A nun writes from Iraq: “We entered the fourth week of displacement…there is nothing promising at all”

From the CNEWA blog One-to-One: From Iraq, we received a heart-breaking letter from Sister Maria Hanna, superior general of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, an Iraqi community of women religious with whom we collaborate closely. “We entered the fourth week of displacement. Yet, there is nothing promising at all,” she writes of [Read More...]

Down syndrome teen hopes to serve Mass in every state

From Catholic News Service:  Kara Jackson, a 16-year-old altar server from Holy Family Parish in Middletown, Ohio is on a quest to serve at Mass in all 50 states.So far she has served at liturgies in 18 states after recently serving at a morning Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.Kara’s endeavor is [Read More...]

Gay group to march in New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade—UPDATED

Details:  A gay group of employees from NBC will march in next year’s New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade behind their own banner, a source with knowledge of the ongoing parade controversy has told the Irish Voice. On Wednesday, September 3, at a reception at the New York Athletic Club, Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be named [Read More...]

Another gay teacher reportedly fired from Catholic school over pregnancy

This time, in Michigan: A former chemistry teacher at a Catholic, all-girls high school in Bloomfield Hills said she was fired before the semester started because of her “non-traditional” pregnancy. Barbara Webb, 33, of Madison Heights said she’d worked for Marian High School for nine years, also coaching volleyball and softball and serving as student-government moderator. She [Read More...]

Boston Globe debuts its Catholic website, Crux

This unusual new media venture was unveiled today, and The Neiman Journalism Lab looks at what lies behind this new website devoted to “all things Catholic”: Looking at the newly launched Catholic news site Crux, you’ll find plenty of stories on the travels and exploits of Pope Francis. This makes sense — he’s the head of the [Read More...]

ISIS reportedly beheads another American journalist, posts video of execution

Details from The New York Times:  The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has beheaded Steven J. Sotloff, the second American executed by the Islamic militant group, and posted a video of it on the Internet, the SITE Intelligence Group, a research organization that tracks jihadist web postings, said Tuesday. The execution of Mr. Sotloff, [Read More...]

Writing straight with crooked lines: the winding conversion odyssey of Fr. Paul Chaim Benedicta Schenck

And what a journey it is: I was raised Jewish. My father and his siblings were the first American generation born to descendants of Polish and Austrian Jewish immigrants. My mother was not born Jewish. Her motherwas Catholic and her father Episcopalian. My mother’s mother, only sixteen years of age when she gave birth to [Read More...]

Francis, fraternity, friendship—and football

From AP:  Diego Maradona and Roberto Baggio were among a host of former soccer stars who played in an interreligious charity match backed by Pope Francis on Monday night. The Argentine pope, an avid soccer fan, did not attend the match but had an audience with both teams earlier in the day and also broadcast [Read More...]

For church geeks: Liturgy of the Hours for Kindle Paperwhite

If you’ve been itching for an edition of these prayers for your e-reader, the wait is over. Universalis in July published an edition of The Liturgy of the Hours for the Kindle Paperwhite. (Various editions for the Kindle Fire have been around for a while; I’ve used both the iBreviary and Divine Office apps, and they’re [Read More...]

Does it matter where you sit for Mass?

A couple weeks ago, Fr. Roger Landry wrote a column for his diocesan newspaper in which he argued that, yes, it does: When people come to a Church that is anything but standing room only, where they opt to worship indicates something about their attitude toward involvement at Mass. Sitting up front is normally a [Read More...]

Love remembers

This is something utterly sweet and heart-tugging: a brief conversation about love and memory between a daughter and her mother with Alzheimer’s. “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you…”  [Read more...]

Pope phones priest working in Iraqi refugee camp

From Vatican Radio:  Pope Francis called a priest at a refugee camp in Iraq to express his closeness to the persecuted Christians who have taken refuge there and to promise his continued support. Pope Francis reportedly called Fr Behnam Benoka on August 19, a day after returning from his apostolic journey to South Korea. Fr [Read More...]

Muslim leaders in UK issue fatwa condemning those who join ISIS

Details, from HuffPo:  Muslim leaders in the UK have issued a fatwa condemning British jihadis who fight alongside the Islamic State terrorist group, saying they are “betraying their own societies”. The fatwa, which The Sunday Times (£) said had been issued by imams, is the strongest condemnation yet of Britons joining Islamic extremists by the Muslim [Read More...]

Indiana churches vandalized with verses from Quran—UPDATED

Details:  Columbus Police said they’ve never had anything like it – three churches vandalized in the same night.Someone spray painted them on the outside. It’s the words used, though, that have some people asking if this was more than a prank.“It was just one word. It said ‘Infidels!’” Father Doug Marcotte said of what was [Read More...]

The pope’s new bishops: “These are not papal acts in name only, but personal decisions by Francis”

John Allen looks at some recent high-profile bishop appointments and draws some intriguing conclusions in The Boston Globe: The profile of the kind of man Francis seems to look for in key posts is this: Orthodox in doctrine but committed to dialogue and outreach, someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously, who emphasizes concern for [Read More...]

Is yours a “million dollar parish”?

An interesting glimpse at a growing phenomenon in the American church, via OSV: A million-dollars isn’t what it used to be. Throughout the past decade, a growing number of Catholic parishes have learned that lesson for themselves, as they’ve joined the ranks of “million-dollar parishes” — parishes whose annual revenues exceed $1 million. According to [Read More...]

“Take up your cross…”

Here’s a very good video on a main theme in this Sunday’s gospel. H/T Connie at The Ark. [Read more...]

Homily for August 31, 2014: 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the gospels, it’s been a rough summer for St. Peter. A couple weeks ago, we encountered him climbing out of a boat during a storm, trying to walk on water. He lost faith and began to sink, and Jesus had to rescue him. Then, last week, Jesus gave him the keys to the kingdom [Read More...]