Why You Guys Make Me Love Being Catholic

03/21/2011 Comments (7)

A week or two ago, the Register ran a piece on the death of Dr. Bernard Nathanson. In the comboxes, somebody asked if he could really be forgiven the horrible things he had done as an abortionist. What followed was a huge outpouring of emphatic mercy for Dr. Nathanson, coupled with a lot of good solid catechesis for the troubled reader on just how huge the vast range of God’s mercy is, what the effects of baptism are, and the immensity of hope this gives us as we struggle with our own sins.

It was a long, gentle and hopeful conversation, and I came away from it thinking how rare and beautiful it is to see a real conversation about mercy—genuine mercy—in today’s culture. It’s a cold,...READ MORE

Filed under the power of love

The Devil Always Steps on His Own Tail

03/18/2011 Comments (19)

One of the basic lessons of the Gospel is that you cannot defeat the devil in your human strength. Rather, God seems to love to allow the devil to defeat himself. So Old Scratch puts it into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus—only to have the crucifixion and resurrection deal the decisive blow to the powers of hell. In the same way, Old Goat Legs (who is incorrigibly unteachable due to his stupid pride) repeats the same monotonous pattern in the lives of the martyrs. Like the ham-fisted bully whose only thought is, “If force fails, use more force!” Satan and his fellow demons just keep doing the same thing over and over: trying to smash goodness and shout down truth, only serving to make...READ MORE

Filed under the devil is an ass

Despise Not Prophesying

03/16/2011 Comments (136)

I spend a fair amount of time registering my disinterest in sundry conspiracy theories and scare-mongering and private revelation-chasing. I think Medjugorje has all the earmarks of a load of bushwah, I don’t care about the bogus revelations in Conyers or Bayside, and I’m skeptical of the majority of nine-day wonders involving Our Lady on grilled cheese sandwiches or freeway underpasses. I think the alleged “apparation” of Mary in an Anglican parish in Yankalilla, Australia (which I have seen with my own eyes) is a water stain that some extremely imaginative Aussies got too excited about.

So it’s easy, I suppose, to get the impression that I’m basically a hard-boiled skeptic about all...READ MORE

Filed under private revelation

A Great Opportunity for Lenten Almsgiving to a Good Cause

03/14/2011 Comment

Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society, has a wonderful new opportunity for us to give Lenten alms in support of some terrific kids who are getting a first rate education at the Chesterton Academy.  He scribbleth:

For your penance (and to get you started on your Lenten almsgiving), please make a donation to Chesterton Academy. There is a challenge grant going right now, so your gift will be doubled. It is a great opportunity for this marvelous new high school.  You can donate here:

Let me just add that I have had a chance to visit the Academy and they are doing first-rate work in forming young hearts and minds in the Catholic spiritual, moral and intellectual tradition....READ MORE

Filed under chestertoniana, works of mercy

Lent. Day 3

03/11/2011 Comments (4)

Still no chocolate.  The struggle continues. ...  No. End. In. Sight.

Seriously.  I like Lent.  I always have.  I don’t know what that says about me since I also enjoy the feastly times like Christmas and Easter a great deal too.  But this season has always had an odd connection for me: There was a time back in the early 80s when I was out of work and out of school and had nothing—and I felt absolutely free and alive as though the whole world was before me and I was on the threshold of an adventure.  It’s the closest I think I’ve ever been to getting a glimmer of what St. Francis felt about the joys of Lady Poverty.  For some reason, Lent always feels like that to me.  I love the...READ MORE

Filed under lent

When I Read Things Like This…

03/09/2011 Comments (26)

Neither the fervently religious nor the militantly secular atheist will ever have lasting political power in the West, since neither side will ever be able to wrest control from the mediocre and nominally religious. The West will always be ruled by those who call themselves Christian in phone surveys, usually baptize their children and have nice church weddings, and go to a service once or twice a year, if they get around to it.

The nominally religious are those for whom neither religion nor atheism is of much interest. I’m reminded of an old friar who loved to quote St. Thomas’s comment on the Apostle Thomas when he saw the resurrected Lord. The Apostle said, “My Lord and my God,” but...READ MORE

Filed under signs of the times


03/07/2011 Comments (6)

One of the interesting phenomena one constantly runs into on the Internet is the fact that conversations tend to roll in eternally like waves on a beach. 

What I mean is this: You have some argument about something; say, the morality of lying in a good cause (as we’ve had here recently).

What fascinates me is how you can hash out some point in great detail, building a great sand castle of argument on the beach whereby you show, with geometric logic, that there is a real difference between the speech act we call “lying” and the speech act we call “writing fiction.”  You labor with great care to make clear (to the scrupulous) that writing fiction is morally acceptable even though what is...READ MORE

Filed under pondering

Science Fiction…

03/04/2011 Comments (2)

...is often the enterprise of noticing something in the headlines and then extrapolating it to insane proportions by imagining that it will continue expanding on to infinity through all time, space and eternity (as the inimitable John C. Wright discusses here).

Chesterton talks about this a century ago in his wonderful introduction to The Napoleon of Notting Hill where, after chronicling various prophetic utterances by the trendy writers of the day about what the future surely held (all of which were to be exploded by the actual events of the 20th century, though many of Chesterton’s forecasts were eerily fulfilled), he says:

All these clever men were prophesying with every variety of...READ MORE

Filed under chestertoniana

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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.