Religion and Spirituality

Sometimes, Catholics get stuck… Some get stuck on their “Sunday obligation” — which is the minimum commitment and they think that’s all that’s required. Others get stuck on religious rules and regulations and think if they just mind their manners they’ll be just fine with the Lord. Others get stuck on doctrine and dogma and liturgical regulations and think if […]

Encounters with Angels

"Guardian Angel" (detail) by Pietro da Cortona

A visit to the local bookstore will reveal a whole shelf of books on angel encounters, angel channeling, and angelology. There’s even a book called The Physics of Angels which tries to blend quirky physics theories with the theology of St Thomas Aquinas. A quick look at the books on offer make you realize that the New Age understanding of angels stretches […]

Irrationality and Infallibility

St. Peter's Basilica at Night (and Ponte Sant Angelo over the Tiber)

Not too long ago I spoke with yet another Protestant minister who is about to leave his ministry and join the Catholic Church. He said he ended up in this situation because he had a seminary professor who kept challenging his students to, “Think it through.” He tried to think through his opposition to Catholicism because he had a parishioner […]

True Grit and the Sacred Heart of Jesus

"Sacred Heart of Jesus" (detail) by Chambers

As a convert to the Catholic faith it took me a while to appreciate the Sacred Heart of Jesus devotion. To tell the truth, it seemed kind of sappy, sentimental and well… French. All hearts and flowers and perfume – almost like a Valentine from Jesus. Yucch. Then I learned about St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and realized that she, like […]

I’ll Forgive You If…

"Return of the Prodigal Son" (detail) by Murillo

Have you ever held back from forgiving someone because they hadn’t met your conditions? That happened to me once. I inadvertently offended someone and I sincerely apologized three times. I noticed that the person did not accept my apology or offer forgiveness. I finally said, “You know, I have now apologized to you three times very sincerely. I really am […]

Are the Gospel Stories a Myth?

"Christ and the Woman of Samaria" (detail) by Paolo Veronese

One of the most common pronouncements by the atheists is that “Christianity is a myth.” When they say “myth” what they mean is “fairy tale” or “silly story everyone knows is untrue.” They use the term “myth” to indicate a funny story about gods and goddesses that simple people made up long ago. When they say “myth” what they really […]

The Great Cloud of Witnesses

"All Saints" by Fra Angelico

When I was a Protestant I wondered why Catholics had so many statues of saints in their churches. There were two problems. First, I had been raised to believe that carved images were wrong because they broke the commandment “you shall not make to yourself any graven image.” Second, I was told that Catholics worshipped the saints, and sure enough, […]

Doubts and Difficulties

"The Incredulity of Saint Thomas" (detail) by Caravaggio

I’m glad doubting Thomas is a saint because gives us permission to question our faith. While we call him Doubting Thomas it might be better to call him Difficult Thomas or “Thomas who  had difficulties”. There is a difference between a doubt and a difficulty. Blessed John Henry Newman wrote, “Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.” When we […]

Rapture or Rupture

Photography © by Randy Hain

Last December, the Rev. Harold Camping, who predicted the second coming of Christ several times, finally got to meet Christ. Before his death’ he had predicted the end in May 2011. When it didn’t happen’ his followers didn’t experience the rapture, but they did experience a rupture–in their belief system. I was brought up in a fundamentalist church that followed […]

These Two Commandments…

"Charity of St. Elizabeth of Hungary" (detail) by Edmund Blair Leighton

When Jesus was asked which of the commandments was most important he replied that we should love God and love our neighbor, and he added that on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. He might have added that on these two things hang everything that matters to everyone everywhere. Most importantly, it is the love of […]