Priests are Men, Not Vending Machines

07/25/2016 Comments (10)

When I was a kid I believed my family knew everything. My brother Mike, after all, could work wonder by turning me invisible with a mere “Abracadabra!” I’d run around the house waving at everybody and making faces and they would all stare right through me saying, “I hear you, Mark, but I can’t see you! Where are you?”

More than that, my parents knew everything there was to know about anything from ancient history like World War II to all the names of airplanes to dinosaurs. My oldest brother, Rick, was a fountain of information on subject that came to hand. They were gods—until the day I asked “Who invented shoes?” and was flummoxed to discover none of them knew.

And as time wore on, I...READ MORE

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Love Meeting Love: Ecumenism For Us Ordinary People

07/22/2016 Comments (5)

St. Paul is staying in the house of Aquila and his wife Priscilla, the family are making tents and St. Paul is writing. (Engraving by J. Sadeler after Jodocus Winghe/CC BY 4.0/Wikimedia Commons)

I run into lots of Catholics who feel bad about the divided state of Christendom yet also feel powerless to do anything about it. "After all, this is the 20th Century. Don't most Protestants know what we believe already?" they say. "So why should I talk about my faith with them? Besides, I'm a layperson. All that ecumenism stuff is for theologians, not laypeople."

Well, let me tell you, when I was an Evangelical, I lived for years in the most media-packed, multicultural society on earth. Yet my knowledge of Catholics was just road-kill on the information superhighway. I didn't know diddly. That was because I thought I knew all that was worth knowing about them already. Catholics, you see,...READ MORE

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What I Learned on a Walk With My Little Boy

07/18/2016 Comments (5)

Severin Nilsson (1846-1918), “In Daddy's Arms”

Long, long ago--when the giant man in my house named Peter (who just turned 21) was only 3 and his kid brother Sean was only 2--it was a daily occurrence that (barring rain) I would be summoned "owside" as my two year old Sean said and bidden to take his and Peter's hands and get going. It didn't really matter where we went as long as we saw certain important sights.

The first important sight was "the doggie by the gate" (a creature sufficient to satiate Sean's fascination with dogs yet safely locked behind a gate at the end of a 50 foot driveway and therefore capable of causing thrills without terror). The second critical sight was "the fire hydrant" which Peter thought intensely...READ MORE

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Imagine if People Actually Fell for John Lennon's Nonsense

07/15/2016 Comments (68)

(Photo Credit: Roy Kerwood, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)

Sometime back, I wrote a little piece about John Lennon’s hymn to original sin (aka “Imagine”) expressing my bafflement at the fact that people (including Catholics who ought to know better) regard this as a hope-filled anthem of the Coming Great Rosy Dawn and not as what it is, Music to Accompany the Machine Gunning of the Counter-Revolutionaries. I got lots of mail for it, but one note which particularly stands out as Illustrative of the Problem follows, with my responses:

Dear Sir,

I am a life-long Catholic, educated by Holy Names sisters in Seattle, Wa. Do you actually write for a catholic magazine?

Yes.

Everybody wants to think they know everything about something, -here’s my...READ MORE

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We Say “Marana Tha”, Not “Klaatu Barada Nikto”

07/11/2016 Comments (15)

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), “The Last Judgment”

Here’s an article by an atheist who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jack Chick. He theorizes on What Rome Is Up To when a couple of Catholic sources remark that the discovery of life on other planets poses no particular threat to the Catholic faith.

This piece is a classic example of how sin makes you stupid. Our Bright knows ahead of time that Catholics are censorious idiots who fear Truth. So it only stands to reason that Rome fears the discovery of life on other worlds because the first Vulcan we meet will conclusively prove that advanced civilizations have outgrown the god myth and Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End is the only truly prophetic book ever written. Therefore, it can only...READ MORE

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St. Thomas Aquinas and the Sciences

07/08/2016 Comments (3)

Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664), “St. Thomas Aquinas”

It is notable that when St. Thomas argues for the existence of God he does not point to seeming exceptions to the laws of nature and ask, "Why are there exceptions to the rules?" That's because he knows the work of the sciences is to discover why there are seeming exceptions to the rules of Nature. The person whose faith rests on exceptions to the rules today ("If there is no God, then explain lightning, or disease.") will find that faith in ruins when the exception is explained with static electricity and germs.

Instead, what Thomas does is begin, not *against* the sciences, but for them. Science is nothing other than the enterprise of learning the rules of nature (and how to exploit them...READ MORE

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Would Jesus Salute the Flag?

07/04/2016 Comments (14)

More than 45,000 Boy Scouts salute during the singing of the national anthem as part of the Boy Scouts of America 2010 National Scout Jamboree on Fort AP Hill, Va., July 28, 2010. (Photo credit: Cherie Cullen, via Wikimedia Commons)

The origin of the term "holiday" is Holy Day. A Holy Day is a day set apart for something. Our present understanding of the term "holy" always assumes that the thing set apart is set apart for God. This is not surprising. Words like "holy" are pretty much only the province of biblical characters, preachers and other religious types.

Yet curiously, the word "holiday" is not necessarily fraught with such religious implications. That's why we celebrate the Fourth of July Holiday, but don't imagine it is a Feast in the same sense that Christmas is. It is "holy" to Americans, not the Church.

And rightly so. We do well, as a people, to celebrate the American founding. It is a thing worthy of...READ MORE

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How I Came to Think Differently about Mary

07/01/2016 Comments (13)

Stefan Lochner (c. 1400/1410–1451), “Madonna im Rosenhag”

It once seemed perfectly obvious to me that Catholics honored Mary too much. All those feasts, rosaries, icons, statues and whatnot were ridiculously excessive. Yes, the gospel of Luke said something about her being "blessed" and yes I thought her a good person. But that was that.

No Mary, No Salvation

People who celebrated her or called her "Mother" or did all the million things which Catholic piety encourages bordered on idolatry. It was all too much. Jesus, after all, is our Savior, not Mary.

However, after looking at the gospel of Luke afresh and thinking more and more about the humanity of Jesus Christ, some things dawned on me. For it turns out that Luke said more than "something"...READ MORE

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.