The dynamics of a church choir

{mosimage}For years, I took my local church choir for granted.  Sunday after Sunday I would hardly notice the music unless I heard a favourite piece or an obvious mistake.

Then one day an acquaintance complimented me on my voice and suggested I join him in the choir.  I easily discounted the compliment, but it struck me that the quality of my worship might improve if it were more active.

Holy Land Christians get a glimmer of hope

{mosimage}Much of the media focus on the recent papal visit to the Holy Land was an evaluation of the pontiff’s relationships with Muslims and Jews. However, in the land of  Christianity’s foundation, Christian church members wanted only to know that they are not forgotten, not alone and that their story of struggle is known by their spiritual leader.

They dreamed in hope that the visit would result in some good news for them.

The power and beauty of religiously sensible poetry

{mosimage}This past April has surely not been our cruellest month this year. At least in literary terms. 

The publication of Listening: Last Poems of Margaret Avison and Pier Giorgio Di Cicco’s Names of Blessing serves as a perfect reminder of the power and beauty of supremely well crafted poetry by poets of sublime religious sensibility.


Seeking a future without abortion

{mosimage}On May 14, 1969, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s Omnibus Bill passed in the Canadian Parliament. Unlike the vast majority of Canadians who were indifferent to this action, the Créditistes lead by Real Caouette condemned the legislation to the very end. Passage of the bill resulted in the deaths of 3.5-million children in the wombs of their mothers by May 14, 2009.

In 1969, Canadians had become conditioned to change under the Liberal government. Some were shocked about the abortion law but expected that sanity would return and children in utero would be protected. Some believed that since Trudeau had assured it to be so, abortion would only be committed in extreme life-saving circumstances. There were a few perceptive people who saw what was wrong with Trudeau’s proposed legislation. They came to Parliament Hill to testify to the truth. These were the first Canadian pro-lifers. 

Jesus as Torah: a Jewish-Christian dialogue

Catholics and Jews care about the same world, pray to the same God, hope for the same resurrection and yet often live their lives as strangers to one another. That’s a shame. Most Catholics and most Jews wish we understood each other better. Redemptorist Father Paul Hansen and modern Orthodox Rabbi Roy Tanenbaum both know overcoming that separation isn’t just a matter of learning a few details of the traditions and theology on the other side. Understanding each other means understanding ourselves more deeply — knowing the roots of our Catholic and Jewish identities.

The Toronto rabbi and priest exchanged the e-mails below just before Easter and Passover — the two principle celebrations of Christianity and Judaism that fell within four days of each other this year. The e-mails are a fragment of a vast conversation between Christians and Jews that has been growing since the end of the Second World War — a conversation launched into deeper water by the Second Vatican Council. With the help of Christian-Jewish Dialogue of Toronto, they are inviting Catholic Register readers into the conversation.

Caregiving of seniors creates a range of emotions

{mosimage}In approximately one-quarter of Canadian households, care is provided to one or more people aged 50 plus.

Caring for a chronically ill relative involves physical, psychological, emotional and financial demands. Typically, caregivers experience a variety of distressing emotions along the way. They may feel guilty because, unlike their relative, they enjoy relatively good health, they have mixed feelings about being a caregiver, they sometimes lose patience, they made a promise that they would never place their relative in long-term care and they’re not sure if they can keep it.

Resentment may occur because caregivers have had to make personal and financial sacrifices, their relative has treated them badly in the past, their relative is demanding and critical and they don’t feel appreciated, family members aren’t pitching in or family members are critical of their care provision.

Get whole family involved in finances

{mosimage}TORONTO - When it comes to family finances, parents should include their children in discussions on how to cut costs, says Cynthia Kiy.

Negative talk about finances can put children in a very dangerous mindset where hopelessness and desperation can even drive them from the home, said Kiy, a social worker with Covenant House in Toronto.

Mistakes made, lessons learned at the Vatican

{mosimage}In an address to the students at the Collegio Romano in mid-February Pope Benedict XVI spoke of St. Paul’s warning in the Letter to the Galatians that Christians should not “go on biting and devouring one another.” That was not the last time the Pope invoked this Pauline admonition. He did so again in his letter to the universal episcopate (released March 12) following the imbroglio occasioned by what is now sadly dubbed the Williamson Affair.

It was a vibrating jolt emitted by my BlackBerry that stirred me back into consciousness. I had been lulled into a semi-comatose state following four hours of unremitting speechifying by various representatives of the Italian Foreign Ministry and Department of Economic Development at a specially convened summit in Rome. The intrusive e-mail was from a distinguished Rome-based journalist who forwarded a pirated and unpolished translation of a letter written by Benedict to his fellow bishops, a letter formally released the next day.

Archdiocese of Toronto launches online campaign for Catholic awareness

{mosimage}What can you do in 30 seconds? A quick phone call, send an e-mail, have a brief conversation with a colleague or friend? Our staff at the archdiocese of Toronto ’s Office of Public Relations and Communications decided we’d try to reach one million people.

On the Monday of Holy Week, we launched “We Are Catholic ”, a campaign that attempts something a little different: using secular radio to speak to a diverse audience — active Catholics, lapsed Catholics and people of other faiths, or no faith at all.

Fatherhood and Christian faith

{mosimage}I sometimes have people tell me I am a good father. I usually smile and think to myself: “If only they knew.” 

I’m sure people say such things because they know I have six children and they can’t figure out how I do it. 

One morning Jennifer, my wife, announced we should do a bit of a cleanup and I should plan a trip to the dump. I wasn’t happy about the cleaning part, but I welcomed a Saturday afternoon drive. I saw myself driving up the country roads with the windows down and the radio up.

Holy Land pilgrims find desire for peace

{mosimage}With the radio blaring Arabic music, we sit in the minibus, praying for a safe journey. It’s 7:30 a.m. and we are travelling from Jerusalem to Bethlehem as part of our Holy Week “backpacking pilgrimage.” No tour buses. Just us with a map and our rosaries.

We must go through the checkpoint to enter the separation barrier into the West Bank, and a part of us wonders if we will make it. Surprisingly, the two guards let us through, no questions asked. Not even a glance at our Canadian passports. It’s a relief we aren’t interrogated like our experience at Tel Aviv airport.

The separation wall, built to prevent terrorists from entering Israel, emerges into view with the graffiti of a lion devouring a bird wearing a black and white kaffiyeh (Arab headdress). This reflects what the Palestinians’ say is their life behind the wall: divided families, economic hardships and a sense of alienation.