Month: December 2012

Two “living saints”

Lest it had somehow escaped you, I love the saints. I love the saints because we can ask them to pray for us. And I love the saints because we can imitate them. Thaumaturges — wonder-workers like St Philomena, St Vincent Ferrer, St (Padre) Pio — are grand, and I certainly ask them for favours and recommend others ask them for favours. But my favourite saints are “saints of the ordinary” — especially modern figures like St Thérèse, Fr William Doyle, and St Josemaría. I don’t hold much hope that I will ever imitate a thaumaturge by levitating or bilocating...

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Recommended viewing

One of the best things about Facebook (alright — one of the few good things about Facebook) are the memes. Closely followed by short Youtube clips. Here are two good ones focused on the Advent season. Firstly, What is Advent? Gangham style! From Sydney’s Xt3: And secondly, an old favourite, updated for 2012. You’ve probably seen this one before. From Advent Conspiracy: And thirdly, a video which has nothing to do with Advent. Dumb Ways to Die is a public safety announcement, but it’s also much more than that. It’s an ad that’s gone viral (30 million and counting), an earworm (be warned!), and a lot of fun. From Melbourne’s Metro Trains: UPDATE A Priest Down Under has posted another great Advent video, especially pertinent for smart phone...

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St Francis Xavier, Legend

Today is the Feast of St Francis Xavier, who is one of my favourite saints. My primary school was St Francis Xavier College, so I was acquainted with him from a very young age. He’s probably the first saint I was aware of, after Our Lady and St Joseph. My confirmation name is Francis — after both Francis of Assisi and Francis Xavier. I’ve read several of his biographies over the years. I discovered one at the Kanabea Catholic Mission in Papua New Guinea, where I worked for five weeks in 2006. I grew a “missionary beard” during that trip, after the fashion of the great Jesuit missionary. Or at least, I tried to. I didn’t pull it off, really. I also kept a diary on that trip. Here is the entry on 3 December 2006 — the feast of St Francis Xavier. I’ve mucked up the novena. I started a day too late, which means that it won’t finish until tomorrow. I guess it will still be St Francis Xavier’s feast day in America . . . At least I’ve finished reading the book about him. It seems to me that he won over the people he evangelised by his attractive fusion of the local way of life, and the Christian faith he sought to introduce. Xavier’s radical simplicity and poverty permitted him to totally embrace the locals’...

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The need for Advent

When I was a kid, I could have sworn that time slowed down in the week before Christmas. Especially on Christmas Eve itself. It’s as though the hours before Christmas moved in ways different from the ordinary passage of time. The sense of expectation was as thick as the scent of the Christmas tree. (I think we did have an artificial tree one year, but that was never repeated.) I could never imagine then what I have sometimes experienced as an adult: Christmas Day is a day not all that different from other days. There’s Mass, and a big...

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St Edmund Campion, Martyr

The day is nearly over, and I’ve only just now discovered that today is the feast of St Edmund Campion. (Sometimes, passing time with one’s Universalis app pays off!) St Edmund is one among the great communion of Jesuit saints. His father, I just learned, was almost certainly an acquaintance of St Thomas More. You’ll learn about that and more in this ten minute meditation on St Edmund. Fr Bernard Basset SJ narrates the tale. The guy is as cantankerous as he is insightful. Watching this is time well...

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