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Resurrection provides framework for our Christmas rejoicing

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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.

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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.

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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.

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With concerted effort, poverty, suffering can be sharply reduced

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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.

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Two children's views of Christmas

Picture by Jake Mangio

December 15, 2014

More than 150 children in the Evergreen Catholic School Division entered the district's fourth annual Christmas artwork contest. Here are two of the entries.

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A vast far-flung nation of the hungry

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December 15, 2014
MICHAEL SWAN
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

I've lived in Toronto most of my life, studied in New York and my beautiful wife is from São Paulo. I have also visited London, Paris, Rome, Beirut, Beijing, Hong Kong, Jerusalem and Nairobi. All of these places are famous in some way for their food. But my most unforgettable meal was about 15 years ago in a village whose name I can't remember. It was in the hilly interior of Nicaragua, in a school building that had lost its roof, windows and doors to a hurricane that had flattened the village.

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Catholic who knew his faith stumped a Bible thumper

December 15, 2014
DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS

Catholic apologist Tim Staples used to love stumping Catholics with Bible verses when he was a Pentecostal. Then he met a Catholic who stumped him. Speaking in Ottawa Dec. 6, the director of apologetics and evangelization for Catholic Answers said he used to think, "You have to be brain dead to be Catholic." Raised a Southern Baptist, Staples joined the Assemblies of God as an adult. He became especially fond of Bible verses he called "zingers" that he believed proved the Catholic faith was wrong.

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N.S. priest's frustration spurs Catholic sponsorship program

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December 15, 2014
MICHAEL SWAN
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

What Father Pat Cosgrove started in anger is ending in communion. Chalice, the Catholic Canadian child sponsorship agency, has matured into a real partner to help feed poor communities in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Haiti and Ukraine. In Kenya, Chalice has launched a program that gathers small groups of people into support communities where they can learn to farm better and receive outside help to put what they learn into action. The program is called eRoots. It provides resources and training to help communities grow their own food and develop sustainable small farms. So far in Kenya, 165 "community development groups" have been helped, which translates into about 9,600 people working towards self-reliance.

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Popular Mary's Veil drama returns to St. Albert

Photo from Mary's Veil

December 15, 2014
COLLEEN SOETAERT
SPECIAL TO THE WCR

Back by popular demand, Sandra Brenneis and St. Peter's choir in Villeneuve will again present their popular musical drama Mary's Veil. When asked why the show was coming back after six years, Brenneis responded, "When I talk to people they always ask, 'When is Mary's Veil coming back?' "To be honest, I had no intention of doing Mary's Veil this year. I felt that I was too busy, many of the cast could not return and I knew that if we did it, I would want to rewrite some of the music.

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Francis urges Council of Europe to walk 'royal road of peace'

December 15, 2014
CINDY WOODEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

STRASBOURG, FRANCE – The project of European unity and cooperation, and ensuring peace on the continent, requires a commitment to dialogue and respect for others, Pope Francis said. The pope told council members that a "great toll of suffering and death is still being enacted on this continent." Visiting in Strasbourg Nov. 25, the pope marked the 65th anniversary of the 47-member Council of Europe. The council was formed to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe after the Second World War.

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