Out of the rubble emerges a ministry of reconciliation

Coventry CathedralCOVENTRY, ENGLAND - Most of the ruined churches of England are the outcome of the violence of an early age, the dissolution of the monasteries. But the ruins of St. Michael’s Church in Coventry are the consequence of the violence of modern times.

On the night of Nov. 14, 1940, the German Luftwaffe devastated the city of Coventry. And as it burned, the cathedral burned with it. A total of 568 people lost their lives.

This past summer I co-led a group on a Reconciliation and Unity study pilgrimage, and Coventry, the only English city to lose its cathedral as a result of aerial bombardment, was one of the places we visited. It would not have been surprising if, following the raid, another kind of flame were to have been fanned into being — the fire of bitterness and hatred. It was largely due to the inspired, prophetic leadership of the cathedral provost at the time, Dick Howard, that a different spirit prevailed.

No conspiracy against Catholic TV, says Rosica

Fr. RosicaTORONTO - Salt + Light Television CEO Fr. Tom Rosica is trying to convince a vocal segment of Canada’s Catholic TV audience there is no dark conspiracy against Catholic television.

Since news broke of Bell TV’s decision to drop the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) from its satellite offerings, Salt + Light has been bombarded with e-mails, phone calls and letters from “people who automatically jumped to conclusions that this was an all-out attack against the Church,” Rosica told The Catholic Register.

Responding to angry blog posts, many of the callers and writers seem to believe in a conspiracy against Catholics rather than a straight business decision on the part of Bell, Rosica said.

Can't find a chant choir? Well, start your own

Surinder MundraTORONTO - Looking for a choir to join, Surinder Mundra couldn’t find what he was looking for. He went to one Mass where the choir was singing Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” during the homily. In contrast, during the drive home from Mass, he was listening to Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, a composer of sacred music in the Renaissance.

“It was backwards,” the concert pianist, piano teacher, organist and music director at both St. Patrick’s Church in Toronto and St. Georges Anglican Church in Pickering, Ont., told The Catholic Register. “I was listening to secular music in a Church. I had to leave the Church, go into my car and drive home to listen to liturgical music.”

Disillusioned by this, along with the emphasis that many parish choirs have on performance instead of spirituality, Mundra decided to start his own choir. In 2006, he founded St. Patrick’s Gregorian Choir, which specializes in Gregorian chants in its proper liturgical context. One of the only of its kind in Toronto, the choir currently has 15 members.

Bell drops EWTN from digital service

Thousands of loyal and faithful watchers of Eternal Word Television Network across Canada are losing their favourite station as Bell TV will drop EWTN from its digital satellite television service as of Feb. 27.

“EWTN had a low viewership and Salt + Light (Canada’s national Catholic television channel) is a strong alternative. This channel capacity is needed for new and high-demand channels,” said Bell spokeswoman Marie-Eve Francoeur in an e-mail to The Catholic Register.

For Toronto EWTN fan Glen Burke, the network is a big part of his TV habit.

John Paul II's army was greater than the most powerful armies of his time

Pope John Paul IIOn Oct. 16, 1978, the day that a relatively obscure Polish cardinal named Karol Wojtyla stepped onto St. Peter’s Square and announced himself as Pope John Paul II,  Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn was living in exile in Cavendish, Vermont. Informed that a Pole, a man with firsthand experience of communism, had just been chosen to lead the world’s oldest and largest Christian church, Solzhenitsyn said: “It’s a miracle! It’s the first positive event since World War I and it’s going to change the face of the world.”

How right he was! Solzhenitsyn and John Paul ll are now both dead, but each man irrevocably altered history: Solzhenitsyn, by his heroic witness to truth amidst the freezing darkness of the Gulag Archipelago and Karol Wojtyla — “a man from a far country” as he called himself — by the 27 years of his papacy.

George Weigel, the Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Centre in Washington, D.C.,  is a leading authority on Catholic matters and the author of the definitive (and bestselling) 1999 biography: Pope John Paul ll: Witness to Hope. Weigel has now returned to this subject in The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul ll, the Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, and the Legacy (Doubleday, 2010).

Poems of Christmas

magiWe weren’t sure what to expect when we launched our Poems of Christmas contest. But three dozen readers took the time to send us rhyme, and what splendid creativity poured forth from the nativity.

Entries were received from the young and the old, and we had one wonderful entry from a 66-year-old woman who forwarded a poem written when she was 17.  

Every entry stayed true to the example of Msgr. Tom Raby, the former Register columnist whose annual Christmas poem was the inspiration for this contest, by focussing on the peace and joy of the true meaning of Christmas.

A 'Joyful Noise' rocks the season

messiah rocksMISSISSAUGA, Ont. - This Christmas season, Handel’s Messiah is going to rock the Toronto area.

George Frideric Handel’s musical oratorio on the life of the Messiah has been updated, adding some modern-day flash, to produce Handel’s Messiah Rocks: A Joyful Noise. It will be performed at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, Dec. 16 and 17.

Young singer to debut new pro-life song

Carly TaylorMilton, Ont. - At the age of 14, Carly Taylor already had her self-titled country music album in stores. At 16, she is now preparing for the release of her second album, Delirious. And on Nov. 5, Taylor will be debuting a new pro-life song at Halton Pro-Life’s 2010 Respect Life Fundraising Banquet in Oakville, Ont.  

“It’s actually a song that my sister wrote,” said Taylor, a Grade 11 student at Milton, Ont.’s Bishop Reding High School. “I’m very excited to sing it.”

Concert funds tutors for at-risk students

Rosanna RiversoTORONTO - Just hitting that one, pure, crystal-clear note is hard enough. Hitting it all alone, without the help of supporting musicians, takes courage.

When Rosanna Riverso strides out in front of her audience at St. Paul’s Basilica Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. she will have the reassurance of piano, bass, guitar and percussion backing her up. But she will be singing on behalf of kids who don’t necessarily have any back-up.

Bible inspiration for Chinese art exhibit

kk_acceptanceTORONTO - Katherina Kwan and Yvonne Cheng are not professional artists, they say, they are just ordinary people who want to explore their faith through art.

“The Eternal Wisdom — Tao,” an art exhibition running Aug. 21-26, is Kwan and Cheng’s chance to let others share in this exploration. The six-day event, held at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto, will showcase their Catholic Chinese art and calligraphy.

Frank Runyeon delivers Scripture the way it was meant to be

Frank RunyeonBRAMPTON, Ont. - In the time of Jesus’ ministry, people of all ages and walks of life would gather in seemingly ordinary places simply to hear Jesus speak.

In a “more modern and secular world that holds a media-driven mindset, ignoring or even rejecting the values Jesus taught,” Hollywood TV star Frank Runyeon shows no shame in his faith. Instead, he uses his talents and industry experience to spread the same message Jesus was preaching 2,000 years ago.