Can a Catholic Have a Personal Relationship with Jesus?

11/02/2011 Comments (18)

We have our deacons and our religious directors, our priests and bishops and our cardinals … and our pope. We have confession, the Eucharist, penance, indulgences, litanies and prayers repetitively prayed to Christ’s mother. Yet, what of Christ? As our protestant brothers and sisters contend, has the Catholic Church inserted a bloated bureaucracy of man-made religious practices between Christ and his people? 

In contradistinction, our Protestant brothers and sisters — especially evangelicals — speak of a personal relationship with Christ as the primary mark of the faith. There is no mountain of rituals populated by ecclesial bureaucrats.  They speak of a certain sweet simplicity. It is...READ MORE

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The Godless Delusion - Putting Atheism on the Defensive

10/27/2011 Comments (11)

Step into their world, turn it inside out, and show it to be wanting. Catholic apologetics? More like a battle plan for Catholic polemics. Whether it is war or tennis, the aggressor sets the tempo of the engagement. The defender must constantly react to his opponent’s moves, and if he fails to reclaim the offensive, he is stuck in a tiring and vulnerable position.

There are many good books handling the questions the new militant atheism lobs at Catholicism; however, how many books actually put atheism on the defensive? How many step into the principles of atheism and show that, even by their own standards, they falter? I am pleased to note that two thinkers have effectively taken up...READ MORE

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Crossing the Tiber With the Help of Sts. Simon & Jude

10/25/2011 Comment

We will be celebrating the feast of the Apostles Sts. Simon and Jude this Friday. The knowledge the Church possesses regarding these saints is sparse, save a few life details and the epistle attributed to St. Jude. However, even where there is minimal knowledge, the Church can glean great wisdom. For this task, we turn to Pope Benedict XVI’s treatment of these saints in his work The Apostles, published by OSV.

St. Simon

St. Simon is the patron saint of curriers, sawmen, sawyers and tanners. He is often depicted with mundane objects, such as fish or a boat, or as a man being sawn in half. Scripture refers to him as the “Cananean” and the “Zealot.” In illuminating the etymology of these...READ MORE

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A Note on Orphans and Hell

10/20/2011 Comments (16)

Consider the following Old Testament reading from this upcoming Sunday:

“You shall not molest or oppress an alien,
for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.
You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.
If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me,
I will surely hear their cry.
My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword;
then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans.”

As a general rule, any time “thus saith the Lord,” contains the phrase “I will kill you with the sword,” I listen. The question is this: What is it that could stir God himself to such violent words?

Holy Scripture is quite clear:
“He who oppresses a poor man insults...READ MORE

Filed under catholic, hell, orphans

Even Saints Need Spiritual Direction

10/14/2011 Comments (17)

François Pascal Simon, Baron Gérard

When Alonso Sanchez de Capeda decided to raise his daughter in a pious Catholic household, he did not anticipate his child of seven would run away in hopes of being martyred by the Moors. This event in the life of the young St. Teresa of Avila revealed two concepts that would color her entire life: She would have an unquenchable thirst to love and serve God, and she would be in need of spiritual direction.

Our use of athletic metaphors to explain spiritual concepts is almost as old as the Church herself. St. Paul exhorted us to run the race of life as to win and to attain the imperishable prize of eternal life. Yet, how many times do we find ourselves suffering from spiritual atrophy?...READ MORE

Filed under benedict xvi, mysticism, pope benedict xvi, prayer, saint teresa of avila, spiritual direction

Of Rosaries and Wars

10/06/2011 Comments (6)

On October 7th 1571 the Catholic Holy League of Europe met the invading naval power of the Ottoman Empire, and over 400 ships and 100,000 men fought on seas of western Greece. In what some historians describe as the most significant naval battle since the birth of Christ, a politically fractured Europe – led by the illegitimate son of Emperor Charles V, Don John of Austria – stood as the last line of hope against a full-scale Ottoman invasion of southern Europe.
The great British rhetorician and apologist G.K. Chesterton penned the poem of Lepanto in honor of the decisive victory. In part:

Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,

Filed under bookmark, crusades, don john of austria, fr. peter cameron, islam, lepanto, pope pius v, prayer, religious freedom, rosary

The Straw Man Massacre: God and Science

10/03/2011 Comments (15)

With a sweat-beaded face and an urgent tone, the pastor slams his Bible down and denounces the evils of science: Whether it be Godless geological studies that claim the Earth is older than 6,000 years or evolutionary theories that dethrone the Creator God, modern science is a threat to the Christian faith!

In response, a “new atheism” has emerged. Holding high the banner of this evangelical anti-theism, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins use modern science and their characteristically British rhetorical skills to mock, expose and systematically dismiss these fundamentalist Christian arguments. Armed with a literal biblical interpretation on one side and a myopic view of scientific...READ MORE

Filed under atheism, catholic, christopher hitchens, creation, faith, faith and reason, father robert spitzer, magis institute, proof of god, richard dawkins

Finding Father Barron

09/30/2011 Comments (8)

Finding Father Robert Barron these days is an easy task. This is good news for those who love the Church, and good news for those on the outside wondering if they should step in, or even back in as the case may be. Whether it be books, radio, DVDs, or television, Father Barron’s seemingly ubiquitous voice has been called “one of the Church’s best messengers” by Cardinal Francis George. With a nimble intellect and loving heart, Father Barron has given the faithful an arsenal of catechetical material. However, now he presents the Catholic faithful and a searching world a landmark production on a scale and quality rivaled only by Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Father Barron’s...READ MORE

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About Dan Burke

Dan Burke
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Dan Burke is an award winning author, speaker, regular voice on Register Radio, the Executive Director of the National Catholic Register and founder of the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation. Dan has appeared on EWTN's Journey Home program, blogs on the spiritual life over at Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction and his latest book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God is available through EWTN's Religious Catalogue. Dan's journey began in Judaism, matured into a living relationship with Christ as a Protestant, and after fifteen years of exploration has found his home in the Catholic Church.