Liturgy & Sacraments

"St. Ambrose" by Matthias Stom

Musing on the Teeth of St. Ambrose

I write these words from Milan, Italy, where I am with my Word on Fire team filming new episodes for our Pivotal Players series. I’ve seen lots of marvelous things on this trip, including the ruins of the ancient baptistery under the Milan Cathedral where, in the spring of 387, St. Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose. But the most […]

"Saint Peter Preaching the Gospel in the Catacombs" by Jan Styka [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How to Preach Like the Apostles

I have always loved the Acts of the Apostles and have often recommended it to those who are approaching the Bible for the first time. Filled with colorful narratives, adventure, martyrdom, persecution, journeys by sea, etc., it makes for stimulating reading indeed. But I love it especially because it shows us the excitement of being a follower of Jesus. Long […]

"The Marriage at Cana" by Gaetano Gandolfi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Bride and Groom; The Bride and Groom

Two weeks ago, I had the great good pleasure of presiding at the wedding of my niece, Bryna. She has been, all her life, a lovely girl, full of joy and good cheer—and eager to give herself in service to others. Her husband, Nelson, is also a fine person, and he took the courageous step of becoming a Catholic in […]

Mission Dolores Altar (San Francisco) Photograph © by Andy Coan

Silence and the Meaning of the Mass

Robert Cardinal Sarah’s recent book The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise explores a number of themes both theological and spiritual, all centering around the unhappy role that noise has come to play in our culture and more specifically in the Church. His observations are most trenchant in regard to the liturgy, which should come as no great […]

Cathedral of Christ the King – Atlanta Photography © by Andy Coan

Jesus—The Living Bread That Came Down From Heaven

The Altar of Sacrifice The Altar of Sacrifice on which the Lord redeemed us is His Cross on Calvary, lifted up nearly 2,000 years ago. Jesus has made it possible for that “once for all sacrifice” to be present to us in our day and where we are… no matter when and where that is. To be at Holy Mass […]

"Supper at Emmaus" (detail) by Caravaggio

The Feast that is the Sacraments

Four elements stand out in the traditional Catholic doctrine of what a sacrament is. Fundamentalism is suspicious of all four. A sacrament is “a sign that effects what it signifies, instituted by Christ to give grace.” 1. Sacraments are signs and symbols. Fundamentalism is temperamentally wary of symbolism. It has a plain, “no-nonsense” mentality. Symbols are too poetic for its […]

"Adoration of the Shepherds" (detail) by Murillo

Learning from the Shepherds at Midnight Mass

This message, indeed, “cannot leave us indifferent.” Because it is true, “it changes everything.” There is something beautifully symbolic about the tradition of Midnight Mass. It shows that Christians are so eager for Christmas to begin that they want to start celebrating on the first moment of Christmas day. People who ordinarily never go out late at night and are […]

Marriage: The Union of One Woman and One Man

The Essential Nature of Marriage

In Defense of the Sacraments of Service—Marriage and Holy Orders… Our Vocation In His infinite love and goodness, God created man and woman in freedom to know, love and serve Him in this life and to spend all eternity with Him in the life to come. This call to holiness is our vocation and dignity. “Man is by nature and […]

"The Sermon on the Mount" (detail) Carl Bloch, 1890

To Hear and Receive the Word Proclaimed

In paragraphs 135 – 144 of Evangelii Gaudium, the Holy Father speaks about the importance of the homily within the liturgical celebration. Right off the bat, Pope Francis describes what the homily can and should be, “an intense and happy experience of the Spirit, a consoling encounter with God’s word, a constant source of renewal and growth” (¶ 135). In […]

"Supper at Emmaus" (detail) by Caravaggio

The Feast that is the Sacraments

Four elements stand out in the traditional Catholic doctrine of what a sacrament is. Fundamentalism is suspicious of all four. A sacrament is “a sign that effects what it signifies, instituted by Christ to give grace.” 1. Sacraments are signs and symbols. Fundamentalism is temperamentally wary of symbolism. It has a plain, “no-nonsense” mentality. Symbols are too poetic for its […]