Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Michael is Associate Editor of The Catholic Register.

He is an award-winning writer and photographer and holds a Master of Arts degree from New York University.

Follow him on Twitter @MmmSwan, or click here to email him.

{mosimage}By 5:15 the afternoon of Jan. 14 — a day after a catastrophic earthquake collapsed buildings and killed thousands in Haiti — Catholics had overwhelmed the computer servers and phone systems at the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

The level of generosity "is phenomenal," said Development and Peace spokesperson Jasmine Fortin.

{mosimage}Elections in Iraq that some claim have opened the way for a more peaceful and democratic state haven’t overcome the divisions or the sectarian violence that is generating hundreds of thousands of refugees, said an Iraqi Dominican Sister.

Sr. Aman Miriam of Mosul, Iraq — currently staying with the Adrian Dominican community in Michigan — told The Catholic Register days after 62 per cent of eligible Iraqis voted in national elections March 7 that the thousands of Iraqi Christians living in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria can’t return home and fear terrorist attacks and kidnapping if they do return.

Creche ConventionTORONTO - War, history and ecumenism are perhaps not the first associations Christians have with table-top models of baby Jesus nestled in the manger. But the Friends of the Creche intend to take on all three serious subjects at a three-day international convention in Toronto Nov. 10 to 12.

It’s the first time the American branch of the La Universalis Foederatio Praesepistica (known in Canada and the United States as the Friends of the Creche) has held it’s biennial convention in Canada. It’s expected to draw 350 conventioneers, plus hundreds more who will visit a display of rare, historic creches on display at the Royal York Hotel.
Jesuit Fr. Peter LariseyTORONTO - Before he was ordained, the young Jesuit Peter Larisey learned to take no for an answer. Practice makes perfect.

Drawn to art since childhood, Larisey wanted to study art in a serious way. Starting about 1959, each year Larisey would ask Father Provincial of the English Canadian Jesuits if he might be allowed to study art. Each year he was told, “No.”

“One of the good things about Jesuit superiors is that they have terms,” explains the 81-year-old priest, who continues to teach at the Toronto School of Theology and Regis College.

In 1966 Larisey showed the new Father Provincial his scrapbook filled with his published writing about art and the successes of his groundbreaking art exhibitions at Regis College.

“He carried the scrapbook in his hands and said, ‘You take this as far as you can,’ ”  recalls Larisey.
Bed bugsTORONTO - Aaron Lewis loves to see the smile on the faces of people when he’s done steaming and vacuuming their apartments. He knows that what he does helps people sleep a little easier.

“We make their life a bit more joyful,” he said.

Lewis forms part of a Good Shepherd CARES crew that prepares apartments for pesticide treatments that eliminate bed bugs and cockroaches. Without the intense and detailed cleaning they provide — steaming, vacuuming, overturning tables, chairs and beds and sealing up openings around phone jacks, cable and electrical outlets, laundering all the clothes and sheets, etc. — the mere application of chemicals won’t eliminate the pests.

Getting all that cleaning done for somebody who can’t do it by themselves makes Lewis feel proud and satisfied with a job well done.
CaravaggioTORONTO - There is no cause for sainthood for Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The painter who gave birth to baroque art was a scoundrel.  

A brilliant virtuoso with a paintbrush, Caravaggio was dangerous with a sword. He paraded about Rome with his weapon at his side and brawled frequently. In 1606 he killed a man. He was himself dead in 1610 at the age of 38.

But no one can claim to understand Caravaggio without understanding his religious world, the spirituality of his times and theological currents coursing through the Church during the Counter Reformation.

More saintly men have painted much less compelling theology than Caravaggio.
Lois WilsonTORONTO - If Scripture is a guide, the measure of Canada as a Christian country may be the nation’s immigration and refugee policies, the Very Rev. Lois Wilson told a couple dozen people gathered at the University of Toronto’s Newman Centre chapel Feb. 1.

Wilson was lecturing as part of the Jesuit-sponsored Naming the Holy series at the Newman Centre. Under the title “Who is my neighbour? Immigration, citizenship and refugees,” Wilson pointed out how “the alien, the orphan and the widow” are “just all over the Scriptures.”

Old Testament law regarding treatment of aliens, orphans and widows establishes the importance of the individual in Western culture and law, said Wilson. In the New Testament Jesus Himself is an outsider who scandalously communicates with other outsiders — Samaritans, women, lepers, etc.

St. John BibleTORONTO - You don’t often get to see a Wicked Bible. There aren’t many of them left. That’s because King Charles I ordered them all burned.

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library of the University of Toronto has a Wicked Bible on display until June 3, along with dozens of other rare and fascinating Bibles.

The 1631 Wicked Bible contained perhaps the most famous typo in the history of the English language. In Exodus 22:14 a compositor left out the word “not,” leaving the commandment to read, “Thou shalt commit adultery.”

But there’s much more than giggles to the exhibition “Great and Manifold: A Celebration of the Bible in English.” The Bibles on display span just over a millennium, ranging from an 11th century Greek New Testament from Constantinople bearing the name “Torontoensis” to an illuminated Book of Psalms in English produced over the last decade by calligraphers and artists under the direction of Benedictine monks in Collegeville, Minnesota.

Pinned to the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, “Great and Manifold” is a compact epic journey through the history of English language, politics, spirituality and culture as it relates to this one book.

Walter KellyTORONTO - Sgt. Ryan Russell didn’t go to church on Sunday, and despite his Catholic baptism had no fixed address as a Christian. But he wore a St. Michael’s medallion and kept a copy of the Policeman’s Prayer in his hat.

With that, Toronto Police Service head chaplain Walter Kelly knew Ryan’s funeral should proclaim the Gospel and comfort the bereaved with Christian hope.

Sgt. Russell’s mother, Linda, helped Kelly decide to base his funeral sermon on the Sermon on the Mount, culminating in the Golden Rule. She told Kelly, “Yeah, that’s it. From a child on, he was always a giver — always sensitive to other people ahead of himself.”

Close to 13,000 police, firefighters and EMS workers crowded the Toronto Convention Centre for Sgt. Russell’s funeral Jan. 18. Hundreds of citizens lined the streets as police marched down University Avenue. The police came from across the country to pay tribute to the 35-year-old officer killed Jan. 12 by a stolen snow plow. His death leaves a grieving wife and a two-year-old son.
TORONTO - We can't have unity without penance, or conversion, or forgiveness, or the Holy Spirit, Auxiliary Bishop William McGrattan told about 200 people gathered for Evensong at Toronto's St. James Anglican Cathedral Jan. 23.

The traditional Anglican version of the evening and night prayers of the Divine Office included music from the 16th through the 20th centuries by the Choir of St. James Cathedral and members of the St. Michael's Choir School. Prayers were offered by representatives of the Catholic Eastern rite churches, Protestant churches, Orthodox churches and Anglicans.