The continent with only one priest

There may be others, but I haven’t heard of them — and if there’s a permanent parish or even a diocese, I imagine the weekly collection is small and the most loyal members of the flock are penguins.  I’m speaking, of course, of Antarctica. While most of us are turning our attention this weekend to [Read More...]

Silent night: midnight Mass canceled in Iraq over security concerns

The war may be over, but the violence and fear are continuing — and that’s prompted Church officials to call off midnight celebrations of Mass. From CNS: Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk in northern Iraq told the agency Aid to the Church in Need that Christians will spend Christmas in “great fear” because of [Read More...]

Stuck for a last minute gift? Here’s a little something for the Christian who has everything…

Msgr. Pope discovered it a few days ago: Have breakfast with Jesus every morning! In the past you’ve had see him with eyes of faith. Now you can seem him right on the toast! It’s the Jesus Toaster! Just $31.95 plus shipping and handling. No Christmas is complete without this fine new toaster. Was not [Read More...]

“I have friends who are atheists who have called me and said, ‘I am going back to church’”

That’s the quote of the day from a mother whose son was about to be taken off life support — but then made an astonishing recovery. Details: Sam Schmid, an Arizona college student believed to be brain dead and poised to be an organ donor, miraculously recovered just hours before doctors were considering taking him off [Read More...]

Burst of light: did friars build churches to honor the solstice?

Though some people scoff, one researcher thinks it’s possible.  He contends that some California Catholic missions may have been designed as tools to help convert Native Americans: On the darkest day of the year, a hushed crowd in a dim church awaited a few minutes of sheer brilliance. It was just after dawn Wednesday, the [Read More...]

Three days and counting …

…so make Advent count.  There’s still time.  Below, the “Advent Conspiracy” video for this year. [Read more...]

How to wrap a baby in swaddling clothes

Have a newborn, and a manger, and you don’t know what to do?  Problem solved. [Read more...]

A toast to eggnog

Curious about where that peculiar holiday tonic originated?  Everything you need to know is here: Eggnog really makes you wonder: How did humans first think chugging a spiced and spiked egg-yolk-and-milk mixture was a good idea? It’s a bit like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast: “Now that I’m grown, I eat five dozen eggs, [Read More...]

Alert the Magi: frankincense may be disappearing

One of the most celebrated gifts in history — and a staple of the Christmas story — is endangered: The world may still have gold and myrrh, but it’s quite possible that frankincense could become a thing of the past, given ecological pressures on the arid lands where it grows in Ethiopia. The storied resin, [Read More...]

Quote of the day

“We’re all pilgrims, after all, and his journey is not over yet.” – Martin Sheen, on his son, Charlie. The elder Sheen reveals that his son helped save his religiously-themed movie “The Way.” Read more. [Read more...]

Are veils coming back?

When  I was growing up, my mother kept a small white circle of lace in a plastic bag in her pocketbook, in case she needed to pop into church for one reason or another.  And in the 1960s, it wasn’t uncommon  for a woman to improvise a veil with a bobby pin and a Kleenex. [Read More...]

The Christian connection to Hanukkah

Tony Spence over at the CNS blog draws our attention to this intriguing piece in the Wall Street Journal, which finds Christian parallels to the Jewish celebration that begins tonight: The Christian parallels lie…with Good Friday and the story of Jesus’s acceptance of his suffering and sacrificial death. In both the Jewish and the Christian [Read More...]

Oy to the world: try this hilarious Hanukkah medley. You’ll plotz.

From my friend Fran. [Read more...]

“Don’t let the light go out…”

For our Jewish neighbors, a favorite of The Bench: a seasonal chestnut from Peter, Paul and Mary and their classic 1988 TV special on PBS.   Happy Hanukkah! [Read more...]

Long Island becomes home to America’s newest basilica

  From the Hamptons Desk: news that Southampton now has a basilica that the rich and famous can call their own: Pope Benedict XVI recently bestowed the designation of basilica on the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Roman Catholic Church, an honor that carries certain privileges, including a name change reflecting the Southampton Village [Read More...]

Merry Christmas — and welcome home

That’s the beautiful sentiment (which was touched on here) that’s expressed by Sr. Mary Ann Walsh in this post for the USCCB blog: The welcome mat is out at Catholic churches across the country. Actually it’s always out, but churches tend to emphasize their open arms and doors during Advent and Christmas and later on [Read More...]

Priest who was beaten, robbed returns to give out Christmas gifts

An inspirational story of the season from Chicago: The Rev. Daniel Mallette, the 80-year-old South Side priest beaten and robbed in his church’s rectory earlier this month, joked and handed out gifts to children this morning and declared, “It feels great being back.” With Mallette sitting in a chair, much like Santa Claus, the children approached [Read More...]

Kateri’s miracle

With Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha about to be declared a saint, new attention is focusing on the American boy whose miraculous healing is making that possible: Pope Benedict XVI has decreed that a Sandy Point boy’s recovery from the flesh-eating bacteria that nearly killed him in 2006 is a miracle that can be attributed to Blessed [Read More...]


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