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Musical abuse

{mosimage}The people in the pews are the Body of Christ, and never am I more aware of this than when I am in my parish in Cambridge, Mass. The priest censes the altar. The altar server censes the boys’ choir. He then stands before the People of God and bows his head. We bow our heads. He censes us for, like the altar and the boys’ choir, we are holy. He bows again. We bow again. There is a tremendous dignity in all this — unless, of course, you are allergic to incense and sneeze.

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What's a surplus?

{mosimage}Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in a rather indecent rush recently to turn the $14-billion federal surplus from last year into a $725-million tax cut for all Canadians. Granted, we’d all love an extra $30 or so to go shopping at the mall, but before we accept this as a fait accompli, shouldn’t we at least talk about it.

Our schools

{mosimage}In the middle of a highly emotional public debate over religious education, a new report has just been released by the Institute for Catholic Education on the current sense of how concerned Ontario Catholics feel about their publicly funded separate school system. The political context gives this report a necessary urgency.

John Main, an ordinary spiritual teacher

{mosimage}The 25th anniversary of the life and death of Benedictine monk John Main (1926-1982) will be celebrated at the John Main Seminar in Orford, Que., Oct. 18-21. It will bring together more than 200 speakers, teachers of spirituality, meditators and the general public from around the world to join in a three-day colloquium on the influence of this extraordinary spiritual teacher and prophet.

Notes from Newfoundland

{mosimage}Forty-six per cent of Newfoundlanders are left-handed. At least that’s what my husband’s golfing partner told him while they played the Terra Nova course.

Pray for Anglican Church in crisis

It hurts to see the Anglican Communion breaking up over the issues of openly gay clergy and same-sex unions.

Unexpected rewards reaped from yard sale

“We can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

The pros and cons of a proportional vote

{mosimage}Editor's note: Ontario voters face a historic election Oct. 10, but not because of the candidates before them. This year, voters will be asked in a referendum if they wish to make the most dramatic change since Confederation in how they choose provincial governments. They will be asked whether they want to retain the current system (known as the “first-past-the-post” method) or accept a form of proportional representation called the Mixed Member Proportional vote. Below we offer pro and con opinions on MMP by two Catholics with extensive experience in political activity. For more information on the referendum, access the web site www.citizensassembly.gov.on.ca.

The ideal family

{mosimage}Just as Canadians were waking up to discover that for the first time in history married couples were in the minority earlier this month, they were also reminded of what they had lost. The words came from Pope Benedict XVI, and they were the epitome of common sense.

Religion and Politics

{mosimage}Clashes between religion and politics are breaking out all over these days. Those predictions a generation ago that religion would die quietly in a new enlightened secular age appear to be the only thing to have passed to the Great Beyond. Religion is hale and hearty by comparison, though it is appearing in situations that are causing people of faith to squirm.

A time for spiritual renewal

{mosimage}Advertisers have recently picked up upon a theme teachers have known about for time immemorial. Labour Day is indeed the “real” New Year’s Eve. Many young people and adults make new resolutions to do better and to achieve certain goals. Others will choose a new career or again get serious with their lives. Promises in the calendar year are often linked to the new school year, revolving around our relationship with others, the community, the church and God. They often begin with the words, “This year, I am finally going to….” Well, what exactly are you promising to do?