Articles from December, 2013

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Cutting a Christmas Tree

Cutting a Christmas tree

"Father Christmas throws out with the same gigantic gesture the prig who can only sneer at the Christmas pudding and the snob who can only snarl at the Christmas waits." - G. K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News, 22 December 1923 Every year we cut a Christmas tree. First, the children go looking for some suitable candidates and then we review the choices during a hike to pick the best one. My criteria are simple. I insist that we cut a spruce that ... (Continue reading)

Christmas Cake

Christmas Cake

Recipe for Christmas Cake, brought over from Ireland to Pontiac County Quebec by Mrs. Ryan some time in the 1800s. Written out by Lola Keon. We are including this in the original handwriting, because handwriting is rare and becoming extinct. Christmas Cake (Fruit) 1 pound butter 1 pound white sugar 2 pounds raisins 2 pounds currants 2 pounds dates 1 cup molasses 1 pound peel 10 eggs 5 cups flour 1 tsp soda 15 cups cherries 1.5 cups nuts 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp cloves 1 tsp nutmeg Grease pan and paper liners. Mix butter, eggs and ... (Continue reading)

The Year of Faith in Nazareth

YF Mass

Photo credit: Meaghen Hale On Sunday, 17 November, over six thousand pilgrims attended the International Day of Faith in Nazareth, a collaboration of the Israel Ministry of Tourism and the Italian Bishops’ Conference, to celebrate the close of the Year of Faith. Pope Benedict announced the year on 11 October 2012, the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as ... (Continue reading)

O antiphon, O antiphon..


These last few days before Christmas bring all kinds of crazy out of the woodwork, don’t they? It really is ironic how rude and insensitive shoppers can be—ripping the last tchotchke out of others' hands in order to make some recipient "happy." But as we enter the home stretch before December 25th, I have been struck by how the Liturgy intensifies as well. It’s almost as if the Church knew (and knows) how to call us sheep back from the ... (Continue reading)

Making a bread oven


A bread oven is simply a dry hollow pile of mud and straw in which a fire is built. When the fire dies down, the hot mud bakes whatever is put into it, whether bread, vegetables, or meat. It is a technology that has pre-historic origins and follows a common pattern across continents: the bread ovens of Africa, the Native American Hornos, and most important for us, the clay ovens of French Canada. Curiously, I cannot find any rural tradition ... (Continue reading)

Pope Francis’ Letter to Israel

Jerusalem flag

To His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, I send cordial greetings to you, your brother bishops, and all those gathered in Nazareth as you celebrate the close of the Year of Faith in the Holy Land. I assure you of my spiritual closeness and I pray that this celebration will not only witness to your faith, but also nourish it and invite others to an encounter with Jesus Christ. In announcing the Year of Faith, my beloved predecessor Benedict XVI ... (Continue reading)

Easy Essays

Easy Essays Sheed and Ward, 1936 Looking at property, Fr. Henry Carr, Superior of the Basilians, says: Socialists and Communists battle against the unequal conditions of the poor. Presumably they would be satisfied if all were on a level. Do you not see that this does not touch the question that is vital, namely, whether or not the people, no matter how much or how little they possess, regard it and use it in the way they should? The right way is to regard it as something entrusted to us to use for the benefit of ourselves ... (Continue reading)

Blessed Pope John-Paul II: “Families become what you are”

holy family

On a recent Saturday morning, I had the privilege of speaking to the Raising Faith-Filled Kids Group at the Newman Centre in Toronto. We looked at ways in which Catholic families can grow in holiness. In his 1981 Encyclical Familiaris Consortio: The Role of the Family in the Modern World, Blessed Pope John Paul II urged: "Families, become what you are." He explained: "spouses are therefore the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross; they are for one another and ... (Continue reading)

A closet full of suits


He’ll spend his weekends dressed in ripped jeans and painfully terrible lumberjack shirts. During the weekday evenings he’ll exit his suit after work with utmost speed in order to lounge around in hideous velour pyjamas. You’ve seen nothing, until you’ve seen a velour-wearing Spaniard. But looking at his bursting closets—yes, plural—you would think my fiancé is some kind of sartorialist. He isn’t really. He loathes shopping and groans terribly at clothing that isn’t baggy and worn soft with age. He just hates ... (Continue reading)

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Food for thought

The Incarnation was made present to the world through Mary. On Christmas, Mary placed Our Lord in an animal feed trough, where he was seen by the local shepherds. One could not go to the Infant Christ at Bethlehem without Mary’s consent. As a young man, waiting for a sign to begin his public life, Mary introduced Our Lord to the world at a wedding, when she told those listening to do what He said, whereupon He made gallons of ... (Continue reading)

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