The Story of the First Christmas Carol in North America and the Saint Who Wrote It

12/20/2015 Comments (2)

Saint Jean de Brebeuf was born in France in 1593 and became a Jesuit missionary who arrived in North America in 1625 on a mission to evangelize Native Americans.

Amazingly, he lived among the Huron people for over 15 years. In order to help the Huron understand Christmas, he wrote a verse in the language of the Huron and coupled it with a traditional French tune. This was the first Christmas Carol of North America and it has become known as "The Huron Carol."

Here it is, translated to English and performed quite beautifully:

Here's the lyrics in English and modernized:

Twas in the moon of wintertime When all the birds had fled,

That mighty Gitchi Manitou Sent angel choirs instead;

...READ MORE

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Christmas Isn't Candy Canes—It's D-Day in the War Against Satan

12/20/2015 Comments (25)

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

I, like you, love the beautiful Christmas season with all its sentimental appeal. And I wish you all of this in abundance. But as we know, the first Christmas was anything but sentimental and featured great hardships: Urgent travel to Bethlehem in the ninth month of pregnancy, no room at the inn, the subsequent flight to Egypt and the murder of the Holy Innocents. It is almost as though Satan, knowing that God was up to something good, tried to smoke out, prevent and pursue and destroy this great work of God.

And this is exactly what Scripture attests in a version of the Christmas story seldom told among Christians today. Consider the “other” Christmas story that looks behind the external...READ MORE

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James Joyce's “The Dead” at Christmas Dinner

12/18/2015 Comments (1)

15 Usher's Island, Dublin city. The real-life location of the fictional Morkan sisters' home in James Joyce's "The Dead". (Damien Slattery, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

It sure doesn’t sound like the title of a Christmas story, but “The Dead” (actually it sounds more like a Halloween tale) by James Joyce is either a long short-story or short novella that captures turn-of-the century Ireland still then under British rule. Indeed, Raymond Arroyo, writing in these pages fifteen years ago, reviewed the theatrical production based on this story.

The plot seems straightforward enough: an annual Christmas dinner held in Dublin by two “old maid” aunts, Kate and Julia, and their young niece, Mary Jane, attended by friends and relatives. However, nothing in Ireland was ever that simple, so what begins as a pleasant evening out morphs into a broken “pledge” (not to...READ MORE

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Couples and Singles: Oh How We Envy Each Other

12/18/2015 Comments (22)

I am a mother of 3 children five and under. I am sitting in a hip downtown coffee shop waiting for my husband and a friend to show up so we can squeeze in a discussion for our non-profit. Everyone around me must be singles. They look like they just put in a luxurious workout, are well groomed, and no chips mar their nail polish. Christmas music drifts through the air sprinkled with carefree laughter. With one breath in I am envying these singles and with one breath out I am deeply missing my children and my husband. I am sitting on the fence relishing what I have and envying what I used to have.

I am the father of 3 children five and under and, occasionally, I have a moment to pause and to...READ MORE

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5th Corporal Work of Mercy : “Visit the Sick”

12/18/2015 Comment

James Tissot (1836-1902), "The Healing of Peter's Mother-in-law"

While preparing an article for the next corporal work of mercy (visiting the sick), I immediately thought of one pope who highlighted this practice during his pontificate. That pope was St. John Paul II, who throughout his life emphasized the habit of “visiting the sick.” He is an inspiration to me and challenges us all to renew our own efforts in performing this work of mercy.

John Paul II – Friend of the Sick

As the Archbishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyła often visited the sick and aging throughout his diocese. He saw being present to those who were suffering as a central part of his ministry and believed that their prayers and sacrifices gave him vitality. After celebrating Mass at the...READ MORE

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Advice from Santa’s Workshop and Jesus’s Manger

12/18/2015 Comments (5)

When St. Nicholas morphed into Santa Claus, it was a secular way to take the joy of Christmas and trim off the religion.  Santa’s a great guy, but he’s not half the man St. Nicholas was. Just as humanism has much goodness to it, without God at the center, it’s missing the core.

We can soak in all the goodness of the world, and then go deeper with Jesus.  In the spirit of the Christmas season, I’ve put together two lists; one from Santa’s workshop just for fun and one from Jesus’s manger, for our faith.

Advice from Santa’s Workshop

  • A bowl full of jelly is happy food.
  • Red is not slimming, but it helps to make your presents known.
  • Keep lists.
  • Believe in yourself and others will too.
  • ...READ MORE

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Court Rules Catholic School Violated Rights of Fired Administrator

12/18/2015 Comments (33)

In a troubling ruling, a Massachusetts court ruled against a Catholic school for violating a man's rights when it refused to hire him after it became known that he was legally married to another man.

In 2013, The Fontbonne Academy in Milton, Massachusetts had originally offered a man, Matthew Barrett, a job as food services director but when he filled out his emergency contact information he listed another man whom he was legally married to. The school then told him that he couldn't work for the Catholic school, after all.

Of course, a lawsuit ensued. And the judge in this case, Associate Justice Douglas H. Wilkins, rejected the distinction that the school attempted to make which was that...READ MORE

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Hurt by the Church?

12/17/2015 Comments (7)

“The good news about the Catholic Church,” said a friend of mine “is that it’s like a big family.”

“The bad news about the Catholic Church,” he continued, “is that it’s like a big family.”

A basic fact of life is that the same Body of Christ that is the sacrament of salvation, the fountain of so many graces, the home of so many amazing and wonderful people, so much healing, so much beauty, and the glorious treasury of saints to whom we owe so much…that same Church is the scene of incredibly devastating hurts dealt out by traitors, perverts, scoundrels, monsters, selfish jerks, liars, grasping careerists, Pharisees, libertines, and fools.

Just about everyone has a story to tell: the...READ MORE

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