A Reader Puzzles Over Our Relationship With the Eastern Churches

12/28/2012 Comments (41)

He writes:

I read your article on Unam Sanctam. Being an evangelical considering whether to become a Catholic, I found it helpful, though I am still struggling to wrap my mind around it. I had a further question. unam Sanctam also says: "Therefore, if the Greeks or others should say that they are not confided to Peter and to his successors, they must confess not being the sheep of Christ, since Our Lord says in John 'there is one sheepfold and one shepherd." What does this mean, then and now, for non-catholic christians?

I think it means, basically, that insofar as you reject Peter and his successors, you are rejecting Christ.  However, the Greeks don’t—and can’t—wholly reject...READ MORE

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Gloria in Profundis

12/24/2012 Comments (3)

There has fallen on earth for a token
A god too great for the sky.
He has burst out of all things and broken
The bounds of eternity:
Into time and the terminal land
He has strayed like a thief or a lover,
For the wine of the world brims over,
Its splendour is spilt on the sand.

Who is proud when the heavens are humble,
Who mounts if the mountains fall,
If the fixed stars topple and tumble
And a deluge of love drowns all-
Who rears up his head for a crown,
Who holds up his will for a warrant,
Who strives with the starry torrent,
When all that is good goes down?

For in dread of such falling and failing
The fallen angels fell
Inverted in insolence, scaling
The hanging...READ MORE

Filed under exalted felicitations of the day

The Perennial Santa Question

12/21/2012 Comments (74)

A reader writes:

As we approach ever closer to Christmas, something I've always pondered (which I was surprised to find, interestingly enough, is a topic not addressed on the popular Catholic Answers website) is if it is actually a sin (venial, of course) for parents to teach their children to believe in Santa Claus. And by that, I am not talking about belief in St. Nicholas - obviously, as Catholics we recognize that St Nicholas is a revered saint in the Church and he's clearly the original inspiration for the fable of Santa Claus. But I'm talking about parents teaching their children to believe in the pop culture notion of Santa Claus: you know, the big fat jolly old man, white...READ MORE

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On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering

12/17/2012 Comments (7)

The gospel has never made the claim that God is going to eradicate suffering and death in this world.  On the contrary, it tells us that creation is groaning in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.  It warns of wars and rumors of wars, of all sorts of terrible trials, of the rain that falls on the just and the unjust.  It says that all these things are leading up to something: namely, The Final Conlfict Between Christ and Satan, the End of This World and the Dawn of the New Heaven and New Earth.  Yet paradoxically, Pope John Paul II reminds us that the worst thing that could ever happen--the murder of God--has already happened--and that God has brought glory and joy out...READ MORE

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One Final Follow-Up on the Immaculate Conception

12/14/2012 Comments (21)

A reader writes:

It’s true that you can assume the Immaculate Conception from certain readings of the gospel, but the fact is, it is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible and for that reason it shouldn’t be made into dogma. It makes more sense that Mary was chosen because she herself, without any divine aid, was a very good and pure woman. We can’t just assume that she was born without original sin or that she hadn’t sin because there’s nothing in the text that says or alludes to that. Another problem I have with the Immaculate conception is that it makes Mary something of a robot. She didn’t sin because God made her that way, not on her own merits. Wouldn’t it exhalt Mary EVEN more...READ MORE

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The Immaculate Conception: Why Her and Not Us?

12/10/2012 Comments (7)

Mary’s Immaculate Conception and preservation from sin is a unique gift that the Lord, in his sovereignty, is free to give as he pleases. It is also, as I now saw, a sign pointing to the magnitude of Christ’s power to save us all completely from sin. But still, there’s a temptation here to say, “Why her and not me? How come I have to struggle with the effects of original sin and she didn’t?” I don’t have an answer to that, any more than I have an answer to the question, “Why were Abraham or Moses or David chosen for their call and gifts and not me?” All I know is that, biblically speaking, the chosen are always chosen for the sake of the unchosen. Thus, Abraham is chosen so that all the...READ MORE

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The Immaculate Conception: The Common Thread

12/07/2012 Comments (11)

Taken together, the basic argument of the nineteenth-century elites was summarized long ago by the author of Wisdom:

For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,
“Short and sorrowful is our life,
and there is no remedy when a man comes to his end,
and no one has been known to return from Hades.
Because we were born by mere chance,
and hereafter we shall be as though we had never been;
because the breath in our nostrils is smoke,
and reason is a spark kindled by the beating of our
When it is extinguished, the body will turn to ashes,
and the spirit will dissolve like empty air.
Our name will be forgotten in time,
and no one will remember our...READ MORE

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The Immaculate Conception: Rebellion against God as Father

12/03/2012 Comments (4)

What ties together all the philosophies of pride we have been looking at?  The theme of revolt and rebellion against God as Father runs through much of nineteenth-century thought. Indeed, it’s one of the curious marks of nineteenth-century atheism that its spokesmen often simultaneously proclaim the nonexistence of God, even as they shake their fists in angry rebellion at what appears to be a very present Nobody. It gives us a very telling clue for which Pope John Paul II provides an insightful diagnosis:

Original sin attempts . . . to abolish fatherhood . . . leaving man only with a sense of the master / slave relationship.( Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope...READ MORE

Filed under mary, mother of the son

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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.