Each year at this time, Advent seems to get lost in the shuffle.

The weeks before Christmas are bustling with things to do. We shop for presents, make trips to visit friends and relatives, attend concerts of seasonal music, put in appearances at the usual round of office parties and other sociable events. There is only one thing wrong with this happy round of activities: It inevitably distracts us Christians from engaging creatively with the wonderful truth of Advent as the Catholic Church has traditionally understood it.

John Lennon's imaginary world

By
Faithful readers will know that much energy has been expended these past years on combating the “new atheists” — militant, aggressive and very trendy. Atheism is of course not new, and even the new atheists not altogether new.

Thirty years ago, John Lennon was murdered, shot outside his Manhattan apartment on Dec. 8, 1980. The anniversary of Lennon’s death brings an annual discussion of his significance, and due to his widow’s prodigious efforts, various commemorations of the slain singer. This year there were more than usual. Invariably these involve a sentimental playing of “Imagine,” Lennon’s anthem.

Giving is a family affair

By
The world of advocacy can be a depressing place much of the time. That is why this time of year is so enjoyable.

Despite the gravity of the issues we read and write about throughout the year, the Christmas season brings out powerful media messages and, perhaps more to the point, brings crowds into the streets and malls focused on the act and spirit of giving.

Pope Benedict — love and the law

By
What does the law have to do with love? Are they not antithetical? To follow the law is to be under a burden, to be compelled, to be constrained. To love, on the other hand, is to embrace the capacity to choose, to be creative, to be liberated.

Radical Islam despises immoral culture

By
Political Islam in the Middle East and western Asia comes in numerous colours.

On the peaceful, moderate end of the spectrum are groups such as Turkey’s parliamentary Justice and Development Party. The more culturally radical Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is officially banned in Egypt, but its anti-Western message still manages to garner great popularity at the grass-roots. Farthest out of the moderate Islamist mainstream are such movements as Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Al Qaeda throughout the Arab world, which advocate the violent overthrow of Muslim-led moderate governments and terrorist acts against them.

Christ is alive in His Church

By
At the recent consistory of cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to his red-robed brethren about the “logic of the Cross” which should animate their leadership in the Church.

A consistory of cardinals emphasizes the unity of the Church around Peter and the universality of the Church spread throughout the world; it also highlights some truly heroic pastors. Yet, just as weeds grow up amidst the wheat, there is also an off-putting dimension. It prompts some of the princes of the Church to act more like princes than churchmen. It is, for some, a moment of clerical ambition confirmed. The occasion can take on the aspect of being admitted to an elite club rather than undertaking anew the apostolic mission of preaching the Gospel. At its worst, the cardinalatial nomination crowns a career of bureaucratic longevity rather than evangelical service.

The priest's service provides what the world can't provide itself

By
About a dozen years ago I was at a dinner party in the home of people I had not previously met. When our hostess discovered that I was a seminarian, she shrieked with perverse delight, announcing to all, “Wait until my husband hears about that!”

Projecting Christian truth

By

In his Oct. 24 Catholic Register column, Michael Coren reports that he has been deluged by e-mails from “people complaining about how some journalists use their Catholicism as a rather self-indulgent vehicle for their own secular politics.”

While not singled out by name in the column, I am clearly among the rascals whose writings Coren’s correspondents (and Coren) dislike. I am replying to this criticism here, because I believe that Coren’s column raises interesting questions about the nature and scope of Catholic journalism, and indeed the Catholic practice of everyday life, that deserve to be answered.

Sagrada Familia elevates the pilgrim’s heart to God

By
At the heart of every culture is its cult. Cult includes what is worshipped, what is placed at the centre of communal life, what is deemed worthy of the greatest exertions of talent and treasure.

That cult is concretely expressed in buildings — what is built and how. A culture which puts up churches cheek by jowl, small country chapels and magnificent urban cathedrals, expresses itself in one way. A culture which builds enormous shopping malls, sports facilities and entertainment complexes expresses itself in another.

Freedom of speech often not what it's cracked up to be

By
Three recent incidents provide insight — and perhaps a warning as well — about how Canadians interpret the right to freedom of speech, especially when it comes to unpopular topics. Like any legal and constitutional principle, some interpretation is involved. The old saw about not yelling “fire!” in a crowded theatre applies here because constitutional principles must be balanced against factors such as public safety and the impact on others, among other things.

Enough already! Let’s call a jihadist a jihadist

By
May we now speak of the Muslims who want to kill us?

Isn’t that way out of line? Surely Islam is a religion of peace, from which we have a lot to learn?

Let’s then dispense with the disclaimers: Christians and Muslims have often lived together in peace. Only a minority of Muslims are homicidal fanatics. Terrorism is a corruption of Islam. Fine.