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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Don't forget about Advent

December 10, 2013
What's your parish music preference?
Does the music you hear at Mass have you singing to the mountains or running for the hills?
Nothing can make or break a sacred experience quite like the music. It can mean the difference between sublime and sub-par, between fantastic and fiasco, between extraordinary and merely ordinary. So we at U.S. Catholic are gathering responses now to appear in our March 2014 Reader Survey. When you go to Mass do you like to hear organ music, or do you prefer to clap your hands along with a praise band? Does the sound of a guitar cause your ears to perk up or your heart to sink? Take our survey and let us know! 
How cooking can create community
Famous food author Michael Pollan insists there's much to be gained from sitting around the table and sharing a home-cooked meal. 

For award-winning author Michael Pollan, food rules. And in today's culture, it seems as though we are always being bombarded by the latest recommendation for the best way to consume food. One study will show that fatty foods are doing us in; the next week, we are implored to reduce our sodium intake, only to hear from a new expert that it's really sugar we should be avoiding. But according to Pollan, there's really one primary rule that we should follow: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." Read more.

COMMENTARY: Pope Francis is not a standard bearer for the right or the left 
What the pope is doing is prophetic, not political, and we shouldn't view his actions through the lens of American politics and ideology.
It's one thing to say kind words about gay people and atheists while admonishing those who would bury them in stones. It's one thing to walk humbly and call the Catholic Church to compassion for the poor. It's one thing to kiss a horribly disfigured man from whom most people would run in disgust. But apparently, it's quite another to start calling out growing economic inequality and
na├»ve faith in capitalism. Read more.
Don't forget about Advent
Have we become so enamored with instant gratification that we cannot sit in silence for a few minutes and wait, even when it is waiting for the greatest joy that could come to us?

There is a giant Christmas tree that I pass most nights on my walk home from work. It is quite lovely: Multi-colored lights and large globes decorate its branches. There is, in fact, an entire life-sized Christmas Village surrounding the tree, and one particularly cold and blustery evening, I was passed on the sidewalk by Santa Claus and his wife, both decked out in all their red velvet glory. Then, when I get home to my building, I am greeted in the lobby by not only a decorated potted plant, but also cheery holiday music playing over speakers that are not used during any other season of the year. Read more.

Will the new commission for the sex abuse crisis heal the past?
Victims and their families need the church to show that they are the first priority in handling abuse cases--something that the church has sadly failed at in the past.
Last week at a press conference, Cardinal Sean O'Malley announced that the pontiff has called for a commission in the church's central bureaucracy to be created. This panel of experts will advise him on how best to approach the sex abuse crisis of the clergy. "The world is starting to wonder if Pope Francis has forgotten the crisis," Anne Barrett Doyle of said after Francis' meeting with the Dutch bishops on Monday (Dec. 2). The pope either has impeccable timing or has taken his own advice once again and continued "living in the smell of the sheep." Read more.
Read: Off the Cuff & Over the Collar
By Bishop John McCarthy (Greenhills Publishing, 2013) 

Bishop John McCarthy pastored the Diocese of Austin, Texas from 1986 to 2001. After serving as executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference, he was installed in 1979 as auxiliary bishop of Houston. In Off the Cuff & Over the Collar, McCarthy covers a wide range of theological, devotional, and moral topics that are the "stuff" of everyday Catholic life. Most heartening is the spirit of personal wisdom and compassion the bishop brings to his understanding of how our church needs to think and behave in modern society. Read more

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December 2013

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