Earthly defeat, for us, can still be victory, just as earthily victory can be a sad defeat. Indeed, in a Christian perspective, without even considering the next life, sometimes our defeats and humiliations are what allows depth and richer life to flow into us and sometimes our victories rob us of the very things that bring us community, intimacy, and happiness.
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As preparation for Easter Christians introduced the custom of observing two days of prayer, reflection, and fast to express their sorrow for the death of Christ. They gradually prolonged the period of preparation: in the third century it became a week, then three weeks until on the fourth century it extended to forty days: Lent thus began. The Council of Nicea (325 A.D) speaks of “the forty days” as an institution known to all and spread everywhere.
As a vowed, religious celibate I’m very conscious that today celibacy, whether lived out in a religious commitment or in other circumstances, is suspect, under siege, and is offering too little by way of a helpful apologia to its critics.
The crisis is of great importance and bishops should think about those in pews who are "gradually falling away." "We need to understand people's love for the church is greatly affected," he said. "We better fix it or we’re going to lose the next generation of Catholics."
I was very blessed during my theological formation to have had the privilege of taking classes from two very renowned Catholic scholars, Avery Dulles and Raymond E. Brown. The former was an ecclesiologist whose books often became textbooks which were prescribed reading in seminaries and theology schools. The latter was a scripture scholar whose scholarship stands out, almost singularly, still nearly 30 years after his death.
Many Hong Kong people are increasingly “resigned to the fact that as long as the government in Beijing is not a democratic one, particularly as Mr Xi is in power – a super nationalist who wants to crack the whip on Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang - then there’s nothing Hong Kong can do,” said Mr Lam.
... But could dialogue be the answer? Pope Francis said last week he was “fearful of a bloodbath” and has called for a “just and peaceful” solution to the crisis. On Monday, the Vatican confirmed that Maduro had sent a letter to Pope Francis asking for “a dialogue”.
What is spirituality and what makes for different spiritualities? The word spirituality is relatively new within the English-speaking world, at least in terms of how it is being used today. Prior to the 1960s you would have found very few books in English with the word “spirituality” in their title, though that wasn’t true for the French-speaking world.
Everything is of one piece. Whenever we don’t take that seriously, we pay a price. The renowned theologian, Hans Urs Von Balthasar gives an example of this. Beauty, he submits, is not some little “extra” that we can value or denigrate according to personal taste and temperament, like some luxury that we say we cannot afford. Like truth and goodness, it’s one of the properties of God and thus demands to be taken seriously.
Swedish academic Hans Rosling has identified a worrying trend: not only do many people across advanced economies have no idea that the world is becoming a much better place, but they actually even think the opposite. This is no wonder, when the news focuses on reporting catastrophes, terrorist attacks, wars and famines.
"Please, let us not make Christmas worldly! Let us not put aside the one being celebrated" -- which is what happened at Jesus' birth when so many of "his own people did not accept him," Pope Francis said.
I dread to think how Christmas will be marked in a hundred years’ time, by when most people will be totally ignorant of how it all began. “What happened on the very first Christmas, children?”
I’ve never been happy with some of my activist friends who send out Christmas cards with messages like: May the Peace of Christ Disturb You!Can’t we have one day a year to be happy and celebrate without having our already unhappy selves shaken with more guilt? Isn’t Christmas a time when we can enjoy being children again?
God, it seems, favors the powerless, the unnoticed, children, babies, outsiders, and refugees with no resources or place to go.That’s why Jesus was born outside the city, in a stable, unnoticed, outside all fanfare, away from all major media, and away from all the persons and events that were deemed important at the time, humble and anonymous. God works like that. Why?
What’s still unfinished in your life? Well, there’s always a lot that’s unfinished in everyone’s life. Nothing is ever really finished. Our lives, it seems, are simply interrupted by our dying. Most of us don’t complete our lives, we just run out of time. So, consciously or unconsciously, we make a bucket-list of things we still want to see, do, and finish before we die.
I live on both sides of a border. Not a geographical one, but one which is often a dividing line between two groups. I was raised a conservative Roman Catholic, and conservative in most other things as well. Although my dad worked politically for the Liberal party, most everything about my upbringing was conservative, particularly religiously.
Japan is a country on the margins of Christianity, a nation in which the missionary flame lit by its first evangelist, St Francis Xavier, for whose faith countless thousands of martyrs were slaughtered, has since sunk to a faint flicker.
I don’t recall any previous pope speaking so plainly about an issue which, for as long as I can remember, has only been talked about in the abstract. Not any more. Francis’ comments in the book-length interview he gave to a Spanish priest and publisher, for a book on religious vocation, send a crystal-clear message about gay sex and the Catholic priesthood – they cannot coexist.
Our natural instincts serve us well, to a point. They’re self-protective and that’s healthy too, to a point. Let me explain. Recently I was at a football game with a number of friends. We arrived at the game in two cars and parked in the stadium’s underground parking lot. Our tickets were in different parts of the stadium and so we separated for the game, each of us finding our own seats.
“Widows, orphans, and strangers”, that’s code in scripturefor the three most vulnerable groups within a society at any given time. And both the great Jewish prophets and Jesus, himself, assure us that ultimately we will be judged by how we treated these while we were alive.