In Honor of it Being Christmas Eve

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 1:01 AM Comments (4)

I post what was, for nearly the first two decades of my life, the sole (but essential) connection I had to gospel:

Thank you, Charles Schulz, for having the moxie to stand up to the network suits and insist that this scene remain in the show.  For nearly 50 years, it has stood as witness to the actual meaning of Christmas into the midst of the mad and ungodly hubbub of Mammon and tinsel that is Xmas.  It stuck with me through a thoroughly pagan youth and was an essential component of Christmas even when I couldn't tell you why it was so important to me.  If we ever fetch up at the Pearly Gates together, Sparky, I'm gonna shake your hand, say thank you and, if need be, put in a good...READ MORE

Filed under exalted felicitations of the day

For All Your "Hokey Pokey" Humor and/or Evil Conspiracy Needs

Friday, December 20, 2013 1:01 AM Comments (19)

Also, there is this Shakespearean adaptation:

And, of course, what is an innocuous minor cultural phenomenon without a sinister conspiracy lurking behind it?

A spokesman for the leader of the church in Scotland said the song had disturbing origins.
Critics claim that Puritans composed the song in the 18th century in an attempt to mock the actions and language of priests leading the Latin mass. Now politicians have urged police to arrest anyone using the song to “taunt” Catholics under legislation designed to prevent incitement to religious hatred.
Peter Kearney, a spokesman for Cardinal Keith O’Brien, said:
“This song does have quite disturbing origins. Although apparently...READ MORE

Filed under flotsam and jetsam, insensitivity training

A Reader Has a Question about NFP and Torture

Monday, December 16, 2013 1:01 AM Comments (98)

She writes:

Recently on your comboxes, there has been a debate about "illicit uses of NFP". Like you, I'm not one who wants to put a heavy burden on others trying to follow what the Church asks of them.


I am curious though, how this fits into your view on the torture debate. Where some people seek to figure out the minimum they have to do to not be technically torturing prisoners (so they would say, "water boarding isn't technically torture, so the Church doesn't technically forbid it"), could it be said that the "illicit use of NFP" comes from the same kind of "minimum daily requirement of love found in the torture apologists?

So you know where I am coming...READ MORE

Filed under mailbag

A reader asks about degrees of contrition

Friday, December 13, 2013 1:01 AM Comments (16)

She writes:

hello Mark!!!! I hope you are well and happy and looking forward to the Christmas season coming up. December 14th will mark my 1 year anniversary as a Roman Catholic! Joy!!!!!

I wanted to ask you about this - its being debated on a few forums - so here goes.....hypothetical

I've mortally sinned. (missed mass, cheated on husband, forged documents at work, robbed a bank, you name it).....I plan to confess next Saturday...I have "imperfect contrition" - I am sorry I sinned, but Im also fearful of Hell, and I cant "honestly" say its purely love of God that makes me sorrowful....

then, as luck would have it, Im hit by a bus before I can make it to...READ MORE

Filed under mailbag

One of the Many Reasons I Like Ross Douthat…

Monday, December 09, 2013 1:01 AM Comments (38) this fine piece on C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley, who also died 50 years ago on November 22.

In effect, both Huxley and Lewis looked at a utilitarian’s paradise — a world where all material needs are met, pleasure is maximized and pain eliminated — and pointed out what we might be giving up to get there: the entire vertical dimension in human life, the quest for the sublime and the transcendent, for romance and honor, beauty and truth.

Two passages from their work illustrate this point — that comfort purchased by sacrificing transcendence might not be worth the cost. The first comes from Lewis’s Narnia novel “The Silver Chair,” in which a character named Puddleglum...READ MORE

Filed under

The Thing That Used to Be Conservatism Puts Out a Hit on Francis

Thursday, December 05, 2013 1:31 PM Comments (268)

With the publication Evangelii Gaudium, the Rightwingosphere (and by the way, only the Rightwingosphere, though not, of course, everybody in the Rightwingosphere) has begun to dial up the panic about Pope Francis. There have been a number of strategies for ignoring, minimizing and downplaying the Exhortation.

Rush Limbaugh, for instance, denounced that exhortation as "pure Marxism".  One searches the exhortation with interest for the moment in which Francis declares his atheism and denounces the Faith as the opiate of the masses. Likewise, Limbaugh redoubled the attack a couple of days later by linking the Holy Father to the Voldemort of the Talk Radio consumer's imagination, the Prince...READ MORE

Filed under pope francis, reactionary dissent, the thing that used to be conservatism

Seven Billion Characters in Search of an Author

Monday, December 02, 2013 12:01 AM Comments (51)

As we mentioned last time, at the end of the day, the arguments for the existence of God do not require supernatural revelation.  They simply require the sense God gave a goose.

The problem however, is that we are not always able to have even that much sense. In the words of Pope Pius XII:

The human reason is, strictly speaking, truly capable by its own natural power and light of attaining to a true and certain knowledge of the one personal God, who watches over and controls the world by his providence, and of the natural law written on our hearts by the Creator; yet there are many obstacles which prevent reason from the effective and fruitful use of this inborn faculty. For the...READ MORE

Filed under natural revelation

The Human Person and Morality

Monday, November 25, 2013 12:01 AM Comments (91)

Last time, we looked at our experience of beauty as a doorway into looking at God as the Good.  But, of course, there are other aspects of the Good that we experience as well.

Looking at the human person illustrates this, particularly because we are human beings, not just "impartial observers" looking at human beings. When we see this we begin to notice something besides our love of beauty: namely, morality. For we do with moral goods just what we do with all other goods: we presuppose some Ultimate Standard against which we measure moral acts and moral agents. 

A modern reader will almost surely snort at the word “morality”. If human beings are so moral, why do we act like such...READ MORE

Filed under natural revelation

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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.