A ‘Global Lens’ on Egypt

Readers of Catholic News Service have seen Paul Jeffrey’s stories from around the world: Libya, Philippines, Sudan, Honduras. In this, his own blog, he talks about his recent experience in Egypt: the Advent of Egyptians in Tahrir Square; good cops and bad cops; the wisdom of elders trying to calm youth.

But if a picture speaks a thousand words, blog readers will learn even more about Egypt. The photos are stunning, as always.

A demonstrator prepares to throw a smoking tear gas canister back at police during Nov. 25 protests in and around Tahrir Square in Cairo. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)

A demonstrator prepares to throw a smoking tear gas canister back at police during Nov. 25 protests in and around Tahrir Square in Cairo. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)

Nuns’ CD ‘Advent at Ephesus’ now heard ’round the world

Benedictine nuns unpack a delivery of copies of their CD at Missouri priory. (Photo courtesy of Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles)

“A worldwide album distribution deal” doesn’t sound at all like something that would apply to the musical artistry of  members of a Benedictine cloister set in the rolling farmland of  northwest Missouri. But indeed it does. Just over a week ago, on Nov. 20, “Advent at Ephesus,” a 16-track CD of vocal performances by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, went international.

“The sisters maintain silence through much of their days, speaking only to ask work-related questions or to give instructions. An ancient Cistercian sign language is used for other communication. Silence ‘cultivates an atmosphere of prayer.’ Their silence is broken in chapel during the praying and singing of hymns, psalms and the Office,” writes reporter Marty Denzer of  The Catholic Key, newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo.

The Benedictine priory is located in the diocese. Denzer describes the nuns as a youthful group consecrated to Mary whose charism is “praying for priests.” They pray and sing “hymns and chants in their chapel eight times each day.”

Their CD of Advent music – released by DeMontfort Music and distributed internationally through Decca – captures what is described by many as “angelic music.” A press release from the Maximus Group promoting the album says it “represents a rare approach — one that focuses on music celebrating the introspective anticipation of the Nativity that is the foundation of the Advent season.” Song titles include “Come Thou Redeemer of the Earth,” “Regnantem Sempiterna,” “Alma Redemptoris Mater,” “O Come Divine Messiah” and “Like the Dawning.”

The first Sunday of Advent is Dec. 2, which is also when the Eternal Word Television Network will begin airing a program on the daily life, spirituality and “musical gifts” of the Benedictine nuns. It recounts the three days they spent recording the CD this fall at their priory in a mobile studio set up by award-winning producer Glenn Rosenstein.

50 years later, Catholic-Orthodox developments ‘remarkable’

Fifty years ago today, participants in the Second Vatican Council began talking about Christian unity, especially unity with Eastern Christians. Two prominent leaders in the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, Jesuit Father Brian Daley and Orthodox Father Thomas FitzGerald, spoke to Catholic News Service about the progress that has been made since Vatican II. See their interview below.

Vatican Voices: Father Robert Prevost

(CNS Photo/Paul Haring)

By Greg Watry

VATICAN CITY — In the latest Vatican Voices podcast, Father Robert Prevost, Prior General of the Augustinian Order, talks about the dominance of mass media in the West and the church’s response to secular culture.



Click here:

Vatican Voices: Father Robert Prevost

For related videos click here:


Will either of these new Vatican releases be on your Christmas list?

VATICAN CITY — With Advent just a couple of weeks away and Christmas on the horizon, the Vatican is set to release two great works that will help people get in the right spirit.

ImageThe first is Pope Benedict XVI’s much-awaited final volume of his Jesus of Nazareth trilogy, “The Infancy Narratives,” which will use the Gospels to explore the infancy and childhood of Jesus.

The Vatican is presenting the book and handing out copies to the press Nov. 20, but it won’t go on sale to the public until the next day, Nov. 21, which is the feast of the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The book can be pre-ordered from the English-language publisher, Image (a division of Random House) or from other online book outlets.

The first volume, published in 2007, covered the period from Jesus’ baptism to his Transfiguration; while the second, regarding his passion and death, came out in 2011.

The other new release from the Vatican is a special CD of Christmas music performed by the Pontifical Swiss Guard band. Image

The music features the Swiss harpist, Daniela Lorenz. While she is not a guard, she is accompanied by guards playing clarinet, horn, trombone and saxophone.

On the CD, Ms. Lorenz plays an instrument called the Paraguayan harp. The harp, which is the national instrument of Paraguay, was introduced to Latin America by Jesuit missionaries in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Guard got the idea for a Christmas CD after members performed a benefit concert with Ms. Lorenz last year. Apparently the last time the guard produced a recording was in 1979. This year sound engineers from Vatican Radio helped with the production.

The CD, titled “Weihnachten mit der Schweizergarde,” will be released Nov. 22, the feast of St. Cecilia — the patron saint of musicians, and it can be ordered on the Swiss Guard’s website here.

Pope not bugged by small creatures

VATICAN CITY — This is not news, nor is it important in the scheme of things. This is just a simple blog post about a simple matter.

Today a bug landed on Pope Benedict XVI’s forehead during a visit to a home for the elderly in Rome.

The pope greets guests, ignoring the guest closest to him. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Instead of brushing his guest away, the pope stayed focused and continued greeting other guests. Five seconds later, the bug left on his own.

The small guest, right, flies away after spending five seconds meeting the pope. (CNS/Paul Haring)

This was not the pope’s first encounter with a wayward insect. In 2009, a spider took his time climbing on the pope’s cape as he gave a speech inside the presidential palace in the Czech Republic. While the pope seemed not to notice and did not react, the incident drew a lot of international media attention. In fact, the spider garnered more media coverage than the pope’s speech.

Pope Benedict XVI is known for his immense powers of concentration. This is likely why he seems to not be bothered by little creatures.

“De Pontificia Academia Latinitatis condenda”

VATICAN CITY — On Saturday the Vatican published — in Latin — Pope Benedict XVI’s document establishing the “Pontifical Academy for Latinity,” a title meant to project the fact that it won’t be concerned only with the Latin language, but also with the Latin culture and literature that are part of the Western cultural and intellectual heritage. (See CNS STORY: Pope establishes pontifical Latin Academy)

Until the academy’s establishment was announced Saturday, the Vatican’s Latin scribes were doing double-duty as the manpower behind “Latinitas,” a Latin-studies journal.

U.S. Msgr. Daniel B. Gallagher is one of the seven staff members of the Vatican Secretariat of State’s Office of Latin Letters, which translates papal correspondence and documents into Latin, which is still the official language of the church.

Msgr. Gallagher said it was significant that the papal document was signed Nov. 10, the feast of St. Leo the Great, “whom most of us consider to be the most outstanding Latin stylist.”

CNS interviewed Msgr. Gallagher in September. You can watch the video here:

Earlier, Msgr. Gallagher and some students at the Pontifical North American College in Rome spoke to CNS about their interest in Latin studies: