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Several of our editors recently traveled to Middle East. This video gallery shows some of the work being sponsored by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. The feature will grow in the coming months, in the wake of the Synod for the Middle East.

Special Features
Middle East Video Gallery
In Smakiah, the Archbishop of Jordan gave his homily in Arabic, but broke into English to plead the case for understanding the unique culture of his local church. Catholic, after all, is a word for all sorts of cultural traditions.

The Comboni sisters run a small hospital in Kerack City, Jordan. They dream of expanding their dramatically inadequate maternity ward. This 38-bed hospital conducts 4,000 surgeries each year and delivers 1,000 babies! Here, Sr. Allessandra shows a group of journalists the new maternity wing.

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James of the Marche: Meet one of the fathers of the modern pawnshop! 
<p>James was born in the Marche of Ancona, in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. After earning doctorates in canon and civil law at the University of Perugia, he joined the Friars Minor and began a very austere life. He fasted nine months of the year; he slept three hours a night. St. Bernardine of Siena told him to moderate his penances. </p><p>James studied theology with St. John of Capistrano. Ordained in 1420, James began a preaching career that took him all over Italy and through 13 Central and Eastern European countries. This extremely popular preacher converted many people (250,000 at one estimate) and helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His sermons prompted numerous Catholics to reform their lives and many men joined the Franciscans under his influence. </p><p>With John of Capistrano, Albert of Sarteano and Bernardine of Siena, James is considered one of the "four pillars" of the Observant movement among the Franciscans. These friars became known especially for their preaching. </p><p>To combat extremely high interest rates, James established <i>montes pietatis</i> (literally, mountains of charity)--nonprofit credit organizations that lent money at very low rates on pawned objects. </p><p>Not everyone was happy with the work James did. Twice assassins lost their nerve when they came face to face with him. James died in 1476 and was canonized in 1726.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.

The Spirit of Saint Francis

First Sunday of Advent
Before dinner this evening gather your family to bless the Advent wreath and light one purple candle.

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St. Andrew Dung-Lac
Our common faith is our greatest treasure. Join Vietnamese Catholics around the world in honoring this 19th-century martyr.

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