Pursuing Virtue, Not Clintonism

02/08/2015 Comments (32)

I think Chesterton is on to something profound when he says that when you abandon the big laws, you don't get freedom and you don't even get anarchy: you get the small laws.

In other words, the paradoxical effect of attempting to be lawless is to become more and ever more legalistic, to parse words ever more finely, to look for every loophole, excuse, technicality, and microscopic nuance in order to try to show why what you are doing is not really against the law that haunts our hearts.

We see it in the kid who carefully tells his Mom, "Yes, I had a piece of cake" while neglecting to mention that the piece consisted of three quarters of the cake. We see it in the memorable...READ MORE

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Equality: It's Medicine, Not Food

02/05/2015 Comments (9)

If you ask most people what will resolve the tension between the races, the sexes or the economic classes, nine times out of ten people will say, "Equality and Toleration." Why? "Well, because we live in a democracy and each person is as good as any other. Toleration is fundamental to human society."

So goes the popular wisdom. And, of course, as in most cases, popular wisdom has a lot on the ball. Equality before the law is important. So is Toleration. These things are the beginning of any civil society.

But they are not the end of one. For where pop wisdom gets it wrong is in elevating these things to the status of supremacy over things that are greater and deeper: namely, love and...READ MORE

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Tending the Ecosystem of the Faith

02/01/2015 Comments (53)

As a born and bred Western Washingtonian, I was raised to respect the environment. My entire education, especially in this part of the country, was ordered to toward making me acutely aware of the fundamental interconnectedness of things. If you dump some toxic junk out of your boat somewhere upstream on the Skagit River, the effects are felt everywhere downstream. If the mill north of Everett pumps out tons of sulfide stench into the air (as it often did when I was a boy), it doesn’t just stay in the air on the mill’s property. It becomes everybody’s property and you smelled it in south Everett where I lived. If some apparently insignificant seaweed starts to die off in Puget Sound, it can...READ MORE

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Co-Creators with Christ

01/25/2015 Comments (3)

God creates from nothing, we create using the stuff God supplies us. As creatures in his image and likeness, it is our right and proper office to be "sub-creators" as J.R.R. Tolkien called us. Therefore, teaching our children how to cooperate with God in the work of creation is a perfectly fitting job for us as Catholic parents.

Genesis points out five tasks given the human race in the Garden: marriage, fruitfulness, rule, work, and worship. In all these tasks, we become more fully human and, for the baptized, become more profound participants in the life of the Blessed Trinity through Christ. Let's look at them briefly.

Marriage: Man and woman are made to be "one flesh" by God. But, of...READ MORE

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Christ vs. the Power of Now

01/22/2015 Comments (12)

I have a lot of sympathy for New Age folks. Not sympathy with their ideas (if one can use such a strong word as “idea” for the quicksilver emotionalism and muddy mixture of suburban folk religion that is the New Age), but sympathy with the elemental movements of the heart that seem to animate much of the New Age. I myself was a pagan at one time. That is not to say I was a Wiccan, nor that I painted myself with woad and sat naked, pounding drums in some Men’s Circle. Rather, I was raised in the suburban garage band culture of Wayne’s World, darkening the door of a church perhaps five times in my life, unbaptized, clueless about the gospel, filled with superstitious fears...READ MORE

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Chesterton: A Spirit of Vatican II Bibliography

01/18/2015 Comments (10)

Many people know that G.K. Chesterton, a famous defender of the Catholic faith as well as a prolific writer in fields as diverse as murder mysteries, literary criticism, biography, and political, theological and economic thought, fell strangely silent in the mid-1930s and ceased to publish for nearly 50 years. As a result, some speculated he might have died. However, the last few years have seen a fresh outpouring of new and markedly different material from that now-reclusive knight of Christendom. These new writings have been communicated to the outside world through the mediation of an elite team of American theologians from several major Catholic universities. These men and women assure...READ MORE

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Devil Talk

01/15/2015 Comments (8)

One of the most volatile passages in the New Testament is the moment at which Jesus looks at some of his Jewish audience and declares point blank, "You are of your father, the devil" (John 8:44). Not unnaturally, this sounds pretty ugly to modern ears and, particularly in the shadow of the Shoah, strikes many moderns as prima facie evidence for the alleged "intrinsic anti-semitism" of Christianity, stretching all the way back to the New Testament and even to the very words of Jesus himself.  So, for instance, Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz writes, "Hatred and violence are consequences of Christian Anti-Semitism, not the source. The source is the demonizing of the Jewish people. This comes as no...READ MORE

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The Discovery of the Trinity

01/11/2015 Comments (22)

Two basic tenets of Catholic teaching are that 1) God revealed himself in a progressive revelation that was completed with the death of the last apostle and 2) since then the Church's understanding of that complete revelation has deepened and developed.

Perhaps the classic model for understanding this process is seen in the revelation given by God concerning His own Triune nature. Certain critics of the Catholic Faith speak of the doctrine of the Trinity as an "invention" of the Church. However, it is closer to the mark to say that this truth was discovered rather than invented. For the Church, so far from creating anything, simply followed the clues left by God in His complete revelation...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.