Merry Christmas! (Pictures from Bethlehem)

12/25/2011 Comments (1)

I’m not in Bethlehem, but like everyone, Bethlehem is in my thoughts these days.

I wanted to share with you a couple of pictures from Bethlehem, from the Church of the Nativity, and explain their significance.

A few days ago I ran across the following picture, which is of a nun praying in front of the shrine in the grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Although we often imagine Jesus being born in a barn, that image comes more from Christmas cards. In ancient Israel, animals were often sheltered in caves, and since extremely early times it was held that Jesus was actually born in a grotto. St. Jerome had his study in a neighboring grotto (so close it’s part of the same church complex), and...READ MORE

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The Apologetics of Christmas (pt. 2)

12/22/2011 Comments (5)

Joseph and Mary had to stay in a stable, right? Was it uncommon for some people to sleep in the stable of an inn during busy times? 

What was the Star of Bethlehem? A conjunction of planets, meteor, comet, supernatural event? What does the Church or Church Fathers say about it? 

What is significant about gold, frankincense, and myrrh? 

How did the birth of Jesus come to be celebrated on December 25? 

Why do Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on January 7?

What light does the Ark of the Covenant shed on Mary’s perpetual virginity, and what evidence do we have for her perpetual virginity?

These are among the questions we explore in this week’s episode of the Jimmy Akin Podcast!


Filed under bethlehem, christmas, holy spirit, jesus, joseph, mary, paganism, star, star of bethlehem

The Apologetics of Christmas (pt. 1)

12/18/2011 Comments (4)

Should Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus? There is no evidence the apostles did. When did it become a feast day? Weren’t birthdays a pagan thing?

Why was he named Jesus when, as stated in Matthew 1:23, the Messiah was to be called Immanuel?

Matthew 1:23 quotes Isaiah 7:14 as “a virgin will conceive” from the Septuagint, but the original Hebrew uses the word “almah” meaning “young woman of marriagable age.” Was Matthew wrong to quote this?

What does Joseph’s reaction, in Matthew 1:19, to the news of Mary’s pregnancy tell us about his character?

Why would Joseph take a 9-month pregnant Mary to Bethlehem instead of taking her earlier? Why did he take her at all? Couldn’t he have just...READ MORE

Filed under apologetics, bethlehem, christmas, fundamentalism, jesus, joseph, mary, nativity, pagan

Should We Chuck Christ out of Christmas?

12/14/2011 Comments (24)

I’d like to thank a Register reader who recently alerted me to a recent USA Today column by Amy Sullivan, who—according to her blurb—“is a contributing writer at Time and author of The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap.”

If the Democrats are closing the “God gap,” it isn’t because of the level of thinking displayed in her column, which is titled:

Let’s put ‘Christ’-mas in its place

Titles are often chosen by editors rather than authors, so this may not be her fault. But right now we’re only bouncing on the end of the diving board, and we’re about to plunge into the 12-foot end of the pool.

If it’s December, then it must be time to choose sides in the...READ MORE

Filed under christmas, holidays, jesus, pagan, paganism

Archbishop Chaput Answers Questions About His Stunning Letter

12/13/2011 Comments (59)

The Register’s own Edward Pentin scored an interview with Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput when the archbishop was in Rome for his ad limina visit last week. The interview was conducted after the release of the archbishop’s dramatic letter to his flock and contains some additional detail on the subjects he touched on in the letter. Here’s the portion of the interview that deals with that:

You issued what seems to be a very well-received pastoral letter to the archdiocese on the feast of the Immaculate Conception in which you aired a variety of serious concerns and spoke about difficult times ahead with the completion of your review of priests accused in the grand jury report and...READ MORE

Filed under ad limina, benedict xvi, catholic schools, charles chaput, parish closings, parish mergers, philadelphia, philadelphia archdiocese, politics, priest shortage

Sunday Rest Special: What Can You Do on Sunday?

12/10/2011 Comments (9)

Can you spend money on Sunday? Can you mow the lawn? Can you cook dinner? Can you go out to a restaurant? Can you go to a sporting event? Do you have to sit in a chair and read the Bible?

Just what can and can’t you do on Sunday?

And how can you have a positive rather than legalistic attitude toward Sunday?

How can Sunday help you grow closer to the Lord?

 These are among the questions we explore in this week’s episode of the Jimmy Akin Podcast!

Click Play to listen . . .

or you can . . .


. . . or subscribe another way (one of many ways!) at JimmyAkinPodcast.Com.




Filed under moral theology, obligation, rest, sabbath, sunday, sunday obligation

Archbishop Chaput's Stunning Letter to Philadelphia

12/09/2011 Comments (226)

On December 8th, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Archbishop Charles Chaput, the newly-installed archbishop of Philadelphia, released a pastoral letter to the faithful of his archdiocese. It will be read this weekend at Masses, even as Archbishop Chaput is returning home from his ad limina visit to Rome.

A copy of the letter was obtained by Whispers in the Loggia and has now been published online.

Pastoral letters from bishops can range from being “ho-hum” letters to being “Wham!” letters. Archbishop Chaput’s is definitely at the “Wham!” end of the spectrum.

Let’s read it together.

The letter begins with the kind of gentle, winning tone that one would expect in a pastoral letter...READ MORE

Filed under charles chaput, justin rigali, parish mergers, philadelphia, priest scandals, school, sex abuse, sex abuse scandal, sex scandal

Praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

12/06/2011 Comments (52)

A reader writes:

I know that it is always good to pray for the souls in Purgatory.  Otherwise, the souls won’t make it to Heaven.  However, is it O.K. to pray that all of the souls in Purgatory be released and allowed to go to Heaven.  In fact, the moment all souls would be released (if God wants to do this), then a new batch would come into Purgatory and take their place.  Am I correct in this?  Or, are we only supposed to pray for people we know that have died?  Let me know (if you would). Thank you so much.  Happy Advent (it’s still not Christmas yet).

Thank you for the questions! And Happy Advent to you as well (good point about it not being Christmas yet!).

Allow me to go through...READ MORE

Filed under all souls day, benedict xvi, eternity, holy souls, prayer, purgatory, time

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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."