Following decades with very few men following a call to become Alaskan priests, the tide is changing — even surging. As with most good things, however, this springtime of vocations comes with a cost — an average of about $325,000 for one man to be fully trained for the priesthood.
Churches have a particular challenge regarding the issue of out-of-wedlock pregnancies. On the one hand, the teachings of Christ and his church affirm that sex is to be reserved for the bond of faithful, lifelong marriage. Many churches have effective youth and young adult outreaches to help parishioners strengthen moral resolve in this area. And yet, a percentage of young people fall short. In some cases, this leads to a pregnancy. This is impossible to hide from public view — especially if mothers choose life for their unborn child and carry her to term.
We were not made to be spiritual Lone Rangers. The Pew study shows in no uncertain terms that outside Christ’s Mystical Body — the church — we cannot long endure in faith. It’s an old saying: Remember the Sabbath, and keep it holy.
The gradual decent into Christmas incoherence is not merely the fault of the unchurched masses. Practicing Christians, too, have failed to pass on many of the rich traditions that celebrate and teach the spiritual heart and meaning of Christmas. Reasons vary, but our once Christian-saturated culture has grown increasingly secular, and that affects us all, including how we celebrate Christmas. The answer to this malady doesn’t lie in pressuring Starbucks to baptize its red-washed holiday cups. Those are only the final fruits of a long chain of events. A “Merry Christmas” cup isn’t going to turn the tide. The renewal of Christmas will begin elsewhere…
For three weeks, Cardinals, archbishops, priests from around the world gathered in Rome to grapple with how Catholics can better reach out to families — inviting them to a fuller encounter with Christ and his church. While much of the global press focused on hot-button debates about whether to let divorced and civilly remarried couples return to Communion, or how the church can use different language in reference to gays and lesbians and those living together outside of marriage, the expressed purpose of the synod was to find ways to support the first cell of the church — the family.
The videos don’t lie. They are released in both shorter, eight to nine minute clips, as well as in full length, unedited versions. Additionally, the videos are accompanied by full transcripts. Any claims that they are “heavily edited” fall flat in light of this extensive effort for full transparency. So we are left with hard facts and a decision to make. Do we as a nation, as Alaskans, as local towns and communities across our state want our public money to go toward funding a company which commits acts so grisly they are difficult even to speak of?
No pain is more pronounced than the sudden loss of a loved one. Faith in God is tested — sometimes shattered — when we receive the unbearable call that one of our own has been ripped from the world. The agony and disbelief is beyond comprehension, beyond reason. No explanation stands under the weight of losing a close one.
Given that the mission of the Catholic Church is to inspire and invite people into a deeper love of God in all his beauty and splendor, perhaps even frontier churches should reconsider ways to foster the vital role that sacred art has played since the earliest days of Christianity.