Did the slaughter of the innocents really happen?

12/26/2012 Comments (101)

Matthew records that Herod the Great slaughtered the holy innocents in his efforts to kill Jesus. What evidence do we have for this?

On December 28, the Church commemorates the slaughter of the holy innocents.

These are the baby boys in Bethlehem that Herod the Great had slaughtered in an attempt to kill the Baby Jesus.

But many people today challenge the idea that this ever took place.

"We have no record of it!" they say.

Actually, we do . . .


Who Was Herod the Great?

Herod the Great was the king of Judea at the time Jesus was born.

He had the title "king," but he was not an independent ruler. Instead, he was a client king of the Roman empire who had been named "King of the Jews" by the Roman Senate.

This meant that he was a local ruler who ultimately answered to Rome and who owed his throne to the...READ MORE

Filed under apologetics, bible, dec 28, december 28, herod, holy innocents

How to understand the "Christmas Proclamation"

12/25/2012 Comments (8)

Many parishes use the "Christmas Proclamation" on Christmas Eve. What is this proclamation and how can we understand what it says about when Jesus was born?

If you attended Mass on Christmas Eve, you may have heard the "Christmas proclamation."

This is a beautiful, poetic announcement of the birth of Christ.

It says when Jesus was born, dating it from nine different events.

But the ways that they dated events in the ancient world are different than the ones we use today.

Here's how you can understand the Christmas proclamation when you hear it read . . .


About the Christmas Proclamation

Scott Richert notes:

This Proclamation of the Birth of Christ comes from the Roman Martyrology, the official listing of the saints celebrated by the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. Traditionally, it has been read on Christmas Eve, before...READ MORE

Filed under christmas, liturgical year, liturgy

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

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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."