Meditations on the Rosary: The Circumcision and Presentation in the Temple

06/06/2012 Comments (16)

Here again is a mystery so great I don't know how to get inside it or what to make of it with my rational intellect. I can only look at it. Did Jesus understand what was being done to him? Or did Jesus, being fully human, have only an infant's understanding as the knife cut him in that most intimate way? Beats me. All I know is that, in the pain of circumcision, Y'shua enters into the covenant of his fathers and takes his place as one of the children of Israel. It's a thing done to and for him, as it's done to and for all the sons of Israel. It is, for Jews, a glad thing. And it's also a painful thing, reminding us (not the child, who will not remember it) of the cost of discipleship and...READ MORE

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Meditations on the Rosary: The Nativity

06/04/2012 Comments (10)

Every December 1, my mind fleets back to 1986 and a small bedroom in a small apartment in Seattle. Jan and I had just opened the first window in the Advent calendar when she announced I had better call the doctor because it looked like it was "time."

Each moment of that graced evening stays with me. I remember a hauntingly beautiful moment as we passed in the dead of night over the Evergreen Point Bridge which spans Lake Washington between Seattle and Bellevue, when the fog off the lake curled up and over the bridge — and our car — like the palm of God's hand enclosing us as we drove. I remember holding Jan's hand through the labor, cracking jokes with her and the nurses, praying and...READ MORE

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Meditations on the Rosary: The Visit of Mary to Elizabeth

06/01/2012 Comments (17)

When I ponder the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth I'm struck by how pedestrian it would look to anybody who was present at the time. We don't speak in capital letters of the Visitation of the Smiths to Joneses for Dinner. We don't announce to our spouse, "Honey, the hour is coming and has now come for the Visitation of Your Mother-in-Law from Cleveland." So it's intriguing to wonder why this episode from Mary's life would be so significant that it deserves a mystery of meditation devoted to it.

Given that this scene is supposed to be a vital one in the Great Revelation, I am forced to ask, "What is revelatory about it?" And the thing that literally jumps at me is John the Baptist —...READ MORE

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Meditations on the Rosary: The Annunciation

05/28/2012 Comments (10)

The things we think big can be curiously small to God.  We often forget this when watching the news.  When the TV starts chattering about Washington or New York or inflation or politics, an incautious person could easily get the impression these things are of ultimate importance.  But in light of the way God seems to actually deal with us, this geopolitical Big Think stuff—like virtually everything on television—usually vanishes into microscopic insignificance.

Consider ancient Israel.  Gobs of Old Testament ink is spilled on the fortunes of kings and the policies of princes.  Just like when we watch the news, we may think we know what we're seeing.  Real life is What Happens to Top...READ MORE

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As is the Shea Custom Each Memorial Day

05/24/2012 Comments (7)

We and a bunch of cousins and friends are off for four days of frolicsomeness at our Hidden Island Redoubt located somewhere in the beautiful San Juan Islands.  It is a consummation devoutly to be wished.  During the next four days I plan on doing as little thinking as possible ("easy enough for you, Shea") and a maximum of walking on the beach, strolling through the forest, and drinking wine around the campfire.

However, before I go, I do not want to be remiss in thanking all youse guys for reading my stuff all these years.  The Register has such a fine audience of readers who are serious about their faith, concerned about bearing witness to Christ and dedicated to knowing and...READ MORE

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A Question about Veneration vs. Adoration

05/22/2012 Comments (87)

A reader writes:

I entered the Church last month, so I've already done plenty of personal study on the subjects of latria and dulia. I'm well acquainted with their *theoretical* differences. What I'm interested in now is their *practical* differences. How, in practice, do I venerate a saint or image without crossing over into adoration, and how do I actually go about adoring God, in Heaven or the Sacrament, in a way that is unique from veneration? I have the nagging suspicion that these are stupid questions with common-sense answers, but I thought I'd ask all the same. Thanks for clearing up the waters!

In most cases, there will be no practical difference in the sense of a...READ MORE

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On Coping with NFP Zealotry

05/20/2012 Comments (343)

A reader writes:

I've been seeing some discussion of Natural Family Planning in the Catholic blog-o-sphere for a while. I get the Church's teaching that big families are good, and marriage is for pro-creation- I get that. What I don't understand is the contemptuous attitude some Catholics have towards parents who do use NFP, but apparently not in the way these Holiest of Holies would like. Scorn is heaped on those who don't have more than 5 kids, and unfavorable comparisons are made to the huge families Catholics use to have in the past circa the 19th century, as well as insinuations of a "contraceptive mentality" on the part of modern families.

It gets downright sinister when...READ MORE

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Navigating Medjugorje

05/17/2012 Comments (179)

A reader writes:

I understand your abundance of caution in discerning whether the Medjugorje phenomenon is truly of divine origin, but you seem to have taken your disbelief a step further to veiled hostility and subtle denunciation.  That is up to Holy Mother Church to pontificate about.  I await with hopeful expectation the Church's official decision, which I will support, either way!

Why do you instruct your "reader" in the post about pious devotions not to, "pass judgement on the other person who finds it helpful, but proceed with caution before making it a pillar of support..."  You seem gratified that she flatly states her disbelief, confirming her opinion with a...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.