For Catholics and other Christians concerned with the advancement of justice, human rights and peace, 2007 has hardly been a year of encouragement. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dragged on. The agony of Africa, afflicted by disease, war and famine, continued. And despite the pronouncements issued by the much-ballyhooed Bali conference, the world’s worst industrial polluters seemed as willing as ever to inflict long-term environmental damage in the interests of short-term economic gain.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”
Margaret Mead

 
The countdown is on for my eldest daughter’s mission trip. It’s only a few weeks away now. She’ll be travelling to the Dominican Republic to build housing as part of the Dominican Republic Education and Medical Supplies (D.R.E.A.M.S.) project. This is her high school’s second year participating.

{mosimage}Many people are filled with joyful anticipation and festive good cheer right now. But some are apprehensive and may also experience heightened feelings of loneliness as Christmas approaches. Or perhaps they feel empty inside.

euthanasia.jpgThere may be a large found within the media coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical on hope and the holding of the first International Symposium on Euthanasia in Toronto at the beginning of December. The first received paltry, pro forma coverage, the other almost none and the obvious links between the two were scarcely noted.

afghanistan.jpgAfghanistan leads the news these days and for good reason. But the fixation on the question of whether our troops should remain or come home has obscured the most important objective of Canada’s presence — namely, supporting the struggle of the Afghan people to live in peace with decent living conditions. 

All of England appears to be waiting for confirmation that its former prime minister has at last crossed the Tiber. Given that if the average Brit had a choice between going to Westminster Abbey for Evensong or dropping by Leicester Square for a bit of celebrity gazing there would be no choice, the pending conversion of Tony Blair as a news item of national interest does appear at first blush to be surprising.

{mosimage}One of the most important things to remember about Christmas is that Christ’s birth is a real historical event. It happened, some time more than 2,000 years ago, that a child was born to Mary and Joseph in poverty and the world came to know Him as Jesus of Nazareth, Christ the Lord, Saviour, Messiah, Son of God.

It’s been several weeks since we turned back the clocks, ending daylight savings time, but I’m still adjusting. It feels particularly strange to drive home from work in the dark. I much prefer being out and about during daylightot hours; I have more energy and I feel safer, too.

{mosimage}Advent invites us to cast aside our pessimism about the present age, and boldly imagine the great new beginnings that God has promised to His people.

{mosimage}With the release of his second encyclical, Spe Salvi (on Christian hope), Pope Benedict XVI offers less a dogmatic pronouncement than a university lecture, rewarding the careful reader with profound insights into why Christians have hope in the face of a world that appears to be hopeless.

xmasManger.jpgOn Christmas afternoon, Hope, my five-year-old, will carefully deliver baby Jesus to grandma’s Christmas manger. Mom and dad have had their manger for as long as I can remember. It appears every year in early December and takes up its position of prominence on the end table in the living room.