Dialogue with Demas

Thursday, September 25, 2014 11:59 PM Comments (66)

The teachings of the Faith are not optional, though many Catholics erroneously believe that one can dissent from particular teachings of the Church that one happens to find unsatisfactory or unpleasant and still remain a "faithful Catholic." One such confused person is my friend "Demas." Demas has the remarkable knack of speaking aloud some of the most common mis-perceptions that modern Catholics have about their own Church. Recently, I had a conversation with him which was a veritable inventory of many of the confusions afoot in the modern American Church. So it seemed to me that a summary of our conversation might be useful to others who are confronting the same confusions and...READ MORE

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Chosenness

Sunday, September 21, 2014 11:59 PM Comments (104)

Some time back, a reader wrote me with an interesting observation:

You know, I just thought of something. I used to have a part-time job as a pest caller (phone surveys, mostly) and so I met a lot of Wiccans. (In the '90's they congregated in phone & restaurant work, for some reason; don't know about now.) And every single one of them was a High Priestess. Every single one. I don't know what that means, if anything, but I noticed it.

I hadn’t thought of it till she pointed it out, but yeah, there does seem to be a glut of High Priestesses and High Priests when it comes to Wicca. Nobody is just a plain old priest, let a alone a mere parishioner. Similarly, all Past Life Regressives seem...READ MORE

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The Pickle of Private Judgment

Thursday, September 18, 2014 11:59 PM Comments (78)

My pal (we'll call him "Hal") is nothing if not a Christian of deep convictions. Hal believes the Bible is the sole source of revelation. He thinks the Spirit guides each believer to individually discover truth for himself (so who needs the Church to tell us what to believe?) He believes that Jesus is his savior because "though he is God, he had a sinful human nature like mine and so was able to be truly human, only he never obeyed that nature." He believes Mormons are heretics for adding to scripture and are therefore "accursed" according to Galatians 1:8 ("But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him eternally condemned!")....READ MORE

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Between the Skeptic and the Fundamentalist

Sunday, September 14, 2014 11:59 PM Comments (28)

Reading Scripture as a modern Catholic is a perpetual balance between extremes; among them, the extremes of farfetched skepticism and equally farfetched supernaturalism. For, unlike these extremes, the Faith takes both the unseen realities of the Spirit and the ordinary life of human beings seriously. It believes in both accountants and angels. But many people, seeing only one of these truths clearly, then proceed to use that pet truth as a cudgel against the truth they don't see.

This came through to me loud and clear recently when a skeptical acquaintance (whom we shall call "Clarence") wrote on the Internet with news he seemed to think would devastate Christians into becoming atheists...READ MORE

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Brother Darwin's Gospel Hour

Thursday, September 11, 2014 11:59 PM Comments (93)

One of the peculiar ironies I have noticed over the years has been the divergent ways in which the notions of evolution have, er, evolved in the minds of Catholics and some of the more anti-Catholic folks among our Fundamentalist brothers. One of the distinctions between Catholics and Bible Christians is that Catholic theology has never especially demanded a literalistic interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 and is therefore not particularly shaken by evolutionary theory or the discovery of the immense age of the earth. As John Hardon, S.J. says in his Catholic Catechism, "Charles Darwin (1809-82) undoubtedly sparked a new era in anthropology and allied sciences, but Darwinism as such had only...READ MORE

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Is Sacramental Grace Magic?

Sunday, September 07, 2014 11:59 PM Comments (25)

My friend Ludwig was troubled again. We had talked before about the Catholic understanding of grace, but he still found the notion of sacraments uncomfortable to his Evangelical bones. Ludwig said to me, "It seems to me that the Catholic image of grace is vaguely magical, as though grace is some sort of substance God "pours out" through baptismal water, Eucharist and the like. But I thought the biblical reality is that grace was God's attitude of unmerited, forgiving favor toward us, not some magical something or other that must be bestowed like a charm or "good medicine." Why does grace require matter to get the job done in the Catholic scheme of things?"

To answer this, we must first...READ MORE

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Are Sacraments Narrow?

Thursday, September 04, 2014 11:59 PM Comments (9)

My friend Ludwig was puzzled. "I don't understand," he said, "what is meant by those who say grace is imparted through sacraments. It seems to me to involve an intolerably narrow view of grace. As a Protestant, I've always understood grace to mean unmerited favor, plain and simple. Why are sacraments needed to bestow this? Doesn't this narrow the scope of grace to those who are lucky enough to get baptized or eucharized? I thought God's love was universal."

To understand the Catholic take on this question, we have to understand what the Church is and is not thinking about when it comes to sacramentality. The Church does not propose sacraments to deny God's universal love and will to save....READ MORE

Filed under sacraments

My Big Profound Spiritual Revelation

Monday, September 01, 2014 12:01 AM Comments (20)

What a day! Bus late, no breakfast, missed deadline, headaches, depression and post-nasal drip. And when I got home my kids were whiney, my wife mentally quick-fried to a crackly crunch and I was as prickly as a porcupine.

Summoning fatherly concern to its height, I brushed past my weepy child and made for a darkened bedroom (stopping briefly to peck my wife Janet on the cheek). She asked for some kind of help--something about setting the table--but "Urk," was all I mumbled in reply. I just wanted to go blotto with a pillow over my head till dinner. Maybe with luck an asteroid would strike the earth, annihilate civilization and I could rest.

Jan relented with a sigh and returned to...READ MORE

Filed under humor

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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.