Columns

Christmas message from the Canadian bishops

Archbishop Richard Smith

December 19, 2011

Stars give us a sense of direction, and brighten the night. In the Book of Genesis (22.17), they are also a sign of God's blessing. They herald God's promise to Abraham that his and Sarah's descendants will be countless.

In the Book of Numbers (24.17), a star is again a sign and promise of what is to come: "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near – a star shall come out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel."

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Christ came to bring Good News to all

Mark Pickup

December 19, 2011

A tiny heart beat steadily within the baby boy's mother. The blood circulating through that tiny heart would save us and change millions of human hearts across the centuries; hearts of stone and violence would melt into hearts of flesh and peace and joy.

The infant's birth was like no other birth. It had been prophesied hundreds of years earlier. The prophet Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7.14) and of the Davidic line (11.1-2). Micah identified Bethlehem as the place where the Messiah would be born (5.1). People like Simeon and Anna waited expectantly for him.

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Invest in research, not oil lobbyists

Bob McKeon

December 19, 2011

Climate change is very much in the news these days. A decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline has been delayed by President Obama in the U.S. The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline through Northern B.C. is experiencing strong opposition from aboriginal leaders and environment groups.

The European Union is proposing to penalize oil coming from Alberta oilsands because of environmental concerns. Canada's position at the UN Climate Change talks in Durban, South Africa, is being widely criticized, both internationally and within Canada.

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The Splendour of God's Word

December 19, 2011
Bishop Murray Chatlain

Since I will be speaking about the centrality of Sacred Scripture in the life of the disciple, I wanted to start with a joke that includes Scripture references.

Back 900 years ago, as Archbishop Joe MacNeil would say, when I was a young, enthusiastic parish priest I was visiting my parishioners. I came to one house and I rang the doorbell. Though I could hear someone moving about inside, no one answered the door. I took out my card and I wrote on the back of it Revelation 3.20: "Behold, I am at the door knocking."

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How can I find the meaning of Christmas

Sr. Louise Zdunich

December 19, 2011

Christmas was so exciting when I was a child. But sadly, I have lost the meaning of Christmas. I have heard others voicing the same opinion. How can I find Christmas again?

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Advent gives us a sacred place to prepare for Jesus' birth

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December 12, 2011

It is a good thing we have Advent, that season of joyful expectation. Advent becomes more precious every year as the Western world increasingly uses December (and November) to denigrate the human person into a consumption machine whose main social purpose is to prop up a flagging economy.

In Advent, we celebrate anticipation, an anticipation that can never be sated by material possessions. It is only through the coming of God that men and women can be fulfilled. It is only through the divine life with which we are graced by participation in Word and sacrament that we gain a slight taste of the gift that transcends all consumption.

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Surrender to prayer and release yourself from paralyzing fear

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

December 12, 2011

One reason we need to pray is so that we don't lose heart. We all do sometimes. We lose heart whenever frustration, tiredness, fear and helplessness in the face of life's humiliations conspire to paralyze our energies, deaden our resiliency, drain our courage and leave us feeling weak in depression.

Poet Jill Alexander Essbaum gives us a poignant example of this in her poem Easter. Reflecting on the joy that Easter should bring into our lives, she shares that Easter can instead be a season of defeat for us because its celebration of joy can highlight the shortcomings of our own lives and leave us with the feeling that everyone I've ever loved lives happily just past my able reach.

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God will answer prayers in his own way

Kathleen Giffin

December 12, 2011
Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 18, 2011

There is a pink pencil in the pen holder on my husband's desk. It is 23 years old now, and holds special significance to us because it is the last of those handed out to our friends on the occasion of the birth of our second child.

The days and weeks after her birth were a difficult time for us, for she was diagnosed with a heart defect and Down Syndrome the day she was born. Airlifted to the city, medical interventions, developmental supports, more hospitalizations all followed in the succeeding months.

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Women shackled by poverty, low wages

Joe Gunn

December 12, 2011

As I re-read the Scripture that recounted that first Christmas, it occurred to me that women and their particular needs are often forgotten. On women, and their particular concerns, a light had not yet shone.

A male authority, Caesar Augustus, decided "all the world should be registered." Mary "belonged" to the family of her betrothed, the carpenter Joseph, and so had to travel to his hometown to be counted. No one bothered to ask a humble pregnant woman if an exhausting trip was in her own plan or her best interest - she simply had to go.

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Liturgical translation offers a vibrant richness to prayer life

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December 5, 2011

Since at least the Second World War, there has been a gradual flattening out of human experience in the Western world. Human communication is increasingly mediated by technology. Entertainment is now something we receive rather than something we create. The power of the neighbourhood has been eroded by urban planning, birth control, larger houses and the omnipresence of the automobile.

Even the colour of new homes has become a non-descript, homogenized diminishment of colour. Rural life is in decline because of mechanized agriculture and the lure of city life.

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