9 things to know and share about Ash Wednesday

02/17/2015 Comments (4)

Here are 9 things to know and share about Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday is upon us again!

Here are 9 things you need 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:

...READ MORE

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9 things you need to know about Lent

02/16/2015 Comments (5)

Lent is about to start. Do you know what you need to know?

This week the liturgical season of Lent begins.

Here are nine things you need to know about it . . .

 

1. What is Lent?

According to the Universal Norms for the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar [.pdf]:

27. Lent [is a liturgical season that] is ordered to preparing for the celebration of Easter, since the lenten liturgy prepares for celebration of the paschal mystery both catechumens, by the various stages of Christian initiation, and the faithful, who recall their own Baptism and do penance.

 

2. Where does the word "Lent" come from?

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

The Teutonic word Lent, which we employ to denote the forty days' fast preceding Easter, originally...READ MORE

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Intellectual dishonesty and the "Seamless Garment" argument

01/25/2015 Comments (75)

Why did Cardinal Muller accuse some theologians and Catholic politicians of "intellectual dishonesty"?

"The image of the 'seamless garment' has been used by some theologians and Catholic politicians, in an intellectually dishonest manner."

That’s a sentiment that many Catholics, particularly in the pro-life movement, have expressed.

What’s significant about this expression of the sentiment is the person who uttered it: the pope’s own doctrinal watchdog.

Here are 11 things to know and share . . . 

 

1) What is the “seamless garment” argument?

It’s the claim that Catholic teaching on life is like a seamless garment, so that if you accept one part of it, you need to accept it all.

This is sometimes referred to as having a “consistent ethic of life."

...READ MORE

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St. Paul and the Liar’s Paradox

01/24/2015 Comments (4)

Should people disrespect St. Paul about the Liar's Paradox or are they fundamentally misinterpreting what he said?

Back when I was a philosophy student, I had a fondness for logical paradoxes.

One of the most famous is the Liar’s Paradox, which takes different forms, like:

  • I am lying.
  • This sentence is false.

This paradox is particularly useful for talking androids to death in the Star Trek universe, though it has less immediate practical value in our own.

It’s a fun paradox, but I get tired of people dissing St. Paul over it.

Let’s talk about that . . .

 

People diss St. Paul over it?

Yeah. You see, sometimes people say that one version of the paradox is called the Epimenides Paradox, after a guy who lived around 600 B.C.

St. Paul quotes him, and some commentators claim that St. Paul didn’t...READ MORE

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More on the Evangelists Not Making Stuff Up

01/10/2015 Comments (59)

What evidence do we have that the authors of the four Gospels didn't feel free to simply make stuff up about Jesus?

Just a quick note on the reliability of the Gospels.

I’ve written before about the fact that the Evangelists did not feel free to simply make stuff up about Jesus.

One of the signs of that is the fact that, despite the fact that St. Paul’s letters were extremely influential in the early Church and though they generally predate the Gospels, we don’t find the four Evangelists lifting statements from St. Paul and attributing them to Jesus.

Neither, in fact, do we find the Jesus of the Gospels interacting with many of the controversies that characterize the period in which the epistles were written.

 

Some Examples

Evangelical scholar Michael F. Bird makes the point well when he writes:

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Christmas, Xmas, and Yuletide: 5 things to know and share

12/18/2014 Comments (23)

Where does the word "Christmas" come from? Is "Xmas" okay? What about "Yuletide"?

A reader writes:

Jimmy could you please tell us about the origin of the word "Christmas? What did the first Christians call what we today know as Christmas?

Is writing X'mas okay? As in today's language X means “nothing.” I know that X is the 22nd letter of Greek alphabet known as chi. This chi is the first part of the word chirios or expanded to Christos, which means to anoint.

Thus we say that Christos & Messiah are the same. We accept Christos, why not Messiah? Just because St Paul called Jesus Christ?

Also Yuletide? Since Yule is a pagan rather a Gentile term for winter solstice in the northern regions, and a period dedicated to Saturnalia, how come we Christians have adopted this...READ MORE

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Zechariah’s mysterious vision in the Temple: 10 things to know and share

12/17/2014 Comments (6)

Luke tells us some very interesting things about a mysterious vision that Zechariah had in the temple. Here are 10 things to know and share . . .

The Gospel reading for December 19 contains the familiar story of Zechariah in the temple.

You can read it here.

It is the occasion when the Angel Gabriel appears to him to announce the birth of John the Baptist.

Although the story is familiar, there are some fascinating details in this account, and their significance is not obvious.

Let’s take a look.

Here are 10 things to know and share . . .

 

1. When did this event take place?

Luke begins his narrative "in the days of Herod, king of Judea," by which he means Herod the Great.

When precisely Herod the Great ruled is disputed. According to a theory introduced a little more than a century ago, Herod reigned from 37 B.C. to 4 B.C.

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Did Pope Francis say animals go to heaven?

12/13/2014 Comments (208)

You know how Pope Francis said animals go to heaven? Guess what. He didn't! Here are 7 things to know and share . . .

The news networks are abuzz with stories saying that Pope Francis has said pets go to heaven.

They’ve even “helpfully” noted how this contrasts with the position of his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

But the thing is . . . the whole story is false.

Here are 7 things to know and share . . .

 

1) What is being claimed?

Among other things:

Pope Francis has declared that all animals go to heaven during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square.

The Pope made these remarks after he received two donkeys as early Christmas presents. During his discussion, Pope Francis quoted the apostle Paul as he comforted a child who was mourning the death of his dog.

Francis quoted Paul’s remarks as, “One...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 a Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to This Rock magazine, and a weekly guest on "Catholic Answers Live."