Sacraments

"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 […]

"Baptism of Christ" (detail) by Perugino

A New Beginning

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 […]

“Christ at 33” (detail) by Hofmann

Speak less, Do more

  When I was a child, I awoke many mornings and found my mother in the kitchen preparing breakfast or folding laundry, while she watched Protestant television evangelists preach the word of God. Some days, I stumbled downstairs to find her curled up on the couch, tears running down her face as she listened to the morning message. I caught […]

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

St. Cyprian and Perspective from Persecution

September 16 is the feast of Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian, two friends from the early Church who were martyred for the faith.  St. Cornelius was elected Pope after the papacy was vacant for almost a year due to Emperor Decius’ persecution of the Christians.  After this time, during a lull in the persecutions, a disagreement arose regarding admitting back to the […]

From Trash to Treasure

It’s that time of year when there is a yard sale dotting every development, when people have cleaned out their trash and are marketing it for whatever they can get, when the hunt for a bargain really kicks in. A few years ago, our family had a yard sale at my mother-in-law’s house. I did my best to avoid coming […]

"Supper at Emmaus" (detail) by Caravaggio

Practical Suggestions for Spiritual Growth

What Life’s All About When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them sanctifying grace, that is, they were able to partake in the Divine Nature—they had a share of the Divine Life in their souls. They had no right to this grace; it was freely given them by God. They also were granted what is referred to as the […]

"Jesus Opens the Eyes of the Man Born Blind" (detail) by Duccio

What We Can Learn from the Healing of the Man Born Blind

In St. John’s Gospel, there is the account of the healing of the man born blind (John 9:1-41). It is the sixth of the seven signs recounted by St. John that announce the fulfillment of the Old Covenant in the New Covenant and the passing away of the old rites, replaced by the grace and sacraments of Jesus Christ. It is […]

"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 […]

"Baptism of Christ" (detail) by Perugino

To Begin Anew

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 […]

Pope Francis (neneo / Shutterstock.com)

Six Practical Steps to Catholic Joy this Advent

Here is something to ponder in the remaining days of Advent.  I recently had coffee with a fellow Catholic who gloomily shared his ongoing struggles with overtly living out his faith in the real world and reluctance to discuss his faith with others. He made it clear that going to Mass on Sunday was all he could or should be […]