Jay's Articles

Christmas season a trial for those with mental illness

Austin Mardon

December 29, 2014

I dread the holidays. It's supposed to be the happiest time of the year, but yet we know that more people attempt suicide during the holidays. We all want the perfect holiday, with the perfect tree surrounded by professionally wrapped presents. What we usually get is something closer to a crooked tree with half the lights out, and some presents wrapped in newspaper because we ran out of the pretty stuff. We want to host the most talked about Christmas party, but not because it led to news cameras and a police chase.

Feast of Mary, Mother of God, had wild origins

Visits with Mary Logo – Small

December 29, 2014

The beginning of each new year is marked in Catholic churches around the world as the feast of Mary, the holy mother of God. While this feast is generally a quiet one, its peacefulness betrays the excitement that surrounded the declaration of the Council of Ephesus in 431 that Mary is mother of God, Theotokos. The movement that led to that declaration might be seen as having begun with the Edict of Milan in 313 which legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire and brought an end to the era of persecution of the Christian faith.

Sisters' foundation seeks ecological balance

Bob McKeon

December 29, 2014

In recent weeks, there has been much in the news about the latest UN climate change conference in Lima, Peru. Articulate Catholic voices were raised during the conference. Pope Francis sent a personal message with a sense of urgency saying "the time for seeking global solutions is running out" and that there exists "a clear, definitive and unpostponable, ethical imperative to act."

With concerted effort, poverty, suffering can be sharply reduced

WCR Logo

December 15, 2014

In Edmonton, significant progress has made been in eliminating homelessness. The WCR's last issue reported that since the city began its Ten-Year-Plan to End Homelessness five years ago, more than 3,200 formerly homeless people have been housed and 84 per cent of those people have successfully retained their housing. As well, in the first several years of the initiative, the number using overnight shelters declined, a situation that has changed this year due to the large influx of people seeking jobs here. The success of the Edmonton initiative shows that, while eliminating homelessness may be impossible, genuine progress in overcoming seemingly intractable social problems can be made if a community forms the will to do so.

Churches must look in mirror for reason for falling numbers

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

December 15, 2014

It's no secret that there's been a massive drop-off in church attendance. Moreover, that drop-off in churchgoing is not paralleled by the same widespread growth in atheism and agnosticism. Rather, more and more people are claiming to be spiritual but not religious, faith-filled but not churchgoers. Why this exodus from our churches? The temptation inside religious circles is to blame what's happening on secularity. Secular culture, many people argue, is perhaps the most powerful narcotic ever perpetrated on this planet, both for good and for bad. It swallows most of us whole with its seductive promises of heaven on this side of eternity. Within our secularized world, the pursuit of the good life simply squeezes out almost all deeper religious desire.

God calls us to follow his mysterious plan

Kathleen Giffin

December 15, 2014
Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 21, 2014

Last night I watched Madi, my three-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, help set the table. She clutched her little handful of forks, and walked around the table carefully reaching up to place one beside each plate. Of course, we didn't need her to help, but giving her the job is a step on the way to more responsibility, and it makes her feel as though she is important in the family, that she can contribute and do her share. It was lovely to watch, this meticulous and careful fork placement, and it got me thinking about my role in God's work. Just as Madi can't grasp the full breadth of what is involved in making the meal I had cooked, so I am also not aware of all the ways God is at work in accomplishing the good in which I am so graciously given a role as helper.

Resurrection provides framework for our Christmas rejoicing

WCR Logo

December 15, 2014

Christmas is the joyous celebration of the Son of God's incarnation as a human person who walked in our midst and brought salvation. Our contemporary celebrations of Christmas, ever more ridiculous with each passing year, obscure the meaning of this great feast behind a curtain of gift-giving, parties, turkey dinners and family visits. None of these things is bad in itself; indeed, each is typically good and salutary. Yet, they do cover over the central meaning of Christmas, that of salvation. We easily become caught up in the busy-ness and bonhomie of the season so that we have little opportunity or inclination to ask what we are being saved from, what we are being saved for and how we are in fact being saved.

At Christmas, share the abundance of God

Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi

December 15, 2014

We are just at the threshold of Christmas, a great event which – if we welcome it – is capable of changing our lives. A story by Tolstoy which I learned from Pope Benedict XVI helps me to share the light and life that springs from Christmas: Leo Tolstoy, the Russian writer, tells in a short story of a harsh sovereign who asked his priests and sages to show him God so that he might see him. The wise men were unable to satisfy his desire. Then a shepherd, who was just coming in from the fields, volunteered to take on the task of the priests and sages. From him the king learned that his eyes were not good enough to see God.

Shepherds' plight is keen reminder of why Jesus came

Brett Fawcett

December 15, 2014
Christmas Midnight Mass
December 25, 2014

When we hear the familiar Nativity story from Luke's Gospel, we often forget that the shepherds who heard the angels' message went back to being shepherds afterwards. They may have had a privileged, beatific, empowering encounter with the newborn Messiah; they may have been some of the first evangelists in history; they surely left the experience with a newfound joy that swallowed up all other emotions they felt for days thereafter. But, when all was said and done, they went back to being shepherds.

Young or old, we need to rely upon the Lord

WCR Logo

December 15, 2014

Pope Francis provided the European Parliament with a grim diagnosis about the state of Europe when he spoke to the body Nov. 25. (See story on Page 13.) The continent, he said, is like an aging grandmother who is no longer fertile or vibrant. (Actually, we do know many vibrant grandmothers.) In glorifying individual rights, Europe is disregarding the right to life and treating some people as objects who can be discarded, "mere cogs in a machine." The selfish live opulent lifestyles and are indifferent to the suffering of the poor. Multinational corporations form "unseen empires" of economic power, and religious minorities are persecuted.