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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The Cross by John Donne

04/03/2015 Comments (2)

SINCE Christ embraced the cross itself, dare I  
His image, th' image of His cross, deny ?  
Would I have profit by the sacrifice,  
And dare the chosen altar to despise ?  
It bore all other sins, but is it fit  
That it should bear the sin of scorning it ?  
Who from the picture would avert his eye,  
How would he fly his pains, who there did die ?  
From me no pulpit, nor misgrounded law,  
Nor scandal taken, shall this cross withdraw,  
It shall not, for it cannot ; for the loss  
Of this cross were to me another cross.  
Better were worse, for no affliction,  
No cross is so extreme, as to have none.  
Who can blot out the cross, with th' instrument  
Of God dew'd on me in the...READ MORE

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Terri Schiavo and the Weapons of Our Warfare

03/31/2015 Comments (44)

Ten years after Terri Schiavo was ordered to be made dead by the state, there remains an open wound that is only festering as the state continues to become the servant of the powerful in an expanding arena of war by the strong against the weak. 

Propagandists tell us that "extraordinary medical treatment" was withdrawn so that she could "die with dignity".  Pardon me while I pause from writing this to receive some "medical treatment" from my kitchen in the form of a glass of a glass of tap water and a sandwich from the fridge.  Food and drink are not "medical treatment" but basic human rights.  What was denied Terri Schiavo was nothing extraordinary, but simply a drink of water.  She was,...READ MORE

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Cheating the Oracle

03/29/2015 Comments (3)

One of the most popular sorts of story in the world is the "Cheat the Oracle" story. The idea is that Heaven decrees the hero's fate and nothing can change it. The hero (or perhaps the hero's parents or guardians if the hero is an infant) then attempts to cheat the oracle by hiding the hero in a distant land or selling him into slavery or something. In so doing, this sets in motion the fulfillment of the prophecy. And so, in ancient Greece, Oedipus is fated to kill his father and marry his mother. In ancient Israel, Joseph is fated to rule over his brothers and father. Oedipus' guardians and Joseph's brothers labor to thwart their respective oracles, but every step they take is just one...READ MORE

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The Ambition of the Sons of Thunder

03/22/2015 Comments (14)

Leonardo da Vinci did us a disservice when he painted St. John in his Last Supper. In his zeal to show St. John as especially close to the loving heart of Christ, Leonardo winds up portraying the Evangelist like a wan and wilting flower. Yet Jesus nicknamed John and his brother James "Boanerges" or the "Sons of Thunder." Zebedee's boys were, we should recall, rough cut from solid peasant fisherman stock. They knew all about sweating in the sun, fishing in the Sea of Galilee, and cussing out people in no uncertain terms. In fact, the gospels actually record an incident in which these young turks, miffed at the crummy hospitality they received from the Samaritans, wanted to call down fire...READ MORE

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03/19/2015 Comments (14)

If you asked most people, "What would Jesus say about somebody who says one thing and does another?" they would reply: "Jesus called such people 'hypocrites" and denounced them."

This is true as far as it goes. But as is nearly always the case with our Lord, this was not the only thing Jesus had to say about inconsistency between words and deeds. Surprisingly, at other times he commended such inconsistency as a paradoxical mark of sanctity.

Consider, for instance, the parable of the two sons. Their father came and said "go and work in the vineyard" and the first son said "I will go" but then sat down and started watching the Jerry Springer show. The second son said "No way!" but then...READ MORE

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The Inner Ring

03/15/2015 Comments (34)

Once there was a sketch on Saturday Night Live featuring the character of an incredibly self-important secretary for some minor star (the sort of star who hosts low-rating game shows). The secretary is utterly oblivious to his client's puny standing in the grand scheme of things and instead, basking in the reflected two-watt glory of his boss, treats every visitor to the office with the utmost snobbery and officiousness. Each person asking to see the star is treated with withering haughtiness and asked: "And you are....?" As the day wears on, half a dozen fabulously famous people stop by the office (including, at last, Jesus Christ) and all are greeted with the same belittling arrogance:...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.