Jay's Articles

Church teaching keeps some Catholics off jury

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February 9, 2015

Out of Boston comes the news that potential jurors in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, charged with murder in the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, are being asked whether they are Catholic and if they agree with Church teaching on the death penalty. If the answer to both questions is "yes," they are excluded from serving on the jury, one requirement for such service being that a juror must be willing to impose the death penalty or a life sentence with no possibility of release. Catholic reaction to this news, according to an article in USA Today, has been mixed.

Suffering contains a call to become more like Christ

Mark Pickup

February 9, 2015

There was a change in how I viewed being chronically ill for more than three decades. I cannot pinpoint when it happened; the change progressed gradually over time. No longer did I see my incurable sickness and handicap as a curse but as a blessing disguised as misfortune. What began with the question "why?" became anger that no answer seemed forthcoming. Eventually the anger simmered and cooled into acceptance and finally acceptance was followed by peace and anticipation. There are questions for which there are no answers, only understanding. They are questions that focus on the deepest meaning of life or eternity.

Ordinary Time can still bring exhilarating experiences

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

February 9, 2015

As a child I was always thrown when the priest announced that we were in Ordinary Time. Sometimes it seemed self-evident; but often it was anything but ordinary. My uncle bagged a moose; someone won the lottery; another had triplets. And in the papers . . . goodness me, nothing seemed ordinary. So why was the priest proclaiming that we were in the fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time? What, I always wondered, was extraordinary time? Maybe I should come back later when the cool things were happening.

Encyclical can make a difference for creation

Joe Gunn

February 9, 2015

The priest from Newfoundland was the most honest. Our agency had provided worship guides and hymns on creation themes for use in services last September on the same weekend when more than 300,000 people marched in New York City, calling for action on climate change. But the Newfoundland pastor reported, "I'll use the Prayers of the Faithful you sent, but I don't feel comfortable preaching about climate change. You know, we just never talked about that in seminary." True. And this is something Pope Francis wants to change.

Why do Gospels have 2 sets of Beatitudes?

Sr. Louise Zdunich

February 9, 2015

Why are the Beatitudes presented so differently in Matthew and Luke? It seems to me that they should be the same. Who is right?

True satire defends what is sacred, rather than belittling it

January 26, 2015

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The terrorist attacks that killed 12 people at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 have rightly been described as acts of "indescribable barbarity." They were a direct assault on the sanctity of human life and the peaceful order of democratic society. However, before we make the French cartoonists into innocent martyrs to the cause of free speech, we ought to reflect on the nature of satire. The terrorist attack has created a rush of people who defend the right of cartoonists to lampoon people's most basic beliefs and to treat nothing, absolutely nothing, as sacred.

Our differences are a sign of God's grace

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

January 26, 2015

It's common for us to see God's grace and blessing in what unites us. We naturally sense the presence of grace when, at our core, we feel a strong moral bond with certain other persons, churches and faiths. That, biblically, is what defines family. But what if what separates us, what if what makes other persons, churches and faiths seem foreign and strange is also a grace, a difference intended by God? Can we think of our differences, as we think of our unity, as a gift from God? Most religions, including Christianity, would answer affirmatively.

God invites us to listen to his voice

Brett Fawcett

January 26, 2015
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 1, 2015

Every morning, the first words on the lips of countless priests, religious and laity are the opening lines of today's psalm: "Come, let us sing to the Lord, and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us." This "invitatory" psalm, so called because it invites us to prayer, then encourages us to "listen to his voice." It is wise to begin every day with this reminder. We often forget to stop what we are doing and allow ourselves any silence – or, if we do, it is often only so that we can refresh and strengthen ourselves (many modern techniques marketed as "meditation" focus on this), rather than opening ourselves up to listen to God's voice speaking to us from the depths of our sanctified soul.

Pope Francis' new cardinals pay a high cost for being disciples

January 26, 2015

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Most of the news coverage of the new appointments to the College of Cardinals has focused on the geographic shift that can be seen in the appointments. This is fair enough as the appointment of cardinals from such Catholic hinterlands as Thailand, Myanmar and Tonga is striking. Just as striking is the fact that the archbishops of traditional centres of Catholicism, such as Turin and Venice, have been overlooked. If Pope Francis aims to have the College of Cardinals better represent the relative Catholic populations of the different regions of the globe, that will be a good thing. To this point, however, the shift in "representation" from Europe and North America to the so-called peripheries has been minimal.

Muslims must halt religious distortions that spawn terror

Bishop Fred Henry

January 26, 2015

'We are not all Charlie." The Jan. 7 terrorist attack by Islamic militants on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris brought, and rightly so, widespread condemnation. The massacre of 12 civilians, including two policemen, one of whom was Muslim, constituted a heinous crime and there is a need to express our solidarity with the French people and the affected families. On Jan. 10, the international media reported that up to 2,000 civilians in and around the town of Baga, Nigeria, were slaughtered by the Islamist group Boko Haram.