Truth or Consequences

05/01/2015 Comments (27)

One of our basic beliefs as Catholics is that Mary is, in a curious way, always referred to Jesus. Her own words at the wedding in Cana (John 2) stand as a sort of emblem of all that she has to say to us: "Do whatever he tells you." She directs us to her Son.

And yet, in the text of Scripture, her recorded words constitute such a tiny bit of documentation that it is understandable many Christians get the impression Catholic piety concerning Mary is a vast exegetical mountain build a minuscule textual molehill. Not surprisingly then, many non-Catholics (and, alas, not a few Catholics) believe that Catholic Marian teaching can be eliminated or ignored with little consequence for the...READ MORE

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The Perspicuity of Scripture and Other Creation Myths

04/26/2015 Comments (88)

Last time in this space, I wrote a little piece on the ways in which the various Protestantisms filter the sometimes ambiguous text of Scripture through various semi-permeable membranes in order to accept the bits of the Catholic Tradition they approve of while a) removing those things they dislike and b) stapling on those human ideas and notions they want to add or elevate to the status of Divine Revelation.

That sort of seditious talk immediately gets blasted as a "classic attack on the perspicuity of Scripture" in the normal circles of anti-Catholic apologetics huff-puffery (my encounters with which I have discussed elsewhere).

A few words on that whole "perspicuity of Scripture"...READ MORE

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The Semi-Permeable Membranes of the Various Protestantisms

04/23/2015 Comments (81)

One basic rule of thumb to understand in Catholic/Protestant conversations is that it is not the case that Catholics rely on Sacred Tradition and Protestants don't. Rather, Catholics (and, by this, I mean “educated Catholics speaking out of the Magisterial teaching of the Church”) rely on Sacred Tradition and know they do, while Protestants rely on (parts) of Sacred Tradition and (usually) don't know they do.

So, for instance, despite Paul’s prescriptions (directed only at clergy of his day) that a man must be the husband of but one wife, nowhere in the text of Scripture is it made clear that Christian marriage must be monogamous for all (a fact that did not escape Luther or John Milton...READ MORE

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Swearing and Vulgarity

04/19/2015 Comments (17)

I’ve always loved this funny little tune from Chaucer’s day:

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing, cuccu!
Groweth sed and bloweth med
And springth the wude nu.
Sing, cuccu!
Awe bleteth after lomb,
Lhouth after calve cu
Bulloc sterteth, bucke ferteth.
Murie sing, cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu,
Wel singes thu, cuccu.
Ne swik thu naver nu!

This joyful, ebullient tune, doubtless sung by many an English peasant out sweating in the field, is full of the solid earthy, good humor of a people who were closely bound to the land. For them, one of the images of sheer joy was when the “Bulloc sterteth” and the “bucke ferteth”. That latter clause is now rendered into modern English by very polite translators as “The...READ MORE

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The Critics Rave!

04/16/2015 Comments (12)

As a guy who's done a bit of chatting about the Catholic Faith with folks, one of the things that has struck me over the years is the sheer fecundity of the human mind in giving reasons not to be Catholic. To a young Catholic or a new convert, such overwhelming fertility in repudiating the Faith can be rather daunting. A trip to an Internet list group, for example, can be a bit like drinking from a fire hose of anti-Catholic rhetoric. One can simply be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of it all.

This is, however, all to the good for the intrepid Catholic who takes seriously the fact that "in everything God works for the good with those who love him" (Romans 8:28). So when life serves you...READ MORE

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Asking Questions

04/12/2015 Comments (16)

In 1996, Pope St. John Paul II said it's okay to think God may have used evolution to create the body of the first humans. In other words, he said Catholics may, if they like, believe God formed Adam from the dust of the earth reeeeeally slowly rather than very quickly. This commonplace liberty of Catholic teaching (which merely echoed Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis and which can be traced back to the patristic era) was hailed as a complete theological revolution in a Church which, the media seemed to imagine, had hitherto forbidden the very mention of Darwin. The Pope, we were informed, had finally "conceded" the possibility that evolution might be true. To anybody with even an elementary...READ MORE

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153 Fishes and Related Matters

04/10/2015 Comments (26)

When Pope John Paul II died on April 2, 2005 there were any number of fascinating coincidences that surrounded his death.  They were the sort of thing that make you go “hmmmm” and (if one is a wobbly agnostic) begin to suspect that maybe You Know Who has His hand in things after all.

For instance, John Paul managed to go to his reward in the one sliver of time which tied together Easter, Fatima and the Divine Mercy Feast which he himself had established (he died on Saturday evening, the Vigil of the Feast of Divine Mercy, which falls in the Octave of Easter). Given the movable nature of the Easter Feast (not to mention the moveable nature of First Saturdays, a devotion associated with the...READ MORE

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Death and Laughter

04/06/2015 Comments (6)

"If April showers bring May flowers," I asked my four-month-old son as he lay on my chest, "what do May flowers bring?"

I waited for a reply but four-month-olds are uncommonly reticent about speaking, so finally I was compelled to answer my own riddle.

"Pilgrims!" I cried with glee.

My wife Janet lay there next to me, propped up on one elbow and rolling her eyes. The only thing worse than a dumb joke is a dumb joke you've heard before. So I sat little Luke up on my chest and said, "I don't know, Luke. I thought it was a good joke. What did you think?"

He instantly barfed on me.

Janet fell over backward laughing and eventually slid off the bed in her convulsive hysteria. It was several...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.