This week we had the feast of Pope St Leo the Great who challanges us still across the centuries,
If you want to read a reflection on this famous Pope and his encounter with Attila the Hun read it here.
"Christianity survived in the Middle East because of married priests" is one of the eyebrow raising comments from Melkite Archbishop George Bakhouni of Tyre.
In an era of church closures especially in the USA because of lack of priests, declining congregations and financial considerations, Msgr Charles Pope poses a challanging alternative look at the issue and the need to reawaken in people the need for evangelisation by asking the question "More Church Closings – So What is God Teaching Us and How Will We Respond?"
"........We have some serious repenting to do as Catholics. It is so easy to blame “mean” bishops, arrogant chancery offices and so forth. Surely there is some blame to be had in these areas. But in the end this is about the numbers of the faithful. It is simple to say the priests should do something, but it is also a fact that shepherds don’t have sheep; sheep have sheep. And it is a simple fact that the sheep are not in the fold. Every survey agrees, only 27 – 30% of Catholics even bother to go to mass any more, much less support their parishes financially. We simply cannot continue to maintain our parishes and other entities with this decline of people in the pews. The faith has largely been set aside by most Catholics who still expect their parish to “be there” at important moments like wedding and funerals, baptisms and crises. And for those who do remain faithful and attend each Sunday, (God bless them), there are also questions. How serious have they been about evangelizing as they saw their parishes growing empty?......."
You can read more about it here.
Last weekend, Pope Benedict XVI visited Santiago and in Barcelona lead the the stirring ritual of dedication of Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia. First, the Pope anointed with oil the four corners of the altar, while several bishops made crosses with chrism on the columns and walls of the church. Then, incense was then lighted on the altar to make it sacred. After this, the altar was covered with a tablecloth, candles, and flowers for the celebration of Mass. Finally, all the lights were turned up in the church to symbolize the presence of Christ, the light of the world. Once this ritual is completed, Mass may then be celebrated at the altar. To read more about the cermony go here and to see a video of the highlights go here. If you want to begin to read more about this amazing building and the symbolism of it you can start with the Wikipedia article and follow the links at the bottom.
During his homily at the Mass, Pope Benedict called on "Europe, Be not afraid!"
Irish writer and journalist Mary Kenny writing for the BBC during the week makes the point that Cases of depression have grown around the world. But while awareness of the illness has helped lift the stigma it once attracted, have we lost touch with the importance of just feeling sad.
For our fellow Christians in Iraq trying to come to terms with the bombing of the Syrian Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation on October 31st now have to consider the issue of whether to stay or go, with one Syriac Orthodox archbishop is urging Christians in Iraq to get out now.
Fr Brendan Hoban, parish priest in Ballina, Co. Mayo, said that there might be a need for Protocol guidance needed for non-believers in church.
Does God speak to you? Thomas L. McDonald shares a personal experience of communication that brought peace “beyond all understanding” and a healing that continues until today.
John Waters in last weeks Irish Catholic has an interesting piece about the role of public anger and its manipulation by the Irish media.
Do we have a Church if we don't have priests?
Two Irish Domincan students speak about their vocation.
Swiss monks turn to highflyers for recruitment: Wanted: Bankers, traders or lawyers for full-time, lifelong position. No pay.
The BBC gives an apology for broadcasting a series of reports claiming money raised by Live Aid to fight famine in Ethiopia was spent on weapons.
Combining travel and volunteer work, a trend known as "voluntourism" is a rapidly growing industry around the world. One of the most popular activities among international "voluntourists" is working at orphanages and child-care centers in Asia and Africa. But in South Africa, some researchers now claim that foreign visitors aren't actually helping the children they work with. In fact, they might be harming them. Read more here.
And some workers in the area of development call for a change of mentality around the issue of charity and the Developing World.
David Mills writes about how the Changed Times Dont last.
In a world of suffering, Philip Yancey asks "What good is God?"
For an alternative view of life beyond consumerism.
And finally over the past 2,000 years, the Virgin Mary's face has been imagined anew by every generation. We depict her beauty according to current standards of attractiveness, re-inventing her to reflect our own priorities. Judith Dupre has a fascinating look at the many faces of Mary where some may challange our views of the Madonna.