A figurine of the Christ Child is seen in the Church of St. Catherine, adjacent to the Church of the Nativity, in Bethlehem, West Bank, Dec. 17, 2023. OSV News photo/Debbie Hill

Editorial: No business like your business

  • January 4, 2024

In one of those glorious paradoxes ubiquitous in Christian faith, instantaneous argy-bargy over the Vatican’s pre-Christmas document on blessing “irregular” relationships served to recall the supremacy of Christ among us.

Admittedly, responses to the Fiducia supplicans declaration from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith were often dishearteningly truculent. In The Register’s last editorial of 2023, we hoped for a tone of prudential charity from those assessing the document using the perennial SWOT test of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. No doubt somewhat distorted by the very nature of social media communication, rancorous, politicized peacocking appeared to prevail instead from too many of the declaration’s defenders and detractors.

Yet still it was Christmas. And Christians — Catholics — did what Christians — Catholics — do at Christmas: celebrate the baby born in hardship and poverty who would be venerated as Christ the King.

In other words, even as the sturm und drang of doctrinal disputation swirled, Christian life went on being simply lived.

That’s not to suggest such disputes aren’t real, and really serious. They are. Even in this historic moment of Holy Mother Church’s emergence as a “listening Church” through the Synodality process, fissures of misunderstanding must be recognized as potential fault lines for fragmentation.

Potential, of course, should never be mistaken for an imperative. And it’s in the stories of daily Catholic life simply being lived that we have a ready source for renewal of our faith that the Holy Spirit will guide our Church through this storm, and the next, and the next one after that.

During late Advent, The Catholic Register re-published over 12 days a dozen selected articles from 2023 to illustrate the power of stories about Catholics exemplifying what it means to live Catholic life. We could have published dozens more. In fact, our largest paper of the year on Dec. 17 was so crowded with such accounts that we had to hold some for the next issue.

The stories ranged widely. We reported an initiative by students at Toronto’s Newman Centre to encourage their U of T colleagues to see the value of small daily acts of kindness. Restaurateur Biagio Vinci, we noted, continued his tradition of delicious repasts served on china with silverware for the homeless.

The Knights of Columbus in Saskatoon again held their carol festival for a 65th year. We featured celebrated postage stamp maker Adrian Horvath’s “Madonna and Child” design. And our young writer Joshua Ben Joseph waxed nostalgic about missing a “pulkoodu” nativity scene in his native India.

Yes, these and other stories like them are familiar Christmas fare. But they are much more. Together they comprise a compendium of Catholic activities, actions, outreach that starts with the faith in the hearts of the individual actors involved, encompasses fellow Catholics through church, school, business associations, charities, the arts, and then extends to the culture at large.

Such stories affirm that precisely because there are Catholic stories old and new to be told, there remains extraordinary vitality to Catholic life. It’s a vitality that endures beneath, and despite, the secular media’s obsession with conflict and controversy, drama and death dealing violence.

As a Catholic newspaper, obviously, The Catholic Register is not exempt from reporting and commenting on those worldly fixations. On the contrary, we have a duty to provide such reporting and commentary from a Catholic news perspective. We are in the news business after all.

But we can operate in a different register. Why? Precisely because our business model is antithetical to the monetization of anger and grief that is essential for contemporary media companies.

Our business is the business of telling Catholic stories that touch, evoke and also shine light upon the lives of our fellow Catholics, our subscribers, our donors, our advertisers and all who share the Catholic faith in a myriad of ways. Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller beautifully expressed in his New Year’s Day blessing exactly why that matters.

“With Jesus’ Incarnation and Birth, time was, so to speak, forever ‘touched’ by the Eternal God. The time we are now living is the definitive time of salvation and grace. That’s why we can truthfully proclaim that 2024 will be yet another ‘Year of the Lord.’  (We are) invited to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, the Sun rising on the horizon of humanity, who is the hope and Saviour of the world,” Miller said.

What a story for Catholics to tell through our daily lives in the year ahead.

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