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...]

Report shows shift in Christian population around the world

Details, from a new Pew study: The study finds that there are 2.18 billion Christians of all ages in more than 200 countries around the world, representing nearly a third of the estimated 6.9 billion 2010 global population. Christians are so geographically widespread that no single continent or region can indisputably claim to be the [Read More...]

A first: Native American, Blessed Kateri, to become a saint

This will be big news, especially in my neck of the woods. Blessed Kateri was a New Yorker — okay, she was from upstate — but a small statue of her is prominent in the raredos behind our altar in Queens.  (That’s particularly unusual, because our church was dedicated in 1940, three years before she [Read More...]

Santa’s newest elf?

It’s named Siri.  Still stuck for a (pricey) stocking stuffer?  Get a load of Apple’s Christmas ad for the iPhone. [Read more...]

Have yourself an angry little Christmas…

…with this very clever “Angry Birds” – themed light display.  As the YouTube posting notes: Running on two computers and 10 Light-o-rama 16 channel controllers, uses more than 20,000 lights and less than one cent of electricity per game. Audio is broadcast on 99.1FM, and the controller has a long enough cord for people to [Read More...]

A Polish Catholic woman discovers her Jewish identity

It’s a journey more and more Holocaust survivors are undertaking: As Nazi troops imposed their terror on Warsaw, an 18-year-old Polish girl slipped into a Warsaw church with an elderly rabbi to teach him how to dip his hand in holy water and cross himself. The rabbi, his newly shaven beard leaving his cheeks white, [Read More...]

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...]


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