What's the Story with Relics? (Part 2)

03/18/2016 Comments (3)

The relics of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina and Saint Leopold Mandic arrived at the Basilica of San Lorenzo Outside-the-Walls in Rome, Italy on February 3, 2016. (Alexey Gotovskiy/CNA)

Relics generally fall into first, second, or third class. A first class relic is (usually) part of the body of a saint. Many Catholics do not know that relic are found in their altars (our parish has a relic of the True Cross, which falls somewhere between a first and second class relic given its absolutely essential place in the Passion of our Lord).

The point of all this is deeply Catholic: the Church is the principal sacrament of Christ, spreading out through the world and mediating his grace to us. What relics “say” is that the gospel is the life of Christ who comes to us bodily, not only in the Eucharist consecrated on the altar, but in the body of Christ that is the Church herself....READ MORE

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What's the Story with Relics? Part 1

03/14/2016 Comments (7)

Within a few days of the martyrdom of St. Polycarp in the mid-second century, the members of his community sent a report to other Churches with a full eyewitness account. In the course of it, they not only described what they saw, but also revealed quite a bit to future generations about the common assumptions they shared with other Christians of the time, and the common misunderstandings their non-Christian neighbors, both Jew and Pagan, had about them. Describing their frustration with the hostility shown their attempts to honor the body of their sainted martyr, they complained that the devil “did his utmost that not the least memorial of him should be taken away by us, although many...READ MORE

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The Cost of Grace

03/11/2016 Comment

Somehow many people have the strange notion that the Old and New Testaments are opposed and that Jesus supposedly came to get rid of all that Law stuff and preach a gospel where "all we have to do is love each other." In reality, Christ did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfil it. And we who hope to follow him, though we certainly do well to rejoice in the freedom of Christ, must also remember that Christ frees us to transcend the Law, not to break it.

Evidence for this is seen in many Scripture readings. Wisdom essentially says, "If it's tough just keeping a bead on mundane earthly matters, who can possibly hope to know anything about heaven?" We can all relate to this....READ MORE

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Chosen for the Sake of the Unchosen

03/07/2016 Comments (11)

Aert de Gelder (1645-1727), “Abraham and the Angels”

Long ago Roger Ebert, in his review of The Prince of Egypt, expressed a notion common among moderns when he complained of God's habit of choosing people (like Moses) and nations (like the Jews), "I have always rather thought God could have spared man a lot of trouble by casting his net more widely, emphasizing universality rather than tribalism."

This thought comes as naturally as rain in spring to minds which have been conditioned to think in democratic terms. Just as it was natural for ancients who lived almost universally under monarchy to conceive of God as King, so it is equally natural for moderns to force the universe into a grid of uncompromising egalitarianism. We rankle at the...READ MORE

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The Sign Who Was Bartimaeus

03/04/2016 Comments (1)

Carl Bloch, “Healing of the Blind Man” (1871)

A subtle and slender thread often connects the Old and New Testaments. For instance, Jeremiah 31:7-9 prophesies a great throng of returning exiles from Babylon about 70 years after the great catastrophe of Babylonian conquest which struck Israel in 587 BC. Promising that the Lord has not abandoned Israel, he notes several details of a great moment of restoration to come, when the blessings on Israel would be renewed and a great age of glory would begin. Jeremiah foretells that a crowd of celebrants will come from the north (the direction returning exiles from Babylon would come from and also the direction from which, centuries later, the Prophet from Galilee would come). And he tells us...READ MORE

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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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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.