U.S. bishop heads to Afghanistan for Christmas

And he’ll be confirming several U.S. soldiers while he’s there, too. Details: Catholic Bishop F. Richard Spencer, who serves as Episcopal Vicar for Europe and Asia of the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS) of the U.S. military, arrived on December 5 in northern Afghanistan, where he will spend Advent and the Christmas holidays ministering to United States and multinational [Read More...]

Blessed Marianne Cope recommended for sainthood

Details: A nun who dedicated her life to caring for exiled leprosy patients is a step closer to sainthood after the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints recommended her canonization on Tuesday. The recommendation to the pope confirmed previous rulings that a second miracle was due to Blessed Marianne Cope’s intercession. In 1888, Cope [Read More...]

O, Tannen-bomb: the Christmas tree controversy in Rhode Island

Trouble is taking root, and spreading: Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee unwrapped a Christmas conundrum when he erected a “holiday” tree in the Statehouse, incensing the Roman Catholic Church, many residents and even the tree farmer who donated the 17-foot-tall spruce. The holiday hubbub comes to a head Tuesday evening when Chafee presides over a [Read More...]

FDA weighs selling abortion pill off the shelf — UPDATED

The mind boggles: The federal government is grappling with the explosive question of whether to let anyone of any age buy the controversial morning-after pill Plan B directly off drugstore and supermarket shelves without a prescription. The Food and Drug Administration has until Wednesday to respond to a request from the drug’s manufacturer to make [Read More...]

A prayer to St. Nicholas — UPDATED

Good St Nicholas, Help us prepare for the miracle of the coming of Jesus. Help us not to be blind to the gifts of getting ready. Help us be sincere in the greetings we send and receive, with love and prayer. Kind St. Nicholas, protect us from shoppers’ fatigue, stress, overspending, yet help us to [Read More...]

What happens when Santa gives $100 to needy strangers?

For some, it’s a gift of hope and an answered prayer.  From the Reading Eagle in Pennsylvania: Sitting in Reading’s Inter-City Bus Terminal on Tuesday night, Thomas Coates Jr. was out of work and out of hope. Then, out of the blue, a stranger sat next to him and restored his faith in human kindness. [Read More...]

Red Bull to stage extreme ice event on cathedral steps

This may be a first: A Red Bull Crashed Ice extreme sports event is going to be staged on the steps of the Cathedral of St. Paul come January. The event, which is referred to as a “downhill ice cross,” pits international competitors skating down a specially designed ice ramp. To see a video of [Read More...]

Health care, chaplains — and the story of one deacon’s wife

She’s the widow of a classmate of mine, Jim Hynes, and her story begins this report in the Wall Street Journal about how spiritual care is increasingly a part of health care: Doctors and nurses were preparing Kathleen Hynes for a stem-cell transplant at Long Island’s North Shore University Hospital last June when she asked [Read More...]

Saving lives, one homeboy at a time

For those who may have missed it, the great Fr. Greg Boyle (shown above) is about to become the first religious figure inducted in the California Hall of Fame — alongside such luminaries as The Beach Boys, Buzz Aldrin and Magic Johnson. On top of that, Fr. Greg is also a finalist for the Opus [Read More...]

Leap of faith: the spiritual journey of Newt Gingrich

His faith has played a prominent role in his candidacy — and could be part of his growing appeal among religious conservatives.  Huffington Post takes a closer look: As former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s starcontinues to rise ahead of GOP Republican primaries, he has had less time for what in recent years has [Read More...]

Have an ice Christmas

Once again, they’ve erected a stunning nativity scene in Graz, Austria, sculpted from ice: The life-size sculptures of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the three kings have been handmade by Gert J. Hoedl and his international team, using 54 tons of ice. The scene shows the Virgin Mary cradling baby Jesus, while Joseph looks on. The [Read More...]

Tweet, tweet: cardinals making themselves heard in digital media

A few of them are savvy about digital media and aren’t shy about using it. From AFP: As the Vatican’s top culture man, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi breaks off from his rounds at least once a day to shoot off a tweet to his followers, either snappy quotes from the Bible, famous philosophers and dons, or [Read More...]

Acts of contrition: why some are more prone to apologize

It seems some of us are just hard-wired to be more contrite, according to one study: A new study suggests that specific personality traits offer clues about whether a person is likely to offer a mea culpa. Psychologist Andrew Howell and his colleagues at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton devised a questionnaire to measure a [Read More...]

Another reason to get the Kindle Fire: the Divine Office app

Well, here’s an answered prayer. After weeks of waiting and wondering, I’m delighted to report that the folks behind the excellent Liturgy of the Hours app, Divine Office, have just released a version for the Kindle Fire. It’s been available for iPad and Android phones for a while; I have it on my EVO smartphone, [Read More...]

And now, a nativity scene for the Jetsons

It will be on display at the cathedral in Los Angeles this week, according to The Tidings: The U.S. debut of “Haute Sphere,” a contemporary interpretation of the Nativity scene conceived by architect Sylvain Dubuisson and crafted by French porcelain manufacturer Bernardaud, will take place Dec. 7 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the [Read More...]

How to welcome Catholics home at Christmas

From OSV and Eric Sammons comes this insightful primer on how to keep people in the pews who return over the holidays: As practicing Catholics, what can we and our parishes do to reach out to those who are estranged from or perhaps just uninterested in the Catholic Church? While this question has many possible [Read More...]

What’s so funny??

Turns out, YouTube is good for more than just cat videos.  Someone has discovered it also contains a lot of clips of people yucking it up. Below, compiled entirely from bits on YouTube, is a whimsical little tribute to one of the great characteristics that helps define our humanity: laughter. [Read more...]

Extreme Makeover: homily edition

[After cobbling together this week's homily -- which is much shorter than usual, because the Mass will include the 15-minute-long Rite of Welcome in my parish -- I realized that I also need to preach at another Mass Sunday morning.  D'oh.  I decided to revisit my original homily, revising and expanding it.  The results are [Read More...]


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