Pope Francis' Christmas 2015 'Urbi et Orbi' Message

The theme of mercy, areas of conflict in the Middle East and Africa, and persecuted Christians figure highly in this year's message.

12/25/2015 Comments (18)

Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Christmas!

Christ is born for us, let us rejoice in the day of our salvation!

Let us open our hearts to receive the grace of this day, which is Christ himself. Jesus is the radiant “day” which has dawned on the horizon of humanity. A day of mercy, in which God our Father has revealed his great tenderness to the entire world. A day of light, which dispels the darkness of fear and anxiety. A day of peace, which makes for encounter, dialogue and reconciliation. A day of joy: a “great joy” for the poor, the lowly and for all the people (cf. Lk 2:10).

On this day, Jesus, the Saviour is born of the Virgin Mary. The Crib makes us see the “sign” which God has...READ MORE

Filed under christmas, pope francis, urbi et orbi

Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity

12/24/2015 Comments (1)

Martin von Feuerstein (1856-1931), "Adoration des Bergers"

THIS is the month, and this the happy morn  
Wherein the Son of Heaven's Eternal King  
Of wedded maid and virgin mother born,  
Our great redemption from above did bring;  
For so the holy sages once did sing          
That He our deadly forfeit should release,  
And with His Father work us a perpetual peace.  
That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable,  
And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty  
Wherewith He wont at Heaven's high council-table   
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,  
He laid aside; and, here with us to be,  
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,  
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.  
Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein   
Afford a present to...READ MORE

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What Did Mary Know and When Did She Know It?

Your ultimate resource on the “Mary, Did You Know?” controversy!

12/24/2015 Comments (41)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

’Tis the season of social media memes of Saint Nicholas punching Arius in the face, outrage over the latest corporate disses to the season, and another round of controversy over the lyrics of “Mary, Did You Know?”

I kid, I kid. I shared a Saint Nicholas punching Arius meme myself this year (although the zeal some seem to have for theological punching does give me pause). As for “Mary, Did You Know?”, I have no brief one way or the other. I’m not a fan or a non-fan; I can’t even say I’ve so much as heard the song one time.

Out of curiosity, I did Google the lyrics. I understand the controversy. The song is typically Protestant in sensibility,...READ MORE

Filed under christmas wars, mary, mother of god, virgin mary

No Room in $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill to Defend Conscience Rights

12/24/2015 Comments (7)

Just days before Christmas, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed alarm at Congress' failure to pass vital legislation to protect conscience rights for Catholic health providers.
“The bishops of the United States are gravely disappointed that the 2016 omnibus funding bill did not include the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA)," read Archbishop Kurtz's Dec. 23 statement.  "While the omnibus bill certainly addresses other critical issues, the modest reform that ANDA represents—to make federal conscience laws on abortion workable and enforceable—was an urgent legislative priority in these final months of the year....READ MORE

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We Still Have Much to Learn From Ebenezer Scrooge

12/24/2015 Comments (2)

"George C. Scott as Scrooge" by Robert Doucette (via Wikimedia Commons)

On December 19th, 1843, a “ghostly little book” appeared in England in the form of A Christmas Carol In Prose: Being A Ghost Story of Christmas by Charles Dickens. It took the country by storm immediately and has since become part of the Christmas traditions of the Western world, if not through the original book but through its representations in film. Equal to the story itself is its main character: Ebenezer Scrooge, that “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner.” He is so ingrained in our consciousness that we refer to any hard-hearted miser as Scrooge. And I wondered, as reading the story again this year, if Scrooge can teach us anything after 172 years....READ MORE

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5 Christmas Tips to Evangelize Loved Ones

12/24/2015 Comments (3)

"Supper at Emmaus", Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (late 17th century)

Do you have family members who are away from the Church?

Are you not sure what to say to them when they are home for Christmas?

Fallen-away friends and family will most likely be more willing to share about matters of faith and be open to invitations during the special, grace-filled time of Christmas.

In a recent study, 47% of the adults surveyed said that they were more open to matters of faith during the Christmas season. The study also found that “the most effective method for bringing people to church is through personal invitations by family or friends.”

This first Christmas of the Jubilee Year of Mercy is a particularly opportune time of grace to reach out. Mercy is a virtue that...READ MORE

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Cardinal Müller: Pope's Words on Intercommunion Misunderstood

Doctrinal chief rejects Lutheran pastor's interpretation of Pope's words as "opening door" to intercommunion.

12/23/2015 Comments (21)

Cardinal Gerhard Müller has said Pope Francis’ visit to a Lutheran church in Rome last month was a “sign of hope” for full visible unity, but that his comments were misunderstood as giving the green light to intercommunion because of a failure to take account of the differences between Catholics and Protestants.

In Dec. 22 comments to the Register, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said "misunderstandings come up again and again because of a failure to take account of the fact that, unfortunately, there is actually a different understanding of the Church between Catholics and Protestants." 

These differences, he said, "are not only theological-conceptual, but...READ MORE

Filed under cardinal gerhard muller, ecumenism, intercommunion, lutherans

Vatican Returns Sandro Magister's Press Credentials

12/23/2015 Comments (3)

In a letter stamped with the official Jubilee of Mercy theme “Misericordes sicut Pater” [Merciful Like the Father], the Holy See has returned veteran Vaticanist Sandro Magister’s press credentials after they were suspended in June.

In a short message dated Dec. 9, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi wrote: “I am pleased to inform you that from today the period of suspension of your accreditation at our Press Office is considered concluded, so it will be possible to resume benefiting from our services.”

Father Lombardi added that “together with my colleagues, I warmly wish you good work and all the best in this time of waiting for Christmas.” Magister published the letter on his...READ MORE

Filed under federico lombardi, holy see press office, sandro magister, vatican, year of mercy

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