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Christian families are called to welcome, demonstrate and spread the love and presence of Christ in the world, Pope Benedict said.
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The Vatican said Pope Benedict greeted with a smile the news that a German citizen had filed a complaint against him for not wearing a seat belt in his popemobile.
The Christmas tree is placed in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 5.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A greater emphasis on faith formation and vocations is the reason for a sharp increase in enrollment, says the rector of St. Joseph Seminary.
With 42 seminarians registered in-house this fall and another five on internships, registration is at an all-time high, says Father Shayne Craig.
From helping women and children flee domestic violence to supporting new immigrants, the Catholic Women's League has a reputation for responding wherever there is a need.
"By their actions they have ensured that the timeless Gospel values of loving service, social justice and solidarity with people in need are faithfully put into practice," Father Mike McCaffery said about the league last June.
TORONTO - Nadir Shirazi calls religion "the black sheep of the diversity family."
Getting corporate Canada to talk about accommodating religion at work is a tough sell compared to other diversity-in-employment seminars, said Cheryl May executive director of Skills For Change.