From the category archives: RightColumn

Stories for the Right Column of the Columns Page

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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Shepherds' plight is keen reminder of why Jesus came

Brett Fawcett

December 15, 2014
Christmas Midnight Mass
December 25, 2014

When we hear the familiar Nativity story from Luke's Gospel, we often forget that the shepherds who heard the angels' message went back to being shepherds afterwards. They may have had a privileged, beatific, empowering encounter with the newborn Messiah; they may have been some of the first evangelists in history; they surely left the experience with a newfound joy that swallowed up all other emotions they felt for days thereafter. But, when all was said and done, they went back to being shepherds.

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Grandma helps boy find the true Santa

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

December 15, 2014

For the last three years I have faced insistent questioning from my 11-year-old daughter Sophie about whether there is a Santa. Her sense of hopeful wonder has been struggling mightily against the majority of her classmates and their clear certainty about the ruse. As we talked this through, I told her about a wonderful story I have always loved. It was about a similar child who, upon hearing from classmates that Santa was fictional, fled to his matter-of-fact grandmother for the truth. His grandmother never sugar-coated anything, and he secretly feared she would support his classmates. Instead, she insisted that Santa did exist and took little David to a general store to prove it.

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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."

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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?

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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).

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Papal reflections challenge Canada's political culture

Dr. Terrence Downey

December 1, 2014

While sections of Evangelii Gaudium have received considerable attention in the media ("I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out in the streets"), acute observations on politics and politicians have been overlooked. Many of these are instructive for Canadians as we enter a federal election year. While recognizing that politics "remains a lofty vocation . . . inasmuch as it seeks the common good," Pope Francis notes that human dignity and the pursuit of the common good sometimes "seem to be a mere addendum imported from without in order to fill out a political discourse lacking in perspectives or plans for true or integral development."

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