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Top 16 in 2015 — Our Favorite Aleteia Pieces

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Elizabeth Scalia - published on 12/31/15

Before we ring in 2016, a look back at some of our favorites you might not have seen

Each year’s editorial review seems to portray twelve months of lunacy and sorrow with a few bright moments shining through. We look back at the year, and it seems half-lunacy, half-sorrow with a few bright moments shining through where they have penetrated our overpacked awareness. The year 2015 was no different. Here are some pieces Aleteia thought might be worth a second look before we turn the calendar page. In chronological order:

1)
Billy Graham’s Surprising TED Talk
, by Matt Becklo

billy graham ted talk
AP Photo/Bill Haber
Graham does what probably many in the audience were not expecting him to do: he makes a compelling case for a reasonable faith that has everything to do with technology — especially its limitations. “David found that there were many problems that technology could not solve,” Graham declares. “There were many problems still left. And they’re still with us. And you haven’t solved them … the problem is within us, within our hearts and our souls. Our problem is that we are separated from our Creator, which we call God.” More…

2)
The Day God Barged Into My Life: Fr. John Riccardo’s Amazing Testimony
, by John Riccardo

riccardo
At that very moment, I had an actual vision of our Lord in my car. He sat next to me. It was clear that it was him. I was still crying. He reached across the seat and dug his right hand into my chest and said, “John these are all your dreams, goals and desires and everything you want to do with your life.” He withdrew his hand and pulled everything out and motioned throwing it all out the window. More…

3)
10 Signs Christianity Is on the Rise
, by Tom Hoopes

pew bruno
Jeff Bruno
The bottom line is that if Christianity is true, then we can expect it will continue to rise and not die. If it’s not true, then it will certainly die — and the sooner the better. But since Jesus Christ really did die and rise and leave us the sacraments, don’t expect it to go away anytime soon. More…

4)
Europe’s Ghosts of Faith
, by Philip Jenkins

robert oedegaard cc
Robert Oedegaard/cc
This is all the more potent in cities and small towns that still retain the Christian imprint on every street, every Heiligegeiststrasse (Holy Spirit Street) and Paternoster Row, and in which the whole urban plan is still shaped by parish boundaries. Across Europe, neither God nor the church is easy to miss. You know when you have arrived in Catholic Bavaria or Austria when people start greeting you with Grüss Gott (Greet God, or originally “God guard you”), rather than the coldly secular Guten Tag, which sounds so foreign and German. The ghosts of faith walk everywhere. More…

5)
The Attack on the Family
, by Joseph Bottum

attack on family
Ryan/cc
The family is a premodern arrangement of human life, and the modern turn subjects all premodern things to deconstruction: philosophy, theology and history; monarchy, nobility and the Church; culture, art and society. It just took us this long to dig down to the family. Richard Howard is a late, miniature Voltaire, and the president of Smith College is a tardy, shrunken Jacobin. More…

6)
Chairman Robert George: Religious Freedom Shouldn’t Be a “Second- or Third-Class Concern” for U.S. Policymakers
, by John Burger

robby george
US Commission on International Religious Freedom
“I believe that our government does care about the plight of Christians in the Middle East,” George said in an interview Tuesday. “What I’d like to see is religious freedom and the need to come to the aid of persecuted people and prisoners of conscience be elevated to a higher status in the minds of our policymakers.” More…

7)
The Home of Mary Magdalene Is Being Resurrected
, by Zoe Romanowsky

magdala stone
Not only did archeologists find the synagogue, they unearthed an entire town — the ancient town of Magdala, believed to be the hometown of Mary Magdalene. So far, the dig has uncovered three ritual purification baths, supplied by fresh springwater (the highest of the six possible gradations of water quality for a ritual purification bath, according to experts), marketplaces, residential areas, thousands of first-century coins (including numerous “widow’s mites”), lots of period pottery and even a Roman sword in its sheath. In addition, the infrastructure for fish processing has been discovered. A similar one exists in Spain, but it’s not nearly as complex and well developed, according to Father Kelly. “Flavius Josephus reported that fish processed in Magdala was sold in the markets in Rome and that has now been validated,” he said. More…

8)
Mobile Hair Salon Offers Beauty in Transition for the Homeless
, by Dominique “Peak” Johnson

beauty in transition
Nicola Benizzi
It is an unexpected service, Wood says, driving to shelters around the country in a refurbished truck she purchased through Craigslist. Most of the stylists who volunteer their assistance are from trendy “pop” hair salons. A traveling salon catering to homeless clients may seem unorthodox, but a simple hairstyle can help an invisible person feel visible. More…

9) Francis’ Visit Made Me Reexamine Myself, and I’m Not Sure I Like What I See, by Kirsten Andersen

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Nicki Varkevisser/cc
Last week, Pope Francis called our bluff as he appeared to take us at our word. Over and over, he asked us — the ones who like to pretend we have it all together — to pray for him, while he showered love, blessings and words of comfort on the ones who couldn’t pretend to have it together if they tried. More…

10)
Giving Others Notice, Even When it Costs Us Something
, by Elizabeth Scalia

sleeping or dead D Sharon Pruitt cc
D. Sharon Pruitt/cc

One night in Penn Station, my son saw a disheveled middle-aged woman asking people for change, because she was hungry. He walked with her to a food stand and bought her a hamburger and fries and a drink and then, as she ate, he sipped on his own soda and chatted with her, casually. When she had finished, she asked if she could hug him … More…

11)
When a Catholic Bishop Baptized His Muslim Father
, by Diane Montagna

msusa
When I became a bishop, I returned home and invited people to come together. And my father, an imam, knelt and said, “I need baptism.” And I said, “Oh, Father, all these years you have been saying I’m going to hell. Are you going to hell with me?” (laugh). More…

12)
The Ministry That’s Saving the Most Troubled Catholic Marriages
, by Zoe Romanowsky

marriage conflict shutterstock auremar
Shutterstock/Auremar
“Our marriage not only survived but was built on a stronger foundation of love, respect and understanding,” explains Mary. “The most important lesson for us — as self-righteous as we were — was that it’s more important to be loving than to be right. We truly became one and greater than the sum of our parts.” More…

13)
10 Things You Should Never Say to a Nun
, by Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble, SFP

sisters of life papal visit
Jeff Bruno
13. “Wow, you’re so pretty.” Why are people so bowled over that attractive young women want to marry the Creator of the universe? Please people: The. Creator. Of. The. Universe. That’s not a proposal that any sane women should turn down. Besides, haven’t you ever heard of these ladies? More…

14)
An Iraqi Girl’s Brief Respite From Fear in the U.S.
, by John Burger

katrina
Courtesy of Knights of Columbus
Though her health is more stable, Katreena’s family faces an uncertain future as she and Rajaa head back to Erbil this week. And even though the Kurdish capital is relatively safe, Katreena drops phrases like, “We don’t know when ISIS is going to show up in Erbil.” Katreena’s father is a policeman, and ISIS threatened to cut his head off if the family goes back to their hometown, according to Rajaa. “They told us that they burned our house, that we have nothing left there.” More…

15)
Terror Attack Survivor: “There Is No Peace Without Forgiveness,”
 by Miriam Diez Bosch

Irene Villa
Forgiveness is something internal, but it is a “click” that you either decide to do it or not. It’s a qualitative leap. If you decide to forgive, you are the main beneficiary, because hate only hurts the person who feels it; the person you hate is not touched by your hate. More…

15)
56 Ways to Be Merciful During the Jubilee Year of Mercy
, by Aleteia Staff

mercy heart
9) Have masses said for the living: friends and family members, even strangers you read/hear about, who are having a hard time. 10) Be generous enough to allow someone to help you; people need to feel needed. 11) If you didn’t mean to be a pain in the neck to someone, admit that you were and ask the person to forgive you. 12) Take a tip from Cardinal Timothy Dolan and carry around $5 Starbucks and McDonald’s gift cards for the homeless. 13) Take time in prayer to contemplate the good qualities of someone who is difficult for you. Do the same for each member of your family. More…

Elizabeth Scaliais editor-in-chief of Aleteia’s English edition.

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