This Christmas, Give as Christ Gives

12/12/2015 Comment

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

Does it seem as though the number of days until Christmas is running down about as fast as your bank account? That can be a real problem, especially if (like me), you’ve still got umpteen people on your gift list. Take heart. There’s a way to do this without stressing yourself or your finances.  

Give gifts that mean a lot, but don’t cost a lot.

There really is something to the old adage, “It’s the thought that counts.” It really is the thought that counts, and giving a gift that shows you put thought – and feeling – into it will count far more than giving a gift with a sizable price tag.

The premise is to give as Christ gave – with love and real interest in the person who will receive...READ MORE

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The challenge of Our Lady of Guadalupe

12/11/2015 Comments (7)
How wonderful that Our Lady of Guadalupe appears as a pregnant woman clothed in the sun! In the book of Revelation, Mary is described in just this manner (Rev 12:1). But we should not approach this symbolism in a superficial or merely sentimental way. The woman clothed in the sun and with the moon at her feet is portrayed in Revelation precisely as a warrior. Confronting her is a terrible dragon intent upon devouring her child as soon as it is born. Through God's grace, the child is in fact delivered from danger, but the dragon is furious, sending a torrent of water from its mouth to sweep the mother and child away. In the wake of the child's birth, moreover, a war breaks out in heaven...READ MORE

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Fill Your Heart With Faces and Names, For You Live in Mission Territory

12/11/2015 Comments (2)

St. Louis Martin (1823-1894) was hospitalized for three years at Bon Sauveur in Caen while suffering from dementia—an episode that his daughter, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries, would later refer to as “my father’s martyrdom.”

“What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved,
to point him out, to make him known?”
Pope Francis

As a young Evangelical, I came to see missions in terms of bringing together the unreached and the written Word of God, and so nothing fired my missionary imagination more than Wycliffe Bible Translators. From back then up to today, they’ve unquestionably been on the front lines of that effort, going to far-flung areas and isolated people groups all over the world, and then doing whatever’s necessary to put those people in contact with the Good Book – even if it requires developing and teaching a written language for the groups who don’t have one. 

It was my great...READ MORE

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Imagine the Impact on Music if Abortion Had Been Legal in the 1940s

12/11/2015 Comments (13)

(Credit: m.caimary, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Let’s imagine that abortion was legal in March 1945 in the United Kingdom. A 16-year-old girl named Patricia takes the bus to her local Planned Parenthood center for a pregnancy test and discovers she is pregnant. Patricia explains to the counselor that she was impregnated from a torrid affair with Edward, a married soldier who will be ending his time of service in the next few months. Edward will be returning to his wife in Canada prior to the expected due date of the baby. Patricia is afraid, embarrassed, and does not want to parent this child.

If you are in favor of abortion rights, you would likely agree with the Planned Parenthood counselor that the only rational and compassionate...READ MORE

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One of America’s Oldest Chapels is Hidden Away in a Fort

12/11/2015 Comments (3)

(Credit: ‪Waterproof947‪, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Fort Niagara—more properly “Old Fort Niagara”—which began life as a French military garrison in 1726, straddles a corner of land which looks out where the Lower Niagara River spills into the last and least of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario. In this fort, which is almost perfectly preserved, sits a Catholic chapel that even now hosts the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—both the Latin form and the Novus Ordo—on occasion.

Old Fort Niagara is an especially unique place for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its still-living chapel dating to 1726. One of the most interesting parts of the Fort is that it is almost perfectly preserved—not in some museum-mothball sort of way, but with...READ MORE

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4th Corporal Work of Mercy: “Harbor the Harborless”

12/11/2015 Comments (1)

Thomas Kennington (1856–1916), “Orphans”

­This week we will focus on the next corporal works of mercy, “harbor the harborless” (shelter the homeless). The Vatican highlighted this particular work of mercy this year when the new “Gift of Mercy” homeless shelter was established in October. Even Pope Francis made a surprise visit.


The Vatican’s latest initiative was part of a much larger effort to serve the homeless men and women of Rome. Earlier this year Pope Francis established showers, bathrooms and a barbershop inside the Vatican.

Pope Francis is trying to lead by example and show the world that we need to care for the homeless and not debase or humiliate them. Often homeless people are avoided on the streets and are seen...READ MORE

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Why a Celibate Priesthood?

12/10/2015 Comments (48)

Jules-Alexis Muenier (1863-1942), “La Leçon de catéchisme”

The celibacy of the priesthood is one of the great signs of contradiction in our time.  Our culture stares at it in blank incomprehension, and on that blank it projects numerous fantasies to try to explain it.

So we are told that St. Paul both absolutely forbade celibacy as a mark of false religion and that he was the cause of the whole thing.  Many point to married apostles or married clergy today to say that this means the Church cannot legitimately legislate celibacy for clergy.  Most non-Catholics—and even many Catholics—are pretty sure that Jesus opposed a celibate priesthood.  We hear that it comes from “the Dark Ages” and is caused by a peculiar Catholic hatred of sex.  Some are...READ MORE

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The Peculiar Christmas Custom of the Boy Bishops

Taking the notion that the “last shall be first” literally, an unusual medieval custom saw a bishop and a child exchange places.

12/10/2015 Comments (6)

19th century depiction of a medieval boy bishop

In the medieval church, folk piety was rich in the theatrical and festive observation of Christ’s nativity. We see and hear a faint echo of it down to our own times in Christmas carols, pageants, living creches, and even quasi-religious pop entertainment like A Charlie Brown Christmas. Some tend to downplay the importance of the Christmas season in comparison to Lent and Easter in the early church, but that’s just not true. Christmas certainly went underground a bit during the Reformation, only to emerge again as a full-blooded time of celebration int he 19th century, but prior to the Reformation it was observed with great joy and feasting.

The notion of medieval life as wholly grim and...READ MORE

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