By Arielle Hawkins, CNN
Here's the Belief Blog’s morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and around the world. Click the headlines for the full stories.
From the Blog:
A statue of the Archangel Gabriel stands on a 36 metre high Corithian Column in Budapest's Heroes' square.
CNN: Author Lorna Byrne: I see angels
Are there really angels among us? Lorna Byrne claims she’s been able to see angels since she was a child. The Irish-born author of the international best-seller “Angels in My Hair” says guardian angels watch over believers and nonbelievers alike all the time.
CNN: Las Posadas: Joseph and the Virgin Mary travel in Maryland
Guitars strummed and the cheerful voices of young and old sang “Feliz Navidad” as people in the streets cheered the birth of Christ with Spanish lyrics and upbeat rhythms in Oakview, a neighborhood in Silver Spring. Though it wasn’t immediately apparent, these members of St. Camillus Church weren’t caroling, but were celebrating the Central American Catholic tradition of Las Posadas. The celebration comes just as the world celebrates the birth of Jesus on Tuesday.
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Photos of the Day:
Foud Twal, the Latin Patriarch of the Holy Land, holds the Baby Jesus in Saint Catherine's Church at the end of the Christmas Midnight Mass and walks in procession to the 'Grotto', where Christians believe the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, in the adjacent Church of the Nativity on December 25, 2012 in Bethlehem, West Bank. Thousands of pilgrims made their way to the Church of the Nativity this week to worship at the sacred site believed to be the birthplace of Jesus.
Reuters: Pakistan’s loneliest church celebrates Christmas in Taliban territory
This Christmas, Pastor Nazir Alam will stoke up a fire, lay a fresh cloth on the altar and welcome parishioners as they arrive at his church in Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal area known as an al-Qaeda haven. “The lights are all up, and the choir boys are ready. The church is looking its best,” said 60-year-old Alam, a former missionary who has celebrated his last ten Christmases there. “There’s not much left to do but to pray and rejoice.”
Religion News Service: Ask the Experts: Christmas Questions Edition
Religion is a vast territory, and it’s always nice to find fellow travelers. Even better, a guide. With that in mind, we’re starting a new feature here at RNS called “Ask the Experts.” The idea is, readers like you send in questions about theology, history, literature, or any topic related to religion, and we’ll contact scholars to find out the answers.
New York Times: Illinois Clergy Members Support Same-Sex Marriage in Letter Signed by 260
More than 250 religious leaders in Illinois have signed an open letter in support of same-sex marriage, which the legislature is likely to take up in January. This is not the first time members of the clergy have endorsed same-sex marriage, but the public nature of the letter and the number of signatures made it an especially strong statement.
Quote of the Day:
So Christ is our peace, and he proclaimed peace to those far away and to those near at hand (cf. Eph 2:14, 17). How could we now do other than pray to him: Yes, Lord, proclaim peace today to us too, whether we are far away or near at hand. Grant also to us today that swords may be turned into ploughshares (Is 2:4), that instead of weapons for warfare, practical aid may be given to the suffering. Enlighten those who think they have to practise violence in your name, so that they may see the senselessness of violence and learn to recognize your true face. Help us to become people “with whom you are pleased” – people according to your image and thus people of peace.
– Pope Benedict XVI at Christmas Eve mass at St. Peter's Basilica.
Join the conversation…
The figure of Santa Clause is based on a fourth-century saint, the original St. Nicholas.
CNN: My Take: The Christmas message of the real St. Nicholas
Adam C. English, associate professor of religion at Campbell University and author of "The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of St. Nicholas of Myra," discusses his quest to learn the truth about St. Nicholas and how it led him to Italy’s Adriatic coast.