9 things you need to know about Good Friday

04/02/2015 Comments (6)

Good Friday was the day we were redeemed from our sins by Jesus' death on the cross. Here are 9 things you should know about the day and how we commemorate it.

Good Friday is the most somber day of the Christian year.

It is the day our Savior died for us.

It is the day we were redeemed from our sins by the voluntary death of God Himself at the hands of man.

Here are 9 things you need to know.


1. Why is this day called "Good Friday"

It's not for the reason you might think.

Despite the fact that "good" is a common English word, tempting us to say the name is based on the fact that something very good (our redemption) happened on this day, that's not where the name comes from.

Precisely where it does come from is disputed. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains:

The origin of the term Good is not clear. Some say it is from "God's Friday" (...READ MORE

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9 things you need to know about Palm (Passion) Sunday

03/27/2015 Comments (8)

Why is Jesus' entry into Jerusalem so important? What is going on here?

Palm Sunday--or is it Passion Sunday?--marks the beginning of Holy Week.

This day commemorates not one but two very significant events in the life of Christ.

Here are 9 things you need to know.


1. What is this day called?

The day is called both "Palm Sunday" and "Passion Sunday."

The first name comes from the fact that it commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when the crowd had palm branches (John 12:13).

The second name comes from the fact that the narrative of the Passion is read on this Sunday (it otherwise wouldn't be read on a Sunday, since the next Sunday is about the Resurrection).

According to the main document on the celebration of the feasts connected with...READ MORE

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How did Paul get his name?

03/25/2015 Comments (3)

How did St. Paul get his name?

Sometimes people in the Bible experience name changes. Some famous examples include Abram (Abraham), Jacob (Israel), and Simon (Cephas, Peter).

In each of these cases, there was a specific reason, and the new name had special significance (thus the name Peter means “Rock,” with Simon being the rock on which Jesus built his Church; Matt. 16:18).

Often, people propose that Paul belongs in this category.


Saul, also [called] Paul

When he’s first introduced in Acts, he’s known as Saul, but then later, once his ministry outside the Jewish community begins, Luke starts referring to him as Paul.

The transition point comes in Acts 13:9, where we read:

But Saul, who is also called Paul,...READ MORE

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"He said this to show by what death he . . . "

03/22/2015 Comments (26)

What surprise does John's Gospel contain about the martyrdom of St. Peter?

Some time ago, I made a surprising discovery in the Greek text of John's Gospel.

In its final chapter, Jesus says to Peter:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” 

(This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, “Follow me” [John 21:18-19].  

The surprising thing is in the parenthetical remark by John: "This he [Jesus] said to show by what death he [Peter] was to glorify God."

Standard English translations render the final verbal phrase in the past tense ("was to...READ MORE

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10 things you need to know about Jesus' Transfiguration

02/27/2015 Comments (7)

Jesus appeared to three of his disciples in the mysterious event known as the Transfiguration. What was happening here? What did it mean? Here are 10 things you need to know!

The Gospel reading for the Second Sunday of Lent commemorates the mysterious event known as the Transfiguration.

This event is hard to understand. Why did it happen? What did it mean?

Here are 10 things you need to know.


1. What does the word "transfiguration" mean?

The word "transfiguration" comes from the Latin roots trans- ("across") and figura ("form, shape"). It thus signifies a change of form or appearance.

This is what happened to Jesus in the event known as the Transfiguration: His appearance changed and became glorious.

Before looking at the Transfiguration itself, it's important that we look at what happened immediately before it in Luke's Gospel.


2. What happened...READ MORE

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Pope Francis on Spanking

02/22/2015 Comments (13)

Pope Francis recently commented on corporal punishment for children. Here is what he had to say . . .

Spanking is quite controversial in some quarters. Some people speak of it as if it is tantamount to child abuse.

Other say, that they were spanked as children, that it didn’t do any long-term harm, and that it actually did them good.

So I was interested to see Pope Francis’s remarks on spanking in a recent audience.


Cards on the Table

Before I get to them, let me put my cards on the table.

As I’ve written before, my own conviction is that the issue of corporal punishment is one for parents to decide.

I have known some parents who have successfully raised children using it seldom or never. I also know there are parents who feel it has played an important and needed role in raising...READ MORE

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Jesus’ Ministry Begins: 9 things to know and share

02/20/2015 Comments (2)

Here are 9 things to know and share about the dawn of Jesus' ministry . . .

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent, and we read about events that occurred at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

Following his baptism, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness—his own, personal equivalent of Lent.

It was a time of preparation for the beginning of his public preaching in Galilee.

Here are 9 things to know and share . . .


1) How does Mark describe what happens after Jesus is baptized?

In Mark 1:12, we encounter the puzzling statement, “The Spirit immediately drove him [Jesus] out into the wilderness.”

The fact that Jesus responds to the initiative of the Holy Spirit reveals the cooperation of the three Persons of the Trinity.


2) Why does Mark say that...READ MORE

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9 things to know and share about Ash Wednesday

02/17/2015 Comments (3)

Here are 9 things to know and share about Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday is upon us again!

Here are 9 things you need to know and share . . .


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 are blessed and distributed.

These are made from the olive branches or branches of other trees that were blessed the previous year [on Palm/Passion Sunday].



2. What does the putting on of ashes symbolize?

According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy:


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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."