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VATICAN CITY - Uncovering the cross and genuflecting before it in his stocking feet, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion in St. Peter's Basilica.

The Pope presided at the service April 6 and chanted the solemn prayers of intercession for the church, for himself and for the world, but during the homily he sat and listened.

Following tradition, the homily was delivered by the preacher of the papal household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa.

Published in Vatican

TORONTO - Nestled in the back corner of the Malta Bake Shop, amidst the sweet fragrance of golden pastries, sits an artistic homage to the Passion of our Lord.

Owner Charlie Buttigieg has been collecting and displaying statues of the Easter story for the customers in his west-end Toronto shop to enjoy for the past seven years. The figures are beautifully rendered and full of detail, and are a common tradition in Buttigieg’s native Malta.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

VATICAN CITY - An Italian couple, married 59 years, let the joys and sufferings of families guide the reflections they prepared for Pope Benedict XVI, thousands of pilgrims and potentially millions of television viewers to meditate on during the Stations of the Cross at Rome's Colosseum.

The Pope asked Danilo and Annamaria Zanzucchi to write the meditations for his Good Friday service April 6 in Rome. The Zanzucchis, who have five children and 12 grandchildren, are the co-founders and were the longtime leaders of the Focolare's New Families Movement.

Published in Vatican

JERUSALEM - With Easter in full swing, it can be a daunting task to find a quiet moment of contemplation at any of Jerusalem's holy sites, but it is especially so at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Throngs of pilgrim groups and tourists with cameras pack the church, posing for photos at the spots where Jesus was crucified or laid in the tomb. Some place souvenirs on the sacred sites for a blessing.

But at the Stone of Unction, which commemorates the anointing of Jesus before burial, some faithful find the noise from other visitors fades away. The smell of rose water with which the stone is periodically bathed permeates the immediate vicinity.

Published in Features

TORONTO - A spirit of joy always has to be deep in our hearts, Cardinal Thomas Collins said during this year’s World Youth Day Palm Sunday celebration in Toronto on March 31.

Organized by the Office of Catholic Youth, the event drew about 400 youth from across the archdiocese for a night of prayer, reflection and public displays of faith as they carried the World Youth Day cross from St. Paul’s Basilica to St. Michael’s Cathedral in downtown Toronto.

Published in Youth Speak News
April 3, 2012

Into the silence

Holy Week is not a particularly tranquil time for a priest.

In the midst of all the activity, I find Good Friday is the most resonant. My favourite service is actually extra-liturgical, the preaching of the Seven Last Words in our cathedral. It’s a two-hour service of readings, hymns and meditations, reflecting upon the seven times Jesus speaks from the cross. I have been preaching the Seven Last Words for nine years now, accompanied by the students at Newman House, who provide the music and do the readings.

Published in Fr. Raymond de Souza

There has been much fuss recently about ancient burial boxes and whether the bones of Jesus remain here on Earth.

In March, an Israeli antiquities collector was acquitted of forgery charges concerning a Roman-era burial box inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” If genuine, the ossuary could be a direct link to Jesus and His family.

And next week, Vision TV will air The Jesus Discovery, a documentary by Toronto filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici that claims to cast new light on the Resurrection. It bills itself as: “Part archeological adventure, part biblical history, part forensic science, part theological controversy, The Jesus Discovery is a story that will carry around the world.”

Published in Robert Brehl

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican spokesman praised Cuba's decision to accept Pope Benedict XVI's request to make Good Friday a national holiday this year.

"It is certainly a very positive sign," Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said April 1.

Good Friday, the commemoration of Jesus' passion and death, falls on April 6 this year.

Published in Vatican

VATICAN CITY - The truly Christian response to Christ's death and resurrection must be the dedication of one's life and one's time to building a relationship with Jesus and being grateful for the gift of salvation, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"In this Holy Week, the Lord Jesus will renew the greatest gift we could possibly imagine: he will give us his life, his body and his blood, his love," the Pope said April 1, celebrating Palm Sunday in St. Peter's Square.

Published in Vatican

The problem with The Jesus Discovery is that it’s not really about the archeology. It’s about making a documentary movie.

Simcha Jacobovici’s documentary, to be aired in Canada on VisionTV, presents us with a dramatic plot full of twists and turns. Jacobovici turns in a fine performance as the stalwart and stoic hero who patiently overcomes each obstacle on his quest to make a movie. Tight editing and subtle use of music add to the tension.

The story of how the movie got made reveals a great deal about contemporary Israeli society and contemporary American media culture. We’re treated to CNN talking heads sputtering outrage over any information that might challenge their settled world view. We watch as ultra-orthodox Jews in Jerusalem impose their will on the film crew by leveraging mob rule.

Published in Arts News

Easter Sunday (Year B) April 8 (Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18)

The first Easter proclamation was rather simple. It spoke of a spirit-filled man who travelled throughout Judea and Galilee ‘doing good’ — healing, encouraging, challenging and inspiring all who were troubled or suffering. There was little reference to the content of his teaching or to complex theological issues. Shock and grief at his untimely end on the cross was evident but also wonder, joy and awe at the fact that God raised him from the dead.

Published in Fr. Scott Lewis

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI has asked an Italian married couple, founders of the Focolare Movement's New Families initiative, to write the meditations for his Way of the Cross service at Rome's Colosseum April 6.

The Vatican announced March 15 that the pope had asked Danilo and Annamaria Zanzucchi to write the meditations, which are read over loudspeakers as a cross is carried through and around the Colosseum on Good Friday.

Published in Vatican

TORONTO - The City of Toronto is conducting an online survey to determine if the public wants retail stores to open on holidays such as Christmas Day and Easter Sunday.

This retail holiday shopping consultation is the result of a May 2010 report recommending that City Council allow all retail stores to remain open or closed at the discretion of the store owner or manager. 

“We’ve had a number of residents, retailers and businesses who have said in certain areas of the city… the holiday shopping is allowed and what they have indicated to the city is they don’t think it’s fair that in certain areas of the city the city allows it, but not in other areas,” said Councillor Michael Thompson, chair of Toronto’s Economic Development Committee.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

The winner is... Twelve-year old Agustin Andres Villegas is undecided if he should be an artist or an archeologist when he grows up. Meantime, we sure do dig his drawing.

Villegas’ portrait of the Resurrection is the colourful image we selected to grace the cover of The Register’s 2011 Easter edition.

It was one of 370 entries submitted to the children’s Easter drawing contest conducted by The Register and Joseph’s Inspirational Inc.

Published in Features