Apologetics Corner

Identity — Can What We Do Diminish Who We Are?

"Creation of Adam" (detail) by Michelangelo

This thing about identity—there’s more here than meets the eye, more here than most psychologists talk about, more here than we can understand, and what I’m going to present is more questions than answers. But I think it’s a profound point, so I’ll say it. This point that our very selfhood is by nature unstable and in question, this is […]

Why Do Catholics Abstain from Meat on Fridays and Fast?

"Christ in the Desert (detail)" by Ivan Kramskoy

Our bookstores are filled with books written to help us advance in prayer and the spiritual life. The “secret” we all look for is really no secret at all.  At its heart, the gospel message is one of self-denial and detachment from all things that are obstacles to our growth.  Jesus tells us that if we are to be his […]

What Does the Bible Teach About Fasting?

"Into the Wild" © by Jef Murray—(Click sketch for artist's gallery.)

Lent is fast approaching, so I thought we should revisit self-denial. Fasting and other forms of self-denial, as spiritual practices of materially subduing and controlling the physical appetites of the body, help us, by God’s grace, to enable the soul to more perfectly and freely pray.  This leads to a deeper union with God and thus we become better stewards of the […]

Argument from Pascal’s Wager

"Creation of Adam" (detail) by Michelangelo

Most philosophers think Pascal’s Wager is the weakest of all arguments for believing in the existence of God. Pascal thought it was the strongest. After finishing the argument in his Pensées, he wrote, “This is conclusive, and if men are capable of any truth, this is it.” That is the only time Pascal ever wrote a sentence like that, for […]

New York, Abortion, and a Short Route to Chaos

Art Babych / Shutterstock.com (editorial use only)

t was the celebration that was particularly galling. On the 46th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, signed into law a protocol that gives practically unrestricted access to abortion, permitting the killing of an unborn child up until the moment of delivery. In the wake of the ratification, the legislators and their […]

About Social Justice and Evangelization

"The Parable of the Good Samaritan" (detail) by Jan Wijnants

While I was in Chicago for the Christmas break, I had a wonderful meeting with around thirty young Jesuits, all in their “pre-tertianship” period of formation. This means that these men had already passed through their lengthy education in philosophy and theology and had been involved for some time in a ministry of the Jesuit order. The group I addressed […]

God Chose Mary to be His Mother

"Madonna and Child" (detail) by Sassoferrato

The teaching that Mary is God’s mother was proclaimed to teach us that Jesus is true man AND true God. Each January 1 (the Octave of Christmas), the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.  I receive more comments and questions from non-Catholics, and even some Catholics, about the Church’s Marian practices and teachings than just about any other topic. […]

Our Merciful Mother — Our Lady of Guadalupe

In every approved Marian apparition, Our Lady has a specific mission. Each one reveals a determined and specific message—a unique and necessary goal. In the Anáhuac Valley of Mexico, on a barren hill called Tepeyac, Our Lady of Guadalupe came as a “merciful Mother,” a healer and restorer of all who are broken in body and in spirit. It is […]

The Situation After Baltimore

"Christ Walking on the Waters" (detail) By Julius Sergius Von Klever [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Questions about the state of the process of the reform of the Church in the United States during this second major phase of the clergy sexual abuse crisis have come like a downpour after the meeting of the U.S. bishops in Baltimore November 12-15. This article originally appeared in The Anchor, the weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Fall River, Mass, […]

The Paradigm for Bishop-Led Church Reform

The bishops of the United States are in Baltimore this week for their annual Fall meeting, but this year’s reunion is anything but routine. It will be focused fundamentally, with prayer, penance, and deliberation, on the response to the new wave of sexual abuse scandals; in particular, on how bishops need to be, not part of the problem, but a […]