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Catechism in Stone


To produce a “catechism in stone”—that’s how one of North America’s leading architects describes the work of building and city planning. I recently had the privilege of speaking with Mr. Dino Marcantonio—a native of Ottawa—who, along with his wife, Dr. Paloma Pajares, runs an architectural firm in New York City. Mr. Marcantonio has held academic posts at the University of Notre Dame and Yale University, and is among a group of leading architects helping to revive classical architecture. In our ... (Continue reading)

‘Marking the transition’


Being from the prairies, one of the habits my mother instilled in me as a boy was to take off my shoes whenever I entered a home. It never occurred to me that you could step into a house any other way. How scandalized I was when we moved overseas in our 20s to find Londoners, Texans, and Australians marching straight through your front door without untying their laces. Alas! Not everyone has had the privilege of growing up with ... (Continue reading)

Where man meets mercy


Carl Jung (1875-1961), one of the fathers of modern psychology, once apparently quipped that in all his years of therapy he only ever met a handful of Catholics. Jews and Protestants were his bread and butter clientele; Catholics almost never came. One explanation is that Catholics sin less and have fewer sorrows. Another is that Catholics don’t like to pay for things they can get for free. Jung preferred the second explanation. Catholics didn’t need to sit on his couch, ... (Continue reading)

Standing on holy ground

Standing on holy ground

Of all the neglected places in church, after the confessional, I’m sure it is the floor. Perhaps that’s for good reason. After Mass, and the fourteen feet with which our children grind mud, raisons, mittens, and run-away cheerios under their soles, what lies beneath the pew is not always pretty. To boot, the carpet doesn’t always start out in good shape. I make a mental list of recent ecclesiastical surfaces over which my feet have shuffled: there’s the toothpaste-green rug ... (Continue reading)

What’s in a dome?

What's in a dome?

Children of divorce, researchers say, often enter adult life with an impaired memory. No one knows for sure why their childhoods seem less vivid. One explanation is that memory works best when it can graft details onto a continuous narrative. Divorce ruptures that narrative. For much of the twentieth century Communists tried to inflict just such a rupture in the lives of eastern Christians. When the Ukrainians fled to Canada, they kept alive the memory of Faith, in ... (Continue reading)

The very stones would cry out


Perhaps you haven’t noticed them? Over the past several months, at the top of each of these editorials, has been an original sketch of an exemplary Canadian Catholic church. Over the next few months, I’d like to tell a few of their stories; I’d like to use them as windows into our artistic tradition and as illustrations of our nation’s rich legacy of faith. (The artist is Heinz Klassen. He is a sometime graduate from art school, and, ... (Continue reading)

Open wide the doors of Faith


It was an awkward moment. Our friend Angela loves to swim. As the mother of three, she invariably arrives at the pool tired, and a little weary. I am not sure if she had her glasses that day; in any case, a few weeks ago, when she bustled into the locker room, she saw well enough to notice an odd figure standing under the shower. “An athletic woman,” she thought. She looked again. The legs were thick, and ... (Continue reading)

The tabernacle and the feast


The Eucharist is reserved in churches or oratories to serve as the spiritual center of a religious community or a parish community. - Paul VI (Mysterium Fidei, 68) Remember way back to Easter? If you played host, how long did you take to prepare the family meal? How many days did it take to fix the stuffing, the salads, the corn, the ham? Of course, at the Mass the Eucharist is the main course. We are the guests. ... (Continue reading)

The grammar of worship


Photo: Sketch of St. Dunstan's Basilica, Charlottetown, PEI by Heinz Klassen. Ever read an email that made you wince? I don’t mean because of off-colour jokes but because of grammar—such as when you see, “Its going to be a long meeting” (did they forget the apostrophe or do they not know better?) or when a colleague complains, “There proposal was ridiculous!” You wince, you reel, you wonder if civilization will survive. In a healthy language grammar is living. Still, the masters of ... (Continue reading)

The art of building

Arch pic

Anyone who, like me, was moved by this perception at the time of the Liturgical Movement on the eve of the Second Vatican Council can only stand, deeply sorrowing, before the very ruins of the very things they were concerned for. - Cardinal Ratzinger Tough words, these. Recently, some friends of ours were on pilgrimage in Bavaria, the heartland of Catholic Germany and homeland of Ratzinger and his seminary. The pictures they brought home tell all. One is of the ... (Continue reading)

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