FAITH AND CULTURE | Call to faith, service in season and out of season

F. Javier Orozco

For many of us, the fashion industry remains a real mystery to engage and comprehend. Without discrediting the fashion experts in our communities, few of us have delved into the different dimensions and contours of the world of fashion.

Older expressions and distinctions between "high fashion" and "mass fashion" might be foreign to us. Similarly, knowing that the fashion industry is a result of the modern age, and that most of our clothes were homemade or tailor-ordered before modern times might escape us.

For some Syrian Christian refugees, Christmas was not a happy time

People carried a survivor from the rubble at a damaged site after what activists said was heavy shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus Dec. 26. Many Syrian refugees found Christmas a difficult time with the ongoing violence i n their homeland.

AMMAN, Jordan -- Some Syrian Christian refugees sheltering in neighboring Jordan did not have a happy Christmas, fearful for their uncertain future as the violent conflict in their homeland grinds on past 33-months with no end in sight.

"Just see how Christians in Iraq were targeted on our sacred holiday, Christmas Day, in Baghdad," said Abu Reda, referring to bomb blasts that left at least 37 dead.

Christmas is time to feel God's closeness, experience peace, pope says

VATICAN CITY -- Celebrating the first Christmas since his election, Pope Francis preached the goodness and tenderness of God, and prayed that men and women around the world would allow God's grace to transform them into peacemakers.

"Let us allow our hearts to be touched, let us allow ourselves to be warmed by the tenderness of God; we need His caress," the pope said Dec. 25, standing on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and addressing an estimated 70,000 people in the square below.

BEFORE THE CROSS | God makes Himself known to everyone

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

The joyous season of Christmas continues with the Solemnity of Epiphany (celebrated this year on Sunday, Jan. 5). The Greek word epiphany means a revelation or a making known of some hidden truth or mystery. On this feast, we celebrate the day when the hidden God, the infant Jesus, was revealed to the whole world through the visitation of the Magi, who came from different cultures and religious traditions in search of "the true star of salvation."

The diversity of Advent

Brooke Buck reacted to the blessing her classmate, Jerick Conner, gave to her as they shared oplatki. Students at Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Ferguson learned about the Polish Christmas tradition of oplatki from pastoral associate Sister Cathy Doherty, SSND. Oplatki, an flatbread, is broken and shared among families at Christmas, with each person praying and bestowing blessings upon one another for the upcoming year.

This Advent, students at Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Ferguson were celebrating multicultural style.

In the weeks before Christmas, students learned about traditions from Polish, Italian and Hispanic cultures. Last week, parish pastoral associate Sister Cathy Doherty, SSND, visited classrooms to share Polish oplatki, a large rectangular flatbread that is broken and shared among families as a way of professing their love for one another. The bread, which looks similar to a communion wafer, is often referred to as the "bread of love."

FAITH AND CULTURE | Our connection in Christ

F. Javier Orozco

Today in our culture, many of us are finding new ways to connect with one another. The idea of taking the time to send a loved one a written letter or calling someone on the phone for an extended conversation is mostly a thing of the past. More and more, we are finding ways to reach out by texting and tweeting one another in 140 characters or less.

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