This is the Gigantic Secret of the Christian

03/01/2016 Comments (3)

Passengers board the RMS Titanic in 1912

One can easily get the impression from films like Dragonheart and Pocahontas that pre-Christian paganism was an utterly jolly thing. The pre-Christian world of these myths is a world of buffed-out-yet-sensitive men living in a matriarchal, earth-affirming culture of powerful women healers in touch with their sexuality who intuitively grasp the rhythms of nature as they rejoice in the simple pleasures of wine, love and song. The coming of Christianity into such a world is an invasion of killjoys into a party. Who needs Heaven when you have the happiness of water and rock, of sunshine, of singing bird and all the joys of earth?

The dream of making earth enough is a very ancient one....READ MORE

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My Wish List for New Catholics, and a Few Thoughts About RCIA

02/26/2016 Comments (11)

Benozzo Gozzoli (1420-1497), “Baptism of St. Augustine”

I am a "double-jump" convert to the Catholic Faith. I was raised Nothing-in-Particular (with a cloudy pagan regard for "the spiritual" and a deep disdain of "organized religion"). Then, at the age of 20, I had a sort of classic "born again" experience after an encounter with the living God revealed in Jesus Christ. Looking around me, I found that the people who had introduced me to Jesus were the non-denominational Evangelicals and charismatics on my dorm floor at the University of Washington. Therefore, putting two and two together, I concluded that this was the Christian community God had given me and that it was my task to learn from them, love them, and receive the love of God through...READ MORE

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Want Wisdom?  Read the Wisdom Books

02/22/2016 Comments (4)

G.K. Chesterton once noted that the English writer Thomas Carlyle thought many people were fools. He added that Christianity, with even greater insight, says we are all fools. Seven biblical books, traditionally known as the Wisdom books, exist to help alleviate this perennial human predicament. They are Ecclesiastes, Job, the Song of Songs, Psalms, Proverbs, Wisdom and Sirach. They proclaim to a humanity that is still capable of "achievements" like the Titanic and two world wars that we haven't changed any apart from God's help and that we still need to "get wisdom! Get understanding!" (Proverbs 4:5).

The reason the Church knows this is because Qoheleth, the Teacher, taught her so in the...READ MORE

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A Bunch of Terrible Fallacies for Atheism

02/19/2016 Comments (31)

Last time in this space we looked at the only two good arguments there are for atheism.  In this piece, I want to look at the curious way that atheists themselves cannot content themselves with those two good arguments.  They are oddly drivin to pad the case with a whole raft of fallacies too.

For instance, one common meme among the New Atheists is the Argument from Intellectual Maturity. It's a gripe as old as Celsus, eloquently repackaged in the words of Christopher Hitchens:

[Religion] comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge (as well as for comfort, reassurance, and other infantile needs).

This...READ MORE

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The Only Two Good Arguments for Atheism

02/15/2016 Comments (56)

Recently there has been a flurry of books from the "New Atheists." Such figures as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens have been holding forth to state . . . well, not anything new.

The reason there is nothing new to say is that there cannot, by the nature of the discussion, be anything new to say. When it came to the question "Does God exist?," St. Thomas could only think of two reasonable objections in the whole history of human thought.

Objection 1: It seems that God does not exist, because if one of two contraries be infinite, the other would be altogether destroyed. But the word "God" means that He is infinite goodness. If, therefore, God existed,...READ MORE

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God's Gift of Lent

02/10/2016 Comments (6)

(Photo Credit: Manuela Paki-Costa, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Many of my Protestant friends are uncomfortable with Lent. "It's all about mortification and self-discipline when we know that the Risen Jesus is joyful and alive!" they say. "We don't need to mortify ourselves to please God. That's why Jesus died for us, so we don't have be 'good enough'. Moreover, Catholics call it a 'holy season' and Paul says in Colossians 2:16-17 that we shouldn't observe any day as special. So hasn't the Church disobeyed the Bible by doing the Lenten thing?"

Before we talk about Lent as a supposed way of "being good enough" for God, let's begin with this last objection first: that the Lenten season is somehow unbiblical. Now with all due respect, this seems to me to...READ MORE

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Lazarus and the Rich Man

02/09/2016 Comments (7)

Some people speak of hell as something that can "befall" you--like a safe out of a third story window. You're just walking along, being a nice person and boom! You go to hell!

"I missed Mass this morning because I overslept and then had to work. Am I going to hell?" "Is so and so going to hell because he never heard the gospel?" "What if I don't remember something at confession? Will God judge me more harshly?" These and similar questions trouble the minds of many people. Christian theology is, among other things, aimed at attacking such notions with a very simple point: nobody goes to hell by accident.

Hell is a choice, a deliberate and sustained choice, to reject grace. Both Amos and...READ MORE

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Honoring Mary "Too Much"?

02/05/2016 Comments (42)

William Bouguereau (1825-1905), “Virgin and Child”

An Evangelical friend wrote me in the course of an Internet conversation about Catholic piety toward the saints and said, "If some church had set up a statue to John the Baptist, and was sacrificing doves to it, then smashing that idol to rubble would be an act of honor and respect for John, not one of dishonor."

I understand the sensibility at work here since I believed something similar to it. I too once believed Catholic piety was intrinsically idolatrous and that Catholics honored saints (especially Mary) "way too much." My problem came when I began to encounter actual Catholic piety. I discovered that no informed Catholic adored Mary or any saint as a god or goddess. I discovered that...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.