The Pickle of Private Judgment

09/18/2014 Comments (79)

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

Filed under apologetics

Between the Skeptic and the Fundamentalist

09/14/2014 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

Filed under apologetics

Brother Darwin's Gospel Hour

09/11/2014 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

Filed under apologetics

Is Sacramental Grace Magic?

09/07/2014 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

Filed under catechesis

Are Sacraments Narrow?

09/04/2014 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

08/31/2014 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

Behold the Spam of God!

08/24/2014 Comments (35)

Almost every other day it seems, I will (like thousands of other Catholics) open my email and get something like this specimen (culled from my "delete" file):

Dear Mark, just came from your Website and have some questions. It sounds like you were a "Protestant" before becoming a Catholic? I don't know which church you were in but I have to question whether you were ever taught the Word of God there? If you had been in a church which taught the truth concerning Baptism according to the Word of GOD and not the "traditions of men" you would have learned that not only does baptism NOT save nor "grant justification" but it is ONLY for those who ARE BORN-AGAIN by the SPIRIT of GOD by placing...READ MORE

Filed under cyber-follies

Are Saints New Revelation?

08/21/2014 Comments (10)

It seems, said my friend, that the Church contradicts itself. On the one hand, Catholic teaching declares revelation complete with the close of the apostolic era. Yet consider the canonization of, say, Joan of Arc. It appears a Catholic must believe one of the following:

1. Revelation continues. It was revealed to the Pope in 1920 that Joan of Arc was in heaven.

2. Revelation ended with the apostles, but before the Ascension, Christ gave Peter a long list of those who would eventually be canonized and Joan's name was on the list.

3. There is no revelation concerning Joan of Arc and we have no way of knowing where she is now.

To get to the bottom of this apparently insoluble mystery we...READ MORE

Filed under saints

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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.