Discover

When you pray, the Christ Child awakens…

Just as when He awoke in swaddling clothes in a manger, Christ can awaken in our hearts in prayer. In that mysterious moment, His eyes communicate the same invincible joy that they did when they gazed into the eyes of His virgin mother. We know in that single instant what she knew — that He has given Himself to us and for us, and that we are the object of His delight.  If we allow ourselves to be captivated by His gaze of love, we will soon find that we cannot but give ourselves to Him in return. Just as He opened His eyes and saw the world for the first time, when we allow Him to open His eyes in our prayer, it is as if we have been seen for the first time. When we rest with Him in silent prayer, the Word who made the world opens His eyes anew and sees us and the whole world again th...

On the value of silence before the great mystery of the Incarnation…

Something at Christmas urges me (a man of many words) to write of holy silence. Perhaps it is due to one of the great Christmas antiphons, which speaks of the birth of Christ as a magnum mysterium (a great mystery). During Mass recently, the words of Zechariah came to my mind: Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord … Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling (Zechariah 2:11, 13). There is a common idiom: “Words fail me.” It is in this context that we can best understand God’s call to fall silent before the mystery of the Lord’s incarnation. Notice in the passage above that the call to silence follows the call to “sing and rejoice.” Is there a difference between singing and rejo...

Chinese Protestant pastor Wang Yi sentenced to 9 years in prison after saying ‘Communism is incompatible with Christian faith’…

HONG KONG — A secretive Chinese court sentenced one of the country’s best-known Christian voices and founder of one of its largest underground churches to nine years in prison for subversion of state power and illegal business operations, according to a government statement released on Monday. Wang Yi, the pastor who founded Early Rain Covenant Church, was detained last December with more than 100 members of his congregation as part of a crackdown on churches, mosques and temples not registered with the state. While most of Mr. Wang’s parishioners, including his wife, Jiang Rong, were eventually released, Mr. Wang never re-emerged from detention. As part of his sentence, he will also be stripped of his political rights for three years and have 50,000 renminbi, or almost $7,200, of his asse...

How to reduce digital distractions: Advice from medieval monks…

Photo by guenterguni / Getty Images. Medieval monks had a terrible time concentrating. And concentration was their lifelong work! Their tech was obviously different from ours. But their anxiety about distraction was not. They complained about being overloaded with information, and about how, even once you finally settled on something to read, it was easy to get bored and turn to something else. They were frustrated by their desire to stare out of the window, or to constantly check on the time (in their case, with the Sun as their clock), or to think about food or sex when they were supposed to be thinking about God. They even worried about getting distracted in their dreams. Sometimes they accused demons of making their minds wander. Sometimes they blamed the body’s base instincts. But the...

Persecuted and forgotten? Defending defenseless Christians…..

A few days ago, I went to my trusted Lebanese-American mechanic for an oil change. The Christians of the East have always had a penchant for discussing theology, politics, and race – and as far as theology is concerned, the Easterners have all the theology they could want to discuss and contest. My routine car service, therefore, usually turns into interesting discussions on theology, Church history, and – most recently – the state of persecuted Christians in the East. I guess this is one of the benefits of my being a Church historian. It happens that my mechanic was fresh back from Lebanon, which he had visited for his mother’s funeral. He had a lot to tell me about the persecution and harassment Lebanese Christians are suffering at the hands of the Muslim majority and about recent protes...

The readings for Holy Family Sunday…

The Sunday that falls in the Octave of the Solemnity of Christmas is dedicated to celebrating the Holy Family.  The Readings for this Sunday focus on the rights and responsibilities of family members toward each other, and the Gospel focuses on the role of the “most forgotten” member of the Holy Family, St. Joseph, who cared for and protected the Blessed Mother and infant Jesus through the dangerous early years of Jesus’ childhood. God sets a father in honor over his children;a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.Whoever honors his father atones for sins,and preserves himself from them.When he prays, he is heard;he stores up riches who reveres his mother.Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,and, when he prays, is heard.Whoever reveres his father will live a long...

The suffering love of the Savior…

The love of Jesus saves because it has the power to bear away sin. The witness of the Holy Innocents shows us that the powerful of this world do not have the final say about humanity. At the end of the day, no matter how much violence is unleashed, Christ’s saving love will raise up the lowly and the powerless – even if they are as helpless as infants and children. Because of Christ, they suffered, but because of Him, they testify to something good and true about humanity – that the most vulnerable of our society to not admit of being used as a means to and end, that those who do so will never thwart the plan of God. For the saving power of God is greater than the power of evil. If the Savior has so much power over the affairs of the world, what about the movements of the...

Hector Berlioz’s long-lost “Solemn Mass” for the Holy Innocents…

“By God, you will be no doctor or apothecary, but a great composer.”—Jean-François Le Sueur, to Hector Berlioz, upon hearing the premier of the Messe Solennelle Saint-Roch Church, Paris Its premier in 1825 marked one of the most remarkable musical debuts ever by a composer, and the score’s rediscovery 167 years later in a church attic is one of the most astounding events in musicological history. For the composer of this work eventually destroyed all but one of the surviving copies of the score. This is the Messe solennelle of the young Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), who had defied his parents’ wishes for him to be a doctor—earning him the curse of his mother that would haunt him for the rest of his life—fleeing his home to study with the composer Jean-François Le Sueur. Berlioz had little mu...

Why Catholicism’s two traumas of the 2010s didn’t draw the same attention…

ROME – Suppose that, looking back at the close of a decade, there were two great narratives about a given group of people, one a tale of scandal and dark deeds coming to light, the other a story of suffering, victimization, and vulnerability. Suppose, further, that the former storyline dominated global headlines, finishing as one of the most covered stories of the decade along with Donald Trump and climate change, while the other was second- or third-tier, with many average people not even aware it was happening. Suppose the scandal produced an Academy Award-winning movie that grossed $100 million worldwide, but the suffering had no movie, no anthem, no real pop culture footprint. That group might well have a beef, and Christmas 2019 has offered another grisly reminder of the point. On Dec...

The 15 most awe-inspiring space images of the decade…

The field of astronomy this decade delivered an embarrassment of riches: stunning accomplishment after stunning accomplishment from the exploration of space. Humans sent robots to the farthest reaches of the solar system, to the sun, to the gas giant Jupiter, and more. Meanwhile, our telescopes peered deeper into the cosmos. They showed us images never seen before, like the first-ever image of a black hole, which was just declared to be Science’s “breakthrough of the year.” We put together our favorite astronomy images and videos from the 2010s, in no particular order. Some of these images are awe inspiring for their beauty, or their remoteness, or for helping us understand our tiny place in the universe. Others are awe inspiring for the engineering achievements they represent, and give ho...

On the Feast of the Holy Family, the biblical teaching on marriage and family…

It is not difficult to demonstrate that most of our modern problems center around struggles and misunderstandings regarding marriage, sexuality, and the family. Collectively as a nation and the culture, we have departed significantly from the teachings of God and common sense, when it comes to our thinking and behavior regarding these three fundamental pillars. Today’s Feast of the Holy Family presents us an opportunity to reflect, and provides a rich tapestry of Scriptures. Many of these teachings are not “politically correct,” but for that, no apology should be made. They remain God’s teachings and it is hard to argue that modern notions of sexuality, marriage and family have produced anything short of catastrophe and disaster. And as is usually the case, it is the children suffer the mo...

Pope Francis asks families to put down their phones on Holy Family Sunday…

Vatican City, Dec 29, 2019 / 05:30 am (CNA).- On feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth Sunday, Pope Francis encouraged families to get off their cell phones and talk to one another. “In your family, do you know how to communicate with each other, or are you like those kids at the table — each one has their own cell phone, chatting? In that table there is a silence as if they were at Mass, but they don’t communicate with each other,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Dec. 29. “We need to retake communication within the family: parents, children, grandparents and siblings must communicate with each other,” the pope said. “This is your assignment for today for the feast of the Holy Family.” Pope Francis said that the Holy Family is a model for families today in “following th...