Worth a thousand words: “testify to the light”

Yesterday’s gospel began with a description of John the Baptist “testifying to the light,” preparing the way for the Christ.  Between Masses, I stopped by a side altar in our church and took the picture above with my cell phone: an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is today, surrounded by roses.  When [Read More...]

Nun involved in abortion decision “no longer excommunicated” — UPDATED

From a news brief buried in a CNS report over the weekend: A Mercy sister who was automatically excommunicated because of her role on the ethics committee that allowed an abortion to be performed at a Catholic hospital in Phoenix in 2009 is back in good standing in the Catholic Church. In May 2010, officials [Read More...]

In Alaska, the changes at Mass go beyond the new missal

The bishops up north are implementing changes in posture at certain points in the liturgy — and even giving very explicit instructions on how to receive communion, right down to which hand to use and how to open your mouth: On Sunday, Nov. 27, Roman Catholic parishes across the United States and much of the [Read More...]

What the modern world could learn about compassion from monks

A British writer just back from a monastic retreat shares some insight into welfare and charity that he learned from the world of monks: It occurred to me while on my retreat that the modern welfare system could learn a lot from the abbeys. Until the Reformation, the monastery offered alms to the poor and [Read More...]

Saints in storage: inside Pittsburgh’s warehouses for used religious items

Another sign of the times, from Pittsburgh: warehouses for used tabernacles, statues and religious items: As a seminarian, the Rev. Joseph McCaffrey knelt before a tabernacle in the chapel at Mercy Hospital, where his mother was being treated for a brain tumor, and prayed for her recovery. Later, when he was named pastor of Ss. [Read More...]

Tim Tebow’s gospel of optimism

It’s not everybody’s favorite gospel, particularly in the world of professional sports, but it’s got a lot of people talking and thinking — including Frank Bruni in the New York Times: He genuflects so publicly and frequently that to drop to one knee in the precise way he does has been given its own word, [Read More...]

Any suggestions for a teenager thinking of the priesthood?

A woman in my parish dropped me a line today: I’d like your advice. The other day a young man, still a boy, told me he was thinking about becoming a priest.  I was very touched by the fact that he shared this with me. I’ll pray that God guides him until he reaches a [Read More...]

Meet the “Nones”: “We may not believe in God, but we hope to one day”

Here’s a different take on religion and American culture from someone who professes no faith, but is still searching: For a nation of talkers and self-confessors, we are terrible when it comes to talking about God. The discourse has been co-opted by the True Believers, on one hand, and Angry Atheists on the other. What [Read More...]

Christmas card of the year

The mayor of San Juan, Jorge Santini, is sending the card pictured above to some of his friends. (Mine must have gotten lost in the mail…but it’s popped up in the interwebs). This story in a San Juan paper explains (via Google translator): According to El Nuevo Dia, the image is one of five that [Read More...]

Something we never see, but should

It happened recently at our parish mission, and it was something I’ll never forget. The mission had an extraordinary turnout: what started with a couple hundred stalwart souls on Monday grew night after night, until the closing liturgy had a packed church of, I’d guess, close to a thousand people. But the most memorable of [Read More...]

Archbishop urges lapsed Catholics to just leave the Church

While dioceses in the United States are climbing aboard the “Catholics Come Home” bandwagon, at least one bishop in Ireland is saying “Go ahead.  Leave.  And don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” Details: The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has urged the country’s lapsed Catholics to have the maturity to leave [Read More...]

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...]


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