9 things you need to know about Ash Wednesday

02/11/2013 Comments (17)

Ash Wednesday is February 13th this year. Do you know what you need to about it?

Of course, the big news in the Catholic world is that Pope Benedict is renouncing his office (here are some thoughts on that).

At the same time, Ash Wednesday is coming up.

And, in fact, Ash Wednesday--and Lent in general--is a good time to pray for Pope Benedict and the upcoming conclave.

Here are 9 things you need to know about Ash Wednesday.


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...READ MORE

Filed under ash wednesday, lent, liturgical year, liturgy

9 things you need to know about Lent

02/09/2013 Comments (9)

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,...READ MORE

Filed under abstinence, ash wednesday, fast, fasting, lent, liturgical year, liturgy, meat

When was the book of Revelation written?

02/06/2013 Comments (10)

The four horsemen of the Apocalypse (Rev. 6)

Most scholars today think that the book of Revelation was written around the year A.D. 95, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian.

Historically, though, many thought it was written earlier than that, and there is a surprisingly strong case that the book was written in the late A.D. 60s or the early part of A.D. 70. Let's take a quick look at the evidence . . .


"Five Are Fallen"

In Revelation 17, John sees a vision of the Who­re of Babylon seated on the beast with seven heads, and he is told:

[9] This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; [10] they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other...READ MORE

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How are the gospel authors different?

02/04/2013 Comments (5)

The evangelists Mark and Luke both speak from their own perspectives, which helps better express the complex truth about Jesus.

While they may agree about the facts of Jesus' life, the authors of the four gospels have different interests and perspectives.

Matthew has a particular interest in Jewish concerns, Luke has a particular interest in Gentile concerns, etc.

But sometimes the differences between them come out in more personal ways.

Tuesday's gospel reading contains a particularly striking illustration of that.


Mark on Doctors

Tuesday's Gospel reading contains the passage from Mark 5 dealing with the woman with the flow of blood. You know, the one who is healed by sneaking up and touching Jesus' clothing.

In Mark's account of the event, we read:

And there was a woman who had had a flow of...READ MORE

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What's happening at the Presentation of the Lord?

01/30/2013 Comments (7)

40 days after his birth, Christ was presented at the temple. Why?

Later this week the Church celebrates the Presentation of the Lord.

It's a feast that happens every year on February 2nd.

We read about the presentation of the Lord in Luke 2, but the text can be a little mysterious.

What is actually happening there?

Some claim that Luke himself didn't know . . .


What Luke Says

Here is what Luke actually says about the event . . .

[22] And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord [23] (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") [24] and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said...READ MORE

Filed under february 2, liturgical year, mary, presentation, presentation of the lord, purification, temple

If you're sick, does that mean you don't have enough faith in God?

01/27/2013 Comments (2)

Can you receive medical treatment when you're sick? Or does that indicate a lack of faith?

According to some Christians, we shouldn't ever be sick. If we ever are sick, it represents a failure on our part.

We haven't had enough faith, they may say, for if we had perfect faith, God would heal us.

Some would see going to the doctor as a sign of bad or weak faith.

It would be nice if we could be healed, instantly, of any sickness or infirmity.

It would also be a great evangelization tool, if people saw Christians never got sick.

But the fact is that God allows sickness in our lives.

In fact, I've been sick for the last week with a bad cold, but I'm feeling better.

At least I'm feeling enough better to make this video, and I thought I'd to one about sickness.


Filed under doctor, faith, hospital, illness, medicine, nurse, sickness

8 Things You Need to Know About St. Paul and His Conversion

01/23/2013 Comments (20)

Paul was converted when Christ appeared to him. What should you know about St. Paul and his conversion?

This Friday, the Church celebrates the conversion of St. Paul.

Here are eight things you need to know about him--and his conversion.


1. Where was St. Paul from?

In Acts 21:39, St. Paul states:

"I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city."

Tarsus was the capital city of the Roman province of Cilicia. This is on the southeast coast of modern Turkey, so St. Paul was not from the holy land. He was actually a Jew born in what is now Turkey.

It was a port city and a noted commercial center. For these reasons, and because it was the capital, he can describe it as "no mean city" (that is, no common, ordinary city). It was famous.

One of the things it was...READ MORE

Filed under bible, conversion of st. paul, liturgical year, paul, st. paul

Will we have free will in heaven?

01/20/2013 Comments (52)

Will we have free will in heaven?

Will we have free will in heaven?

If so, does that mean we might sin and fall again?

If not, what kind of free will would we have there?

And if God can harmonize our free will and sinlessness in heaven, why doesn't he do so in this life?

Here are some thoughts . . .


A Robot "Loves" Me. Big Deal.

NOTE: This is part of a series on the problem of evil. Click here to read the previous posts in the series.

In a previous post, we looked at a common answer to the problem of evil--that God allows sin and the suffering it causes to exist because the only way to eliminate them would be to eliminate free will.

Without free will, according to this view, something important would...READ MORE

Filed under free will, heaven, problem of evil

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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."