The Point of Christianity

The characteristic of the modern age is that men concentrate on themselves and what they can and want to do. This and this alone is what life is about. No outside source can guide, command, or coerce us. Man is autonomous. He is only what he makes himself to be, whatever it is. He does … Read more

The Reel Jesus

The image of Christ in the visual arts is a history of reverence, wonder, and controversy. Art historically, one can trace the depiction of Christ from an icon of power and transcendental remoteness to a depiction — especially prevalent in modern times — of Christ as a man of flesh and blood, seemingly more human … Read more

More of You

A mom recently emailed me a complaint. “You never share stories anymore! I always loved your stories.” It’s true that I regularly used to share stories from my real-life experience as a Catholic mom of many children. It turns out that misery really does love company, and the woes of nighttime teething and tantruming toddlers … Read more

Easter in a Time of Scandal

C. S. Lewis remarks somewhere that he heard a woman on a bus once complain that the Christians couldn’t leave well enough alone. Now they were even trying to drag their beliefs into Christmas. I think of that as I watch postmoderns (a people radically innocent of historical knowledge or perspective, for whom the Age … Read more

Tabloid Biblical Archaeology

Quick! Tell me about the three top stories in the most recent copy of the Journal of Biblical Archaeology. Actually, from what I can tell, there is no Journal of Biblical Archaeology, though there is an Australian Journal of Biblical Archaeology. That tells you something about how much most of us pay attention to developments … Read more

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity: Why Does It Matter?

The first thing to note about the perpetual virginity of Mary is that it’s the natural extension of the dogma of the virgin birth. Many modern people assume that, at its core, the virgin birth was basically a stunt. That is, the common modern assumption is that the meaning of Mary’s virginity is pretty much … Read more

Who Were the Wise Men?

Who were the Wise Men? Where did they come from? Where did they go? We do not know. To make sense of the story, we must pay attention to its symbolism. Read in that way, we find that the story has five stages. The magi, whom we also call the wise men, saw; they searched; … Read more

‘Stand Erect and Raise Your Heads’

“What are we coming to? Where will it all end?” Who among us has not heard anxious questions like those, or asked them ourselves? What is going to happen, we ask, in Afghanistan and Iraq? Will the sorely tried people of those tormented countries ever enjoy peace? When will our brave troops be able to … Read more

Give Drink to the Thirsty

A religion that practices baptism is a religion that doesn’t have very rigorous membership requirements. No Herculean feats necessary to prove your mettle. You don’t have to hand your darkest secrets over to the Custodian of the Engrams for him to leverage you into keeping the Inner Secrets of the Organization. No proof is necessary … Read more

The One Hundred and Fifty-Fourth Fish

After Easter, the passage from John 21 about the catch of 153 large fish in the Sea of Galilee comes up a couple of times. The disciples go night fishing. After a fruitless night, the Lord, from the shore, asks: “Have you caught anything?” “Nothing.” “Cast your nets on the right side of the boat.” … Read more

Bishop Slattery on Suffering

Bishop Slattery of Oklahoma was the principal celebrant of a pontifical mass at the national basilica in Washington, D.C., over the weekend, in honor of Benedict’s fifth anniversary as pope. His homily on suffering from that mass has been making the rounds; if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, take a minute … Read more

Marked by the Cross

At about this time last year, I bumped into a friend at the laundromat. My mind was occupied with loaded laundry baskets and grumblings about my broken washing machine, but all that left me the moment my eyes met hers. She was in pain. Her newborn granddaughter, she told me, was gone. There were many … Read more

Blessed Is the Fruit of Thy Womb, Jesus

   Sufferers from Mariaphobic Response Syndrome have certain passages they love to bang away at in order to make sure that nobody thinks Mary is special or anything. Indeed, so zealous is the tendency of some Christians to diminish Mary that some even like to bang away at things Scripture does not say about Mary. … Read more

Faith and the Earthquake

The monster earthquake in Haiti this week wrought unprecedented physical devastation and human misery. The disaster and its aftermath have created a world of pain felt far beyond Haiti — and it may be years before this pain can be fully assuaged. We cannot but empathize with the victims, among whom are neighbors and coworkers … Read more

Finding Gratitude in Difficult Times

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to gather with family, enjoy the sweet aromas of turkey and stuffing, and remember all the things for which we are grateful. But with the recent economic downturn, many people will have their holiday darkened by financial crisis. Families that usually host a lavish Thanksgiving dinner may have to cut … Read more

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Sane people never ask, “Did Michaelangelo cause the statue of David, or was it his chisel? Did Shakespeare cause Hamlet, or was it his pen? Choose!” But for some reason, when the subject turns to evolution, many fundamentalists, both atheist and Christian, completely forget that a thing can have primary and secondary causes. Instead, they … Read more

Our Father

In Luke’s Gospel, the “Our Father,” like so much else in Jesus’ teaching, is occasioned by a request from His disciples: “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples” (Lk 11:1). This should get our attention, because it is typical of Jesus’ method of revelation that, instead of going around announcing, “Hey! I’m … Read more

A Saint for the Rest of Us

On the ancient Appian Way south of Rome, there is a small church with a Latin name: Domine quo vadis (“Lord, where are you going?”). It commemorates a legend beloved of preachers since St. Ambrose, who used it in a sermon in the Milan cathedral. The legend says that during the persecution of Christians by … Read more

‘Who Wants Me Now?’: On the Way to the Kingdom

It’s four o’clock on a Friday afternoon. All the clients have gone home. I am sitting at my desk, sorting papers, mulling over next week’s case list, daring to relax. Suddenly the phone blares, like an alarm mis-set for 2:00 a.m. My startled brain jumps and considers, “Who wants me now?” Here’s what crosses my … Read more

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