A bitterly cold late January Friday evening found me outdoors at dusk on an “Owl Prowl” in northwestern Connecticut. A few weeks prior, I had arranged with my friend and fellow (though ‘expert’) birder, Ken, to search out the wintering, yet active, nocturnal large birds.
Balancing the role of pilgrim and reporter at my first World Youth Day in Panama was a challenge met with miles of walking, talking and being present in the moment. For so many of the pilgrims who shared their story with me, they hoped for transformation and change within their own spiritual lives. Living their faith out loud in their daily lives have been met with opposition and judgment at times.
by Sister Monica (Ping Hui) Gan, C.S.T.
Chinese New Year is Tuesday, Feb. 5 and it is the most important festival for Chinese people. It is like Thanksgiving Day for Americans.
On Jan. 22 – the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade – the Democratic-controlled New York State Legislature passed the so-called “Reproductive Health Act” (RHA). They said it was merely an “update” to our law, that it simply “codified” Roe into New York statutes. Governor Andrew Cuomo touted it as progress for women, immediately signed it into law and celebrated with a party at the executive mansion.
As I came back from the renewal window, I saw a gentleman, half my age, in complete Greek Orthodox clerical garb. He didn’t look too happy being here on Christmas Eve either. But I felt so happy I couldn’t help but ask foolishly: “What denomination are you?”
Although a quarter of a century has passed since the deaths of his beloved grandmothers, Msgr. Steven Ferrari says he can still recall the upheaval in his family at the time. The winds of grief and sadness blew, the torrents of release and tears crashed against the rocks of faith.
Although having a day in Advent – and another in Lent – when churches are open in the different dioceses and everyone is invited to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation is a great idea, I cannot help but wonder if the need to have these extraordinary days is not the result of how almost inaccessible or forgettable the sacrament is during the rest of the year.
My 4-year-old granddaughter Charlotte is allowed to play with her family Christmas creche. The figures are virtually unbreakable, and her folks don’t care if the entire Nativity scene is rearranged daily, shepherds marching in lockstep toward the goldfish bowl or angels huddling together for a confab outside the stable.
Looking at the old black-and-white photo before me, I regarded the five young smiling people positioned near the baptismal font. One gentleman is proudly holding a three-month-old baby boy swaddled in white, while a still-in-his-20s priest with dark hair and moustache stands beside him. On the photo’s back is written the date and place: January 23, 1982. Blessed Sacrament Church, Jackson Heights, Queens.
The holiday season is the most stressful time for many adults. During Advent, which is supposed to be a time for quiet reflection and preparation to celebrate the most momentous event in human history, most people are scurrying around shopping, decorating, cleaning and planning for family get togethers. Children are writing letters to dear old Santa Claus and visiting the jolly old guy in shopping malls.