Columns

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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Young or old, we need to rely upon the Lord

WCR Logo

December 15, 2014

Pope Francis provided the European Parliament with a grim diagnosis about the state of Europe when he spoke to the body Nov. 25. (See story on Page 13.) The continent, he said, is like an aging grandmother who is no longer fertile or vibrant. (Actually, we do know many vibrant grandmothers.) In glorifying individual rights, Europe is disregarding the right to life and treating some people as objects who can be discarded, "mere cogs in a machine." The selfish live opulent lifestyles and are indifferent to the suffering of the poor. Multinational corporations form "unseen empires" of economic power, and religious minorities are persecuted.

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How did Christmas greetings get so complicated?

Lasha Morningstar

December 15, 2014

Bicker. Bicker. Bicker. During recent years, people began snapping at each other, debating what greeting should be exchanged during this holiday season. It used to be "Merry Christmas." Now, with our influx of people from other countries, plus those who have stepped away from their Christian faith, "Merry Christmas" is often frowned upon. Various countries – especially those in the Nordic lands where it is dark for so many months – have their special hailings too. Now conversations, radio programs, schools are caught up in the proper seasonal words to use. What if the person is Jewish? Or maybe Muslim? Or maybe they do not celebrate this season at all. The fear of offending them is thrashed around in search of political correctness.

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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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Spirit's presence at incarnation inaugurates the new creation

Visits with Mary Logo – Small

December 15, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

At both the first creation and the new creation, the Bible records the presence of the Holy Spirit. Even before God created light, the author of Genesis tells of "a wind from God" sweeping over the face of the waters (Genesis 1.2). At the Annunciation, Mary, puzzled that she should give birth to "the Son of the Most High" while a virgin, was informed by the angel Gabriel "the Holy Spirit will come upon you" (Luke 1.35). Mary, as is often noted, is the new Eve whose obedience overcomes the disobedience of the first Eve. St. Irenaeus in the second century described this as Mary untying the knot of disobedience that had been tied by Eve, an image that has recently gained new currency through Pope Francis' championing of devotion to Our Lady, Undoer of

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Christmas: God's Word comes among us

Mark Pickup

December 15, 2014

I love the Christmas season. I love it for the lights and music and excited anticipation I see in my grandchildren and every other child but mostly because the divine love given to us in the incarnation fills my heart. Such a love is unfathomable. All I can do is take in its warmth. God made man. God is with us. I feel sad for those who have not had an encounter with Christ, do not know or love him, and who do not live within the nurture of the Church. At best, Christmas for the unbeliever is superficial traditions, unfocused songs of vague sentimentality and a silly flaccid caricature of St. Nicholas we all know as Santa Claus. The world often refers to the true meaning of Christmas but rejects the true meaning of the incarnation.

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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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Quick judgments about God's wrath ignore mystery of suffering

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December 1, 2014

The mysterious man walked into the church after Communion, loudly announced, "Ebola is God's punishment" and then left. There are two problems here (three, if you include his lack of respect for people at worship and for the God they worship) – bad theology and racism. To say people suffer because God is punishing them for their sins is a quick, easy and idiotic judgment. This is not to say that God does not care about evil. If God loves good, he must hate evil. God is passionately concerned about each person and whether he or she chooses good or evil. Scripture, both New and Old Testaments, includes several accounts of people who were punished for turning away from God.

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Spiritual warfare and the battle against powers, dominions

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

December 1, 2014

Spiritual literature has always highlighted the primordial struggle between good and evil, and this has generally been conceived of as a war, a spiritual battle. Thus, as Christians, we have been warned that we must be vigilant against the powers of Satan and various other forces of evil. We've fought these powers not just with prayer and private moral vigilance but with everything from holy water, to exorcisms, to a dogmatic avoidance of everything to do with the occult, the paranormal, alchemy, astrology, spiritualism, séances, witchcraft, sorcery and Ouija boards. For Christians, these were seen as dangerous venues through which malevolent spirits could enter our lives and do us harm. Scripture does, seemingly, warn us about these things. It tells us that for our world to come to its completion and fulfillment Christ must first triumph over all the powers that oppose God. For that to happen, Christ has to first vanquish and destroy death, darkness, evil, the powers of hell, the powers of Satan and various "thrones, dominions, principalities and powers."

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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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