Does God curse us with bad weather?

Benjamin Free Range

The first snowfall of the year is always something magical. I love to look out at the ordinary world that has been transfigured. Messy piles have disappeared, dirty things are covered over, and all the trees are clothed in white as if dressed for a wedding. I always feel that a new snowfall is a little invitation from God to …

Looking for a good New Years resolution? Ask the Pope

Fr. Joel Free Range

Pope Benedict expressed three wishes for Christmas. They would make excellent resolutions this New Year. VATICAN CITY, 9 DEC 2011 (VIS) – Wednesday, 7 December, thanks to a “tablet” connected to the power grid, Benedict XVI lit the largest Christmas tree in the world from the papal apartments. This electronic “tree” is located in the Italian town of Gubbio. Before …

Lighting Advent candles

Benjamin Being Catholic, Free Range

This Sunday we light the first candle on the Advent wreath, and we leave the other three candles unlit. As I child it always bothered me that the candles burned so unevenly – the last purple candle hardly got warm before Christmas came. I suggested to my parents that we could rotate which candles were lit so they would burn …

Seven Billion is a big family

Benjamin Free Range

The United Nations recently announced that there are 7,000,000,000 people living simultaneously on the planet, an announcement that is more of a good guess than an accurate count. Most of that growth happened in the last hundred years (there were 2 billion people c. 1927). This is a rare blessing: we have been spared from severe epidemics, and better medical …

Benedictine Nuns and Monks

Benjamin Free Range

One of the amazing things about the Catholic Church is the resilience of consecrated life. Here is a wonderful article on a congregation of Benedictine nuns at Tyburn Convent in London, which has been founding new houses of nuns all over the world. The convent in London was founded in 1903 by a French nun, Mother Marie Adele Garnier, who …

Five things that don’t belong in the “modern wedding”

Benjamin Church meets World, Free Range, Human Relationships

Once upon a time, in a land far away, the fairy tales ended with a wedding. Why a wedding? Marriage was something definitive, conclusive, like death, except that it was happy. Marriage was permanent, and so it was hard to imagine anything better than being bound for your whole life to a wonderful and loving person. There was also the …

Prayer for the memorial of Blessed John Paul II

Benjamin Free Range

October 22nd will officially be the memorial of Blessed Pope John Paul, if you are living in Rome or Poland. The nature of declaring someone “Blessed” is to allow limited public celebration in honor of that person. The prayer for the memorial has been published and if you are a priest but not in Rome or Poland, you’ll just have …

Girl altar servers

Benjamin Free Range

The rector of Sts. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix decided on a new policy – no girl altar servers at the Masses. Fr. John Lankeit, explained his decision from several perspectives: historically, that girls never used to be allowed to serve; philosophically, that men and women are different, priesthood is a male role and that altar serving is connected …