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Why are Catholic homilies so short and light on Scripture?

COMMENTARY: Better preaching will increase the hunger and attentiveness to the word of God, and bring more people back to Mass. On Dec. 16, as Catholic clergy were in the heart of their Advent preparations for Christmas and getting ready to mount the pulpit for one of their most important preaching opportunities of the year, the Pew Research Center released an intriguing, first-of-its-kind study entitled, “The Digital Pulpit: A Nationwide Analysis of Online Sermons.” Using advanced computer technology, the study examined the websites of 38,630 Christian churches in the U.S., found 6,431 that publish audio or video recordings of the Sunday sermons and homilies in English and analyzed them, among other things, for length and vocabulary. The results were rather striking. First, the surve...

The Bransfield report: Washington Post publishes secret Vatican document as parishioners demand answers…

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Oh-so familiar Top 10 religion stories list (with a few exceptions)…

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“Brothers and Sisters, Christendom no longer exists” — At curial Christmas address, the Pope’s “hermeneutic of change” …

Over the last two pontificates, what’s formally known as the Pope’s Christmas “greeting” to his Curial chiefs has gone well beyond glad tidings – if anything, the forum has arguably made for the most significant in-house speech of the year for Benedict and Francis both. The traditional opening “bookend” to Vatican Christmas – which closes in early January with the “State of the World” address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See – at today’s appointment, the reigning pontiff yet again focused on his continuing effort on the reform of the Roman Curia, the wholesale thrust of which might finally be executed in the New Year with the most sweeping makeover of the church’s central government since Vatican II. Yet while Fr...

The Pope’s latest speech to the cardinals has a backstory — one that was supposed to stay secret…..

> Italiano> English> Español> Français > All the articles of Settimo Cielo in English * This time as well, in the speech he gives every year to the Vatican curia before Christmas, Pope Francis has come out swinging at his unfortunate listeners. Last year he went after the the Judases “who hide behind good intentions to stab their brothers and sow weeds.” Two years ago he had pilloried the “trusted traitors” who “let themselves be corrupted by ambition or vainglory and, when they are gently removed, falsely declare themselves martyrs of the system, of the ‘uninformed pope,’ of the ‘old guard,’ … instead of reciting the ‘mea culpa’.” And who is in the pope’s crosshairs this year? Below are the most biting passages from the speech given by the pope to the Roman curia on the mor...

Crisis at Christmas — A homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent…

Today’s Gospel gives us some background for the Christmas feast that we need to take to heart. It speaks to us of a crisis at Christmas. We tend to sentimentalize the Christmas story as we think of the baby Jesus in the manger. It is not absolutely wrong to be sentimental, but we must also be prayerfully sober about how difficult that first Christmas was, and about the heroic virtue required of Mary and Joseph in order to cooperate with God in making it come to pass. Let’s look at this Gospel in three stages: distress, direction, and decision. DISTRESS – This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilli...

Is a Catholic “victims’ rights” movement the next frontier in abuse reform?

ROME – For most of human history, when someone was accused of a crime, whatever passed for a trial to assess guilt was a simple affair: Victim v. Defendant. Unsurprisingly, such “trials” often boiled down to who was more powerful, wealthier or better connected, and had only a passing relationship to justice. In the late 17th century, Enlightenment philosopher John Locke argued that the progress of civilization required the state to supplant the victim as the accusing party in a criminal trial, in order to ensure neutrality and fairness. “All private judgment of every particular member being excluded, the community comes to be umpire, by settled standing rules, indifferent, and the same to all parties,” Locke wrote. “There, and there only, is a civil society.” To this day, as anyone who’s e...

On the 250th anniversary of his birth, the little-discussed faith of Beethoven…..

Germany and Austria are preparing for a year-long string of events to honor the 250th birthday of Ludwig Van Beethoven, one of the Western world’s greatest and most prolific composers. The activities will be centralized in the German city of Bonn, where Beethoven was born, and the Austrian city of Vienna, where the composer spent most of his life and composed the majority of his works. The event will proceed under the moniker BTHVN2020. DW reports that each of the 5 letters in the logo corresponds with a German word for five key aspects of the composer’s character: Beethoven as a citizen, as a composer, a humanist, a visionary and a nature lover. Coordinators refer to these as “pillars” of Beethoven, and events are expected to bring these themes into their presentations. The celebration ki...

The ultimate Zion National Park travel guide…

The first time I road-tripped from Los Angeles to Zion National Park, I remember thinking that the Virgin River Gorge, which cuts a deep slash across Arizona’s northwest corner, was something like a certain literary wardrobe: you entered on one side via the quiet Nevada desert, then emerged a handful of twists later into the magical expanse of Utah, which practically vibrated with otherworldly sights. But the journey was nothing compared to the destination—Zion brims with bucket-list backdrops, from its intoxicating blend of brilliant colors to its serpentine canyons and sheer cliffs, that since my very first visit have never failed to leave me awestruck. One ingredient in that Zion special sauce is that the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert all converge here to cr...

Confessions of a feminist heretic…

During the advent of my first pregnancy, in 2012, I was comfortably settled into my own unique brand of postmodern feminist Christianity. I remember lounging on the couch amidst waves of debilitating nausea, watching news coverage of the controversial Contraceptive Mandate, rolling my eyes in anger and disgust at those regressive Catholic priests in their prim white collars, telling women what to do with their bodies. Yet almost exactly two years later, I would be standing before such a priest at the Easter Vigil Mass, publicly confessing my desire to be received into the largest, oldest male-helmed institution in the world, the Roman Catholic Church. My sudden swerve into Catholicism prompted a dramatic worldview inversion on a number of issues related to feminism and sexuality, including...

Pope’s Sunday Angelus: This Christmas, imitate St. Joseph’s trust in God…

Vatican City, Dec 22, 2019 / 04:57 am (CNA).- In a difficult situation, St. Joseph put his whole trust in God and was obedient, an example for all Catholics to imitate, Pope Francis said during the Angelus Sunday. St. Joseph “does not preach, does not speak, but tries to do the will of God; and he does it in the style of the Gospel and of the Beatitudes,” he said Dec. 22. “The example of this meek and wise man urges us to lift our gaze and push further,” he continued. “It is a matter of recovering the surprising logic of God who, far from small or large calculations, is made of openness to new horizons, towards Christ and his Word.” In his catechesis, the pope reflected on the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, when St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary are betrothed but not yet living toget...

Hilaire Belloc on observing Christmas…

Christmas is not the birth of Christ; what the birth of Christ was, and is, will never change. Christmas is a celebration, a remembrance and marking of the birth of Christ – and it has changed, and is still changing. “People ask themselves how much remains of this observance and of the feast and its customs.” So mused Hilaire Belloc over ninety years ago in his essay, “A Remaining Christmas.” Cognizant of a general loss of age-old Christmas traditions, Belloc set out to record how Christmas was still celebrated in his home in Sussex. Much more than a tale of quaint holiday practices, the essay is a profound reflection on the place of such observances in human life. “Man has a body as well as a soul, and the whole of man, soul and body, is nourished sanely by a multiplicity of observed trad...