What does science say about the darkness during the Crucifixion?

03/20/2016 Comments (26)

What does science suggest about the darkness that occurred during Jesus' Crucifixion?

What does science say about the darkness during the Crucifixion?

This Sunday I winced when we got to the following line in the Gospel reading:

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun (Luke 23:44-45).

“An eclipse of the sun”? Really? Surely the translators of the New American Bible, which we hear at Mass, didn’t render the passage that way!

But they did.


Here’s why I had the reaction I did . . .


How the Moon Works

Luna—or “the moon” (as anyone who’s ever lived there calls it)—orbits the earth every 29.5 days. It also rotates on its axis once every 29.5 days.

That’s not a bizarre coincidence....READ MORE

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Palm (Passion) Sunday: 9 Things to Know and Share!

03/17/2016 Comment

Why is Jesus' entry into Jerusalem so important? What is going on here?

Palm Sunday--or is it Passion Sunday?--marks the beginning of Holy Week.

This day commemorates not one but two very significant events in the life of Christ.

Here are 9 things you need to know.


1. What is this day called?

The day is called both "Palm Sunday" and "Passion Sunday."

The first name comes from the fact that it commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when the crowd had palm branches (John 12:13).

The second name comes from the fact that the narrative of the Passion is read on this Sunday (it otherwise wouldn't be read on a Sunday, since the next Sunday is about the Resurrection).

According to the main document on the celebration of the feasts connected with...READ MORE

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The Scandal of "Preachy Prayers"

03/06/2016 Comments (13)

Have you ever felt someone was trying to manipulate you by what they were praying on your behalf?

Have you ever felt someone was preaching at you under the guise of praying to God?

Did it turn you off?

Make you feel manipulated?

You were right.


That We May What?

Many dioceses are currently conducting their annual Catholic appeal for various diocesan needs.

Fine. They need to do that.

But the way this works out at the parish level can leave something to be desired.

For example, at St. Nameless the Ambiguous’s Parish they’ve been having an entry in the prayers of the faithful which goes like this:

Petition: That we may respond generously to the annual Catholic appeal . . .

Response: Lord, hear our prayer.

I cringe when I hear this—and other prayers like it


“Preachy...READ MORE

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Why Are the Gospels Called “Gospels”?

02/22/2016 Comments (13)

Why do we call the New Testament biographies of Jesus "Gospels"? There's a surprising reason you may never have heard . . .

God may have created man in his image, but there is a well-known tendency among biblical scholars to re-create Jesus in their own image.

The tendency is particularly notable among skeptical scholars, who feel more free than their conservative counterparts to dismiss or discount Gospel passages that don’t fit their theories.

In writing books on the life of Jesus, they can select, filter, and interpret evidence in a way that allows them to find the kind of Jesus they want—often one that is an idealized form of their own self-image.

Thus a Marxist scholar might read the Gospels and discover a Jesus who is a proto-Marxist revolutionary martyr that led a peasant uprising and fell afoul of the...READ MORE

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Pope Francis Speaks on Hot-Button Issues: 9 Things to Know and Share

02/19/2016 Comments (29)

Pope Francis addressed a series of hot-button issues in a press conference. Here are 9 things to know and share . . .

During his plane flight back to Rome from Mexico, Pope Francis gave an interview in which he touched on a number of hot button issues.

Here are 9 things to know and share


1) What issues did he address, and where can I read the interview as a whole?

The issues included:

  • What the Church is doing to combat pedophilia by priests.
  • Immigration proposals attributed to Donald Trump
  • His meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill
  • Civil unions for homosexuals in Italy
  • Whether abortion and contraception might be used by women with the Zika virus
  • Administering Communion to those who have divorced and civilly remarried without an annulment

He said more than I can comment on in a...READ MORE

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9 Things to Know and Share About Ash Wednesday

02/08/2016 Comments (5)

Ash Wednesday is upon us, and Lent is about to begin. Here are 9 things to know and share . . .

Ash Wednesday is upon us again!

Here are 9 things to know and share . . .


1. What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is the day that Lent begins (see: 9 things you need to know about Lent).

The name comes from the fact that a particular rite is always celebrated on this Wednesday in which the faithful have ashes put on their foreheads.

According to the Roman Missal:

In the course of today’s Mass, ashes are blessed and distributed.

These are made from the olive branches or branches of other trees that were blessed the previous year [on Palm/Passion Sunday].


2. What does the putting on of ashes symbolize?

According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy:

125. In the...READ MORE

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Nazareth Residents: Who Does Jesus Think He Is?

02/02/2016 Comments (4)

James Tissot (1836-1902), “Jesus Unrolls the Scroll in the Synagogue”

Jesus meets an incredulous group of people from his home town in this Wednesday’s Gospel reading (Mark 6:1-6).

It’s a fascinating text, and it has a surprising number of interesting details.

Let’s take a look . . .


What Happened?

First, here’s the text itself:

He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him.

And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here...READ MORE

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Bart Ehrman Botches a Source

01/17/2016 Comments (9)

It pays to check your sources!--a lesson Bart Ehrman should take to heart.

Bart Ehrman is a smart guy, but he sometimes handles his sources in the most frustrating and misleading manner.

For example, in his book Did Jesus Exist? (where he is on the right side for once), he writes:

Several significant studies of literacy have appeared in recent years showing just how low literacy rates were in antiquity.

The most frequently cited study is by Columbia professor William Harris in a book titled Ancient Literacy (footnote 6).

By thoroughly examining all the surviving evidence, Harris draws the compelling though surprising conclusion that in the very best of times in the ancient world, only about 10 percent of the population could read at all and possibly copy out...READ MORE

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About Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin
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Jimmy was born in Texas, grew up nominally Protestant, but at age 20 experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, he started an intensive study of the Bible. But the more he immersed himself in Scripture the more he found to support the Catholic faith. Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church. His conversion story, "A Triumph and a Tragedy," is published in Surprised by Truth. Besides being an author, Jimmy is the Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to Catholic Answers Magazine, and a weekly guest on "Catholic Answers Live."