The Immaculate Conception: 8 things to know and share . . .

Sunday, December 08, 2013 4:25 PM Comments (69)

Monday is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. What is the Immaculate Conception and how do we celebrate it?

December 8th is ordinarily celebrated as the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, but this year in the U.S., it's being celebrated on Monday, December 9th.

It celebrates an important point of Catholic teaching, and in most years 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...READ MORE

Filed under holy day of obligation, holy days of obligation, immaculate conception, liturgical calendar, liturgy, mary, virgin mary

2nd Sunday of Advent: 9 things to know and share

Saturday, December 07, 2013 5:00 PM Comments (7)

What does the Bible mean when it says Jesus' winnowing fork is in his hand?

This Sunday’s readings take us from Old Testament prophecies of the future Messiah to the union of Jew and Gentile in God’s kingdom.

They also bring us to the herald of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the mysterious image of Jesus’ “winnowing fan.”

Here are 9 things to know and share . . .

 

1) What does the first reading this Sunday say?

The first reading is Isaiah 11:1-10 (you can read it here).

This reading contains the famous Messianic prophesy which begins:

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

It continues by describing how the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him.

The passage stresses that the “shoot” (a future king...READ MORE

Filed under advent, calendar, gospels, john the baptist, liturgical calendar, liturgical year, prophecy

St. Ambrose: Strangest Life Story Ever? (8 things to know and share)

Thursday, December 05, 2013 9:17 PM Comments (19)

Which Church Father had the strangest life story of all? It may be this one! Here are 8 things to know and share . . .

St. Ambrose’s memorial is December 7th.

He was one of the four original doctors of the Church, and he baptized St. Augustine.

He also had perhaps the strangest life story of any of the Church Fathers!

Here are 8 things to know and share . . .

 

1) Who was St. Ambrose?

St. Ambrose of Milan was born around A.D. 338 and died in 397.

He was the bishop of Milan, Italy.

 

2) What makes is his life story so strange?

Originally, he was a government official, he became bishop in a most extraordinary way.

After the death of the local bishop, the Catholics and Arians got into a vehement conflict about who should be the new bishop.

Ambrose was trying to keep the peace and...READ MORE

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The LAST Church Father: 7 things to know and share

Tuesday, December 03, 2013 12:38 AM Comments (5)

December 4th is the commemoration of St. John of Damascus--the LAST of the Church Fathers. Here are 7 things to know and share . . .

On December 4th we celebrate St. John of Damascus.

He was a priest, a religious, and he is a doctor of the Church.

He’s also the last Church Father.

Here are 7 things to know and share . . .

 

1) Why is he the last of the Church Fathers?

We need to divide history into different periods. The age of the Church Fathers was not the same as the ages that came before it or the ages that followed it.

But to do this, we have to divide history at somewhat arbitrary points.

Thus, it is customary to regard the age of the Church Fathers as ending in the East with the life of St. John of Damascus (also known as St. John Damascene), who died around A.D. 749.

(In the West, the age of...READ MORE

Filed under john damascene, john of damascus, liturgical year, liturgy

1st Sunday of Advent: 12 things to know and share

Friday, November 29, 2013 5:20 PM Comments (2)

The 1st Sunday of Advent is upon us. Here are 12 things to know and share . . .

Advent not only prepares us for the birth of Jesus Christ (his first advent), it also prepares us for his return (his second advent).

Both of these themes are present in the readings for this Sunday.

Here are 12 things to know and share . . .

 

1) What does the first reading this Sunday say?

The first reading is Isaiah 2:1-5 (you can read it here).

This reading contains a prophecy that, one day in Isaiah’s future, the mountain where the house of the Lord is shall become the highest mountain in the world.

When that happens, all the nations will stream to it, and they will say to each other,

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob;...READ MORE

Filed under advent, first sunday of advent, isaiah, liturgical year, liturgy

St. Andrew the Apostle: 11 things to know and share

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 1:41 AM Comments (3)

Saturday is the feast of St. Andrew. Here are 11 things to know and share . . .

St. Andrew was one of Jesus’ closest disciples, but many people know little about him.

The feast of St. Andrew is November 30th.

Here are 11 things to know and share . . .

 

1) Who was St. Andrew?

He was the brother of St. Peter, who was also known as Simon bar-Jonah.

He and Andrew shared the same father, so the latter would have been known as Andrew bar-Jonah.

Andrew is regularly mentioned after Simon Peter, which suggests that he was Peter’s younger brother.

Like his brother Peter, and their partners James and John, Andrew was initially a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee.

 

2) What is significant about his name?

The name Andrew (Greek, Andreas) is related to the...READ MORE

Filed under andrew, apostles, liturgical year, liturgy, st. andrew

Pope Francis’ new document, Evangelii Gaudium: 9 things to know and share

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 12:17 PM Comments (124)

Pope Francis has just issued a major new document on evangelization. Here are 9 things to know and share . . .

Pope Francis has just released a new document titled Evangelii Gaudium.

It is his first apostolic exhortation, and it is devoted to the theme of the new evangelization.

Here are 9 things to know and share . . .

 

1) What does “Evangelii Gaudium” mean?

It’s Latin for “The Joy of the Gospel.”

 

2) What is an apostolic exhortation?

It’s a papal document that, as the name suggests, exhorts people to implement a particular aspect of the Church’s life and teaching.

Its purpose is not to teach new doctrine, but to suggest how Church teachings and practices can be profitably applied today.

Some apostolic exhortations are devoted to the pastoral challenges faced in particular...READ MORE

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10 Things You Need to Know About Advent

Friday, November 22, 2013 3:19 PM Comments (9)

Advent is about to begin. What do the Church's official documents say about this season?

Advent begins on Sunday, December 1st.

Most of us have an intuitive understanding of Advent, based on experience, but what do the Church's official documents actually say about Advent?

Here are some of the basic questions and (official!) answers about Advent.

Some of the answers are surprising!

Here we go . . .

 

1. What Is the Purpose of Advent?

Advent is a season on the Church's liturgical calendar--specifically, it is as season on the calendar of the Latin Church, which is the largest Church in communion with the pope.

Other Catholic Churches--as well as many non-Catholic churches--have their own celebration of Advent.

According to the General Norms for the Liturgical...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."