April 16, 2021  |  By SEAN M. WRIGHT

My grandmother was born Leona Erma Van Dusen in upstate New York, at 10 minutes before the hour of midnight on December 31st 1880. She nonetheless celebrated her birth on Jan. 1 so she could claim to be a year younger.

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April 2, 2021  |  By SEAN M. WRIGHT

Had Sejanus not lusted after Livilla, the wife of Drusus, Jesus would not have been crucified — a rather sweeping statement, I realize. It nonetheless explains much about the public career of Pontius Pilate, including his activities on Friday, April 3 of the year 33 A.D.

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March 19, 2021  |  By SEAN M. WRIGHT

Beginning with Chapter 37, The Book of Genesis describes the adventures of Joseph, son of Jacob, sold into slavery and taken to Egypt.  By way of his dreams, he was appointed Egypt’s prime minister, allowing him to save his family and the peoples of the world he knew from a lengthy, widespread famine. When his subjects cried out in their need, Pharaoh told them, “Go to Joseph” (Gen 41:55).

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March 5, 2021  |  By SEAN M. WRIGHT

He is something of an enigma, this man of Nazareth, Yusuf ben Yacob or Joseph, son of Jacob as we would call him. Or, simply, Saint Joseph, foster father of Jesus Christ. Descended from David the great king of Israel, this humble artisan was destined for even greater glory within God’s plan of salvation.

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January 15, 2021  |  By SEAN M. WRIGHT

In 1966, Pope St. Paul VI named Father Harold Perry auxiliary bishop of New Orleans. President Lyndon Johnson, along with religious and civil leaders across the nation, lauded the appointment of a Black bishop, who Archbishop Philip Hannan hailed as the country’s first.

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November 6, 2020  |  By SEAN M. WRIGHT

In 1535, King Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547) pressured Parliament to pass the Act of Supremacy, recognizing the British monarch as head of the Church in England. Most Catholics are familiar with Henry’s schismatic action. The same Catholics are equally unaware that every bishop in the kingdom acquiesced to the king’s pleasure — save one.

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July 3, 2020  |  By SEAN M. WRIGHT

Defying the efforts of emperors, kings, popes and engineers to eliminate them, the fetid, malodorous Pontine Marshes — disease-ridden, brackish waters 10-16 miles wide — for 23 centuries lay southeast of Rome. Benito Mussolini not only made the trains run on time, in 1928 he finally succeeded in draining the Pontine Marshes. Reclaiming the land, “Il Duce” built low-cost housing and settled families there. The Lazio region is now a thriving community, producing crops in abundance.

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June 5, 2020  |  By SEAN M. WRIGHT

Allow me to tell you a tale of two sons. It begins with a story told by my friend, Father Barnabas, a Franciscan friar in Connecticut. Online conversations with him over the past 10 years have often led to mutually genial exchanges of ideas — not to mention much hilarity and the joy of knowing someone totally at ease with himself as a man, as a Catholic, and as a priest.

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April 3, 2020  |  By SEAN M. WRIGHT

The Lord is risen!” “The Lord is risen, indeed!”

Christians around the world share this sign and countersign when greeting each other throughout Eastertide. For the Church, the Bride of Christ, the Resurrection is an event too glorious to observe on a single day.

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March 6, 2020  |  By SEAN M. WRIGHT

The late 1800s saw a steep rise in American banking, commerce and industry. A new, ultrawealthy class arose, personified by families named Astor, Carnegie, Morgan, Rockefeller and Vanderbilt. Collectively, historians have tagged the men who created this wealth “Robber Barons,” reflecting their often cut-throat business tactics. These men and their families also donated vast sums of money to establish charitable foundations, endow universities, and found lending libraries, eventually furthering education and spreading that wealth.

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February 21, 2020  |  By SEAN M. WRIGHT

An amusing tale, repeated by Carl Sandburg in his comprehensive biography of Abraham Lincoln, places the future president at a party hosted by the family of Mary Todd, with whom he was romantically smitten.

When Miss Todd asked Lincoln if he might want to dance with her, the awkward, gangling, country lawyer enthusiastically replied, “Yes, Ma’am! In the worst way!”

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December 20, 2019  |  By SEAN M. WRIGHT

When was Christ born of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary?

Christians asked that question throughout the first centuries. The Church, however, was more concerned with the anniversary of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection as the central flashpoints of history.

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December 6, 2019  |  By SEAN M. WRIGHT, SEAN M. WRIGHT

Time was when the cultural celebration of Christmas began the evening of Dec. 24 and ended the evening of Jan. 6 — 12 days. 

As late as the 1940s it was still traditional to wait until Christmas Eve to set up the family tree. Oh, parents might go out a day or two beforehand to tack up strings of colored lights to outline their houses’ porches and gables and hang an evergreen wreath on the door. Even so, the crèche, tree and other major decorations were not seen till Christmas Eve.

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