“A very Franciscan Christmas…”

Some intriguing insight on Pope Francis and his personal imprint on Christmas, from the always-worthwhile John Allen in NCR:  In his brief speech to the Roman Curia on Dec. 21, Francis stressed the importance of a spirit of service in the Vatican, saying that without it, the place becomes no more than a “ponderous bureaucratic [Read More...]

“All of life is Christmas, an eternal gift from God…”

Lest we forget, some beautiful words from my friend, Trappist Fr. James Stephen Behrens: The world is a feast of mysteries and we see but really do not understand them. We cannot penetrate them with our knowledge, our alleged sophistication. Yet they come again and again. We cannot catch them and hold them, to better [Read More...]

VA hospital bans carolers from singing Christmas songs with religious content

Details:  The angels will not be heard on high, nor will the little Lord Jesus sleep in heavenly peace at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. The Augusta hospital announced Monday that it’s taking a stricter stance on its policy banning carolers from singing religious Christmas music in public patient areas. Last week, the facility [Read More...]

A pastor’s investment: give each parishioner $50—and a challenge

Photo: Dan Gross/The Gazette What a great idea:  It was like a collection basket in reverse. Instead of collecting money to help the church’s outreach programs, Pastor Anne Benefield of Geneva Presbyterian Church in Potomac put money and a challenge in the hands of her parishioners. At the end of her Sept. 8 sermon, each [Read More...]

Obama: “Service is a chance to celebrate the birth of Christ and live out what He taught us…”

From the President’s weekly address:  So many people all across the country are helping out at soup kitchens, buying gifts for children in need, or organizing food or clothing drives for their neighbors.  For families like ours, that service is a chance to celebrate the birth of Christ and live out what He taught us [Read More...]

Just a couple of popes, you know, hanging out…

The two living Catholics who carry the title “Pope” have swapped Christmas greetings. Details:  Pope Francis has visited his predecessor, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, to exchange Christmas greetings. Photos released by the Vatican newspaper show the two men, dressed in identical white robes save for Francis’ cape, chatting in a sitting room inside Benedict’s retirement [Read More...]

Best Christmas meme

This popped up on my Facebook feed this morning. [Read more...]

A beggar before the baby: a preview of the Vatican’s Nativity scene

Unsurprisingly, it has a decidedly Franciscan (as in the pope) approach. From those crackerjack journos at CNS: The Vatican’s Nativity scene will be unveiled tomorrow evening, but Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples and the artists who created the scene gave a sneak preview to journalists today. Well, we were able to see most of it. [Read More...]

Coexist: Nativity scene and atheist sign share space in public park

From the Arlington Heights Daily Herald in Illinois: A year after controversy in Arlington Heights about whether to allow a Nativity scene on public property, both the Nativity and a sign with views against religion are coexisting — mainly peacefully — in North School Park this holiday season. The Nativity scene, paid for by Jim [Read More...]

Students perform “Silent Night”—but without religious references

It happened on Long Island last week. Unreal:  A Kings Park parent is not keeping silent being offended by the school chorus’s rendition of holiday carol “Silent Night.” Kevin McDonald said Kings Park school teachers removed all religious references from the lyrics of “Silent Night” to avoid offending non-Christians at a fifth-grade concert held at Ralph J. Osgood Intermediate [Read More...]