, it would have had a far different tone than this message. We have not only witnessed one of the greatest tragedies in the world, but we [Read More…]

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Victory: Priests for Life wins exemption from HHS mandate

Details:  A pro-life Catholic group has won a legal battle in court to get an exemption from having to comply with a federal Health and Human Services contraception mandate. The mandate compels some religious employers to pay for and refer employees for birth control, abortion-causing drugs and contraception in violation of employers’ religious beliefs. Last [Read More…]

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After Newtown: answering the question of “Why, God?”

Maureen Dowd asked a priest friend to reflect on the tragedy in Newtown, and the result is a beautiful meditation on the mystery of faith:  I remember visiting a dear friend hours before her death and reminding her that death is not the end, that we believe in the Resurrection. I asked her, “Are you [Read More…]

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Remembering St. Stephen and the gift of the diaconate

Deacon Keith Fournier takes special note of the first feast we celebrate after Christmas — St. Stephen, on December 26th — and quotes a sermon by St. Fulgentius of Ruspe: Yesterday we celebrated the birth in time of our eternal King. Today we celebrate the triumphant suffering of his soldier.Yesterday our king, clothed in his robe [Read More…]

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Experiencing the Christmas liturgy in Rome: “The most moving part of the Mass for me…”

Over at the Evangelical Channel of Patheos, sociologist Margarita Mooney recounts her experience of attending Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s:  The most moving part of the Mass for me was after everyone had received communion and returned to their seats, a peaceful quiet came over the basilica. Suddenly, trumpets blared announcing the birth of the [Read More…]

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Midnight Mass in Queens

The gifted photographer Niranjan Fernando captured these beautiful images from last night at my parish, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, in Forest Hills. [Read more…]

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“Once in royal David’s city…”

Still and forever my favorite Christmas hymn. This serves as the processional for Midnight Mass at my parish.  The lights dim, a hush falls, and a small armada of 40 or so red-cassocked altar servers begin gliding into the church, working down the side aisle, rounding a corner, then up the center. The line grows, [Read More…]

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RIP, Jack Klugman

The unstoppable actor died today at the ripe age of 90: Emmy-winning actorJack Klugman, a versatile, raspy-voiced mainstay of U.S. television during the 1970s and early ’80s through his starring roles in “The Odd Couple” and “Quincy, M.E.,” died on Monday at the age of 90. Klugman, whose pairing with Tony Randall on “The Odd Couple” created one [Read More…]

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“I regret to inform you that my wedding to Captain Von Trapp has been cancelled…”

Another side of the story, for those who caught the movie, again, last night, or those who can sing it all in their sleep: Dear friends, family, and Austrian nobility, Captain Von Trapp and I are very sorry to inform you that we no longer plan to wed. We offer our deepest apologies to those [Read More…]

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“Do not be afraid”: a Christmas homily

From Midnight Mass, 2007, here’s my first Christmas homily.  While the references are dated, I hope the message still resonates.  For so many this year, the central theme —Do not be afraid—is more urgent now than ever.  — Dcn. G. + Like a lot of people of a certain age, I remember well the first [Read More…]

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In Middle East, Christianity “close to extinction”

Sobering news for Christmas: Christianity faces being wiped out of the “biblical heartlands” in the Middle East because of mounting persecution of worshippers, according to a new report. The study warns that Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group. And it claims politicians have been “blind” to the extent of [Read More…]

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“Come, then, let us observe the Feast”: the first known Christmas sermon

It comes to us from the great St. John Chrysostom, from 386.  (Source).  Stuck for something to say on Christmas?   Try this on for size: BEHOLD a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.  The Angels sing.  The Archangels blend [Read More…]

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Great moments in journalism: how the NY Times bungled the Newtown story

After surveying some of the mistakes in the Times’s early coverage of the tragedy, the paper’s new public editor gives the coverage a long-overdue thrashing: On the first day, The Times reported on its Web site that the gunman was Ryan Lanza, attributing that information to other news organizations. It was actually his brother, Adam [Read More…]

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The best advice I ever got about serving Mass at Christmas…

…It was actually something I overheard. As I’ve noted before, we have a remarkable cadre of altar servers in my parish—100 of ’em, boys and girls, from ages 8 to 18, every one of them a gem.  They are selfless, generous, enthusiastic and (for the most part, except for a few yawners, scratchers and gigglers) [Read More…]

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All you “Les Miz” fans: the 12 Days of Christ-Miz

The cast of the London stage production gets in the spirit. [Read more…]

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America’s crumbling Christian consensus

Historian Molly Worthen takes a look at religion’s role throughout American history in today’s New York Times: Religion has been a feature of human society since Neanderthal times, but so has religious indifference. Our illusions of the past as a golden age of faith tend to cloud our assessment of today’s religious landscape. We think [Read More…]

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Montreal deacon charged with producing child porn

Details, from the Toronto Sun: A well-known Montreal-area Deacon who once spoke on behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been charged with production and distribution of child pornography. William Kokesch, 65, appeared in a Montreal courtroom Saturday afternoon via videoconference. The day prior, based on a tip from the public, Montreal police [Read More…]

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