9 things to know and share about Ash Wednesday

Tuesday, March 04, 2014 2:27 PM Comments (10)

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:

...READ MORE

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Responding to the “Go To” Skeptic on the Star of Bethlehem

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 9:40 PM Comments (29)

Skeptic Aaron Adair argues that the Star of Bethlehem didn't exist and could not have been a natural (if providential) phenomenon. Does his argument work?

Among skeptics, Dr. Aaron Adair is sometimes hailed as the “go to” guy on the Star of Bethlehem.

He’s even written a book arguing that the Star didn’t exist.

Recently, he engaged a post I wrote about the Star of Bethlehem.

Here is my reply . . .

 

First Things First

First, you can read our previous interaction in the comments box on this post.

I want to thank Dr. Adair for striving to maintain a positive tone, both in the combox and in his book, The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View.

Although he has occasional lapses (who doesn’t?), it’s clear that he is striving to avoid the kind of snark and venom that are often found in works by some skeptics.

As a non-fan of snark and venom (...READ MORE

Filed under aaron adair, bethlehem, bethlehem star, birth, christmas, jesus, nativity, skeptic, skepticism, star

Was the Star of Bethlehem a myth? A UFO? Or something else? 8 things to know and share

Sunday, February 23, 2014 10:36 PM Comments (31)

Did the Star of Bethlehem move the way normal stars do? And were the magi actually following it?

The Star of Bethlehem is endlessly fascinating. All kinds of theories about what it was have been proposed.

Based on the way Matthew describes it, some have thought it was a supernatural manifestation that led the magi around.

Some have even suggested it was a flying saucer.

Some have said it was a myth and never really existed.

All of these views are based on the idea that the star didn’t move the way a normal star would.

Is this correct?

Here are 8 things to know and share . . .

 

1) Why would people think the star’s motion was unusual?

There is a popular impression that the magi began following the star in their eastern homeland and that it led them to Jerusalem. This is taken...READ MORE

Filed under apologetics, bethlehem star, bible, star, star of bethlehem

How the accounts of Jesus’ childhood fit together: 6 things to know and share

Thursday, February 20, 2014 1:40 PM Comments (18)

How do Matthew and Luke's accounts of Jesus' childhood fit together?

Both Matthew and Luke contain accounts of Jesus’ infancy.

But they don’t describe all the same events.

As a result, some have even accused Matthew and Luke of contradicting each other.

What’s the true story? Why did they record different events? And can the two be fit together?

Here are 6 things to know and share . . .

 

1) Why don’t the Gospels all record the same events as each other?

Because there was too much information to fit into a single book about Jesus.

John notes this specifically, and humorously, at the end of his Gospel (John 21:25).

In the ancient world, they didn’t have the printing technology needed to make large books, and so there was pressure to keep...READ MORE

Filed under apologetics, bible, chronology, gospels, harmony, infancy, jesus, luke, matthew, st joseph

Should John Paul II's personal meditations have been burned or not? 14 things to know and share

Wednesday, February 05, 2014 11:35 PM Comments (66)

Bl. John Paul II's private meditations have just come out in book form, even though he requested that they be burned. Here are 14 things to know and share . . .

It was recently announced that Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz did not burn the private papers of Bl. John Paul II, as was requested in his will.

Now they are being published in book form in Poland, and it’s causing quite a stir!

It also raises some interesting questions.

Here are 14 things to know and share . . .

 

1) Who is Cardinal Dziwisz?

Currently, he is the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow, Poland.

But, many years ago, in 1966, he was appointed the personal secretary of Karol Wojtyla, who was then the Archbishop of Krakow.

Archbishop Wojtyla was made a cardinal the next year, and in 1978 he was elected to the papacy and became Pope John Paul II.

When that happened, he...READ MORE

Filed under cardinal stanislaw dziwisz, john paul ii

What's happening at the Presentation of the Lord?

Sunday, February 02, 2014 1:20 PM Comments (12)

40 days after his birth, Christ was presented at the temple. Why?

Later this week the Church celebrates the Presentation of the Lord.

It's a feast that happens every year on February 2nd.

We read about the presentation of the Lord in Luke 2, but the text can be a little mysterious.

What is actually happening there?

Some claim that Luke himself didn't know . . .

 

What Luke Says

Here is what Luke actually says about the event . . .

[22] And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord [23] (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") [24] and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said...READ MORE

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What are celibacy, chastity, and continence? 9 things to know and share

Sunday, January 26, 2014 12:48 PM Comments (21)

What are celibacy, chastity, and continence?

There is a great deal of confusion about what celibacy, chastity, and continence are.

Each one of these concepts is subject to common misunderstandings, but the differences between them are easy to sort out.

A reader from the Asian country of Myanmar writes:

Please, may I ask your help to explain the similarities and differences between celibacy and chastity, especially in the context of consecrated life, among diocesan clergy, and in married life.

I’d be happy to help! I’ll also throw in the related concept of continence.

Here are 9 things to know and share . . .

 

1) Formal vs. Informal Speech

People often think that celibacy means not having sex, or having a commitment...READ MORE

Filed under celibacy, chastity, continence

Is a Clash Brewing Between Two Cardinals over Divorce and Remarriage? 12 things to know and share

Thursday, January 23, 2014 12:41 AM Comments (133)

Cardinal Rodriguez recently gave an interview in which he seemed to take a swipe at the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Archbishop Muller) and his defense of the Church's practice regarding giving Communion to those who have been civilly divorced and remarried. What should we make of this?

Recently one of the most prominent cardinals in the world made remarks regarding the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office that could be taken as insulting.

The issue was receiving Communion following divorce and civil remarriage.

This kind of situation is a very rare event. We don’t normally see cardinals seeming to publicly take apparent swipes at each other.

The two involved in this case are Cardinal Rodriguez and soon-to-be Cardinal Muller.

Here are 12 things to know and share . . .

 

1) Who is Cardinal Rodriguez?

His full name is Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga.

He is the Cardinal Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

He is also the coordinator of the group of...READ MORE

Filed under annulment, annulments, communion, divorce, francis, maradiaga, muller, remarriage, rodriguez

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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."