9 things you need to know about Christmas

12/22/2012 Comments (59)

This is the actual Grotto of the Nativity under the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Why is there so much confusion today about Christmas and what it means?

There's a lot of confusion about Christmas.

Is it a day? Is it a season? Is it based on a pagan holiday? What is its real meaning?

Here are 9 things you should know about Christmas . . .  


1. What is "the real meaning of Christmas"?

Although many voices in pop culture suggest that the true meaning of Christmas is being kind to each other, or being with our families, or something like that, the real meaning of the day--and the season it begins--is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty...READ MORE

Filed under christmas, liturgy, pagan, twelve days

9 Things You Need to Know About Pope Benedict's New Book About Baby Jesus

12/18/2012 Comments (6)

Pope Benedict has a new book about the Baby Jesus. What should you know about it?

Pope Benedict has just released a new book about Jesus Christ.

It's appropriate that he released it now--just before Christmas--because it deals with the birth of Jesus.

It's called Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives.

Here are 9 things you should know about it . . .


1. Why did Pope Benedict write this book?

Originally, before he was elected pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wanted to retire and write a book about his own personal views on Jesus Christ, as he is presented in the gospels. He read many books like this when he was younger, and now he wanted to write his own to help people grow closer to Jesus.

He had even begun working on it in the summer holidays he had...READ MORE

Filed under benedict xvi, infancy narratives, jesus, jesus of nazareth, pope benedict

Pope Benedict on the Mystery of "John the Presbyter"

12/17/2012 Comments (9)

Early Christian writers speak of a mysterious, 1st century figure called "John the Presbyter." Who was he, and why is he significant?

Recently we looked at the claim that Mark derived the information in his Gospel from St. Peter.

This claim dates to a first century source: a figure called "John the Presbyter," who was a disciple of Jesus.

According to some in the early Church--and according to Pope Benedict--we may have already met this mysterious figure in a surprising way.

Here's the story . . .


A John By Any Other Name

As we saw previously (CLICK HERE TO READ PART 1), John the Presbyter was a figure apparently distinct from John the Apostle.

He also goes by different names in English, since the Greek word for "presbyter"--presbuteros--can be translated "elder."

Thus sometimes we read of him as "John...READ MORE

Filed under bible, gospel of mark, gospels, john, john the apostle, john the elder, john the presbyter, mark, pope benedict, pope benedict xvi

Whoa! 1st Century Info About Mark's Gospel!

12/16/2012 Comments (18)

St. Mark is thought to have based his Gospel on what he learned as the companion of St. Peter. Would it surprise you to know that there is a 1st century source that says exactly this?

It is traditionally held that Mark wrote his gospel based on information he learned from St. Peter, after having been his travelling companion.

Where does this claim come from?

And would it surprise you to know that we have a first century source that claims precisely this?

Here's the story . . .


What We Know About Mark 

We know that Mark was a travelling companion of Peter, because Peter mentions the fact in his First Epistle (1 Peter 5:13).

We also know that Mark was a travelling companion of other apostles, including Paul and Barnabas, which Luke discussed in Acts.

Mark may have even been an eyewitness of part of Jesus' earthly ministry. It is often thought that he...READ MORE

Filed under church history, evangelists, gospel, mark

Why Did Joseph Plan to Divorce Mary?

12/11/2012 Comments (23)

God sent an angel to convince St. Joseph not to divorce Mary. But why was he planning to divorce her in the first place?

Matthew tells us that when "Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly."

Why did Joseph intend to divorce Mary?

The view that suggests itself to most people is that Joseph thought Mary had been unfaithful to him.

But there is another theory: that Joseph knew the Child had been conceived "of the Holy Spirit" and so Joseph was afraid to take Mary as his wife.

What are we to make of this issue?

And what does Pope Benedict have to say in his new book, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives?


What Did...READ MORE

Filed under benedict xvi, bible, jesus of nazareth, joseph, mary, virgin birth

8 Things You Need to Know About the Immaculate Conception

12/05/2012 Comments (35)

Dec. 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. What is the Immaculate Conception and how do we celebrate it?

This Saturday, December 8th, is the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It celebrates an important point of Catholic teaching, and it is a holy day of obligation.

Here are 8 things you need to know about the teaching and the way we celebrate it.


1. Who does the Immaculate Conception refer to?

There's a popular idea that it refers to Jesus' conception by the Virgin Mary.

It doesn't.

Instead, it refers to the special way in which the Virgin Mary herself was conceived.

This conception was not virginal. (That is, she had a human father as well as a human mother.) But it was special and unique in another way. . . .


2. What is the Immaculate Conception?

The Catechism of...READ MORE

Filed under immaculate conception, liturgy, mary

Pope's Twitter Handle: What Does "Pontifex" Mean, Anyway?

12/03/2012 Comments (7)

The Emperor Augustus was a "pontifex maximus." So how did that become a term for the pope?

Recently it was announced that Pope Benedict's new Twitter handle is @pontifex.

Why did he pick this name, and what does it mean, anyway?

The word's origin is more surprising than you might think!


Other Possible Names

Pope Benedict might have picked other names. Some plausible ones include:

  • @pope
  • @popebenedict
  • @popebenedictxvi
  • @benedictxvi
  • @popebenedict16

Why didn't he pick any of these?

I would suggest two reasons.


Some May Already Be Taken

People have already been using some of the plausible papal Twitter handles, and Twitter does not easily reassign such names.

That's why my own Twitter handle is @JimmyAkin3000 (Click here to follow me)....READ MORE

Filed under

VIDEO: Unborn babies struggle in womb!

12/01/2012 Comments (11)

Jacob and Esau struggled in the womb. Now new video shows what this looked like.

According to Genesis, Jacob and Esau struggled with each other while they were still in the womb.

Apparently, it was quite a struggle!

Many women pregnant with twins have experienced the same thing, but now we have motion video of unborn children doing just this.

Here's the story . . . and the video.


Jacob and Esau

First, here's the biblical story of Jacob and Esau:

Genesis 25

21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.

22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 The Lord said to...READ MORE

Filed under abortion, babies, genesis, pro-life, unborn

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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."