Sometimes politicians have a rather exalted sense of their own authority. Witness the comments in the aftermath of the vote in the House of Commons Dec. 7 over same-sex marriage.

At this year's Midnight Mass we read Luke's famous nativity account in which the shepherds in the field first hear the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ from an angel: "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people." Christians recognize that it was indeed good news, but sometimes it is easy to forget it was for "all the people."

Myroslaw Tataryn, theologian, priest and acting president of St. Jerome's University in the University of Waterloo, made a personal note in his annual Christmas card that this coming celebration will be a "first Christmas" for our family and times such as these are special. He meant, of course, that this Christmas will be a first for us in a new home and in a new city and that we should mark it as such.

In 1985, Bishop James Doyle sent me to the faculty of education of the University of Toronto where I had a wide range of facilitators and assignments. My psychology professor, Dr. Kong, provided a challenging assignment that proved spiritually fulfilling and blessed my Christmas experience that year.

In 1985, Bishop James Doyle sent me to the faculty of education of the University of Toronto where I had a wide range of facilitators and assignments. My psychology professor, Dr. Kong, provided a challenging assignment that proved spiritually fulfilling and blessed my Christmas experience that year.

 Christmas at Grandma's — widowed as long as my kids have known her — has always been a special time. Numerous traditions are an integral part of the experience.

On Dec. 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the dogmatic bull Ineffabilis Deus. In it he stated, "The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, saviour of the human race, preserved from all stain of original sin." Since then, Catholics have celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception each year on the anniversary.

The air in Canada these days has the acrid odour of Rome burning while Nero fiddles. All the debate over whether Quebecois (presumably francophone Quebecers) constitute a "nation" provides a convenient distraction from the real challenges facing the real nation.

Where does Catholic education in Ontario find itself today? It truly reflects the culture.

In his book, entitled Unknown Gods: The Ongoing Story of Religion in Canada (1993), Canadian sociologist Reginald Bibby pointed out that a decline in attendance at religious services, first observed years earlier, was continuing: "beyond numerical involvement, relatively few Canadians give evidence of being profoundly influenced by any organized faith." He noted: "The Roman Catholic example, however, suggests that when religious groups have to go head-to-head with the myriad socializing influences found in Canadian culture more generally, it is extremely tough to come out the winner."

A recent poll suggests that Canadians still embrace multiculturalism and religious diversity. At the same time, the survey shows that at some point newcomers must find ways to accommodate themselves to this country's deepest principles.

In late June of last year,  without the benefit of social scientific evidence, adequate democratic deliberation and the normal process of judicial appeals, and with inordinate pressure put on members of Parliament by party leaders, the House of Commons passed Bill C-38.