The Death Penalty and Docility

10/07/2011 Comments (63)

The general approach the Church asks of us in weighing her teaching is “docility”.  This is not a word that sits well with most of us, because it calls to mind images of sheep quietly going to be slaughtered, uttering not a peep of protest or independent thought.  It is from poor notions of docility that you get stories of people who sat on their hands when they knew about priestly abuse, or bizarre notions that if the Pope says black is white then faithful Catholics must deny the evidence of their senses and say the same.  That is not what the Church means by docility, of course, but it is what many people think docility means.

In fact, docility means something much more like “being...READ MORE

Filed under death penalty

Question About Complicated Catholic Salvation

10/05/2011 Comments (155)

A reader writes:

I realize you are a busy person and may be tempted not to respond to this e-mail.  I pray you will find the time to look over what I have written and are able to offer some insights and comments regarding whether or not it is easier to become a Christian in a Protestant Church than in the Roman Catholic Church. 

I’m not asking you to agree with what I have to say, but perhaps you might understand why I believe it seems much more difficult and complex to become a Christian in the Roman Catholic Church.  If the goal is to get as many people as possible into heaven through the saving work of Jesus, I find the Catholic “way” of evangelism very frustrating and discouraging at...READ MORE

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Question about Mary's Sinlessness

10/03/2011 Comments (167)

A reader writes:

I have been in e-mail with a devout Roman Catholic who referred me to an article you wrote on Mary.  I thought about asking you some questions about it, but referred them to my friend as he seems to be very knowledgable as well.  However, I have a question if you have some time to reply to it: the question of the sinlessness of Mary according to Roman Catholic doctrine.  From a Catholic angle in order for Jesus to be sinless, Mary would have to be sinless as well.  Would that not mean that Mary’s mother would have to be sinless and down the line.  Also, if I may add, since Jesus had no earthly father and was adopted, would Mary have had to be sinless?  Where I’m coming from...READ MORE

Filed under mailbag, mary

Atheist Dogma

09/28/2011 Comments (542)

Here’s a beautiful story: Baby was without a pulse for 61 minutes.  Is fine today, through the intercession of Fulton Sheen.

What’s so wonderful about such stories, in addition to the glory they bring to God and the joy they bring to the heart is, of course, the hilarious spectacle of Evangelical Atheists attempting various ways to explain them away, finally culminating in the popular explanation, “Shut Up!”

It all depends on a priori philosophical (and deeply emotional, not rational) commitments to atheistic materialism.  For the committed atheist, it’s not “I coolly and dispassionately conclude that there is no God”.  It’s, “There can’t be a supernatural God.  There mustn’t be.”  It’s...READ MORE

Filed under atheism

Caesar Grabs for More Power Over the Church

09/26/2011 Comments (22)

I don’t keep up with things that are happening in states far from me, and since the Soviet of Washington State is far from virtually every state, I had not heard about this (from a priest commenting on this piece):

Circumstances are qualifiers in our moral judgments of situations all the time, and we tend to forget that when we are faced with the necessity of judgeing the behavior of others.  I used this argument in a response last Wednesday to the Catholic News Service article on the Alabama Immigration bill, which basically renders all ministry to those immigrants who are here illegally—even sacramental ministry and the rendering of such basic forms of human assistance as food, shelter,...READ MORE

Filed under church and state

The Gospel is Not a Political Programme

09/23/2011 Comments (50)

I remember an Outer Limits episode from a few years ago where a guy living in some dystopian future where humans are mind-controlled slaves to a conquering alien race is liberated from his thralldom by an underground movement proclaiming itself as a sort of Human Liberation Front. They deprogram him, teach him that he is free to think as he wants, reunite him with his wife, and then send him on a mission to kill High Muckety Muck Overlord Humptyfratz of the Alien High Council. He goes forth on his dangerous mission and against all odds, succeeds in the assassination.  When he returns to the Underground Headquarters, he discovers that the Human Liberation Front is controlled by the Great...READ MORE

Filed under ideology

Faith and Wonder

09/21/2011 Comments (40)

A reader writes:

A friend (who is atheist) sent me an excerpt on 9/11 of some reflections by his favorite author, Sam Harris.

Here is a link, if you choose to spend your time reading the entire draft:

I wanted to just point out one particular section that reminded me of what you are always saying about ‘Climate Change’, how there doesn’t seem to be anything it *can’t* do. (The emphasis mine),

“Whatever else may be wrong with our world, it remains a fact that some of the most terrifying instances of human conflict and stupidity would be unthinkable without religion. And the other ideologies that inspire people to behave like monsters—Stalinism, fascism, etc.—are dangerous precisely because...READ MORE

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Jean Valjean Acquitted!

09/19/2011 Comments (88)

Jean Valjean is the guy in Les Miserables who steals a loaf of bread and is sentenced to prison for theft. Had St. Thomas been his judge, he would have gotten off scot free—and for very good reason, as Thomas explains with typical lucidity when answering the musical question “Whether it is lawful to steal through stress of need?.” First, as is his custom, St. Thomas lists various arguments that, yes, it is theft when a poor person takes something in a situation of real need. Then he replies to all these arguments thus:

On the contrary, In cases of need all things are common property, so that there would seem to be no sin in taking another’s property, for need has made it common.

I answer...READ MORE

Filed under catholic social teaching

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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.