The Catholic connection to “Downton Abbey”

It begins with the creator of this popular British series — and it will become a part of the storyline in the upcoming season: Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes has become Vice President of the Catholic Association of Performing Arts. The announcement was made during a special centenary dinner at Alan Hall in Chelsea. During the [Read More...]

A senior citizen flash mob?

This is what happens when a group of senior citizens decides to be cool. Place: a Target Store in Lawrence, Kansas. Music: “Last Christmas,” from the cast of “Glee.” Don’t say I didn’t warn you. [Read more...]

“The Night Before Christmas” as you’ve never heard it before

From the brilliant Jim Meskimen — and dozens of his amazing voices.   I dare you not to laugh. RELATED: “A is for Arnold…” Sheer genius: one man, dozens of celebrity voices, all doing Shakespeare [Read more...]

“Shame and sorrow”: Dutch Church rocked by abuse report

Details: Tens of thousands of Dutch children were sexually abused by priests and other Roman Catholic religious figures in the last 65 years, but church officials failed to take adequate action or report problems to police, an independent commission said Friday. Many of the victims spent part of their childhood in Catholic institutions such as [Read More...]

Taking Jesus to the people

It turns out this dramatic display last week wasn’t an isolated incident.  The pastor at St. Raymond’s in Downey, California has done this at least once before. (H/T to Diane at Te Deum). Below is an event from last summer. By way of comparison, it’s worth taking a look at another kind of “Eucharistic flash [Read More...]

Controversial billboard vandalized amid protests

The billboard above, which I mentioned in this post, is literally coming under attack: A couple of hundred protesters are outside an Auckland Anglican church calling for a controversial Christmas billboard to be taken down. The group, which began gathering at 11am, were praying the Rosary and said the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary [Read More...]

Bishops rebut governor’s account of meeting

It’s turned into a he said/they said, with some disagreement about what actually happened at a meeting Friday. Details: Gov. Pat Quinn apparently did not understand that when he met with Illinois’ Catholic bishops Friday, they were taking him out to the woodshed. Quinn said Saturday morning that the talk was “only a little bit” [Read More...]

“All are indeed welcome in this place…”

Over at his blog, Deacon Bill Ditewig shares a timely and thought-provoking dream: The dream?  The catholic — truly universal — people of God!  Every person who is cut off from everything and everyone else, is WELCOMED by the catholic people of God.  In a very real sense, the catholic people of God is the [Read More...]

Homily for December 18, 2011: 4th Sunday of Advent

[Click here for readings] Someone once told me that this event we have just heard in the gospel has been depicted in art more than any other in scripture, with the possible exception of the crucifixion. I’m not surprised.  The Annunciation stirs the imagination in powerful ways – the human intersecting with the Divine in [Read More...]

“There are still people out there who feel this way”

Sign at a swimming pool in Cincinnati: Read the story behind it here. [Read more...]

Newt Gingrich, a “John Paul II Catholic”

An interesting take on the GOP frontrunner’s faith: Mr. Gingrich represents a new kind of Catholic, one very different from the Kennedys, who were Democrats, political liberals and cradle Catholics shaped by the Irish immigrant church. To a Kennedy-era Catholic, divorce was a sin, labor unions were a virtue and anti-Catholic bigotry was a staple [Read More...]

The Catholic priest with 9 children

Last spring, I posted an item about an Anglican priest’s leap of faith — joining the Catholic Church and having no job prospects.  A UK paper this weekend has an update: Father Ian Hellyer is a Roman Catholic priest – but far from being celibate, he’s a father. Not just to a couple of children, [Read More...]

The new normal: parents making out with their kids

Incest, anyone? The Anchoress has veins bulging out of her neck over this — and me, I’m just stupefied: A pep rally prank intended to bring laughter and cheers at a Minnesota high school has instead sparked a firestorm of controversy after parents of some senior student athletes took a practical joke too far. As [Read More...]

What’s so funny? Here’s proof that laughter is contagious

From a train in Germany, a fit of laughter spreads like a virus — or at least something viral — and YouTubers are hysterically lapping it up: It’s unclear what the joke that sparked the mass hysterics was, but mobile phone footage uploaded to the video sharing site has caught the imagination of many online [Read More...]

“Praying for what?”: Christopher Hitchens dies

The notorious atheist died from pneumonia, related to his cancer, at 62.  You can read the BBC’s obit here. Last year, I wrote a brief post on this blog about Hitchens, who had just announced he was dying.  I asked that we keep him in our prayers: Prayer isn’t a chore, or a favor we [Read More...]

On Santorum: “It’s always been about faith…”

Recently, a reporter with McClatchy Newspapers took a look at how much a role religion plays in this Catholic candidate’s life: For former Sen. Rick Santorum, it’s always been about faith. Deep religious faith fuels Santorum’s conservative politics. It’s what propelled him into becoming one of Congress’ leading opponents of abortion, same-sex marriage and wrongdoing [Read More...]

Worth a thousand words

In 2002, when I was beginning formation for the diaconate, a young teenager by the name of Sean Suckiel worked at night answering phones in the rectory of my spiritual director.  I used to see Sean a lot.  He told once me that the one thing he had wanted, his whole life, was to be [Read More...]

How to make Christmas cookies (revised translation)

From someone at Commonweal: In the comments section of Commonweal, James Martin (in a similar spirit, and with our spirit) has helpfully provided this blessing for Christmas cookies: “O God, who see the cookies that you have graciously deigned to allow us to bake here according to this recipe that you have given us that [Read More...]


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