Jesus was a Jew. This does not seem like a news flash until we turn away from observing the obvious and begin to talk about Christian discussions of soteriology. If you aren’t familiar with that three dollar word, it basically…
Somebody once said that we Americans honor prophets, not priests. That is, we believe, or at least respect, almost any religious message, as long as the person delivering it claims to base it on some ineffable personal experience of the…
Some of my non-Catholic friends find prayer to the saints ooky. They ask me, "Since when is talking to a bunch of dead guys Christian?" Since biblical times. Consider Moses. He had been a dead guy for several centuries when…
People who are approaching the Bible for the first time may be surprised to discover that the Church offers us only three basic guidelines for reading it. These are: 1. Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the…
My friend (we'll call him Bob) has a problem with the Church's "authoritarianism." In particular, he suspects the Church's creeds. For Bob, they are secret passwords which, if you say them while stupidly bobbing your head "yes," allow you into…
It once seemed perfectly obvious to me that Catholics honored Mary too much. All those feasts, rosaries, icons, statues and whatnot were ridiculously excessive. Yes, the gospel of Luke said something about her being "blessed" and yes I thought her…
Many supposed "theological differences" between Catholics and Evangelicals are, I think, founded in semantics rather than in substantial disagreement. For example, when I was an Evangelical one of the periodic arguments I ran across against Catholic moral theology was that…
If you had collared me before I was Catholic and asked my opinion of Rome’s teaching on artificial contraception, I would have said something like this: “I understand and applaud the Magisterium’s opposition to abortion, since abortion kills people. But…
George Weigel, the biographer of Pope John Paul II, has remarked that one of the most exciting "ticking bombs" of Catholic thought (set to go off sometime in the 21st Century) is John Paul's teaching on the Theology of the…
A while back I guested on a talk radio show and got a call from a man who wanted to know what the "official Catholic teaching" was on (I kid you not) "how much body mass you can lose before…
Many of my Protestant friends are uncomfortable with Lent. "It's all about mortification and self-discipline when we know that the Risen Jesus is joyful and alive!" they say. "We don't need to mortify ourselves to please God. That's why Jesus…
Many Catholics are intimidated by an "Examination of Conscience". But nothing we confess will shock Jesus since he's already perfectly aware of what makes us tick. Rather, Jesus wants us to know what is there in our souls so he…
I'm one of those people who likes to have things reasonably orderly. I like knowing what's going on and why. At the same time, I also recognize that the world is a very strange place and that (according to our…
It's still a jolt for some people to realize this, but the Bible did not fall down out of the sky, leather-bound and gold-monogrammed with the words of Christ in red, in 95 AD. Rather the canon of Christian Scripture…
I think it was Robert Benchley who once said that there were two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don't. Regardless of whether he was right, one…
We Catholics often toss terminology around with the assumption that we all, of course, understand it and agree on its meaning. It is only when somebody (often it seems to be our children) asks "What do you mean by that?"…
Something wonderful is happening. Many of our Evangelical brothers and sisters are beginning to appreciate the ancient Catholic teaching that Sacred Scripture is the written portion, not the totality, of Sacred Tradition given to us by the apostles with the…
Our culture doesn't believe in forgiveness. Not really. Oh, sure, we say we do. But the reality is, we believe in mistakes and excuses. We will go to enormous lengths to explain away sin as a mistake or a psychological…
If you make the Most High your dwelling-- even the LORD, who is my refuge-- then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in…
Most Catholics live and die blissfully unaware that the Church even offers indulgences anymore. (A Catholic friend to whom I mentioned I was writing this article said, "They went out with Vatican II, didn't they?") Practically no Catholic gives much…
Creation is, in a certain sense, one gigantic sacramental created by God, at least in part, in order to communicate his love to us. In her beauty, we see something of the beauty of her Creator; in her vastness, something…
Every Christmas and Easter without fail, Time, Newsweek, and US News and World Report (not to mention a PBS special and a Mysteries of the Bible episode or two) will go looking for Jesus again. For secularist reporters, he has…
When Benedict was elected Pope, a new word was instantly coined on the Internet by Catholics delighted over his election: Ratzenfreude. I must confess I indulged in a bit of Ratzenfreude myself. It was hard not to as the Usual…
The other day, I sternly warned my two year old, Peter, that he must never, ever touch or kick the car door handle. For all he could tell, I was laying out an eternal edict, exalting car door handles above…
If we are serious Catholics, we must recognize that our Faith calls us to acknowledge a much-disliked and disputed doctrine: the Fall. The teaching, in the words of Paul, is that "By one man sin entered into the world, and…
People don't talk much about the deuterocanon these days. The folks who do are mostly Christians, and they usually fall into two general groupings: Catholics — who usually don't know their Bibles very well and, therefore, don't know much about…
Ask any fan of Douglas Adams, "What is the meaning of the universe?" and you will be told: "42". Adams, author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, was an atheist. Indeed, Adams cheerily explains in a last collection of…
It seems, said my friend, that the Church contradicts itself. On the one hand, Catholic teaching declares revelation complete with the close of the apostolic era. Yet consider the canonization of, say, Joan of Arc. It appears a Catholic must…
Many people wonder if any Christian teaching seems more disconnected from "real life" than the doctrine of the Trinity. Yet the truth is that the Trinitarian creeds are the best "real life" map of God we have. Jesus asked, "Who…
As is my custom, I got an email from a total stranger who took time out of her busy day to send the following: Dear Mark, just came from your Website and have some questions. It sounds like you were…
One of the unfortunate effects of human sin and of the weird and fractured borderline between the sacred and the secular in postmodern culture is that the word "tithe" provokes reactions ranging from the skeptic's cry "The whole thing's a…
It has to be one of the strangest things in the world: So many Christians who love Jesus with all their hearts recoil in fear at the mention of His mother's name, while many who do love her find themselves…
All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. (Catechism of…
In 1996, the late Pope John Paul II said it's okay to think God may have used evolution to create the body of the first humans. In other words, he said Catholics may, if they like, believe God formed Adam…