The Need for Dialogue

It is not always easy to live under Islamic rule, or even under Islamic "influence." Yet we share a planet, and with no other habitable planets within easy journey, we must find ways to get along. Consider for a moment: There are more than a million Arab Muslims in Israel. There are zero Jews in [...]

Latest Muslim outreach to Egyptian Christians involves machine guns

Six Coptic Christians and one security guard were killed last night as worshippers left their celebration of Christmas Mass in the ancient town of Nag Hammadi, Egypt. The gunmen -- acting in retaliation against the alleged rape of a Muslim girl -- sprayed parishioners with machine gun fire as they left the church. [Bishop Kirollos] [...]

Whom Have I in Heaven but Thee?

Whom have I in heaven but thee? So cried Asaph the psalmist. It is an astonishing moment in the history of man, for Asaph had looked upon the wicked and seen how they prospered. His feet had well nigh slipped, he says. Yet he held fast to two truths that had been revealed to him. [...]

In Praise of Credulity

St. Thomas Aquinas was once tricked by his fellow students who cried out, "Look! A flying ox!" Thomas dutifully went to the window to look, and his peers all laughed at him heartily. Thomas's reply (and one of the many reasons he's a saint): "I thought it more likely that an ox would fly than [...]

Putting Joseph back in Christmas

Having properly celebrated the Christ child's mother yesterday, Father James Martin thinks it's only right that, during the Christmas season, we should remember to celebrate His earthly father, too. Poor St. Joseph gets short shrift sometimes -- he appears in only one carol that I can think of, and it's not a very flattering picture; [...]

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

I remember it like yesterday. The insistent kitchen phone was ringing on the other side of the wall as I woke. I had gone to bed exhausted with sorrow and fear the night before, having returned from the hospital where my dad lay, snoring loudly in the depths of a coma. Just as my eyes [...]

The Eighth Commandment

  It is a curious fact that the same book of Exodus that informs us of the command, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (20:16) begins with the story of a good solid practical lie:   Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah [...]

Ex Aegypto

Ex Aegypto vocavi filium meum. "Out of Egypt have I called my son." We all know this quote from having heard, year after year, the Gospel readings in connection with Christmas and the events that follow it. The Holy Family had to flee to Egypt from Herod, who was about to mount the Slaughter of [...]

From Darkness into Light

Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession Anne Rice, Knopf, 256 pages, $24 A decade ago, Anne Rice -- the best-selling author of gothic tales of nocturnal bloodsuckers -- found herself "Christ-haunted." Statues of the saints, half-ruined Catholic churches, and the crucified Christ reignited the long dormant piety that suffused her New Orleans childhood. Flannery [...]

Of God and Guests

Every now and then, I come across a film of such unexpected charm and emotional power that I find myself compelled to recommend it to anyone and everyone who will listen.  Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made [...]

An Advent Note on Ikhnaton

  One's thoughts don't ordinarily run much to the pharaohs in connection with Advent. Insofar as Egypt might crop up at all, it would seem more fitting to hold it for the Flight into Egypt after the Nativity.   In any case, I received a card this past week from a Discalced Carmelite nun friend [...]

Of Abbots and Actresses

It is recorded of the Abbot Pambo, of whom I know nothing at all except the following anecdote, that, upon a visit to St. Athanasius, he came upon an actress -- not, I would suppose, inside the good saint's cell. (I have only very dim notions as to what sort of women these Egyptian actresses [...]

Finding the Balance Between Church and State

  For the past three decades, I've been blessed to travel to almost every continent. But particularly, I have always felt a pull to visit Egypt and to see—with my own eyes—its ancient history and impressive ruins, and to visit the people who continue this 3,500-year-old civilization. My longing became a reality recently when I [...]