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Neela Kale :
167 article(s)

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.
May 5th, 2010

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “May fifth”) is a relatively minor Mexican holiday commemorating the Battle of Puebla of May 5, 1862, in which Mexican forces defeated an invading French army far superior in numbers and equipment. Mexico only temporarily halted the French invasion; French reinforcements soon conquered the capital and it was not until 1867 that Mexico finally freed itself from French control.
However, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a life of its own in the United States, celebrated by Mexican-Americans and many others. Some parishes with significant Mexican populations participate in civic or community activities to celebrate the holiday. Any national or cultural holiday is a good occasion to…

April 29th, 2010

After China became communist, as the government sought to limit foreign influences and unite people in Chinese institutions, it prohibited religious institutions with loyalties to foreign governments. Only government-recognized and approved religious groups could exist officially. Practicing religion was allowed; declaring allegiance to a foreign authority such as the Pope in Rome was not. The government established the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association in 1957 to exercise supervision over China’s Catholics, and this official body remains the only recognized Catholic authority in China today. Its bishops are subject to approval by the government. Some of them also have approval from…

April 22nd, 2010

India is the world’s largest secular democracy, but it is also home to tremendous religious diversity, which sometimes plays out in devastating religious conflicts. Christians (the majority of whom are Catholic) make up little more than 2% of the population, and thus religious divisions involving Catholics have not been as prominent as tensions between Hindus and Muslims. Christianity’s long history in India seemed to protect it from some of the imperialist associations it has in other Asian countries, and Catholic institutions such as schools and hospitals enjoy great popularity.
However, a majority of Catholics in India belong to a lower-caste group called Dalits. The lowest-caste status of untouchability…

April 2nd, 2010

The Stations of the Cross (sometimes also called the “Way of the Cross” or Via Crucis, in Latin) are a traditional devotion tracing the events on the way to Christ’s crucifixion. The devotion has its roots in the practice of pilgrimage to Jerusalem, especially to sites along the way to the cross. In the fifteenth century, as it became difficult for Christians to visit Jerusalem, the Franciscans began to erect outdoor shrines in Europe to recall these holy places, and in later centuries the devotion took root throughout the entire Church.
Traditionally, there are fourteen stations:
Jesus is condemned to death
Jesus takes up his cross
Jesus falls the first time
Jesus meets his mother
Simon of Cyrene helps…

April 1st, 2010

In Jewish and Christian tradition, the number 40 has symbolic meaning. A period of 40 days or years, more than being a literal measurement, represents a long time and a period of preparation or testing. When 40 days or 40 years have passed, the appropriate period or the “right amount of time” has been completed in preparation for the working of God’s grace. Recall the 40 days and 40 nights of rain during the flood in Genesis 7, the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the desert after the Exodus, and the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public ministry in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Lent lasts 40 days so that we will spend the “right amount of time” in this period of penance…

March 18th, 2010

Just by asking the question – and by caring about how your community prays – you are already on the right track. But the way you asked the question points to how you can begin to answer it for yourself. Do you want to know what “we” should do to help “them”? Or do you all want to know what you can do to help each other? Your parish leaders, especially those making decisions about prayer and liturgy, must include immigrant parishioners, so that your community can worship in a way that faithfully reflects the experience of all its members.
The specific strategies that work for you will depend on the nature of your community. Do your parishioners come from many different places, or is the immigrant population…

March 10th, 2010

You’re out with your friends on a Friday night and suddenly you notice that one of them has switched from his favorite microbrew to… lemonade? Is it time for Lent already? Giving up something for Lent sometimes evokes head-scratching in non-Catholics, but what might seem like just another Catholic eccentricity can actually be a practice with deep spiritual significance.
Lent, the period of 40 days that precedes the celebration of Easter, has its origin in the early days of the Church. Converts seeking to become Christian, who at that time were mostly adults, spent several years in study and preparation. Under the threat of Roman persecution, becoming a Christian was serious business, so their process of…

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