Into the Deep

A blog by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff about practical faith for ordinary daily life.

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Five Biblical Truths About Fasting

Last week, I asked the question, “Are you looking for the secret to a better, deeper, more joyful life in Christ?” and responded by exploring the reasons for the Catholic practice of self-denial. We saw that “fasting and other forms of self-denial, as spiritual practices of materially subduing and controlling the physical appetites of the body, helps us, by God’s grace, […]

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

Why Catholics Practice Fast and Abstinence?

Would you like to know the secret to a better, deeper, more joyful life in Christ? Of course you would.  We all would. 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 […]

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

How am I to understand suffering?

One of the things with which we so often struggle is to understand our condition in a fallen world. Each of us, in our own way, has experienced the pain and suffering so often encountered as one journeys through this world on our road to heaven. The road to heaven is a way of suffering and sacrifice; and it leads […]

"Conversion of Saint Paul" (detail) by Caravaggio"Conversion of Saint Paul" (detail) by Caravaggio

Conversion Stories from the Bible

Nearly everyone loves conversion stories. Over the last couple of decades, the conversion stories of people who have entered the Catholic Church have exploded onto the scene in the form of compilations of short stories found in books such as Surprised by the Truth and more detailed accounts such as found in Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home. But no book contains more […]

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The Abortion Culture’s Assault on Innocent Human Life

This is a dark day in the history of the United States of America. Forty-two years ago, on January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States ‘legalized’ abortion on demand and this country has never recovered from the damage inflicted on our moral fiber as tens of millions of children have been sacrificed on the ‘altar of self’ […]

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How to Observe Ordinary Time

Ordinary Time and the Liturgical Seasons The liturgical season of Christmas came to an end with the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord this past Sunday. We have just concluded the first week of Ordinary Time, the longest season of the Church’s liturgical year, which began Monday. Ordinary Time is separated into two parts of the […]

"Baptism of Christ" (detail) by Perugino"Baptism of Christ" (detail) by Perugino

Making All Things New

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Have you ever felt that something you were doing was going so badly that you just wished you could start all over? Or maybe your life is not going that well and you realize that you are just not the person you should be. I would bet that most of us have […]

"The Nativity" (Gerburt Christi detail) by Franz von Rohden"The Nativity" (Gerburt Christi detail) by Franz von Rohden

God has Come in Search of You

We often hear of our search for God, but seldom, if ever hear of God’s search for us—or at least we do not think we do. But, the truth is that God first seeks us out, so that we might seek Him. He thirsts for us, so that we might thirst for Him (cf. CCC nos. 2560-2567). How do we […]

"Madonna and Child" (detail) by Sassoferrato"Madonna and Child" (detail) by Sassoferrato

Is Mary God’s Mother?

Each January 1st (on 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. Some want to know where we can find these teachings in the bible. Some even suggest that Catholics pay […]

"The Holy Family (detail)" by Murillo"The Holy Family (detail)" by Murillo

What You Need to Know to Become a Holy Family

The Feast of the Holy Family celebrates the holiness and joy of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph of Nazareth. It’s place on the liturgical calendar is the Sunday following Christmas, unless Christmas falls on a Sunday. When that occurs, as it did three years ago, the feast is celebrated on Friday, December 30th. Pope Benedict XVI observed […]