Jay's Articles

Christmas: God's Word comes among us

Mark Pickup

December 15, 2014

I love the Christmas season. I love it for the lights and music and excited anticipation I see in my grandchildren and every other child but mostly because the divine love given to us in the incarnation fills my heart. Such a love is unfathomable. All I can do is take in its warmth. God made man. God is with us. I feel sad for those who have not had an encounter with Christ, do not know or love him, and who do not live within the nurture of the Church. At best, Christmas for the unbeliever is superficial traditions, unfocused songs of vague sentimentality and a silly flaccid caricature of St. Nicholas we all know as Santa Claus. The world often refers to the true meaning of Christmas but rejects the true meaning of the incarnation.

Living with limits could halt seasonal frenzy

Joe Gunn

December 15, 2014

"I'm dreaming of a (insert your favourite word here) Christmas, just like the ones I used to know . . .". My wish would be to insert the word "sane" if my Christmas dream was to come true. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love the Christmas season. But a "sane" Christmas would mean less hustle and bustle, no crowded parking lots at chain stores, no pressure to find the "perfect (store-bought) gift," and fewer guilty feelings about leaving my ecological values aside in the rush to encourage the "Christmas spirit."

Quick judgments about God's wrath ignore mystery of suffering

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December 1, 2014

The mysterious man walked into the church after Communion, loudly announced, "Ebola is God's punishment" and then left. There are two problems here (three, if you include his lack of respect for people at worship and for the God they worship) – bad theology and racism. To say people suffer because God is punishing them for their sins is a quick, easy and idiotic judgment. This is not to say that God does not care about evil. If God loves good, he must hate evil. God is passionately concerned about each person and whether he or she chooses good or evil. Scripture, both New and Old Testaments, includes several accounts of people who were punished for turning away from God.

Spiritual warfare and the battle against powers, dominions

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

December 1, 2014

Spiritual literature has always highlighted the primordial struggle between good and evil, and this has generally been conceived of as a war, a spiritual battle. Thus, as Christians, we have been warned that we must be vigilant against the powers of Satan and various other forces of evil. We've fought these powers not just with prayer and private moral vigilance but with everything from holy water, to exorcisms, to a dogmatic avoidance of everything to do with the occult, the paranormal, alchemy, astrology, spiritualism, séances, witchcraft, sorcery and Ouija boards. For Christians, these were seen as dangerous venues through which malevolent spirits could enter our lives and do us harm. Scripture does, seemingly, warn us about these things. It tells us that for our world to come to its completion and fulfillment Christ must first triumph over all the powers that oppose God. For that to happen, Christ has to first vanquish and destroy death, darkness, evil, the powers of hell, the powers of Satan and various "thrones, dominions, principalities and powers."

I am useless as a leveler of hills, filler of valleys

Maria Kozakiewicz

December 1, 2014
Second Sunday in Advent
December 7, 2014

When Advent comes with its message of "prepare the way for the Lord," I panic. Not because of the message of the final days. In my mind this vision is inseparable from expectation of rest, peace and joy – and the meeting with love incarnate. The levelling of hills and filling up of ditches is what worries me. In my life I see nothing but ditches and hills, not a bit of a smooth road built. How is Jesus to come to me through these thorny brambles? How will he cross the stagnant lake of my sloth? And, if I want him to come, where do I start? Is there a place where he will be able to set his foot in me?

Pope preaches uncompromising Gospel

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December 1, 2014

For some Catholics at least, there exists the frightening prospect that the media is right about Pope Francis – that the pope is trying to make it easier to live the Gospel, that he wants to water down the faith and that he wants Catholics to get in step with modern society. There was, of course, the famous "Who am I to judge?" comment the pope made shortly after his election in relation to homosexual activity. Now, there is the prospect that it might become easier to obtain a Church annulment or possibly even for divorced and remarried people to be welcomed at Communion without having their first marriage annulled. Some fear all this means that the pope wants to alter Church teaching.

Canadian bombs are no solution to ISIS savagery

Douglas Roche

December 1, 2014

My seatmate on a recent flight from Toronto to Edmonton turned out to be a former solder, who, completely unprompted by me, said he had, while on duty in the Middle East, "killed for Jesus." I squirmed inside and tried to change the subject. When he said, unexpectedly, that he had no use for the United Nations, I decided that further conversation would not only be unproductive but possibly confrontational. A cramped Air Canada seat is no place for emotion-driven exchanges. Rather, I spent my time thinking about a seminar I had attended the previous evening on Canada's role in responding to ISIS (the abbreviation for the extremists now conducting savage warfare in parts of Syria and Iraq). Canada has joined the U.S.-led coalition now conducting air strikes against jihadist fighters. Canadian CF-18s are dropping bombs on military targets.

Ask the Spirit to guide you in your struggles

John Connelly

December 1, 2014
Third Sunday in Advent
December 14, 2014

In this week's Second Reading St. Paul offers these inspired words, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5.17). Imagine if we actually did this. What if we all made prayer the continual focus of our lives? It is easy to say that everything we do is prayer. But we can dig deeper into this mystery of constant prayer. The Catholic Catechism says, "Prayer is a vital necessity. Proof from the contrary is no less convincing: If we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin. How can the Holy Spirit be our life if our heart is far from him?" (2744).

Are English-speakers rising in Rome?

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December 1, 2014

The appointment of English Archbishop Paul Gallagher to the Vatican's equivalent of a foreign minister has been heralded as part of the rise of English-speaking bishops in key Roman positions. Gallagher's appointment comes shortly after Australian Cardinal George Pell was put in charge of the Holy See's finances. However, it was not long ago that two Americans held top Vatican posts – Cardinal William Levada as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Cardinal Raymond Burke as head of the Church's supreme court. Levada retired and Burke was shifted to a lesser role as patron of the Knights of Malta.

Handwritten letters bring a personal touch to Christmas season

Lasha Morningstar

December 1, 2014

Scurry. Search. Sigh. Yes, it is almost Christmas and the "What am I going to get her/him/them?" is starting to scramble through our minds. Nighttime too. We mutter, "But they already have everything." Or, "I have no idea what to get them." An idea! People decry those who send out Christmas letters. But at least they touch base and we have a bit of a catch up. But what about an individual letter? That's right – pen, paper, envelope, stamp, maybe some photos to each specific person.