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Why the Tonga volcanic eruption was so violent, and what to expect next…

The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation, an online publication covering the latest research. The Kingdom of Tonga doesn’t often attract global attention, but a violent eruption of an underwater volcano on January 15 has spread shock waves, quite literally, around half the world. High-resolution Himawari satellite imagery of the #HungaTongaHungaHaapai volcanic eruption in Tonga �� Our climate stations recorded a brief spike in air pressure as the atmospheric shock wave pulsed across New Zealand. pic.twitter.com/BfLzdq6i57 — NIWA Weather (@NiwaWeather) January 15, 2022 The volcano is usually not much to look at. It consists of two small uninhabited islands, Hunga-Ha’apai and Hunga-Tonga, poking about 100m above sea level 65km north of Tonga’s capital ...

The Top 10 most luxurious trains in the world…

If you want to discover some of the world’s most fascinating places from a unique perspective, traveling aboard a luxury train will make the entire experience even more special, with all the right amenities to make you feel comfortable, delicious food and drinks, brilliant staff and guides, and many other interesting activities on offer. From the vastness of Siberia or the Australian outback, to the beauties of the African safari and the magical palaces of India, these incredible trains promise one-of-a-kind adventures that will surpass all your expectations. With routes that go far beyond your imagination, and a magical mix of elegance and breathtaking views, these are the top 10most luxurious trains in the world right now. Take a step back in time and rediscover the art of elegant travel...

Cardinal Parolin and Deputy Vatican Secretary of State Test Positive for COVID-19…

By Courtney Mares Vatican City, Jan 18, 2022 / 07:05 am Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra have tested positive for COVID-19, the Holy See press office confirmed on Tuesday. Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, has “very mild” symptoms, while his Venezuelan substitute, Peña Parra, is asymptomatic, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told journalists on Jan. 18. Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra meets with Pope Francis in Vatican City on August 17, 2018. . Vatican Media Both members of the Roman Curia were fully vaccinated and had received booster shots. Join Our Telegram Group : Salvation & Prosperity  

Order of Malta Would Be ‘Subject’ of Holy See Under New Constitution, Ending Centuries of Diplomatic Independence…

Centuries of diplomatic independence for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta could come to an end if a new Vatican-drafted constitution for the order is put into effect. The new constitution could see the religious order lose its permanent observer status at the United Nations, and would imperil its bilateral diplomatic ties. The new constitution, which would explicitly define the order as a “subject” of the Holy See, would end nearly a millennia of sovereign independence for the religious order, have sweeping implications for its diplomatic relationships with more than 100 nations and the United Nations, and impact its humanitarian work around the globe. Embassy of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in Bratislava, Slovakia. Credit: Philip Game / Alamy Stock Photo The new draft c...

Biblical basics about Mother Mary — A homily for the Second Sunday of the Year…

In this Sunday’s Gospel passage of the wedding feast at Cana, there is a theological portrait of both Mother Mary and prayer. Let’s look at the Gospel along five lines: I. The place that Mary has – The text says, There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. A fascinating thing about these opening verses is that Mary almost seems to dominate the scene; the presence of Jesus is mentioned only secondarily. St. Thomas Aquinas notes that at Cana, Mary acts as the “go-between” in arranging a mystical marriage (Commentary on John, 98; and 2, 1, n.336, 338, and 343, 151-152). Once the marriage is arranged, she steps back; her final words to are these: “Do whatever he tells you.” How many of us has Mary helped to...

Friendship between cardinal and politician cemented comeback of ‘Bologna school’…

ROME – When Italy recently celebrated a state funeral for David Sassoli, the President of the European Parliament who died unexpectedly from Legionnaire’s disease on Jan. 11, the Mass was held in Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and attended by the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister Mario Draghi, European President Ursula von der Leyen, and virtually the continent’s entire power structure. For such an august occasion, one might have expected the funeral Mass to be celebrated by the President of the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, or perhaps the pope’s Vicar of Rome, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, or even the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. Instead, the main celebrant was Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna – whic...

Pope Francis Asks Catholics to Offer Their Sufferings for Christian Unity…

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity dates back to the 19th century when Pope Leo XIII encouraged the practice of a Prayer Octave for Unity. VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has asked Catholics to offer up their sufferings this week for Christian unity. During his Sunday Angelus address, the Pope called on people to participate in the upcoming Week of Prayer for Christian Unity taking place January 18-25. “We Christians, in the diversity of our confessions and traditions, are also pilgrims on our way to full unity, and we come closer to our goal the more we keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, our only Lord,” Pope Francis said from the window of the Apostolic Palace on Jan. 16. “During this week of prayer, we offer our difficulties and sufferings for the unity of Christians,” he told the crowd gathe...

Finding an intercessor in Michael Kniffin…

“Michael … drew together a beautiful community whose common thread was love for him and dedication to his well-being. His gentle spirit also created a safe space when his brothers and sisters were having a tough day. Cozying up next to Michael set the troubles of the world at bay, and no one was better than Michael at keeping secrets.” That’s how the Kniffin family remembered their nearly 10-year-old, Michael Patrick, who died on the last day of 2021. Days after the feast of the Holy Family, his parents, Bonnie and Eric, and his seven siblings were one modern holy family living the Passion, Death and Resurrection during Christmastide. They are quite certain their son has been embraced into the arms of God the Father. Michael was diagnosed with lissencephaly, a severe congenital neurologica...

‘Failure to launch’ — the reluctance of males to become men — is a far bigger problem than you realize…

It’s called “Failure to Launch,” and its implications are far worse than you might realize.

Marching into the fray, a culture of evangelization, and a process story…

Happy Friday friends, I want to start with a note of thanks. Many of you have either received (or will shortly) a renewal notice on your Pillar subscription. Many of you started supporting us this time last year – right as we were launching. It was a tremendous outpouring of confidence,  as we jumped off a professional cliff, with little certainty about whether this project would fly. We’re obviously still here one year on, and it’s stating the obvious that we wouldn’t be without you. So, sincerely, thank you. We have worked hard to make good on our promise of long-form and investigative journalism about the life of the Church which goes beyond the daily news cycle.  Be it through our original polling, data analysis, topical explainers, or behind the scenes coverage of the ...

Jesus has opened up the pathway of supreme humility…

Jesus Christ has opened up the pathway to freedom and this pathway is the pathway of extreme humility. It is a trail blazed by the Word made flesh and a journey that leads to the Burning Bush where the limitlessness of God sets the limits of man aflame with love. Love alone knows how to find this trail and faith, unshod and thus vulnerable, progresses step by step into what would seem to be powerlessness.  Such a journey is never an evading of responsibility but it is courageously engaging the task at hand with total reliance on God.  It is a pilgrimage that one makes under the authority and power of heaven.  The earth is filled with chaos and its own power and authority are subject to futility and death. For this reason, no earthly power ever succeeds in stemming death. &nb...

Cardinal Sarah is right: ‘The silence of everyday life is an indispensable condition for living with others’…

There is a distinctive drama that perpetually exists between God and man. The nature of this drama involves whether man in good faith engages the virtue of silence to listen to God instead of the choice to listen and engage the noise of the world; an act of despair the devil would prefer you and I to entertain. If a person is cognizant of the potential spiritual danger that exists in shunning the gift of silence, then he would do everything in his power to embrace the grace of silence and remove any noise that would distract you from God.    The ability to be silent and listen to the will of God is a virtue directed toward combating any distraction from God. A conscience attempt to personally engage the Son of God Jesus Christ in silence I argue reveals a desire to have meaningfu...