Homily for December 11, 2011: 3rd Sunday of Advent

[Click here for the readings] This weekend in Sacramento, they inducted several people into the California Hall of Fame – including, the Beach Boys, Magic Johnson and now, for the first time, a Catholic priest.  His name is Fr. Gregory Boyle. Fr. Greg grew up in Los Angeles.  In 1984, he was ordained a Jesuit [Read More...]

The role of religion in the Civil War: “It was absolutely pervasive”

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and at least one historian has taken the time to look at religion’s role in the war: “One of the things that surprised me was that there were certain dominant ideas, regardless of particular religious affiliation. Ideas about providence, ideas about sin, [Read More...]

December 10, 1941: “I was enclosed in the four walls of my new freedom…”

It was 70 years ago today — December 10, 1941 — that Thomas Merton arrived at the gatehouse of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky (pictured above much the way it looked then).  He wrote about that moment in “The Seven Storey Mountain”: “The Bardstown bus was half full, and I found [Read More...]

Catholic League launches “Adopt-an-Atheist” campaign

This year’s anti-Christmas billboard may have touched a nerve — but at least they’re responding creatively. The Catholic League’s press release: Catholic League president Bill Donohue explains why the Catholic League is starting a new initiative aimed at atheists: Approximately 80 percent of Americans are Christian, and 96 percent celebrate Christmas. Of the 20 percent [Read More...]

“Change”

Take 10 minutes and just watch.  Looking for something to connect to this Sunday’s readings?  I think this does it, beautifully.  Here are glad tidings being proclaimed, and the brokenhearted being healed, in a moving and inspiring way you might not expect.  Thank you, Patrick Madrid! [Read more...]

The GOP’s historic choice: a Catholic or a Mormon

As a New York Times columnist puts it: “For the first time in American history, a major political party may be choosing between two leading presidential candidates neither of whom is Protestant. If current polling holds through the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses and beyond, the Republican nomination will come down to a choice between a [Read More...]

In hard times, a surge in cremations

At the rate things are going, by the end of this decade a majority of Americans will choose cremation. Details: As Toni Kelly battled lymphoma, first with a bone marrow transplant and then with brutal rounds of chemotherapy, she worried obsessively that her four-year struggle would destroy her family’s finances. Her husband, Doug, refused to [Read More...]

Circle of light: behind the Advent wreath

It’s a popular fixture in Catholic churches and homes, but the Advent wreath comes with a long history and rich meaning. From the Catholic Sentinel in Portland, OR: Advent is about more than marking an event 2,000 years ago and the wreaths help make that clear. Progressive lighting of candles symbolizes a two-part hope surrounding [Read More...]

Let there be lights: pope uses tablet to light world’s largest Christmas tree

You can read all about it here. Evidently, he opted for a Sony S, rather than iPad which he’d used earlier in the year. See for yourself below. [Read more...]

The end of an era

As is the custom in the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre, they ordained transitional deacons today, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, at the 80-year-old facility shared by the two dioceses, the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York.  The occasion was beautiful but bittersweet:  this will likely be the last ordination [Read More...]

Researchers: nuns should take the pill to cut cancer risk

Really? Strange as it sounds, yes: Catholic nuns take a vow of chastity, so you might not think that any sister would need to be on birth control. But oral contraceptive pills have other uses besides preventing pregnancy; in fact, Catholic bioethicists say there is no inherent conflict in nuns (or any other Catholic) taking [Read More...]

It’s here: this season’s first big holiday flash mob

Leave it to T-Mobile to kick-start the season with another splashy production number in a public space — this one, a shopping mall outside Chicago. [Read more...]

Sebelius overrules experts, blocks selling abortion pill on store shelves

Details: In a surprise move, the nation’s health secretary stopped the Plan B morning-after pill from moving onto drugstore shelves next to the condoms, deciding Wednesday that young girls shouldn’t be able to buy it on their own. The Food and Drug Administration was preparing to lift a controversial age limit and make Plan B One-Step the [Read More...]

RIP, Harry Morgan

One of the most familiar faces on television has gone to the great dressing room in the sky: Harry Morgan, the prolific character actor best known for playing the acerbic but kindly Colonel Potter in the long-running television series “M*A*S*H,” died Wednesday morning at his home in Los Angeles. He was 96. His son Charles [Read More...]

Another sign of Christmas: billboards from atheists

They’re back: Nearly $40,000 was spent during the last Christmas season on a billboard war between atheists and Roman Catholics at the New Jersey entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. But so far, this year’s version of the atheist billboard has failed to generate much of a fight. The American Atheists’ new orange and black billboard, just [Read More...]

A Catholic wedding performed without a net

Remember the good old days before Vatican II, when people took sacraments seriously and priests treated the liturgy with reverence? Behold, a Catholic wedding in France from 60 years ago.   [Read more...]

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...]


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